Battle of the Coral Sea

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The Battle of the Coral Sea was a battle fought during 4–8 May 1942. It was a major naval battle in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. The battle was between the Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first battle between aircraft carriers. It was also the first naval battle in which the warships of neither side actually saw the warships of the other side. Instead, each side sent planes to attack the ships of the other side.

Japanese forces made a plan to invade and occupy Port Moresby in New Guinea and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. When the U.S. discovered this plan, it sent two Navy aircraft carrier groups and a combined Australian–American cruiser force.

On 3–4 May, Japanese forces invaded and occupied Tulagi. The Japanese aircraft carriers entered the Coral Sea to try to destroy the Allied naval forces.

On 7 May, the carrier forces from the two sides sent planes to attack the ships of the other side. The first day, the U.S. sank the Japanese light carrier Shōhō, while the Japanese sank a U.S. destroyer. The next day, the Japanese carrier Shōkaku was badly damaged, and the U.S. carriers Lexington and the Yorktown were damaged. Since both sides suffered heavy losses in aircraft and carriers, the two fleets stopped the battle.

The Japanese sunk more ships than the U.S. However, the battle was considered a victory for the Allies because the Japanese forces were not able to capture the locations they were hoping to occupy. As well, the Japanese carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku were not able to fight in the Battle of Midway, which helped the U.S. to win this battle. Japan's losses of carriers meant that they could not invade Port Moresby. Two months later, the Allies launched the Guadalcanal Campaign.

Background[change | change source]

Japanese expansion[change | change source]

On 7 December 1941, using aircraft carriers, the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack destroyed most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's battleships. It also started a state of war between the two nations. The Japanese wanted to destroy American navy ships, capture land with natural resources, and obtain military bases to defend their empire.

At the same time that they were attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked Malaya. This caused the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand to join the United States as Allies in the war against Japan (Australia had joined World War 2 in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland). The goals of the Japanese battles in the war were to remove British and Americans from the Netherlands Indies and the Philippines.[1]

Imperial Japanese advances in the Southwest Pacific from December 1941 to April 1942

In the first few months of 1942, Japanese forces attacked and captured the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, the Netherlands East Indies, Wake Island, New Britain, the Gilbert Islands, and Guam. They also destroyed a lot of Allied land, naval, and air forces. Japan planned to use these lands to defend its empire.[2]

Shortly after the war began, Japan's Naval General Staff wanted to invade Northern Australia. The goal was to prevent Australia from being used as a base to threaten Japan's defenses in the South Pacific.

The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) said it did not have the forces or ships to invade Australia. Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the IJN's 4th Fleet (also called the South Seas Force) had the idea of capturing Tulagi in the southeastern Solomon Islands and Port Moresby in New Guinea.

This would put northern Australia within range of Japanese land-based aircraft. Japan decided to capture New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa. This would make it hard for the United States to supply Australia.[3]

In April 1942, the army and navy developed a plan called Operation MO. The plan was to invade Port Moresby by 10 May. The plan also included capturing Tulagi on 2–3 May. This would give the navy a base for attacks against Allied territories and forces in the South Pacific.

When MO was done, the navy planned to do Operation RY. This was a plan to capture Nauru and Ocean Island for their phosphate deposits on 15 May.

Further attacks against Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia were planned. There was a damaging air attack by Allied aircraft on Japanese naval forces invading the Lae-Salamaua area in New Guinea in March. Inoue requested carriers to provide airplanes. Inoue was worried about Allied bombers at air bases in Townsville and Cooktown, Australia.[4]

Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the 4th Fleet of the Imperial Japan Navy

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of Japan's Combined Fleet, was planning an attack for June. He wanted to try to destroy the U.S. Navy's carriers. None were damaged in the Pearl Harbor attack. [5]

Allied response[change | change source]

Unknown to the Japanese, the U.S. Navy had decoded Japanese secret codes. By March 1942, the U.S. was able to figure out up to 15% of the IJN's code. By the end of April the Americans were reading up to 85% of the messages in code.[6]

In March 1942, the U.S. first noticed the MO operation in messages. On 13 April, the British decoded an IJN message telling Inoue that the Fifth Carrier Division, consisting of the fleet carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku, was being sent. The British sent the message to the Americans. They also said that Port Moresby would probably be attacked in the MO plan.[7]

Frank Jack Fletcher, commander of US Task Force 17

Admiral Chester Nimitz, the new commander of Allied forces in the Pacific, and his staff thought the Japanese were planning an attack in early May on Port Moresby. The Allies saw Port Moresby as an important base for attacking the Japanese. Nimitz's staff also thought that the Japanese might attack Allied bases in Samoa and at Suva.

Nimitz sent all four of the Pacific fleet's aircraft carriers to the Coral Sea. By 27 April, Japanese messages helped the allies to know most targets of the MO and RY plans.[8]

On 29 April, Nimitz sent his four carriers and their supporting warships towards the Coral Sea. Task Force 17 consisted of the carrier Yorktown, three cruisers and four destroyers. It was supported by two oilers and two destroyers.

Task Force 11 consisted of the carrier Lexington with two cruisers. TF 16 included the carriers Enterprise and the USS Hornet, but they were too far away.

Nimitz put Fletcher in command of Allied naval forces in the South Pacific area until Halsey arrived[9] Halsey was told to command all three task forces once TF 16 arrived in the Coral Sea area (Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 167).

The Japanese thought that all but one of the U.S. Navy's carriers were in the central Pacific. The Japanese did not know the location of the other carrier, but they did not expect an American carrier response to MO until the attacks had begun.[10]

Battle[change | change source]

Prelude[change | change source]

During late April, the Japanese submarines RO-33 and RO-34 searched the area where landings were planned. The submarines explored Rossel Island and the Deboyne Group area and the route to Port Moresby. They did not see any Allied ships and returned to Rabaul on 23 and 24 April.[11]

The Japanese Port Moresby Invasion Force, commanded by Rear Admiral Kōsō Abe, included 11 transport ships carrying about 5,000 soldiers from the IJA's South Seas Detachment plus 500 more troops.

This included one light cruiser and six destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Sadamichi Kajioka. Abe's ships departed Rabaul for the 840 nmi (970 mi; 1,560 km) trip to Port Moresby on 4 May and were joined by Kajioka's force the next day. The ships, planned to arrive at Port Moresby by 10 May.[12]

The Allied forces at Port Moresby had 5,333 men, but only half of these were infantry and all had poor equipment and little training.[13]

Map of the battle, 3–9 May, showing the movements of most of the major forces involved[14]

Leading the invasion of Tulagi was the Tulagi Invasion Force. It was commanded by Rear Admiral Kiyohide Shima. It consisted of two minelayers, two destroyers, six minesweepers, two subchasers, and a transport ship carrying about 400 troops. Supporting the Tulagi force was the light carrier Shōhō, four heavy cruisers, and one destroyer, commanded by Rear Admiral Aritomo Gotō.

There was a separate force commanded by Rear Admiral Kuninori Marumo. It consisted of two light cruisers, the seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru, and three gunboats.[15] Inoue directed MO from the cruiser Kashima. He arrived on 4 May.[16]

Gotō's force left Truk on 28 April and stayed near New Georgia Island. Marumo's support group left New Ireland to establish a seaplane base on 2 May to support the Tulagi attack. Shima's invasion force left Rabaul on 30 April.[17]

The Carrier Strike Force with carriers Zuikaku and Shōkaku, two heavy cruisers, and six destroyers left from Truk on 1 May. The strike force was commanded by Vice Admiral Takeo Takagi (flag on cruiser Myoko). Rear Admiral Chūichi Hara, on Zuikaku, commanded the carrier air forces.

The Carrier Strike Force was to enter the Coral Sea south of Guadalcanal. Once in the Coral Sea, the carriers were to provide airplanes for the invasion forces, destroy Allied airplanes at Port Moresby, and destroy any Allied naval forces in the Coral Sea.[18]

Takagi's carriers were to deliver nine Zero fighter aircraft to Rabaul. Bad weather during two attempts to make the delivery made the aircraft to return to the carriers. One of the Zeros crashed in the ocean.[19]

To find out if any Allied naval forces were coming, the Japanese sent submarines to wait southwest of Guadalcanal. Fletcher's forces got into the Coral Sea area before the submarines arrived and the Japanese did not see them. Another sub was sent to explore around Nouméa. It was attacked by Yorktown aircraft on 2 May. [20]

Yorktown conducts aircraft operations in the Pacific sometime before the battle. A fleet oiler is in the near background.

On the morning of 1 May, [21] Fletcher sent TF11 to refuel. TF 17 completed refueling the next day. Fletcher took TF 17 northwest towards the Louisiades and ordered TF 11 to meet TF 44 on 4 May. TF 44 was a joint Australia–U.S. warship force under MacArthur's command. It was led by Australian Rear Admiral John Crace. It was made up of the cruisers HMAS Australia, Hobart, and USS Chicago.[22]

Tulagi[change | change source]

Early on 3 May, Shima's force arrived off Tulagi and the naval troops began to occupy the island. Tulagi was undefended. The small guard of Australian commandos and a Royal Australian Air Force group left before Shima's arrival. The Japanese forces built a seaplane and communications base.[23]

At 17:00 on 3 May, Fletcher was told that the Japanese Tulagi invasion force had been seen. TF 17 went towards Guadalcanal to launch air attacks against the Japanese forces at Tulagi.[24]

On 4 May, from a position 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) south of Guadalcanal (11°10′S 158°49′E / 11.167°S 158.817°E / -11.167; 158.817), 60 aircraft from TF 17 launched three attacks against Shima's forces off Tulagi. Yorktown's aircraft sank the destroyer Kikuzuki (09°07′S 160°12′E / 9.117°S 160.2°E / -9.117; 160.2) and three of the minesweepers, damaged four other ships, and destroyed four seaplanes. The Americans lost one dive bomber and two fighters. Even though the Japanese forces were harmed by the carrier strikes, they kept building the seaplane base. They began flying from Tulagi by 6 May.[25]

Takagi's Carrier Striking Force was north of Tulagi when it learned of Fletcher's strike on 4 May. Takagi sent planes to search for the American carriers, but the planes found nothing.[26]

Air searches and decisions[change | change source]

At 08:16 on 5 May, TF 17 met up with TF 11 and TF 44 south of Guadalcanal. At the same time, four F4F Wildcat fighter aircraft from Yorktown shot down a Kawanishi Type 97 aircraft from the Yokohama Air Group. [27]

A message from Pearl Harbor told Fletcher that Japanese planned to land their troops at Port Moresby on 10 May and their carriers would be close to the invasion group. Fletcher planned to take his forces north towards the Louisiades.[28]

Zuikaku crewmen service aircraft on the carrier's flight deck on 5 May.

