To the ABDA left, HMS Electra stops making smoke and the ABDA cruiser line is deployed. Stunned silence from the Japanese commander. The concentration of ABDA cruisers is somewhat unexpected, he was briefed to expect perhaps something like three enemy "light cruisers". He also now knows (see last post) he has to get in far closer than he would want to do in order to deliver an "effective attack" on fast moving targets. Being on the receiving end of the broadsides from these five cruisers is definitely going to hurt/sting.
And hurt it does, from line-of-battle top to bottom the cruisers belch fire at the destroyers.
- De Ruyter (Flag)
- HMS Exeter
- HMAS Perth
- USS Houston
The IJN destroyers start their attack runs at the ABDA battle line know they have at least three turns 'under the guns' before they are in effective torpedo range. The damage is savage and with one turn or so left to press on the formation is approximately down to half strength armament strength and battered hulls.
Meanwhile at the van of the ABDA formation those Japanese heavy cruisers (IJNS Nachi and IJNS Haguro), assisted by their float planes reporting fall of shot, start a deadly game of destroyer hunting (their only targets). Running out of options Doorman signals attack as the Japanese "eyes in the skies" means that they will be able to shoot through any smoke screen, while ABDA would be blind. The RN/Dutch destroyers find to their dismay the IJN heavy cruisers to be very powerfully armed indeed and it looks certain to be a one way trip.
The Dutch "Witt de With" (bottom left) is the first to be sunk, followed by the Dutch Kortenaer (top middle) left dead in the water with no functioning armaments, their stoic sacrifice and the van of the ABDA cruiser line coming into sight (De Ruyter and HMS Exeter) allows HMS Encounter, though badly damaged (down to half strength) to make an attack run on the heavy cruisers.
All the time the Japanese left hand side counter draws closer, rather too aggressively to be considered as likely non-combatant transports. The last remaining fully functioning ABDA destroyer HMS Jupiter (above far right, HMS Encounter top left) closes to investigate revealing:
Another IJN destroyer flotilla and light cruiser (flag). Doorman seethes in a low guttural voice that he is caught in a classic "horns of the buffalo" Zulu style attack.