The age of European colonialism began at the end of the 15th Century with the Spanish colonization of the “New World”. It didn’t take long before the other
European powers followed suit. In the 17th Century the Netherlands was at the height of its power and colonized territory in the west and east. By the 20th Century,
as colonialism was nearing its end, the most important colony for the Netherlands were the islands of the Dutch East Indies. Java, Sumatra, Celebes and the
numerous other islands that are now Indonesia were a source for valuable natural resources and it wasn’t just the Netherlands that saw their value. To the North the
expanding Japanese Empire also saw their value. Powerful, with an expanding army, navy and industrial might, Japan lacked natural resources and as with Great
Britain was dependent on sea commerce. Between World War One and Two the main duty of the Dutch Navy was to protect the Dutch East Indies, primarily from
the Japanese.

The Netherlands were spared from the horrors of World War One and remained neutral. However, the Dutch Navy was in a pitiful state with a few obsolete coast
predreadnout battleships. In 1915 it was decided to build new cruisers, the largest type of warship the Netherlands could afford. They were designed with the aid of
Krupp and were supplied with German machinery. They were exceptionally large and powerful when designed armed with ten 5.9-inch/50 guns and displacing 6,670
tons standard and 8,208 tons full load. Their design reflected the armament placement of German and British cruiser construction of the time with single gun mounts
with gun shields with four centerline guns and six mounted in outboard wing positions. These were primarily designed for service in the Dutch East Indies and the
three ships ordered reflected this in their names.
Java was laid down on May 31, 1916, Sumatra on July 15, 1916 but the third ship, Celebes, was never laid down.
Java and Sumatra were very slow in building with Sumatra launched December 29, 1920 and Java on August 9, 1921. There was another long delay before their
completion with
Java completing on May 1, 1925 and Sumatra a year later on May 26, 1926. Although they were a first line design when conceived in 1915, their
design was obsolete when completed a decade later.         
The main guns were mounted four on centerline and six in wing positions, offering a broadside of seven guns. The 5.9-inch/50 guns had a range of 23,200-yards.
The guns had only splinter shielding on front and sides. Four 75mm guns were carried on top of the aft deck house. The ships were 473-feet 4-inches in length
(155.3m)(oa), 466-feet 4-inches (153m)(wl), with a beam of 48-feet 9-inches (16m) and a draught of 18-feet (6.1m). The ships had a 3-inch (75mm) armored belt
that ran 392.5-feet, covering most of the ship including machinery and magazine areas, tapering to 2-inches (50mm) for a final 42.5-feet protecting shafts and
steering. The armored deck varied between 50mm to 25mm and conning tower of 125mm. Eight Schulz-Thornycroft boilers provided the steam for three Germania
turbines for
Java and Zoelly turbines for Sumatra, producing 72,000shp for the three shafts with a maximum speed of 31-knots. Range was 3,600nm at 12-knots.
It didn’t take long before modifications were put in place. Before being completed both ships acquired an aircraft derrick to operate two seaplanes. No catapults
were fitted so the cruisers would have to stop and lower their seaplanes in order to operate them. Initially they carried Fairey IIID seaplanes but these were replaced
with the Fokker C.VIID aircraft.
Java made a cruise to Sweden and Norway between July and August 1925. In October she departed for her operational area in the
Dutch East Indies, which is now known as Indonesia. She arrived at Sabang on November 28, 1925. After settling in she made a tour of the major Asian ports of
the Philippines, China and Japan between November 8, 1928 and January 23, 1929. The next year
Java visited the ports of Australia and New Zealand between
September 2,1930 and December 2, 1930.
Java underwent a refit in 1934 and 1935. Her original thin pole fore mast was replaced a much thicker tube mast. The
four 75mm guns atop the aft deck house were replaced by eight Mk III Bofors 40mm antiaircraft guns in single mounts and
Sumatra six 40mm guns. A large
platform with wings was positioned above the forward superstructure and ran from forward of the tube fore mast to just aft of the forward funnel. Two .50 caliber
machine guns were positioned on each wing of this platform. Additionally the mainmast was reduced and moved forward to just aft of the second funnel. After a
decade in the East Indies
Java returned to the Netherlands in a voyage from March 6, 1937 to May 7, 1937. Java represented the Netherlands at the British Spithead
Fleet Review from May 17 to May 22, 1937. From their she underwent another refit. On January 3, 1938
Java went back into service and sailed for the East Indies
on May 4, 1938.