Takagi's carrier force entered the Coral Sea in the early morning hours of 6 May.[29]

On 6 May, Fletcher joined TF 11 and TF 44 into TF 17. He thought the Japanese carriers were still well to the north. American planes did not find the Japanese naval forces, because they were located beyond the planes' range.[30]

At 10:00, a Kawanishi flying boat from Tulagi saw TF 17 and sent a message to its headquarters. Takagi received the report at 10:50. At that time, Takagi's force was about 300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km) north of Fletcher. Takagi's ships were still refueling, so he was not yet ready to battle. Takagi sent his two carriers with two destroyers under Hara's command to head towards TF 17 at 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h) so that they could attack the next day.[31]

American B-17 bombers based in Australia[32] attacked the Port Moresby invasion forces, including Gotō's warships, several timeson 6 May without success. MacArthur's headquarters told Fletcher about the locations of the Japanese invasion forces. MacArthur's planes saw a carrier (Shōhō) about 425 nmi (489 mi; 787 km) northwest of TF17.[33]

Animated map of the battle, 6–8 May

At 18:00, TF 17 completed fueling and Fletcher sent Neosho with a destroyer, Sims, to wait further south. TF 17 then turned to head northwest towards Rossel Island. At 20:00 (13°20′S 157°40′E / 13.333°S 157.667°E / -13.333; 157.667), Hara met Takagi who completed refueling.[34]

Late on 6 May or early on 7 May, Kamikawa Maru set up a seaplane base in the Deboyne Islands to help the invasion forces as they approached Port Moresby. The rest of Marumo's Cover Force waited near the D'Entrecasteaux Islands.[35]

Carrier battle, first day[change | change source]

Morning strikes[change | change source]

At 06:25 on 7 May, TF 17 was 115 nmi (132 mi; 213 km) south of Rossel Island (13°20′S 154°21′E / 13.333°S 154.35°E / -13.333; 154.35). At this time, Fletcher sent Crace's cruiser and destroyer force out. When Crace's warships left, this reduced the anti-aircraft defenses for Fletcher's carriers. Fletcher wanted to make sure the Japanese invasion forces could not sneak through to Port Moresby while he was fighting with the Japanese carriers.[36]

Fletcher thought Takagi's carrier force was north of his location. Fletcher told Yorktown to send 10 SBD dive bombers to search that area. Takagi launched 12 Type 97 carrier bombers at 06:00 to search for TF 17. Hara thought that Fletcher's ships were to the south. Gotō's cruisers Kinugasa and Furutaka launched four Kawanishi E7K2 Type 94 floatplanes to search for the Americans. Each side got its carrier attack aircraft ready to launch once the enemy was located.[37]

Japanese carrier dive bombers head towards the reported position of American carriers on 7 May.

At 07:22 one of Takagi's carrier planes, from Shōkaku located American ships. At 07:45, the Japanese pilot located "one carrier, one cruiser, and three destroyers".[38] Hara thought that he had found the American carriers. Hara launched all of his available aircraft. A total of 78 aircraft—18 Zero fighters, 36 Type 99 dive bombers, and 24 torpedo aircraft—began flying from Shōkaku and Zuikaku at 08:00.[39]

At 08:20, one aircraft found Fletcher's carriers. Takagi and Hara continued with the attack on the ships to their south. They also turned their carriers towards the northwest to get closer to the Americans.[40] Takagi and Hara thought that the U.S. carrier forces might be operating in two groups.[41]

At 08:15, a Yorktown plane saw Gotō's force. He reported two carriers and four heavy cruisers" at 10°3′S 152°27′E / 10.05°S 152.45°E / -10.05; 152.45, 225 nmi (259 mi; 417 km) northwest of TF17.[42] Fletcher thought he had found the Japanese main carrier force. He ordered all available carrier aircraft to attack. By 10:13, the American force of 93 aircraft – 18 F4F Wildcats, 53 SBD dive bombers, and 22 TBD Devastator torpedo bombers were flying. At 10:12, however, Fletcher received a report from three United States Army B-17s[43] of an aircraft carrier, ten transports, and 16 warships.

Believing that this was the main Japanese carrier force, Fletcher directed the airplanes towards this target.[44]

Neosho (upper center) is left burning and slowly sinking after a Japanese dive bombing attack.

At 09:15, Takagi's force sighted Neosho and Sims. Takagi now realized the American carriers were between him and the invasion forces. Takagi ordered his aircraft to attack Neosho and Sims. At 11:15, the 36 dive bombers attacked the two American ships.[45]

Four dive bombers attacked Sims and the rest attacked Neosho. The destroyer was hit by three bombs, broke in half, and sank, killing all but 14 of her 192-man crew. Neosho was hit by seven bombs. Heavily damaged and without power, Neosho was sinking. Neosho told Fletcher by radio that she was under attack.[46]

The American aircraft sighted Shōhō at 10:40 and attacked. The Japanese carrier was protected by six Zeros and two Type 96 'Claude' fighters flying combat air patrol (CAP). Gotō's cruisers surrounded the carrier.[47]

Shōhō is bombed and torpedoed by U.S. carrier aircraft.

Attacking first, Lexington's air group hit Shōhō with two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs and five torpedoes, causing severe damage. At 11:00, Yorktown's air group attacked the burning carrier with 11 more 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs and two torpedoes. Torn apart, Shōhō sank at 11:35 (10°29′S 152°55′E / 10.483°S 152.917°E / -10.483; 152.917). Gotō sent his warships to the north, but sent the destroyer Sazanami to rescue survivors. Only 203 of the carrier's 834-man crew were rescued. Three American aircraft were lost in the attack. All of Shōhō's aircraft were lost. At 12:10, a pilot told TF 17 that the attack was successful.[48]

Afternoon operations[change | change source]

The American aircraft returned and landed on their carriers by 13:38. By 14:20, the aircraft ready to launch against the Port Moresby Invasion Force or Gotō's cruisers. Fletcher was worried that he did not know where the other Japanese fleet carriers were. Allied forces thought that up to four Japanese carriers might be nearby. Fletcher turned TF17 southwest.[49]

When Inoue was told that Shōhō had been sunk, he ordered the invasion convoy to pull back to the north. He ordered Takagi to destroy the American carrier forces. As the invasion convoy pulled back, it was bombed by eight U.S. Army B-17s, but was not damaged. Gotō and Kajioka were told to place their ships south of Rossel Island for a night battle if the American ships got close enough.[50]

At 12:40, a seaplane saw Crace's force. At 13:15, an aircraft from Rabaul saw Crace's force. Takagi turned his carriers west at 13:30 and told Inoue at 15:00 that the US carriers were too far away to attack them that day.[51]

HMAS Australia (center) and TG17.3 under air attack on 7 May

Inoue's men sent attack aircraft from Rabaul towards Crace. The first group included 12 torpedo-armed Type 1 bombers and the second group was 19 Mitsubishi Type 96 aircraft armed with bombs. Both groups found and attacked Crace's ships at 14:30. Crace's ships were undamaged and shot down four Type 1s. A short time later, three U.S. Army B-17s bombed Crace by accident, but caused no damage.[52]

Crace radioed Fletcher that he could not complete his mission without airplanes. Crace moved southward. Crace's ships were low on fuel.[53]

Takagi's staff thought that the Allied ships would be close enough to attack before nightfall. Takagi and Hara decided to attack with aircraft, even though they would have to return after dark.[54]

To try to confirm the location of the American carriers, at 15:15 Hara eight torpedo bombers to look 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) westward. The dive bombers returned from their attack on Neosho and landed. At 16:15 Hara launched 12 dive bombers and 15 torpedo planes with orders to try to find the American ships.[55]

At 17:47, TF 17 detected the Japanese forces on radar heading in their direction. The Americans sent 11 CAP Wildcats to attack the Japanese planes. The Wildcats shot down seven torpedo bombers and one dive bomber, and heavily damaged another torpedo bomber. Three Wildcats were lost.[56]

The Japanese leaders canceled the mission and returned to their carriers. The sun set at 18:30. Several of the Japanese dive bombers found the American carriers in the darkness and tried to land on them. Anti-aircraft fire from TF 17's destroyers sent them away. By 20:00, TF 17 and Takagi were about 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) apart. Takagi turned on his ships' searchlights to help the 18 surviving aircraft get back.[57]

At 15:18 and 17:18 Neosho radioed TF 17 that she was sinking. Fletcher knew his only nearby fuel supply was gone.[58]

As nightfall ended aircraft flights for the day, Fletcher ordered TF 17 to head west. Crace also turned west. Inoue told Takagi to destroy the U.S. carriers the next day. He delayed the Port Moresby landings to 12 May. Takagi took his carriers 120 nmi (140 mi; 220 km) north during the night to protect the invasion convoy. Gotō and Kajioka were unable to attack the Allied warships at night.[59]

Both sides spent the night preparing their aircraft for the battle. In 1972, U.S. Vice Admiral H. S. Duckworth said Coral Sea was the most confused battle area in world history."[60] Hara said he was so frustrated with the "poor luck" the Japanese hac on 7 May that he felt like quitting the navy.[61]

Carrier battle, second day[change | change source]

Attack on the Japanese carriers[change | change source]

At 06:15 on 8 May, Hara launched seven torpedo bombers to search the area south from the Japanese carriers. Three Kawanishi Type 97s from Tulagi and four Type 1 bombers from Rabaul also helped in the search. At 07:00, the carrier force turned to the southwest and was joined by two of Gotō's cruisers, Kinugasa and Furutaka. The invasion convoy, Gotō, and Kajioka moved east of Woodlark Island. [62]

At 06:35, TF 17 launched 18 SBDs to search for Japanese ships. The skies over the American carriers were mostly clear.[63]

An A6M Zero fighter leads the air group launch off the deck of Shōkaku.

