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 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.

With the cancellation of the
Celebes for financial reasons the Dutch naval staff continued to plan and promote a third cruiser for service in the East Indies. By 1930 the time had come to design a third cruiser. The
Netherlands didn’t have the money to build a heavy cruiser but could afford a light cruiser of moderate displacement. The original design was based on a ship with a displacement of 5,250 tons armed with six 6-inch guns
mounted in three twin gun turrets, one turret forward and two placed aft. However, this design was thought too weak and by 1932 had been redesigned to add a seventh 6-inch gun in a superfiring single gun mount
forward. To save weight electric welding was used instead of rivets and some light alloy material was used. The
De Ruyter was laid down on September 16, 1933 and unlike the previous Java class completed in a fairly
short time. She was launched on May 11, 1935 and completed on October 3, 1936. In marked contrast to the
Java Class, the De Ruyter presented a very striking, modern appearance with a striking tower forward
superstructure and a catapult to operate two seaplanes but with no hangar.
De Ruyter was 560-feet 7-inches long (170.92m)(overall), 551-ft, 2-in (168m)(waterline) with a displacement of 6,442 tons standard and 7,548 tons full load. De Ruyter only used two shafts, instead of the three shaft
Java design with the machinery plant developing 66,000shp for a maximum speed of 32-knots. Armor was light with a 2-inch (50mm) belt extending 405-feet from the forward to aft magazines and 12-feet deep, so it
was not a shallow belt. Turrets, barbettes, conning tower, end bulkheads and main deck received 30mm armor. There was no secondary armament but for the time
De Ruyter was fitted with a very strong AA fit with
five twin gun 40mm MkIII Bofor mounts. The mounts were stabilized and had advanced fire control but were all clustered together, presenting the possibility that all five mounts could be disabled by one bomb hit.
Additionally four twin .50in machine gun mounts were fitted to the forward tower and two Fokker C.XIW floatplanes were carried on the catapult.

After three months in home waters for work up,
De Ruyter raised anchor on January 27, 1937 bound for the East Indies. She arrived at Sabang on March 5 and became flagship for the East Indies Squadron on October
25, 1937. She, 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 seaborn 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. On February 3 Doorman had assembled a large portion of the force
and raised his flag on
De Ruyter. With De Ruyter near Surabaya were Houston, Marblehead , Tromp, and seven US flushdeckers. Doorman received a contact report of a Japanese convoy headed south and around
midnight sortied to intercept with his four cruisers, four of the US destroyers an additional four Dutch destroyers. At 09:49 the force sighted around 37 Japanese Nell bombers headed south. Doorman signaled his force
to scatter on the theory that the Japanese formation would have to break apart with only a few bombers able to concentrate on any one target. This was still before the allies realized that concentrating their ships
together for massed supporting AA fire was the best tactic in face of an air attack.
The Japanese force dropped to 14,000-feet and concentrated on Houston and Marblehead . The first two attacks missed completely but Marblehead received a near miss from the third wave at 10:19. In exchange the
cruiser shot down one of her attackers. At 10:27 a fourth wave of seven Nells targeted
Marblehead . One stick of bombs was perfectly aimed and straddled the ship. One bomb crashed through the deck amidships and
destroyed the sickbay, wardroom and all adjacent compartments, as well as starting a fire. Another bomb hit the quarterdeck, folded up the armored deck, wrecked the steering compartment, jammed the rudders hard
to port and started a large fire.
Marblehead , who had repaired her balky turbine after Balikpapan , was stuck cutting huge donuts in the ocean at 25-knots. A third bomb was a near miss that crumpled bow plating and
allowed flooding forward.
Marblehead kept churning up the sea in great circles, down by the head with a 10 degree list to starboard and fires amidships and on the quarterdeck. Fifteen crewmen were killed and 34
seriously injured. Doorman thought the
Marblehead was finished and sent the Tromp in to rescue survivors. However, the old cruiser was far from finished. For Captain Robinson there were three equally essential
priorities to save the
Marblehead . The fires had to be brought under control to prevent their spread and further damage, the leaks especially those at the bow had to be stopped to stop the settling, and the rudders had
to be freed.
Houston had been injured as well as a bomb knocked out her aft 8-inch gun turret, which was never repaired. The powder in the turret exploded and the entire crew of the turret and handling room below
were killed. The last attack came in at 11:11 and went for
De Ruyter but she was lucky and sustained only minor damage from near misses. After offering Marblehead assistance, which was declined, Houston turned
south, bound for the south coast of Java .
De Ruyter circled Marblehead in order to intercede with any further attacks on the stricken cruiser. Although the rudders were still jammed, by noon the Marblehead took a
wobbly course by alternating power to the engines.
De Ruyter and the four US destroyers were still with her. She followed the course of Houston bound for the same port, Tjilatjap on the south coast of Java . By
midnight Doorman in
De Ruyter felt confident that Marblehead was safe and parted company. De Ruyter picked up speed and disappeared into the darkness as Doorman hurried ahead Batavia to reorganize his
shattered command.
Marblehead was sent back to the United States for repairs.