Java was no longer the Flagship in the East Indies. De Ruyter was the flagship as of October 25, 1937. Java, along with the other cruisers and destroyers of the
squadron patrolled local waters until February 1940 when Germany invaded the Netherlands. At this time the ships were tasked with missions of hunting down
German merchant ships in or near the East Indies. Everything changed on December 1, 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was designed to preempt the
United States Navy, which the Japanese logically saw as the biggest threat to their ambitions. The Philippines were invaded, as they presented a threat to the
seabourn lines of communication to the true prize sought by the Japanese, the British and Dutch colonies south of the Philippines. These colonies were rich in
natural resources that Japan lacked. After confining the Americans to Bataan and Corregidor and eliminating the threat of American naval or aerial interference, the
Japanese juggernaut rolled on to the rubber plantations of Malaya and the island of Borneo. With Borneo falling they set their sites on the next major objectives,
Sumatra followed by Java. On February 1, 1942 the USN Admiral Hart set up the ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) Combined Striking Force, which
combined the available surface warships of four countries and placed them under the tactical command of Dutch Admiral Doorman.
Politics raised its hand as the senior Dutch naval officer, Vice Admiral Conrad Helfrich, thought that he should have been named naval commander of ABDA instead
of Admiral Hart. He finally got his wish after complaining about Hart. Helfrich had good and bad qualities but overall his commands hurt the ABDA. He was fixated
on sending warships as escorts for merchant ships, warships that would have better deployed with Doorman. On February 17, 1942 the allies discovered a Japanese
invasion fleet on its way to Bali, the island to the east of Java. Doorman ordered his force to concentrate and set up an overly complicated battle plan. The first wave
of the ABDA assault would be
Java, De Ruyter and seven destroyers would leave Tjilatjap, the port on Java’s south coast, followed by Tromp and four USN
destroyers from ports on Java’s north coast as the second wave and the third wave would be Dutch torpedo boats. At 22:00 on February 19 the first wave arrived
with
De Ruyter, Java and the destroyers in line ahead. They were too late as the Japanese had completed their landings. Only one troopship and two destroyers were
still present.
Java fired first. Java hit the transport, Sasago Maru and the USS John D. Ford or USS Pope hit her with a torpedo. The Dutch destroyer Piet Hein
charged in but was sunk by
Asashio, which then went after Ford. The Asashio and second Japanese destroyer, Oshio, engaged the Ford and Pope for a short time
without result. Doorman ordered the first wave to retire, minus
Piet Hein. The second wave arrived three hours later, exchanged fire with Asashio, Oshio and two
more Japanese destroyers and then withdrew. The Dutch MTBs reported seeing nothing and the Battle of Badung Strait was over.

On February 25, 1942 ABDA was dissolved as the supreme commander, Field Marshall Wavell flew to India. Helfrich took over command of all forces in the Dutch
East Indies but he refused to see the writing on the wall as Wavell had done. The
Java, De Ruyter, USS Houston and seven USN and Dutch destroyers were at
Surabaya  on the afternoon of February 25. That same afternoon news was received that 30 Japanese transports were approaching from the North and they would
obviously have a heavy surface escort, initially identified as two cruisers and four destroyers. The
HMS Exeter, HMAS Perth and three British destroyers joined
Doorman for a night sortie. That evening the allied polyglot force steamed north looking for the Japanese troop convoy.
They steamed through the night but found nothing. After a bombing attack in the morning of February 26, which scored no hits, the allied force turned back towards
Surabaya . At 2:30 PM the Striking Force were about to enter harbor when they received news that the Japanese convoy had been found close to the island of
Baewan . The force turned around at struck out to intercept the Japanese transports, which were escorted by heavy cruiser
Nachi and Haguro, Light cruisers Naka
and Jintsu and fifteen destroyers. The crews of the allied ships were physically exhausted from constant steaming and air attacks with no air support. The Japanese
were fresh and had overwhelming air support. Doorman formed a line of battle with the three British destroyers in the van, followed by the cruisers
De Ruyter,
Exeter , Houston, Perth and Java. The American and Dutch destroyers were stationed to the port and rear. The Japanese knew exactly the composition and location
of the ABDA force by Doorman and his captains were blind. The commander of the Dutch East Indies, Admiral Helfrich, had used his handful of Brewster Buffaloes
and dive bombers to mount a fruitless raid on the Japanese transports and no aircraft left to support Doorman. By 4:00PM the afternoon of February 27 Japanese
float planes were circling the allied force. Not long thereafter the British destroyer on point detected the Japanese force crossing the T of the allied force from east to
west.