At 08:20, a Lexington SBD spotted the Japanese carriers and told TF 17. Two minutes later, a Shōkaku plane saw TF 17 and told Hara. The two forces were about 210 nmi (240 mi; 390 km) away from each other. Both sides got ready to launch their aircraft.[64]

Yorktown (foreground) and Lexington turn to launch under clear skies on 8 May.

At 09:15, the Japanese carriers launched 18 fighters, 33 dive bombers, and 18 torpedo planes. The American carriers each launched a separate attack. Yorktown's group consisted of six fighters, 24 dive bombers, and nine torpedo planes. Lexington's group was made up of nine fighters, 15 dive bombers, and 12 torpedo planes. Both the American and Japanese carrier forces turned to head directly for each other.[65]

Yorktown's dive bombers reached the Japanese carriers at 10:32. At this time, Shōkaku and Zuikaku were about 10,000 yd (9,100 m) apart, with Zuikaku hidden under clouds. The two carriers were protected by 16 CAP Zero fighters. The Yorktown dive bombers attacked at 10:57 on Shōkaku and hit the carrier with two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs, causing heavy damage to the carrier's flight and hangar decks. The Yorktown torpedo planes missed with all of their torpedoes. Two U.S. dive bombers and two CAP Zeros were shot down during the attack.[66]

Shōkaku, at high speed and turning hard, has had bomb strikes and is afire.

Lexington's aircraft arrived and attacked at 11:30. Two dive bombers attacked Shōkaku, hitting the carrier with one 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb, causing further damage. Two other dive bombers attacked Zuikaku, missing with their bombs. The rest of Lexington's dive bombers were unable to find the Japanese carriers in the heavy clouds. Lexington's TBDs missed Shōkaku with all 11 of their torpedoes. The 13 CAP Zeros on patrol shot down three Wildcats.[67]

With her flight deck heavily damaged and 223 of her crew killed or wounded, Shōkaku was unable to launch any more planes. At 12:10, Shōkaku and two destroyers pulled back to the northeast.[68]

Attack on the U.S. carriers[change | change source]

At 10:55, Lexington's radar detected the Japanese aircraft and sent nine Wildcats to attack the planes. Six of the Wildcats were too low, and they missed the Japanese aircraft as they passed by overhead.[69] Because of the heavy losses in aircraft the night before, the Japanese could not do a full torpedo attack on both carriers. The Japanese sent 14 torpedo planes to attack Lexington and four to attack Yorktown. A Wildcat shot down one and 8 Yorktown SBDs destroyed three. Four SBDs were shot down by Zeros escorting the torpedo planes.[70]

Lexington (center right), afire and under heavy attack, in a photograph taken from a Japanese aircraft

The Japanese attack began at 11:13 as the carriers, stationed 3,000 yd (2,700 m) apart, fired with anti-aircraft guns. The four torpedo planes which attacked Yorktown all missed. The remaining torpedo planes hit Lexington with two Type 91 torpedoes. The first torpedo broke the aviation gasoline tanks. The second torpedo caused several of the boilers to stop working. Four of the Japanese torpedo planes were shot down by anti-aircraft fire.[71]

The 33 Japanese dive bombers attacked after the torpedo attacks. The 19 Shōkaku dive bombers attacked Lexington while the remaining 14, attacked Yorktown. Zeros protected the dive bombers from four Lexington CAP Wildcats. Takahashi's bombers damaged Lexington with two bomb hits, causing fires which were put out by 12:33. At 11:27, Yorktown was hit in the center of her flight deck by a single 250 kg (550 lb), semi-armor-piercing bomb which penetrated four decks before exploding, causing severe damage and killing or seriously wounding 66 men. Up to 12 near misses damaged Yorktown's hull below the waterline. Two of the dive bombers were shot down by a CAP Wildcat during the attack.[72]

Tamotsu Ema, leader of the Zuikaku dive bombers which damaged Yorktown

As the Japanese aircraft completed their attacks and began to fly back, they were attacked by US planes. [73]

Recovery, reassessment, and retreat[change | change source]

The planes, with many damaged aircraft, landed on their carriers between 12:50 and 14:30. Yorktown and Lexington were both able to land planes. Forty-six of the original 69 aircraft from the Japanese force returned. Three more Zeros, four dive bombers, and five torpedo planes were damaged beyond repair and were pushed into the ocean.[74]

As TF 17 got its aircraft back, Fletcher thought about the situation. Fletcher knew both his carriers were hurt and that he had lost a lot of fighters. Fuel was also a problem due to the loss of Neosho. At 14:22, Fitch told Fletcher that there were two undamaged Japanese carriers. Fletcher pulled TF17 out from the battle. Fletcher radioed MacArthur the position of the Japanese carriers and suggested that he attack them with bombers.[75]

Around 14:30, Hara informed Takagi that only 24 Zeros, eight dive bombers, and four torpedo planes from the carriers were working. Takagi was worried about his ships' fuel levels; his cruisers were at 50% and some of his destroyers were as low as 20%. At 15:00 Takagi said he had sunk two American carriers – Yorktown and a "Saratoga-class". Inoue called the invasion convoy to Rabaul, postponed MO to 3 July, and ordered his forces to gather northeast of the Solomons to begin the RY operation.

Zuikaku and her escorts turned towards Rabaul while Shōkaku headed for Japan.[76]

Lexington, burning and abandoned

Aboard Lexington, an explosion killed 25 men and started a large fire. Around 14:42, another large explosion occurred, starting a second fire. A third explosion occurred at 15:25. Lexington's crew began abandoning ship at 17:07. After the carrier's survivors were rescued, including Fitch and the carrier's captain, Frederick C. Sherman, at 19:15 the destroyer Phelps fired five torpedoes into the burning ship, which sank in 2,400 fathoms at 19:52 (15°15′S 155°35′E / 15.25°S 155.583°E / -15.25; 155.583).

Two hundred and sixteen of the carrier's 2,951-man crew sunk with the ship, along with 36 aircraft. Phelps and the other warships left to rejoin Yorktown, which departed at 16:01, and TF17 moved to the southwest. Later that evening, MacArthur informed Fletcher that eight of his B-17s had attacked the invasion convoy and that it was moving to the northwest.[77]

That evening, Crace sent Hobart, which was low on fuel, and the destroyer Walke, which was having engine trouble, to Townsville. Crace remained on patrol in the Coral Sea in case the Japanese invasion force tried to go towards Port Moresby.[78]

Significance[change | change source]

A new type of naval war[change | change source]

The battle was the first naval battle in history in which the ships never saw or fired directly at each other. Instead, aircraft were used to attack each other.

This was a carrier-versus-carrier battle. Neither commander had experience with this. The commanders had poor communications. This was hard, because the battle took place over a large area. The planes flew so fast that it meant there was not much time to make decisions.[79]

The Japanese had problems because Inoue was too far away at Rabaul to direct his naval forces. Fletcher was on a carrier, so it was easier for him to direct his forces. The Japanese admirals did not share information quickly.[80]

The experienced Japanese carrier aircrews did better than those of the U.S. The Japanese aircrews did more damage with the same number of aircraft. The Japanese attack on the American carriers on 8 May was better organized than the U.S. attack on the Japanese carriers.

The Japanese had much higher losses to their carrier aircrews. They lost ninety aircrew killed in the battle compared with thirty-five for the Americans. Japan's highly skilled carrier aircrews could not be replaced because the training programs could not produce enough new aircrew. There were not training programs to produce skilled pilots. Coral Sea was the start of Japan losing its experienced aircrews.[81]

The Americans did learn from their mistakes in the battle. They made improvements to their carrier fighting approach. The Americans improved their anti-aircraft defences. Radar gave the Americans an advantage in this battle.

Following the loss of Lexington, improved methods for carrying airplane fuel and better ways of dealing with damage were developed by the Americans.[82] Coordination between the Allied land-based air forces and the U.S. Navy was poor during this battle.[83]

A 13 May 1942 editorial cartoon from the Japanese English-language newspaper Japan Times & Advertisershows Uncle Sam joining Winston Churchill in erecting grave markers for Allied ships which Japan had sunk, or claimed to have sunk, at Coral Sea and elsewhere.

Japanese and U.S. carriers would fight again in the battles of Midway, the Eastern Solomons, and the Santa Cruz Islands in 1942, and the Philippine Sea in 1944. Each of these battles had an impact on what would happen in the Pacific War.[84]

Tactical and strategic implications[change | change source]

Both sides claimed victory after the battle. In terms of ships lost, the Japanese won a victory by sinking an American fleet carrier, an oiler, and a destroyer – 41,826 long tons (42,497 t). The Americans sunk a light carrier, a destroyer, and several smaller warships – 19,000 long tons (19,000 t). Lexington was one quarter of U.S. carrier strength in the Pacific.[85] The Japanese public was told it was a victory.[86]

The Allies won because the sea invasion of Port Moresby was stopped. This meant that supply lines between the U.S. and Australia were protected. Although pulling Yorktown away from the Coral Sea was like giving the sea area to the Japanese, the Japanese stopped their invasion plans.[87]

The battle was the first time that a Japanese invasion force was stopped. This improved the morale of the Allies. The Allies had been defeated by the Japanese during the first six months of the Pacific War.

Port Moresby was important to the Allies. The US Navy said that the damage it did to the Japanese was greater than what it really did[88].[89]

The battle affected the planning of both sides. Without in New Guinea, the Allied advance would have been more difficult.[90] For the Japanese, the battle was seen as a problem. The battle showed the Japanese that American were not that good in battle. The Japanese thought that future carrier attacks against the U.S. would be successful.[91]

Midway[change | change source]

One of the most important effects of the Coral Sea battle was the loss of Shōkaku and Zuikaku.