The Striking Force needed reinforcements and on February 14, 1942
HMAS Perth was ordered to the Java Sea to become part of the ABDA striking force, along with HMS Exeter and three British destroyers. All had
been on convoy duty until being sent to the Java Sea . The Australian and British ships joined the
Houston and Dutch cruisers 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. 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.
Niko Model has almost become the one stop shopping galleria for 1:700 scale models of the cruisers of the ABDA Strike Force. Not only can you procure the De Ruyter, reviewed here, but also the Java, Exeter 1942 fit
and
Marblehead. I find the De Ruyter an extremely interesting ship because of the mix of naval architecture. You have the futuristic streamlined forward tower coupled with a straight stem cutwater and biplanes on an
open platform and catapult. And of course there is the omnipresent funky shrouded funnel. The
Niko Model De Ruyter is a beautiful kit and Niko provides all of the trimmings. A great deal of the superstructure is cast
integral to the hull, which is packed with superb, crisp detail. Casting quality is outstanding. The only voids were a few pinhole voids on the bottom of the casting and there was no broken shielding or other detail on the hull
casting. There is some minor resin trim overpour along the waterline, which is easily removed with a couple of swipes of fine grain sandpaper. The most significant “flaw” was a tiny van Dyke goatee at the base of the
cutwater, which is in reality a minuscule part of the casting sheet and is likewise easily removed with sandpaper with minimal effort. Fine detail is abundant. The ribbed splinter shielding around the single 6-inch gun is so
thin as to be translucent and yet there was no damage, voids or break to that extraordinarily thin casting feature. The breakwater also matches this high level of quality. It can be a problem is casting resin to have perfect
execution underneath overhanging platforms but
Niko has certainly pulled it off with the Bofers mount platform of the aft superstructure. The overhanging platform is thin with excellent support detail underneath. The
amidship ventilators exhibit this same fine execution. Additional detail integral with the hull casting include the J quarterdeck ventilator, boat chocks, bow and stern windlasses, bollard fittings, anchor chain deck plates and
deck coamings. In scale the armored belt would be too thick but I consider it more as artistic effect to provide a belt that could be seen on a 1:700 scale model. There is good plank deck detail but the model lacks butt end
detail for the planks.

With so much superstructure cast as part of the hull casting, there are few major separate superstructure part. Primarily these are the forward tower, stack and various decks and platforms. The tower has ventilator grill
detail, door coamings and the requisite portholes. The stack has base detail and incised cap, however, most of the stack detail comes in the form of brass photo-etch parts for the unique shroud/baffle at the top. Decks and
platforms have top and bottom detail with significant support detail on the bottom of each platform. The twin gun turrets have front face vision port detail and separate brass end caps for the sighting wings, while the
superfiring single 6-inch gun has gun detail and rests inside an open backed resin gun shield. The twin Bofer mounts are especially nice with separate mount bases and twin guns. The two Fokker seaplanes are also well
detailed with fabric/ frame patterns on the wings. Each seaplane has nine parts, five resin (fuselage, top wing, bottom wing and two pontoons) and four brass parts (pontoon support struts, two wing struts and propeller).
Twelve resin runners contain the other numerous small parts. Casting is excellent with minimal cleanup of the parts once they are separated from the resin runner. The smaller parts include: search lights, signal lamps, cable
reels, binnacles, depth charge rows with separate brass rack structure, gun directors, machine gun tubs, small platforms, ships’ boats, pylorus, catapult detail, platform support posts, J-shape ventilators, crane details, and
anchors. Additionally, there are three runners of carley rafts.

As exhaustive as is the list of the smaller resin details included in this
Niko kit, so too is the list of brass photo-etch parts included. Niko has included a sizable relief-etched brass fret with the De Ruyter. The brass detail is
as impressive as is the resin part detail. At the top end are the sizable brass structures starting with the funnel shroud. Brass stack detail includes the shroud/baffle itself, shroud/baffle platform, stack mast with 0.2mm and
0.5mm support wires (also included in the kit), two smaller brass platforms, support triangles, and vertical ladder. At the base of the funnel is the aft portion of the sizable raised boat deck. This is an open structure
between the tower superstructure and funnel. This is another intricate subassembly consisting of 14 brass parts: the horizontal centerline platform, athwart platform, two side rails, eight boat chocks, and vertical supports.
There are two aircraft cranes each of 12 parts, brass parts are the lower crane arm, upper triangle support structure, pulleys, arm platform, crane base, crane platform, and crane ladder/side platform. The resin parts,
which add the extra touch in dimension are three pulley arrangements and turntable. Additionally
Niko provides 0.1mm wire for the crane cables. Also included is an alternate and similar crane arm carried by the ship before
1941. In addition to these major subassemblies there are numerous brass parts for other areas of the kit. Among these parts are: main turret site end caps, searchlight covers, seaplane details, tower platform, anchor chain,
flag & ensign staffs, foremast with yards, DF loop, platform supports, vertical ladder, catapult, catapult platform, catapult turntable, davits, inclined ladders, windlass top, aircraft platform railing and cradle. Full railing is
included with six runs of four-bar and one of three-bar railing.

At first glance, the instructions seem competent but with the more complex sub-assemblies, I would feel more comfortable with secondary sources, such as the Profile Morskie or De Ruyter Profile monographs. Page one
has the parts laydown with each resin and brass part numbered. In the instructions resin parts are indicated by that resin part number inside a circle and a brass pert indicated by the number inside a square. The actual
assembly is shown in a series of isometric sections concentrating on portions of the ship. Page two has sections on the forecastle, basic tower superstructure, and three sections on tower superstructure details with
separate insets on the main gun turrets and searchlights. Page three covers raised boat platform, stack assembly, crane assembly, and final assembly of these subassemblies. Page four concludes with sections on the
catapult, seaplanes, seaplane platform, aft superstructure and quarterdeck with separate insets for the twin Bofor mounts, main director and depth charge racks.
Niko also includes a separate color profile and plan of the
camouflage scheme carried by the cruiser at the time of her loss.
Niko Model has provided a highly detail multi-media kit of the De Ruyter in 1:700 scale, including fine resin parts, relief-etched brass and separate wire all the way down to 0.1mm in width. Because of the intricacies of
some of the subassemblies, it may be too much for an initial resin modeler, but for everyone else, have at it!
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