Doorman ordered a turn to port to parallel the Japanese column but in the confusion the formation broke and the British destroyers wound up on the unengaged side
of the allied force. The Japanese opened fire first but their initial salvo was 2,000 yards short. Although the 8-inch guns of
Houston and Exeter could reach the
Japanese, all three light cruisers were out of range. Doorman ordered a turn to starboard to close the range and allow his light cruisers to come within the range of
their guns. After an hour of gunnery at long range the
Exeter, Houston and Java had been hit but there had been no serious damage. There was an hour of light
when the Japanese unleashed eight of their destroyers to close and launch a mass torpedo attack with their deadly 24-inch Long Lance torpedoes. As 64 torpedoes
sped towards Doorman’s force
Exeter received a critical 8-inch shell hit from Haguro. It exploded in the machinery spaces and Exeter lost six of her eight boilers.
Speed dropped to a crawling 11-knots and
Exeter fell out of the column. Communications among the pick-up allied force had been practically non existent. As Exeter
turned to port away from the Japanese, the captain of the following Houston thought there had been and order for the column to turn so Houston followed Exeter
and in turn Java and the rear Dutch destroyers followed Houston, leaving the van British destroyers and De Ruyter steaming west by themselves for six minutes
before Doorman on
De Ruyter ordered the van to match the course of the rest of his force.
At 5:15 PM the mass torpedo assault arrived but in part because of the unintended turn to the south none of the torpedoes struck except one, which blew the Dutch
destroyer
Kortender in half. When Admiral Takagi, the Japanese commander, saw all the allied ships steaming south away from his force, he thought the skeedaddle
was on and turned south to charge in pursuit. By 5:20
De Ruyter had caught up with her wandering compatriots and except for Exeter changed course to run to the
northeast. Doorman ordered
Exeter to continue to withdraw to the south and make for Surabaya. All three British destroyers, Electra, Encounter and Jupiter,
headed towards the Japanese in order to give
Exeter more time to safely withdraw. Jintsu leading a group of destroyers came charging towards the British and
concentrated on
Electra, which was soon in sinking condition. It was dusk, which combined with smoke from damage as well as smoke screens laid by both sides,
made sighting difficult. Ships were dodging in and out of smoke. After polishing off
Electra, Jintsu and her ducklings went on looking for there true quarry, the
Exeter . Encounter and Jupiter had been joined by the Dutch destroyer Witte de With in covering the withdrawal of Exeter. Doorman’s cruiser went into the
smoke screen and when they came out of saw that they were confronting
Nachi and Haguro. To make matters worse, the Houston was low on ammunition for
the forward turrets. There were plenty of 8-inch shells in the inoperable aft turret but that was of no help for Doorman in the fight.

Doorman didn’t want to fight the Japanese cruisers and destroyers. He was after the transports crammed with troops. He ordered the destroyers to lay a smoke
screen and took his force to the northwest in hope of finding his quarry. The transports were to the northwest but the allies were dogged by the float planes, which
started dropping flares as the night descended. At one point these flares illuminated both forces and the Japanese renewed fire. However, the range was too great for
the allies. Doorman changed course again to reach the Java coast in order to steam west and locate the transports. At 9:25 PM
Jupiter hit a mine and came to a
stop. She sank after four hours in a futile effort to save the ship. The American destroyers left to go to Surabaya to refuel and
Encounter stopped to pick up the
survivors of
Kortender, which had sunk four hours earlier. There had not been contact with the Japanese in hours, as the Japanese float planes had departed as they
ran short of fuel, so Doorman steamed to the northwest of Surabaya with his four remaining cruisers. As luck would have it, the two forces sighted each other in
the bright moonlight around 1:00 AM February 28. The Japanese altered course to close and at 8,000 launched another salvo of torpedoes. Only twelve had been
launched but this time they were decisive. One hit
De Ruyter, which lost power. As Perth and Houston changed course to avoid the dying De Ruyter, Java at the
rear of the line took another of the torpedoes. With both Dutch cruisers dead in the water and burning, Doorman knew he was doomed. His last order was for
Perth
and
Houston to escape and make for Batavia on the western end of Java. Doorman went down with his De Ruyter and the Java.