Yamamoto wanted to use these carriers to battle American carriers at Midway (Shōhō was supposed to support the Japanese invasion ground forces). The Japanese thought that they sank two carriers in the Coral Sea, but this still left at least two more U.S. Navy carriers, Enterprise and Hornet, which could fight at Midway.

American carriers had more planes than Japanese carriers. The US also had land-based aircraft at Midway. This meant that the Japanese did not have more planes at Midway. The Americans would have three carriers at Midway, because Yorktown could still sail, even with the damage from Coral Sea. The U.S. Navy was able to repair Yorktown at Pearl Harbor between 27 and 30 May so that she could fight in the battle.

At Midway, Yorktown's aircraft were important in sinking two Japanese carriers. Yorktown also took a lot of the Japanese air attacks at Midway which would have been directed at the other American carriers.[92]

Yorktown in drydock at Pearl Harbor on 29 May 1942, shortly before departing for Midway.

The Americans worked hard to get the maximum number of forces for Midway. The Japanese did not try to include Zuikaku in the operation. The Japanese did not try to put the Shōkaku aircrews with Zuikaku's air groups or provide Zuikaku with new aircraft. Shōkaku had a damaged flight deck which required three months of repair in Japan.[93]

Historians H. P. Willmott, Jonathan Parshall, and Anthony Tully think Yamamoto made an error in deciding support the MO. Since Yamamoto thought the big battle with the Americans would be at Midway, he should not have sent fleet carriers to less important battle like MO. Japanese naval forces were weakened at both the Coral Sea and Midway battles, which allowed the Allies to defeat them. [94]

Yamamoto did not notice another thing about the Coral Sea battle. The Americans put their carriers the right place and time to fight the Japanese. U.S. Navy carrier aircrews showed skill and tried to do major damage to the Japanese carrier forces. Japan lost four fleet carriers at Midway, which made Japan start to lose the Pacific War. [95]

Situation in the South Pacific[change | change source]

The Australians and U.S. forces in Australia were disappointed with the the Battle of the Coral Sea. They thought that the MO operation was going to lead to an invasion of the Australian mainland. In a meeting held in late May, the Australian Advisory War Council said the battle was disappointing since the Allies knew about the Japanese plans.

General MacArthur told Australian Prime Minister John Curtin that Japanese forces could attack anywhere if supported by the IJN.[96]

Australian troops defending the approach to Port Moresby along the Kokoda Track in September 1942.

Because of the losses in carriers at Midway, the Japanese were unable to invade Port Moresby from the sea. Japan tried to capture Port Moresby by land. Japan began its attack towards Port Moresby along the Kokoda Track on 21 July from Buna and Gona.

By then, the Allies sent more troops to New Guinea. The added forces slowed and stopped the Japanese advance towards Port Moresby in September 1942. They also stopped the Japanese from capturing an Allied base at Milne Bay.[97]

The Allies tried their to use their victories at Coral Sea and Midway to try to win the war against Japan. The Allies chose Tulagi and Guadalcanal as their first attacks.

The failure of the Japanese to take Port Moresby, and their defeat at Midway, meant Tulagi was not protected by other Japanese bases. Tulagi was four hours flying time from Rabaul, the nearest large Japanese base.[98]

On 7 August 1942, 11,000 U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal and 3,000 U.S. Marines landed on Tulagi and nearby islands.[99] The Japanese troops on Tulagi and nearby islands killed in the Battle of Tulagi and Gavutu-Tanambogo. The U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal captured an airfield under construction by the Japanese.[100]

This started the Guadalcanal and Solomon Islands Campaigns. These resulted in a number of battles between Allied and Japanese forces over the next year. Along with the New Guinea campaign, this destroyed Japanese defences, caused huge losses for the Japanese military—especially the Navy. This helped the Allies to win the war against Japan.[101]

The delay in the advance of Japanese forces also allowed the United States Marine Corps to land on Funafuti on October 2, 1942. The US built airfields from which USAAF B-24 Liberator bombers could fly. The atolls of Tuvalu were places the Allies could use to get ready for the Battle of Tarawa and the Battle of Makin that started on 20 November 1943.[102]

References[change | change source]

