05:52 DKM Graf Spee <SE 155° – 15 knots>
2 mast detected on the horizon at 31000 m, Captain Langsdorff decide to engage. It was to his knowledge that British were having Cruisers sailing in the area but he was expecting a heavy cruiser and 2 destroyers.
06:16 HMS Exeter <ENE 324° – 14 knots>
Note: The camouflage pattern on the DKM Graf Spee has been successful at confusing the observers from the HMS Exeter for a while.
06:20 HMS Exeter <ENE 324° – 14 knots>
06:23 HMS Ajax <NNW 340° – 25 knots>
06:24 HMS Exeter <WNW 300° – 30 knots>
Direct double hit on B turret, out of service. Splinters are showering the bridge above killing and wounding most of the crewman. After running out of control for a moment, the lower steering took back control on a 275° course. Exeter receive 2 more hits and several near misses. (Ex / 07)
06:25 DKM Graf Spee <SE 115° – 21 knots>
6:31 HMS Exeter <NW 324° – 30 knots>
3 more direct hits, one on A turret, putting her out of action after 40 to 50 shots. The fire control table is out of service. Meanwhile the Graf Spee was hit twice by 8” from Exeter plus a near miss splintering the port side. 2 more hits from Graf Spee disabled ship communications forcing the remaining Y to use local fire control.(Ex /12) (Gs / 02)
06:37 HMS Ajax <NNW 340° – 27 knots>
06:38 HMS Achilles <NNW 340° – 28 knots>
A near miss splintered the DCT killing and wounding 70% of the DCT crew. This will disorganize the HMS Achilles returning fire for several minutes and confuse also the HMS Ajax fire control officer. (Ac / 01)
Communication with the Fairey Seafox is established, initially the plane radio was on the reconnaissance channel, while the HMS Ajax was on the spotting channel. Unfortunately HMS Achilles off pace shooting were used by the spotting plane to feed back the HMS Ajax. This created an incredible 4000 yd error (over 16 kyd, 25%). Order to close distance 60° to port.
6:52 HMS Ajax <NNW 280° – 28 knots>
Signal to speed up to 31 knots.
7:04 DKM Graf Spee <NNW 280° – 24 knots>
Power supply are flooded, Y turret cannot be operated. HMS Exeter turn away behind a smoke screen.
Pope, 1956, “The Battle of the River Plate”
Grove, 2000, “The Price of Disobedience” The Battle of the River Plate reconsidered