The Pacific Cross Roads Java in 1:350 Scale - Boris Mulenko, owner of Pacific Cross Roads, is definitely a devotee of the Dutch Navy of World War Two,
although the company also has subjects from the Marine Nationale. Whether its Dutch cruisers, Dutch destroyers or Dutch seaplanes, Boris produces them all. I have
been looking forward to the
Pacific Cross Roads Java after seeing the Pacific Cross Roads De Ruyter. Now both of Admiral Doorman’s cruisers at the Battle of the
Java Sea are available in 1:350 scale, not to mention the
Tromp. The box of the Java has a serial number and Boris was kind enough to send Java kit #001 for review
on Steelnavy. Not only can you get the kit from
Pacific Cross Roads but also Free Time Hobbies will have it in stock in the near future.

The hull casting is very clean and is eye-popping in detail. The lower hull is solid and exceptionally clean, while the upper hull is hollow with only minor cleanup
needed. Hull plates are very well done with extra detail provided by horizontal and vertical strakes. At the bow of the straight cutwater are very nice anchor hawse
drilled to accept the anchor shaft. Probably the most noticeable item are the rows of port holes. The port holes are very deep so you don’t have to drill to open them.
They may be a trifle oversize but that is so minor compared to their striking appearance with exquisite eyebrows (rigoles), that it is a minuscule price to pay for this
much detail on the hull sides. Deck detail jumps out as well. The deck planking is excellent with butt end detail. On the forecastle is a large downward slanting windlass
plate with deck chain plates running to the deck hawse fittings. On this plate is a large coaming with four deck access hatches with hinge detail. Also are two detailed
windlasses on raised plates, chain locker entrance fittings and an oval deck hatch with hinge detail. Bollards and open chocks are separate parts with locater outlines on
the deck. The same is true for the superstructure parts, as outlines of their locations are on the decks as well as location circles for the 5.9-inch open guns and various
deck fittings. Between the two funnels are two square ventilators with overhanging caps and a large pyramid skylight with pane detail. Behind the aft funnel are two
taller ventilators with slanting crowns. At the end of the long main (forecastle) deck are three pyramid deck access fittings. There is a significant undercut at the deck
break between the main deck and lower quarterdeck. On the short quarterdeck are two smaller skylights, a large four hatch access fitting and a very detailed windlass
base with star footings. The lower hull has slightly thick bilge keels, lower belt armor lines and locater holes for the centerline shaft strut support.
Seven major resin parts are cast separately; forward superstructure, aft superstructure, both funnel bases, both funnels and antiaircraft platform. The forward
superstructure has notches on the forward lower end that will need to be cleaned, as they fit over the large windlass plate on the forecastle. The part for the forward
superstructure is three levels, 01 level, 02 level and 03/bridge/conning tower level. It is beautifully detailed. Detail includes the wonderful port holes with eyebrows,
louvered ventilation fittings, door coamings with handle and hinge detail, higher bulkhead doors/ports with hinge detail, small skylight and two other deck fittings,
ribbed splinter shield and windowed bridge. The crown of the conning tower has two cupolas. The aft superstructure is smaller and of two levels. It too has the
same detailed doors and port holes, as well as deck access hatch and locker fittings. Both funnel bases feature ventilation louvers very similar to those found on
World War One German ships. That is not surprising that the
Java was designed by Krupp during World War One. The forward funnel base has a planked deck for
the fore mast. The base for the aft funnel has the ventilation louvers on all sides and a base skylight/ ventilation hatches. Both funnels are hollow from top to bottom
and feature prominent caps. The large anti-aircraft platform fits around the forward funnel and has circular locater outlines for the .50 machine guns.
There are twelve smaller resin parts cast on blocks and thirty runners. Two open boats and the rudder are cast separately and only require minimum cleanup. Those
parts cast on blocks are the four Boffers’ mounts, gun director, three tower ventilators, one louvered ventilator, and a multi-level deck house. The Boffer 40mm
mounts are for twin guns and have the base mount and gun breech on the same block. They are very highly detailed and each mount is finished with photo-etch
brass parts and turned brass gun barrels. The multi-faceted HA gun director has the director arms, hatch detail and door detail cast on. The three tower ventilators
are all centerline fittings with overhanging caps and ventilation hatches at their bases. The hatches have very good detailing. The louvered ventilator is fitted on the
aft portion of the aft superstructure. The multi-level deck house is actually not on a deck. It is above the deck connecting the aft superstructure to the rearmost of
the centerline tower ventilators and serves as the base for the HA gun director.