  1. Parker, p. 3, Millot, pp. 12–13.
  2. Murray, pp. 169–195; Willmott (1982), p. 435; Willmott (2002), pp. 3–8; Millot, pp. 12–13; Henry, p. 14; Morison, p. 6.
  3. United States Army Center of Military History (USACMH) (Vol II), p. 127; Parker, p. 5; Frank, pp. 21–22; Willmott (1983), pp. 52–53, Willmott (2002), pp. 10–13; Hayashi, pp. 42–43; Dull, p. 122–125; Millot, pp. 24–27; D'Albas, pp. 92–93; Henry, pp. 14–15; Morison, p. 10; Parshall, pp. 27–29. The Senshi Sōshō does not mention Inoue's role in the decision to invade Port Moresby, only stating it was a product of an agreement between the IJN and IJA in January 1942 (Bullard, p. 49).
  4. Gill, p. 39, Hoyt, pp. 8–9; Willmott (1983), p. 84; Willmott (2002), pp. 12–13 & 16–17; Hayashi, pp. 42–43 & 50–51; Dull, pp. 122–125; Millot, pp. 27–31; Lundstrom (2006), p. 138; Bullard, p. 50; Parshall, pp. 27–29 & 31–32.
  5. Jersey, p. 57, Willmott (2002), pp. 16–17, Dull, pp. 122–124; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 121–122; D'Albas, p. 94; Morison, p. 11; Parshall, pp. 57–59.
  6. Parker, pp. 20–22; Willmott, (2002), pp. 21–22; Parshall, p. 60. For unknown reasons, the IJN delayed changing the RO code from 1 April to 1 to 27 May 1942 (Wilmott, pp. 21–22; Lundstrom (2006), p. 119).
  7. Prados, p. 301.
  8. Parker, p. 24; Prados, pp. 302–303; Hoyt, p. 7; Willmott (2002), pp. 22–25; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 167; Cressman, p. 83; Millot, pp. 31–32; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 121–122, 125, & 128–129; Henry, pp. 14–15; Holmes, pp. 69–72; Morison, pp. 11–13; Parshall, pp. 60–61; Crave, p. 447. The British radio interception station was at Colombo on Ceylon (Lundstrom). The U.S. mistakenly believed (in part due to erroneous transliteration of the characters of her name) that Shōhō was a previously unknown fleet carrier, Ryūkaku, with 84 aircraft (Holmes, p. 70). A Japanese prisoner captured at the Battle of Midway informed the U.S. of the correct reading of the carrier's kanji and identified her as actually a light carrier (Lundstrom and Morison, p. 11). The Japanese apparently had not developed cipher codes for several of the islands in the Louisiade Archipelago and thus transmitted the island names in Katakana in the clear, making it easier for the Americans to decipher the meaning of the messages (Holmes, p. 65). According to Parker (pp. 22–23), MacArthur refused to believe the radio intelligence forecasts of the MO operation and did not acknowledge that the Japanese were attempting to invade Port Moresby until his reconnaissance aircraft actually sighted Japanese ships approaching the Louisiades and New Guinea in the first week of May.
  9. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 135–153, 163–167, Willmott (2002), pp. 25–26; Hoyt, pp. 15–19; Cressman, pp. 83–84; Millot, pp. 32–34; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 126–127; Henry, p. 15.
  10. Willmott (2002), pp. 25–26; Lundstrom (2006), p. 139; Spector, p. 157.
  11. Hashimoto (1954), p. 54; Hackett and Kingsepp "RO-33" and "RO-34".
  12. Bullard, p. 65, Hoyt, p. 8, Dull, pp. 124–125; D'Albas, p. 110; Gill, p. 42; Jersey, p. 58; Hayashi, pp. 50–51; Lundstrom (2006), p. 138; Cressman, p. 93; D'Albas, p. 94; Bullard, p. 147; Rottman, p 84. The South Seas Detachment was commanded by Major General Tomitarō Horii (United States Army Center of Military History (USACMH) (Vol 1), p. 47). Rottman states that the South Seas Detachment included 4,886 total troops including the 55th Infantry Group and 144th Infantry Regiment from the 55th Division, 47th Field Anti-Aircraft Battalion, and attached medical and water supply support units. Senshi Sōshō only lists nine transports by name (Bullard, pp. 56–57).
  13. McCarthy, pp. 82, 112; Willmott (1983), p. 143. McCarthy does not give exact numbers, but states that 1,000 troops, including an infantry battalion, were at Port Moresby in December 1941 and that two more battalions arrived the next month. Willmott (p. 143) states that 4,250 troops were delivered on 3 January 1942 bringing the Port Moresby garrison to three infantry battalions, one field artillery battalion, and a battery of anti-aircraft guns.
  14. USACMH (Vol 1), p. 48.
  15. Jersey, pp. 58–60; Dull, p. 124.
  16. Millot, p. 37; Lundstrom (2006), p. 147.
  17. Hoyt, p. 7, Dull, pp. 124–125; Wilmott (2002), p. 38; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 188; Lundstrom (2006), p. 143. One of Shōhō's Zeros ditched in the ocean on 2 May and the pilot, Tamura Shunichi, was killed. Lundstrom (2006) states that the seaplane base on Santa Isabel was at Thousand Ships Bay, not Rekata Bay (p. 138) as reported in other sources.
  18. Tully, "IJN Shokaku"; Gill, pp. 40–41; Dull, pp. 124–125; Millot, pp. 31 & 150; Lundstrom (2006), p. 138 & 145; D'Albas, p. 94; Gillison, p. 526; Willmott (1983), pp. 210–211. The Carrier Strike Force was originally tasked with conducting surprise air raids on Allied air bases at Coen, Cooktown, and Townsville, Australia but the raids were later cancelled by Inoue as Takagi's carriers approached the Solomons (Lundstrom).
  19. Wilmott (2002), p. 38–39; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 187; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 140–145. Seven Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers accompanied the Zeros to return the pilots back to the carriers. The sources do not say whether the pilot in the ditched Zero was recovered.
  20. Gill, p. 40; Wilmott (2002), p. 39; Cressman, pp. 84–86; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 139 & 144; Hashimoto (1954), p. 54; Morison, p. 22; Hackett and Kingsepp "RO-33" and "RO-34". Fletcher sent destroyers Anderson and Sims to look for the submarine. The two ships returned the next morning (3 May) without finding the sub (Lundstrom 2006, p. 144). I-27, along with I-21, was assigned to look around Nouméa during the MO operation (Hackett, "IJN Submarine I-28").
  21. Morison, p. 20.
  22. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONL), p. 3; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 167; Cressman, p. 84; Woolridge, p. 37; Millot, pp. 41–43; Pelvin; Dull, p. 126; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 141–144. TF44's destroyers were Perkins, Walke, and Farragut. Chicago and Perkins sortied from Nouméa with the rest from Australia. TF44 was formerly known as the ANZAC Squadron and was assigned to MacArthur's command under U.S. Rear Admiral Herbert Fairfax Leary (Lundstrom (2006), p. 133; Morison, p. 15; Gill, p. 34). Crace was senior in time in rank to Fletcher, but the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board assented to a request from King that Allied naval carrier forces in the area operate under the command of a U.S. flag officer (Lundstrom (2006), p. 133). The two oilers carried a total of 153,000 barrels (24,300 m3). TF11 and TF17 together burned about 11,400 barrels per day (1,810 m3/d) at normal cruising speed (15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h)) (Lundstrom (2006), p. 135). The destroyer Worden accompanied Tippecanoe to Efate (ONI, p. 11).
  23. Jersey, p. 60; Wilmott (2002), p. 38; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 144–145; D'Albas, pp. 95–96; Hata, p. 58.
  24. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 168; Dull, pp. 126–127; Jersey, p. 62; Cressman, p. 86; Gill, p. 43; Hoyt, p. 20; Parker, p. 27; Millot, pp. 43–45; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 144–146. The order to maintain radio silence was to help conceal the presence of the forces from the enemy. Cressman states that Shima's force was sighted by Australia-based U.S. Army aircraft from Darwin, Glencurry, and Townsville (Cressman, p. 84), but Lundstrom says that the sighting was most likely by a coastwatcher in the Solomons. Morison (p. 24) speculates that Fitch should have tried to inform Fletcher of his status via an aircraft-delivered message.
  25. Lundstrom (2006), pp. 146–149; Brown, p. 62, Hoyt, pp. 21–31; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 168–178; Jersey, p. 63; Cressman, p. 87–94; Millot, pp. 45–51; Dull, pp. 127–128; Morison, pp. 25–28; Nevitt, "IJN Kikuzuki"; Hackett, "IJN Seaplane Tender Kiyokawa Maru". Yorktown's operational aircraft for this day's action consisted of 18 F4F-3 Wildcat fighters, 30 SBD-3 dive bombers, and 12 TBD-1 torpedo planes (Lundstrom and Cressman).
  26. Lundstrom (2006), p. 147; D'Albas, p. 96. U.S. Army and RAAF aircraft sighted Gotō's ships several times during 4 May. Gillison (p. 518) states that an RAAF PBY, commanded by Flying Officer Nomran, which was shadowing Gotō reported that it was under attack and disappeared.
  27. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 178–179; Wilmott (2002), pp. 40–41; Hoyt, p. 33; Cressman, pp. 93–94; Woolridge, p. 37; Millot, pp. 51–52; Dull, p. 128; Lundstrom (2006), p. 150; D'Albas, p. 96; Morison, pp. 28–29. Cressman states that the Kawanishi was from Tulagi but Lundstrom says that it was one of three flying from the Shortlands along with six from Tulagi (Lundstrom 2006, p. 150). D'Albas says it was from Rabaul.
  28. Wilmott (2002), pp. 40–41; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 178–179; Hoyt, p. 34; Cressman, pp. 94–95; Hoehling, p. 39; Millot, pp. 52–53; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 150–153. During the fueling, Yorktown transferred seven crewmembers with reassignment orders to Neosho. Four of them subsequently perished in the attack on the tanker (Cressman, p. 94–95).
  29. Wilmott (2002), pp. 41–42; Hoyt, pp. 33–34; Lundstrom (2006), p. 139; Dull, pp. 127–128; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 181; Cressman, p. 93; Millot, pp. 51–53; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 147 & 152–153; D'Albas, p. 96; Morison, p. 29. Gotō refueled his cruisers from the oiler Irō near the Shortland Islands on 5 May (Morison, p. 29). Also this day, Inoue shifted the four I-class submarines deployed in the Coral Sea to a point 150 nmi (170 mi; 280 km) northeast of Australia. None of the four would be a factor in the battle (Lundstrom 2006, p. 150). Since Takagi transited the Solomons during the night, the Nouméa-based U.S. Navy PBYs did not sight him (Lundstrom). Takagi's oiler was Tōhō Maru (Lundstrom).
  30. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 179–181; Hoyt, p. 37; Cressman, pp. 84 & 94–95; Millot, pp. 54–55; Lundstrom (2006), p. 155; Morison, pp. 29–31. Fitch's command was called Task Group 17.5 and included four destroyers as well as the carriers; Grace's command was redesignated as Task Group 17.3, and the rest of the cruisers and destroyers (Minneapolis, New Orleans, Astoria, Chester, Portland and five destroyers from Captain Alexander R. Early's Destroyer Squadron One) were designated Task Group 17.2 under Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid (Lundstrom (2006), p. 137).
  31. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 181–182; Hoyt, p. 35; Dull, p. 130; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 155–156.
  32. Chicago Sun Times newspaper article, 18 (?) June 1942, Chicagoan B-17 pilot, William B. Campbell [sic] Actually William Haddock Campbell, Army Air Force B-17 pilot. Reported out of Melbourne, Australia.
