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Battle of Java Sea 1942

For the Friday club game, I put a refight of the Battle of Java Sea 1942 between the Japanese Navy and ABDA navies (Australian, British, Dutch and American navies). The battle came about due the Japanese plans to capture the oil fields of Borneo, Java and Sumatra.

I used historical formations and orders of battle. My main source was the excellent Osprey Campaign Book 344 Java Sea 1942 by Mark Stille. I did however allow the allied players to have their float planes. The Dutch Admiral Doorman who was in charge of the allied fleet had insisted that these were left behind to avoid fire hazards. On the day the Japanese float planes gave their commander Rear Admiral Takagi Takeo some considerable advantages.

The Order of battle was as follows. The Japanese lead formation was Sentai 5 made of 2 heavy cruisers Nachi & Haguro with 2 Destroyer Squadrons. Destroyer Squadron No2 was made up of 3 destroyer divisions and Destroyer squadron No 4 was made up of 2 destroyer divisions. This gave the Japanese a further 2 light cruisers and 14 destroyers of various classes. The Allied navy historically deployed in 3 formations, a Cruiser Squadron (2 heavy cruisers (RN Exeter and US navy Houston) and 3 light cruisers, the Australian Perth and 2 Dutch cruisers, Java and De Ruyter. The destroyers were in 2 formations the US Destroyer Division 58 made up 4 old WW1 Vintage Clemson Destroyers and the other formation with 3 British destroyers and 2 Dutch destroyers, one of which had engine trouble.

The Allied players split their Dutch destroyers from the British to form 4 formations. Both sides launched float planes to assist in their gunnery accuracy. The allied players (Richard & Kamall) moved on their destroyers in 3 groups in line formation obliquely to the Japanese ships trying to get broadsides to their opponents. However, they kept they Cruisers well back outside the feared Type 93 Japanese torpedo which had a range of 10,000 yards! In the main battle I believe the Japanese launched 153 torpedoes which sunk a Dutch destroyer and Cruiser.

The Japanese players (Doug & Mark) came on in historic formations line abreast down the table and both sides started some very long-range gunnery with little effect as happened in the historical battle. As the formation closed the Japanese gunnery was more telling with the Allied cruisers out of range the Allied destroyers started taking hits from 8” guns of the Japanese cruisers and their destroyers. In all fairness when the allied cruisers got into range the dice were not in their favour at all with very few hits.

Towards the end of the evening the Allied destroyers were in a sorry state and whilst only a few of the Japanese ships has suffered damage. I think if we had played a bit longer the Japanese would have continued in the same vein especially with the dice rolling being against the Allied players. This was very tough gig for the Allied players, and you can see why the battle ended the way it did with a crushing Japanese’s victory.


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