The combat plan is drawn in haste, in Hiei's
bridge, with all ship commanders attending. It is relatively simple:Nagato
and the Emden
would split off from the main fleet with an escorting force of destroyers and intercept the German Super-Dread at the eastern coast of Korea, off Gensan. They were instructed to adopt a primarily delaying stance - Yamamoto was all too aware that his old Battle-wagons would have trouble engaging a modern German ship. Unfortunately, Musashi
, the core of the Japanese battle-line were still days away, in the South China Sea.
The Japanese Battlecruiser force, on the other hand, escorted by the Heavy Cruisers, would engage the German Battlecruisers in the western
Korean coastline, before they could reach Liaotung. Sigint reported only two German capitals in the area; so the Fearsome Four should
be able to deal with them.
And so, the two forces met on the 22nd of February. At 08:14, Kongo
reported capital ship contacts on her ITMS; and battle was joined.
The Japannese ships were clustered together, having just emerged from a small squall; the Battlecruisers were leading, with the Heavy Cruiser force out of position, further to the east.
The Germans, on the other hand, were waiting. The Japanese exited the squall only to be met by the distant muzzle-flashes of the German Battlecruisers.
The shells arrive a few seconds later. One strikes Kongo's
deck and ricochets into B Turret's ring; the bearings jam and the massive gun mount locks in place. A second shot strikes Kirishima's
belt and penetrates, sending red-hot shrapnel through her citadel space. Thankfully, her combat effectiveness is not impeded and the Four turn as one to close the range.
The Japanese battlecruisers return fire. The first Graf Spee
) is struck by one shell from the Kongo's
main batteries. Kirishima
locks her firing control on the second enemy ship, the Victoria Louise
and returns the favour by putting two shells into her belt.
Once again, the German return fire is accurate. The Deutschland
scores a hit on Kongo
; and that shell strikes Kongo's
aft turret, taking its hydraulics out of commission.
The Japanese ships keep closing the range
And they get punished for it again
as a 16-inch shell punches through Kongo's
superstructure. But this time, Kongo
has the range. Her three remaining 17-inch rifles boom; and one of her shells connects with the Deutschland's
And then the rest of the Japanese battleline erupts in smoke and fury. Haruna
fires her entire broadside at Victoria Louise
; and four out of the nine shells smash into the German's side. Smoke billows out and the German battlecruiser staggers. Hiei
follows up with her own 16-inchers and hits the Deutschland
amidships. The Germans's guns bark in reply, but the one shell that connects strikes Kirishima's
belt at an angle and, miraculously, ricochets off.
The Japanese ships fire again
score two hits each on their targets.
And then a spark of light blossoms on the Deutschland's
The flash fire reaches to the heavens. Observation stations in Japan
pick up the light and shockwave and the nation holds its breath. The mushroom cloud climbs and climbs and billows out; and, for a moment, the battle stops in the face of apocalyptic fury. There is no cheering. There is just slack-jawed awe.
And then the Four close in on the Victoria Louise
like hungry sharks.
The shells now fall like rain; and the German Battlecruiser turns to disengage. But little Yaeyama
is there, arriving late to the party, but rushing the German behemoth from the east and cutting off her escape.
The German destroyers are caught between a rock and a hard place. On their back, the entirety of the Japanese force. On their front, a destroyer killer. They decide to risk the latter, and rush to engage the Yaeyama. They need to take her torpedoes out of the fight, if the Victoria Louise
is to get through.
But, as they come under the fire of Yaeyama's
rapid-firing 6-inchers, they leave the coast clear for the Japanese DDs to rush up the battlecruiser's aft. Mutsuki
closes in and launches her fish.
And just like that, any hope of escape for the Germans is lost. They still get their revenge though, as two 16-inch shells smash through Yaeyama's
belt and start a flooding that will nearly kill the ship.
Less than half an hour after her sister's death, the Victoria Louise
goes down, slowly and gracefully, leaving more than enough time for her crews to evacuate her.
The battle still rages around her hulk, as Yaeyama
is still finishing up the remaining German DDs.
Yamamoto reports his success. And requests an update from the battleship force. The news are more than surprising.
Apparently, upon sighting of the Japanese force and the Emden
, the German Dreadnought Preussen
struck her colours and declared for the Kaiser. Her First Officer, Fregattenkapitaen
Walter Hein had staged a mutiny, relieving and arresting her Captain and the political officers. The Preussen
is now SMS Preussen
and making good speed toward Java.
The operation is an undreamed-of success. The entirety of the Far East German Fleet is either sunk or captured. And when poor, heroic, flooding Yaeyama
reaches the port of Dalny with less than a foot of freeboard, the entirety of Japan erupts in cheers.
For they haven't lost a single