  33. The B17s were from the 40th Reconnaissance Squadron. Salecker p. 179; Hoyt, p. 35; Millot, p. 55; Dull, p. 130; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 155–157; D'Albas, p. 97; Morison, pp. 31–32; Gillison, p. 519. Three B-17s from Port Moresby attacked Gōto's ships at 10:30 (Dull and Lundstrom, 2006). Gotō's ships were stationed about 90 nmi (100 mi; 170 km) northeast of Deboyne (D'Albas) to screen the left flank of Abe's and Kajioka's ships. Hackett ("HIJMS Furutaka") states four B-17s attacked Gotō's cruisers as they refueled at the Shortlands, causing no damage. Shōhō provided a combat air patrol over the invasion convoy until sundown (Morison, p. 32). The B-17s were from the 19th Bombardment Group (Morison, p. 31). Crave (p. 448) and Gillison (p. 523) state MacArthur's reconnaissance B-17s and B-25s from the 90th Bombardment Squadron provided Fletcher with sightings of the Japanese invasion forces, including Gotō's, on 4–5 May but the U.S. Navy, for unexplained reasons, has no record of having received these sighting reports. Gillison states that an RAAF reconnaissance PBY, commanded by Squadron Leader G. E. Hemsworth, was lost to enemy action near the Louisiades on 6 May.
  34. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 181–182; Hoyt, p. 37; Cressman, pp. 94–95; Millot, p 56. Neosho was supposed to shuttle between two prearranged rendezvous points, "Rye" (16°S 158°E / 16°S 158°E / -16; 158) and "Corn" (15°S 160°E / 15°S 160°E / -15; 160) to be available to provide additional fuel to TF17 as needed (Cressman, p. 94 and Morison, p. 33).
  35. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 181; Hoyt, p. 35; Millot, p. 57; Dull, p. 130; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 154 & 157; Bullard, p. 62; Morison, pp. 31–32. Lundstrom states there was another ship with Kamikawa Maru which helped set up the Deboyne base but does not identify the ship (Lundstrom 2006, p. 154).
  36. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 189–190 & 206–209; Hoyt, pp. 51–52; Cressman, p. 94; Millot, pp. 62–63; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 161–162; Henry, p. 50; Morison, p. 37. At this time, TG17.3 consisted of cruisers Chicago, Australia, and Hobart and destroyers Walke, Perkins, and Farragut. Farragut was detached from TF17's screen (Millot and Morison).
  37. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 189–190; Hoyt, pp. 37–38 & 53; Millot, pp. 57–58 & 63; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 159 & 165–166; Morison, pp. 33–34. At this time TF17 had 128 and Takagi 111 operational aircraft (Lundstrom 2006, p. 159). Also this day, Inoue ordered the four I-class submarines to deploy further south to intercept any Allied ships returning to Australia following the impending battle (Lundstrom 2006, p. 159).
  38. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 190; Cressman, p. 95; Dull, p. 130; Lundstrom (2006), p. 166.
  39. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 190–191; Hoyt, p. 38; Cressman, p. 95; Millot, pp. 58–59; Lundstrom (2006), p. 166. Shigekazu Shimazaki led Zuikaku's torpedo bombers in this attack.
  40. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 192–193; Cressman, p. 95; Millot, p. 59; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 166–167; Werneth, p. 67. Cressman reports that a scout SBD piloted by John L. Nielsen shot down an Aichi E13A from Deboyne, killing its crew including plane commander Eiichi Ogata. Another SBD, piloted by Lavell M. Bigelow, destroyed an E13 from Furutaka commanded by Chuichi Matsumoto.
  41. Bullard, p. 63.
  42. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 193; Hoyt, p. 53; Cressman, p. 95; Dull, p. 131; Millot, pp. 66–69; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 163–164; Henry, p. 54; Morison, p. 40. The SBD's coding system was a board with pegs and holes to allow for rapid transmission of coded ship types. In Nielsen's case, the board was apparently not aligned properly (Cressman). Many of the sources are not completely clear on who exactly Nielsen spotted. Dull says he spotted the "Close Cover Force". Gotō's unit was called the "Distant Cover Force" or "Covering Group" and Marumo's was called the "Cover Force" or "Support Group". Millot and Morison state that Nielsen sighted "Marushige's" cruisers, not Gotō's. Marushige is presumably Marumo's cruiser force. Lundstrom (2006) states that Nielsen sighted Gotō.
  43. Army Air Corps B-17 pilot, COL William H. Campbell, USAF (Retired)
  44. Salecker, pp. 179–180; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 193–196; Hoyt, pp. 53–54; Cressman, pp. 95–96; Millot, pp. 66–69; Dull, pp. 131–132; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 165–167; Henry, p. 54; Morison, pp. 40–41. Lundstrom says the B-17 sighting was 30 mi (30 mi; 48 km) from the cruisers but Cressman says 60 nmi (69 mi; 110 km). USACMH (Vol 1) (p. 47) states that 10 B-17s were involved. At 11:00, TF17's combat air patrol (CAP) shot down a Kawanishi Type 97 from Tulagi (Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 196–197, Lundstrom 2006, p. 168). Ten F4Fs, 28 SBDs, and 12 TBDs were from Lexington and eight F4F, 25 SBD, and 10 TBD were from Yorktown (Cressman and Lundstrom 2006). The Kinugasa floatplane reported the launch of the U.S. strike force (Lundstrom 2006, p. 167). The three B-17s, after making their sighting report, bombed the Kamikawa Maru at Deboyne but caused only minor damage (Lundstrom 2006, p. 166).
  45. A Shōkaku torpedo plane which ditched at Indispensable Reefs on 7 May 1942, photographed on 9 June.
    Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 205–206; Hoyt, pp. 38–39; Cressman, p. 95; Millot, pp. 60–61; Dull, pp. 130–131; Lundstrom (2006), p. 167. The two Shōkaku scout aircraft, which lingered over the target area trying to assist the strike force in locating the American ships, did not have sufficient fuel to return to their carrier and ditched on the Indispensable Reefs (see photo at right). The two crews were rescued by a Japanese destroyer, perhaps Ariake (Cressman, p. 92), on 7 May. Ariake sighted the two unrecovered Yorktown airmen from the Tulagi strike floating off Guadalcanal, but did not attempt to capture or kill them (Cressman, p. 92).
  46. ONI, p. 19; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 205–206; Hoyt, pp. 38–50, 71, 218 & 221; Cressman, p. 95; Hoehling, p. 43; Millot, pp. 60–62 & 71; Dull, pp. 130–131; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 164–167; Morison, pp. 34–35. Several sources, including Hoyt, Millot, and Morison state that Neosho was attacked first by one, then three or more horizontal bombers around 09:05 before the main Japanese strike. What occurred, in fact, was that several Japanese torpedo aircraft dropped target designators near the oiler while the main strike force approached (Lundstrom 2006, p. 167). The dive bomber which crashed into Neosho was piloted by Petty Officer Second Class Shigeo Ishizuka with Petty Officer Third Class Masayoshi Kawazoe as the rear gunner/observer (Werneth, p. 66). Both were killed. Sixteen survivors from Sims were taken aboard Neosho, but one died soon after and another died after rescue four days later. The captain of Sims, Willford Hyman, was killed in the attack. One of Neosho's crewmen, Oscar V. Peterson, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts to save the ship in spite of severe and ultimately fatal injuries suffered during the attack. At the time of the attack, Neosho's crew numbered 288 officers and men. Twenty are known to have died in the attack. A post-attack muster counted 110 personnel. The remaining 158 crewmen (including four officers) panicked and abandoned ship during or shortly after the attack. Of the men who abandoned ship, only four were eventually recovered; the rest died or vanished (ONI, pp. 48–53; Phillips, Hoyt, p. 130 & 192–193; Morison, pp. 35–37).
  47. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 197–198 (says 1,500 yd (1,400 m) for the cruisers with Shōhō); Hoyt, pp. 54–55; Cressman, pp. 96–97; Millot, p. 69; Dull, p. 132; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 168–169; Henry, pp. 54–56. Shōhō was preparing an attack of five torpedo planes and three Zeros. Three Zeros were flying at the beginning of the attack and three more were launched as the attack started. Senshi Sōshō, Gotō's cruisers were there to warn the carrier of incoming aircraft, not to provide anti-aircraft fire (Lundstrom 2006, p. 169 and a privately made sketch from the Senshi Sōsho). Japanese carrier defense doctrine at that time relied on maneuvering and fighter defenses to avoid air attack instead of concentrated anti-aircraft fire from escorting warships (Lundstrom).
  48. Chart of bomb and torpedo hits on Shōhō
    Brown, p. 62, Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 198–206; Hoyt, pp. 55–61; Tully, "IJN Shoho"; Cressman, pp. 96–98; Millot, pp. 69–71; Dull, p. 132; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 168–169; Hata, p. 59; Morison, pp. 41–42; Willmott (2002), p. 43; United States Strategic Bombing Survey, p. 57. One of the shot-down SBD crews, from Yorktown, was rescued. Dixon's phrase was quoted by Chicago Tribune war correspondent Stanley Johnston in a June 1942 article and subsequently requoted in most accounts of the Pacific War. Lexington's commanding officer, Captain Frederick C. Sherman, credited Dixon, commanding officer of squadron VS-2, with coining the word "flattop" which became standard slang for an aircraft carrier. Of the 203 Shōhō crewmen rescued, 72 were wounded. Shōhō's captain, Izawa Ishinosuke, survived. Sazanami was Shōhō's plane guard destroyer. Four Zeros and one Type 96 fighter were shot down during the attack. The remaining two Zeros and one Type 96 ditched at Deboyne. The surviving Type 96 pilot was Shiro Ishikawa. One of the surviving Zero pilots was Kenjiro Nōtomi, commander of Shōhō's fighter group (Lundstrom).
  49. ONI, p. 17; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 206–207; Hoyt, p. 61; Cressman, pp. 96–97; Millot, pp. 71–72; Lundstrom (2006), p. 170. U.S. intelligence personnel at Pearl Harbor and with TF17 believed that Japanese carriers Kaga and Kasuga Maru (Taiyō) might also be involved with the MO operation (Lundstrom 2006, pp. 196–197). According to Prados (p. 309), the Japanese carriers' aircraft homing signals were detected by Yorktown's radio intelligence unit, led by Lieutenant Forrest R. Baird. Baird later stated that he pinpointed the location of Takagi's carriers, but Fletcher disbelieved the intelligence after learning that Lexington's unit, led by Lieutenant Commander Ransom Fullinwider, had not detected the homing signals (Prados).
  50. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 207–208; Dull, p. 132; Lundstrom (2006), p. 169; Gillison, p. 519.
  51. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 207–208; Hoyt, p. 65; Lundstrom (2006), p. 175. Lieutenant Hideo Minematsu, commander of the Deboyne seaplane base, studied all the day's sighting reports and worked out the true positions of Crace's and Fletcher's ships and notified his headquarters at 14:49. Inoue's staff appears to have ignored Minematsu's report (Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 208).