Resin runners provide the other parts. Five runners have 5.9-inch gun parts. One runner has optional resin shields for the twin Boffers mounts or you can use brass
shields found on the fret. Another runner has the mast control top, deck winches and small deck houses. The tapering fore mast tube and boat kingpost have their
own runners. Machine guns are on a runner. Two runners each have three beautifully detailed search lights. Eight binocular, binnacle and navigation equipment
mounts share a runner. Five surface action gun director tubes in three different sizes are on two runners. Another runner has large and small twin bollard fittings
and mushroom ventilators, which will require some work to remove from the casting runner. The rear edge of the main deck and forward edge of the 01 level are
on a runner and two anti-aircraft platform supports are on another. Four very detailed boat davits share a runner. Paravanes and anchors are on two runners and
both types of parts have outstanding detail. Both cabin launches have their own runners. The launches have cockpit, crown and deck detail. Underwater gear comes
with three propellers on a runner, each outboard shaft skeg on a runner and centerline shaft strut on a runner. Four runners provide Carley rafts in two sizes. All f
the open chocks are on a runner. The last two runners have four tall mushroom ventilators and a runner with more navigation equipment.
A large relief-etch brass photo-etch fret as well as two bags of turned brass parts are included. Relief-etched parts include a display plate, ship’s name plates, range
clocks and platforms. Each funnel gets two brass parts for their grates/clinker screen and three ovals of foot rails. The forward funnel gets a platform and railing
while the aft funnel gets a siren platform with gussets, 13 piece searchlight platform and vertical ladders. Each twin Boffer mount gets seven brass photo-etch
parts, plus the turned brass barrels. The launches get brass wheels and rudder/shaft/propeller parts, while the open boats get thwarts, oars and rudder. Carley rafts
get mesh bottoms and oars. The HA director platform, support frames, railing and inclined ladder are on the fret. Two piece depth charge racks are provided. The
aft funnel base gets two binocular stand platforms with four gussets each. The fore mast gets a control top platform and searchlight platform with 11 additional
brass parts. The stump main mast/kingpost gets its own search light platform, which including pulleys/block and tackle, another 13 brass parts. Other specific
parts are rudder guards, boat chocks, windlass tops and amidship and aft frames. Full deck railing, as well as vertical and inclined ladders are provided. Turned
brass barrels with hollow muzzles are provided for the 5.9-inch and 40mm guns. Turned brass booms are also provided. About the only thing that you’ll have to
supply is anchor chain. The kit also has a small decal sheet with a large and two small Dutch flags.

The instructions could be more detailed. They are four pages printed on a very high quality glossy cardstock with one back-printed sheet folding to create the four
pages. Page one has the history and specifications in English. Page two of the full color assembly shows attachment of lower hull, superstructures, deck houses
with detailed insets on assembly of the 40mm gun mounts, 5.9-inch mounts, HA platform, aft funnels, ship’s boats, fore mast, stump main mast, davits, depth
charge racks and small louvered ventilator tower. Page three finishes assembly with assembly modules for the AA platform, forward funnel, amidship frames,
forecastle, bridge, quarterdeck and aft portion of the main deck. The last page has a full color plan, profile, front view, aft view and detail of funnel area. Colors
are listed by Royal Navy designation and Lifecolor number. I had no problem finding brass parts locations because they are numbered on the fret and in the
instructions. However, it is a different story for the resin parts because they are not numbered on the runners. I had to search for the attachment locations for
some of the resin parts and I still have not found the location for some of the smaller parts. The instructions would have been better if there had been a parts
laydown with resin parts numbered or if they had been numbered on the runners.
The Pacific Cross Roads Java in 1:350 scale is a wonderful kit with detailed resin, brass, photo-etched and turned brass parts. If you love the doomed warships of
Admiral Doorman’s polyglot squadron at the Battle of the Java Sea or just like the obsolescent
Java’s World War One German design, coupled with a plethora of
platforms and ultra modern for 1942 twin Boffers guns, the
Java is a find and a delight. It is available directly from Boris Mulenko of Pacific Cross Roads or from
Brandon Lowe at Free Time Hobbies.
Steve Backer
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