  52. Salecker, pp. 180–181; Gill, pp. 49–50; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 208–209; Hoyt, pp. 66–69; Tagaya, pp. 40–41; Millot, pp. 63–66; Pelvin; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 159 & 171–174; Morison, pp. 38–39. The Type 1s, armed with Type 91 torpedos, were from the IJN's 4th Air Group (4th Kokutai) and launched from Vunakanau airfield, Rabaul, at 09:15 escorted by 11 Zeros from the Tainan Air Group based at Lae, New Guinea (Lundstrom 2006, p. 171). Perhaps low on fuel, the Zeros turned back to Lae shortly before the bombers attacked Crace's ships. The Type 96s, each armed with a pair of 250 kg (550 lb) bombs, were from the IJN's Genzan Air Group and were originally assigned to bomb Port Moresby. All were operating as part of the 25th Air Flotilla under the command of Sadayoshi Yamada at Rabaul (Millot). One of the destroyed Type 1s was commanded by the formation leader, Lieutenant Kuniharu Kobayashi, who was killed. In addition to the four shot down at sea, one Type 1 crash-landed at Lae with serious damage and another ditched in the water at Deboyne with one dead crewman (Tagaya). Two crewmen in Chicago were killed and five wounded in the Japanese air attack (Hoyt, p. 68). According to Hoyt (p. 69) and Morison (pp. 20 & 39), MacArthur's air commander, Lieutenant General George Brett, later flatly denied any of his B-17s could have attacked Crace and prohibited further discussion of the incident. Millot and Gill incorrectly state the bombers were B-26s from the 19th Bomb Group based at Townsville, Australia. The three B-17s were led by Captain John A. Roberts (Lundstrom 2006, p. 172). Gillison (p. 520) states MacArthur's fliers were not informed until after the battle was over that Allied warships were operating in the Coral Sea area. Salecker states that the B-17s attacked because they misidentified the Japanese bombers as American B-25 or B-26 bombers. One of the three B-17s ran out of fuel on its return to base and was destroyed in the resulting crash, but the crew bailed-out and survived (Salecker, p. 181).
  53. Gill, pp. 50–51; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 208–209; Hoyt, pp. 66–69; Tagaya, pp. 40–41; Millot, pp. 63–66; Pelvin; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 159 & 171–174; Morison, pp. 38–39. Crace later said of his situation at sunset on 7 May, "I had received no information from [Fletcher] regarding his position, his intentions or what had been achieved during the day" (Lundstrom 2006, p. 174; Gill, p. 50).
  54. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 209; Hoyt, pp. 61–62; Millot, p. 74; Lundstrom (2006), p. 175. The aircraft which made this report was probably an Aoba floatplane staging through Deboyne. The report was incorrect; neither Crace nor Fletcher was heading southeast at that time (Lundstrom 2006, p. 175).
  55. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 209; Hoyt, pp. 61–62; Millot, pp. 74–75; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 175–176. Two of the dive bombers returning from hitting Neosho crashed while attempting to land, but the crews apparently survived. Lieutenant Tamotsu Ema, commander of Zuikaku's dive bomber squadron, was one of the pilots selected for the evening strike mission.
  56. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 209–212; Hoyt, pp. 62–63; Cressman, pp. 99–100; Woolridge, pp. 38–39; Millot, p. 75; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 176–177. Five of the downed torpedo bombers were from Zuikaku and the other two were from Shōkaku, as was the damaged torpedo plane. The dive bomber was from Zuikaku. The dead Japanese aircrews included the commanding officer of Zuikaku's torpedo bomber squadron, Lieutenant Tsubota Yoshiaki, and his deputy, Lieutenant Murakami Yoshito. The pilot of the damaged torpedo bomber was killed, so the middle-seat observer took over the controls and ditched near Shōkaku; both he and the rear gunner were killed. Two of the Wildcat pilots, Ensign John Drayton Baker from VF2 squadron on Lexington and Leslie L. Knox from VF42 on Yorktown, were killed in action. Another CAP Wildcat, piloted by John Baker from Yorktown's VF-42 squadron, was apparently unable to locate TF17 in the deepening gloom after the action and vanished without a trace (Lundstrom and Cressman). William Wolfe Wileman was one of the Wildcat pilots who survived the action.
  57. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 214–218; Hoyt, pp. 63–64; Cressman, pp. 100–101; Woolridge, p. 39; Hoehling, pp. 45–47; Millot, pp. 75–76; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 176–180. Cressman says that some of the Japanese carrier aircraft did not land until after 23:00. Hoehling and Woolridge report that up to eight Japanese aircraft may have lined up to land on the U.S. carriers after sunset, but Lundstrom and Cressman explain that the number of aircraft was probably fewer than that. Millot states that 11 more of the Japanese aircraft were lost while landing on their carriers, but Lundstrom disagrees. In addition to his carriers' lights, Takagi's cruisers and destroyers illuminated the two carriers with their searchlights (Lundstrom 2006, p. 178).
  58. Lundstrom (2006), pp. 173–174. Tippecanoe was sent to Efate to give her remaining fuel to the ships of a supply convoy. One other oiler, E. J. Henry, was at Suva and therefore several days away from the Nouméa area (Lundstrom 2006, p. 173).
  59. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 219–220; Hoyt, pp. 64 & 77; Cressman, p. 101; Hoehling, p. 47; Millot, pp. 78–79; Dull, p. 132; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 171 & 180–182.
  60. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 219–220; Cressman, p. 101; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 180–182. Fletcher contemplated launching a carrier nocturnal attack or sending his cruisers and destroyers after Takagi's ships during the night, but decided it would be better to preserve his forces for battle the next day (ONI, p. 19; Cressman, p. 101 and Lundstrom 2006, pp. 179–180). During the night, three Japanese Type 97 aircraft armed with torpedoes hunted Crace but failed to locate him (Lundstrom 2006, p. 182).
  61. Chihaya, p. 128.
  62. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 219–221; Millot, pp. 72 & 80; Dull, p. 132; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 181 & 186; Morison, p. 46. The carrier search aircraft included four from Shōkaku and three from Zuikaku. The floatplanes at Deboyne patrolled the area directly south of the Louisiades. Furutaka and Kinugasa joined the striking force at 07:50. After the previous day's losses, the striking force at this time consisted of 96 operational aircraft: 38 fighters, 33 dive bombers, and 25 torpedo bombers (Lundstrom 2006, p. 186).
  63. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 221–222; Hoyt, p. 75; Cressman, p. 103; Woolridge, p. 48; Millot, pp. 82–83 & 87; Dull, p. 132; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 181–184. Twelve SBDs were assigned to the northern search area where the Japanese carriers were expected to be. The six SBDs assigned to the southern sector were to fly out only 125 nautical miles (232 km) and then look for submarines. At this time TF17 had 117 planes, including 31 fighters, 65 dive bombers, and 21 torpedo planes (Lundstrom 2006, p. 183) Eight SBDs were told to look for submarines, and 16 fighters, eight from each ship, to the CAP (Lundstrom 2006, p. 183). Around 01:10, Fletcher sent the destroyer Monaghan to try to find out what happened to Neosho. Monaghan was unable to find her and returned to TF17 that evening. While separated from TF17, Monaghan sent several messages to Nimitz and MacArthur, to allow TF17 to maintain radio silence (Cressman, p. 103; Hoyt, p. 127; Lundstrom 2006, p. 181). Fitch was not actually notified by Fletcher he was in tactical control of the carriers until 09:08 (Lundstrom 2006, p. 186). According to Parker (p. 29), Fletcher was informed early on 8 May his Fleet Radio Unit (an onboard intelligence team) located Japanese carriers northeast of his position.
  64. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 222–225; Hoyt, pp. 76–77; Cressman, p. 103; Woolridge, pp. 40–41; Hoehling, pp. 52–53; Millot, pp. 81–85; Dull, pp. 132–133; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 185–187; Morison, pp. 48–49. Kanno, a warrant officer, was the middle-seat observer on a plane piloted by Petty Officer First Class Tsuguo Gotō. The radioman was Petty Officer Second Class Seijirō Kishida (Werneth, p. 67). Radio interception analysts in TF17 copied Kanno's messages and alerted Fletcher his carrier's location was known to the Japanese. Smith's report mistakenly placed the Japanese carriers 45 nmi (52 mi; 83 km) south of their actual position. An SBD piloted by Robert E. Dixon took over for Smith and stayed on station near the Japanese carriers to help guide in the U.S. strike until 10:45 (Morison).
  65. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 224–227 & 243–246; Hoyt, pp. 79 & 89; Cressman, p. 104; Millot, p. 85; Dull, pp. 132–133; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 186–187; Morison, p. 49. An odd number of fighters took part in Lexington's attack because one of VF-2's Wildcats, piloted by Doc Sellstrom, was damaged during launch preparations and was forced to stay behind. TF17 recovered its returning scout aircraft between 09:20 and 10:50, and launched 10 SBDs for anti-submarine patrol at 10:12. The Japanese strike force included nine fighters, 19 dive bombers, and 10 torpedo planes from Shōkaku and nine fighters, 14 dive bombers, and 8 torpedo planes from Zuikaku. The fighters were Type 0s, the dive bombers were Type 99 kanbaku, and the torpedo planes were Type 97 kankō. Takahashi was in one of Shōkaku's kanbaku. By heading south, Takagi unwittingly moved his carriers into the range of the American TBD torpedo planes, which otherwise would have been forced to turn back without participating in the attack (Lunstrom 2006, p. 187). Shortly after 10:00, two Yorktown CAP Wildcats shot down a Japanese Type 97 scout aircraft (Lundstrom 2006, p. 187).
  66. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 228–231; Hoyt, pp. 79–84; Cressman, pp. 104–106; Hoehling, p. 62; Millot, pp. 87–88 & 91; Dull, p. 133; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 192–195; D'Albas, p. 105; Hata, pp. 42–43. The second hit was scored by SBD pilot John James Powers, who was shot down by a CAP Zero and killed during his dive. Tetsuzō Iwamoto was one of the CAP pilots airborne at the time. Cressman states that Iwamoto flew from Shōkaku but Hata (p. 241) states he was with Zuikaku. Another VS-5 squadron SBD, crewed by Davis Chafee and John A. Kasselman, was shot down by a CAP Zero during the attack. During Yorktown's attack, a CAP Zero flown by Takeo Miyazawa was shot down by a Wildcat piloted by William S. Woolen, and a CAP Zero flown by Hisashi Ichinose was shot down by a Wildcat piloted by Elbert Scott McCuskey. Lundstrom states that both Zeros were from Zuikaku. Hata, however, states that Miyazawa was a member of Shōkaku's fighter group and that he died after shooting down a U.S. torpedo plane and then deliberately crashing his Zero into another (Hata, p. 42). Also flying in the Japanese CAP were future aces Yoshinao Kodaira and Kenji Okabe (Hata, pp. 286 & 329). Aces Yoshimi Minami and Sadamu Komachi were members of Shōkaku's fighter group at this time (Hata, p. 265 & 281) but Hata does not say if they were with the CAP or the strike escort.
  67. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 236–243; Hoyt, pp. 84–85; Cressman, p. 106; Hoehling, pp. 63–65; Millot, pp. 88–92; Dull, p. 133; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 195 & 559; D'Albas, p. 106. One of Lexington's bomber pilots was Harry Brinkley Bass. The three Wildcat pilots killed, from VF-2 squadron, were John B. "Bull" Bain, Dale W. Peterson, and Richard M. Rowell (Lundstrom). The Japanese CAP claimed to have shot down 24 U.S. aircraft (Hata, p. 48).
  68. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 242–243; Hoyt, p. 86; Cressman, p. 106; Millot, pp. 91–92; Parshall, p. 63; Dull, p. 133; Lundstrom (2006), p. 195; Tully, "IJN Shokaku" (Tully reports only 40 wounded). Shōkaku's total losses were 108 killed and 114 wounded. The Japanese CAP fighter pilots claimed to have shot down 39 U.S. aircraft during the attack, at a cost of two Zeros destroyed and two damaged. Actual U.S. losses in the attack were two SBDs (from Yorktown) and three Wildcats (from Lexington). More U.S. aircraft were lost during the subsequent return to their carriers. The destroyers which accompanied Shōkaku's retirement were Ushio and Yugure (Tully).
  69. Macintyre, Donald, Captain, RN. "Shipborne Radar", in United States Naval Institute Proceedings, September 1967, p.73; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 245–246; Hoyt, p. 92; Cressman, pp. 107–108; Millot, pp. 93–94; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 188–189. Five of the Wildcats were from Lexington and four were from Yorktown. The Wildcats were at altitudes between 2,500 ft (760 m) and 8,000 ft (2,400 m) when the Japanese aircraft, stacked between 10,000 ft (3,000 m) and 13,000 ft (4,000 m), flew by. Kanno paused during his return to Shōkaku to lead the Japanese strike formation to within 35 nmi (40 mi; 65 km) of the American carriers even though he was low on fuel.
  70. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 246–251; Hoyt, p. 93; Cressman, p. 108; Lundstrom (2006), p. 189. The crews of the four SBDs, totalling eight airmen, were all killed (The crewmen's names are given in Cressman, p. 108. One was Samuel Underhill). The four torpedo planes sent after Yorktown were from Zuikaku. Two of the Zero escorts from Shōkaku were piloted by aces Ichirō Yamamoto and Masao Sasakibara (Hata, pp. 314, 317).
  71. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 251–254; Hoyt, pp. 93–98 & 113–117; Cressman, p. 109; Woolridge, p. 42; Hoehling, pp. 67–81 & 97–98; Millot, pp. 94–96; Dull, pp. 133–134; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 188–190. Screening Yorktown were cruisers Astoria, Portland, and Chester and destroyers Russell, Hammann, and Aylwin. Protecting Lexington were the cruisers Minneapolis and New Orleans and the destroyers Dewey, Morris, Anderson, and Phelps. Some participants thought Lexington might have been hit by as many as five torpedoes (Woolridge, p. 42 and Lundstrom 2006, p. 191). Two torpedo planes switched targets from Lexington to Minneapolis but missed (Lundstrom 2006, p. 191).
  72. Damage to Lexington 5-inch (130 mm) gun gallery
    ONI, pp. 55–56; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 254–259; Hoyt, pp. 98–103 & 117–122; Cressman, pp. 110–114: Hoehling, pp. 81–95 & 110–116; Millot, pp. 97–98; Dull, p. 134; Lundstrom, pp. 189–191; D'Albas, p. 107. The four Lexington Wildcats were from VF-2 Squadron's 3rd Division under Lieutenant Fred Borries, Jr. The two Yorktown Wildcats were piloted by Vincent F. McCormack and Walter A. Haas from VF-42's 3rd Division. The last two Shōkaku dive bombers switched to attack Yorktown at the last minute and were the two shot down in the attack (Lundstrom 2006, p. 191). Hoyt states that the bomb hit on Yorktown seriously wounded 26 men, several of whom (Hoyt does not specify the exact number) died later from their injuries. One of those killed by the bomb hit on Yorktown was Milton Ernest Ricketts. Three of Yorktown's boilers were shut down due to a flareback, but were back on line within 30 minutes (Cressman, p. 113). One bomb that hit Lexington wiped out a battery of United States Marine Corps anti-aircraft machine guns, killing six men (Hoehling, p. 82). Another did heavy damage to a 5-inch (130 mm) gun battery and wiped out its entire crew (Hoehling, pp. 90–92, see image at right, Lundstrom 2006, p. 191).
  73. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 259–271; Cressman, pp. 106 & 114–115; Hoehling, pp. 100–101, Dull, p. 134; Lundstrom (2006), p. 192. William E. Hall was one of the SBD pilots who aggressively pursued the Japanese aircraft after they completed their attacks. A damaged SBD piloted by Roy O. Hale attempted to land on Lexington but was shot down by friendly anti-aircraft fire from the carrier and its escorts, killing Hale and his rear gunner (Lundstrom and Hoehling). Another damaged SBD bounced off Lexington's flight deck into the ocean, but its pilot, Frank R. McDonald, and rear gunner were rescued (Lundstrom and Hoehling). An SBD from VS-2 and two from VB-2 (Lexington) shot down the three Japanese torpedo planes, two from Shōkaku. The Japanese dive bomber was shot down by Walt Haas from Yorktown's VF-42. Two Wildcats from VF-2 (Lexington) piloted by Clark Franklin Rinehart and Newton H. Mason disappeared and their fates are unknown. A VF-42 (Yorktown) Wildcat piloted by Richard G. Crommelin was shot down by a Zero but Crommelin, unharmed, was rescued by the destroyer Phelps. A damaged Zero piloted by Shigeru Okura from Zuikaku ditched at Deboyne and Okura survived. A total of three Wildcats (two from VF-2 and one from VF-42) and six SBDs were lost defending TF17 from the Japanese strike. Kanno was killed by VF-42 pilots Bill Woolen and John P. Adams. Takahashi was killed by VF-42's Bill Leonard (Lundstrom). Lexington SBD pilot Joshua G. Cantor-Stone was also killed that day.
  74. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 270–278; Cressman, pp. 115–117; Hoyt, pp. 144–147; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 193–195. A VF-2 Wildcat piloted by Howard F. Clark was unable to find TF17 and disappeared without a trace. A TBD piloted by Leonard W. Thornhill ditched 20 nmi (23 mi; 37 km) from TF17; he and his rear gunner, seen entering their life raft, were not recovered, even though Fletcher sent the destroyer Dewey to look for them. William B. Ault, SBD pilot and commander of Lexington's air group, and another Lexington SBD piloted by John D. Wingfield from VS-2, were unable to find TF17 and disappeared. Ault's last transmission was, "From CLAG. OK, so long people. We got a 1000 pound hit on the flat top." (Lundstrom, p. 277). Another SBD piloted by Harry Wood ditched on Rossel Island and he and his rear gunner were later rescued. One Shōkaku Zero, piloted by Yukuo Hanzawa, successfully crash landed on Shōkaku (Hata, pp. 42–43). Nineteen Lexington aircraft were recovered by Yorktown (Millot, p. 100). Parshall (p. 417) states that many of the jettisoned Japanese aircraft were not necessarily unserviceable, but were jettisoned to make way for less damaged aircraft because of a lack of sufficient deck-handling speed and skill by Zuikaku's crew.
  75. ONI, p. 39; Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 274–277; Cressman, p. 116; Hoyt, p. 133; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 193–196; Spector, p. 162. Fletcher wanted to send the damaged Lexington to port for repairs and transferring that ship's aircraft to Yorktown to continue the battle, but Fitch's 14:22 message changed his mind. Separate U.S. aircraft, both carrier and land-based, had apparently sighted Zuikaku twice but were unaware that this was the same carrier (Hoyt, p. 133).
  76. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 278; Hoyt, pp. 132–133; Millot, p. 106; Dull, p. 134; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 195–196; D'Albas, p. 108.
  77. Lundstrom, Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 273–282; Cressman, p. 117; Hoehling, pp. 121–197; Hoyt, pp. 134–150 & 153–168; Millot, pp. 99–103; Dull, p. 134; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 193 & 196–199; Morison pp. 57–60; Crave, pp. 449–450; Gillison, p. 519. As the fires raged on Lexington, several of her aircrews requested to fly their aircraft to Yorktown, but Sherman refused (Lundstrom 2006, p. 560). The names of those killed from Lexington's crew, including from the air squadrons, are recorded in Hoehling, pp. 201–205. One of those killed was Howard R. Healy. Hoyt, Millot, and Morison give the coordinates of the sinking as 15°12′S 155°27′E / 15.2°S 155.45°E / -15.2; 155.45. Assisting Lexington during her travails were Minneapolis, New Orleans, Phelps, Morris, Hammann, and Anderson. Portland, Morris, and Phelps were the last to leave Lexington's final location (Lundstrom 2006, pp. 197, 204). Gillison (p. 519) states that eight B-26 bombers from Townsville sortied to attack Inoue's forces but were unable to locate the Japanese ships.
  78. Gill, pp. 52–53; Pelvin; Lundstrom (2006), p. 198.
  79. Willmott (2002), pp. 37–38.
  80. Willmott (2002), pp. 37–38; Millot, pp. 114 & 117–118; Dull, p. 135; Lundstrom (2006), p. 135; D'Albas, p. 101; Ito, p. 48; Morison, pp. 63–64.
  81. Wilmott (1983), pp. 286–287 & 515; Millot, pp. 109–111 & 160; Cressman, pp. 118–119; Dull, p. 135; Stille, pp. 74–76; Peattie, pp. 174–175.
  82. ONI, pp. 46–47; Millot, pp. 113–115 & 118; Dull, p. 135; Stille, pp. 48–51; Parshall, p. 407. A Yorktown crewman, Machinist Oscar W. Myers, noted that an aviation gasoline fire on the hangar deck contributed to Lexington's demise. Myers developed a solution, soon implemented in all U.S. carriers, of draining the fuel pipes after use and filling the pipes with carbon dioxide to prevent such fires from taking place again (Parshall, p. 407).
  83. Crave, p. 451; Gillison, pp. 523–524. According to Gillison, the poor coordination between Fletcher and MacArthur contributed to the friendly fire incident against Crace on 7 May.
  84. D'Albas, p. 102; Stille, pp. 4–5 & 72–78. The U.S. Navy later named a Midway-class aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea after the battle.
  85. Millot, pp. 109–11; Dull, pp. 134–5; Lundstrom (2006), p. 203; D'Albas, p. 109; Stille, p. 72; Morison, p. 63. The Japanese thought they sank Lexington's sister ship, Saratoga.
  86. Edwin P. Hoyt, Japan's War, pp. 283–4 ISBN 0-07-030612-5
  87. Wilmott (1983), pp. 286–7 & 515; Millot, pp. 109–11 & 160; Lundstrom (2006), p. 203; D'Albas, p. 109; Stille, p. 72; Morison, p. 63.
  88. William L. O'Neill, A Democracy At War: America's Fight At Home and Abroad in World War II, p. 119 ISBN 0-02-923678-9
  89. William L. O'Neill, A Democracy At War: America's Fight At Home and Abroad in World War II, p. 125 ISBN 0-02-923678-9
  90. Lundstrom (2006), p. 203; D'Albas, p. 109; Stille, p. 72; Morison, p. 64.
  91. Willmott (1983), p. 118.
  92. Parshall, pp. 63–67, Millot, p. 118; Dull, p. 135; Lundstrom (2006), p. 203, Ito, pp. 48–49.
  93. Parshall, pp. 63–67.
  94. Willmott (1982), pp. 459–460; Parshall, pp. 58–59.
  95. Parshall, pp. 63–67, 58–59 & 430; Ito, p. 59; Lundstrom (2006), p. 222.
  96. Gill, pp. 55–56; Frame, p. 57.
  97. USACMH (Vol II), pp. 138–139; Frame, p. 56; Bullard, pp. 87 & 94; McDonald, p. 77; Willmott (2002), pp. 98–99, 104–105, 113–114, 117–119.
  98. Frank, p. 17 & 194–213; Willmott (2002), pp. 90–96.
  99. Frank, p. 51.
  100. Frank, p. 61–62 & 79–81.
  101. Frank, p. 428–92; Dull, p. 245–69; Willmott (2002), pp. xiii–xvii, 158 & 167; Parshall, p. xx.
  102. "To the Central Pacific and Tarawa, August 1943--Background to GALVANIC". Ch 16, p. 622. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ACTC/actc-16.html. Retrieved 2010-09-03.