Indian Ocean (1940–45)
Dutch East Indies
Strategic bombing (1944–45)
Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies 1941–42
Attack on Pearl Harbor
Estevan Point Lighthouse
Lookout Air Raids
Volcano & Ryukyu Is
Hiroshima & Nagasaki
Second Sino-Japanese War
New Guinea campaign
Japanese seizure of Rabaul
Japanese seizure of Lae and Salamaua
Recapture of Buna–Gona
Recapture of Lae and Salamaua
Reduction of Rabaul
Lone Tree Hill
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4 to 8 May 1942, was a major
naval battle between the
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and naval and
air forces from the
United States and Australia, taking place in the
Pacific Theatre of the Second World War. The battle is historically
significant as the first action in which aircraft carriers engaged
each other, as well as the first in which neither side's ships sighted
or fired directly upon the other.
In an attempt to strengthen their defensive position in the South
Pacific, the Japanese decided to invade and occupy
Port Moresby (in
New Guinea) and
Tulagi (in the southeastern Solomon Islands). The plan
to accomplish this was called Operation MO, and involved several major
units of Japan's Combined Fleet. These included two fleet carriers and
a light carrier to provide air cover for the invasion forces. It was
under the overall command of Japanese Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue.
The U.S. learned of the Japanese plan through signals intelligence,
and sent two
United States Navy carrier task forces and a joint
Australian-U.S. cruiser force to oppose the offensive. These were
under the overall command of U.S. Admiral Frank J. Fletcher.
On 3–4 May, Japanese forces successfully invaded and occupied
Tulagi, although several of their supporting warships were sunk or
damaged in surprise attacks by aircraft from the U.S. fleet carrier
Yorktown. Now aware of the presence of U.S. carriers in the area, the
Japanese fleet carriers advanced towards the
Coral Sea with the
intention of locating and destroying the Allied naval forces.
Beginning on 7 May, the carrier forces from the two sides engaged in
airstrikes over two consecutive days. On the first day, the U.S. sank
the Japanese light carrier Shōhō; meanwhile, the Japanese sank a
U.S. destroyer and heavily damaged a fleet oiler (which was later
scuttled). The next day, the Japanese fleet carrier Shōkaku was
heavily damaged, the U.S. fleet carrier Lexington critically damaged
(and later scuttled), and Yorktown damaged. With both sides having
suffered heavy losses in aircraft and carriers damaged or sunk, the
two forces disengaged and retired from the battle area. Because of the
loss of carrier air cover, Inoue recalled the
Port Moresby invasion
fleet, intending to try again later.
Although a tactical victory for the Japanese in terms of ships sunk,
the battle would prove to be a strategic victory for the Allies for
several reasons. The battle marked the first time since the start of
the war that a major Japanese advance had been checked by the Allies.
More importantly, the Japanese fleet carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku –
the former damaged and the latter with a depleted aircraft complement
– were unable to participate in the
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway the following
month, while Yorktown did participate, ensuring a rough parity in
aircraft between the two adversaries and contributing significantly to
the U.S. victory in that battle. The severe losses in carriers at
Midway prevented the Japanese from reattempting to invade Port Moresby
from the ocean and helped prompt their ill-fated land offensive over
the Kokoda trail. Two months later, the Allies took advantage of
Japan's resulting strategic vulnerability in the South Pacific and
Guadalcanal Campaign; this, along with the New Guinea
Campaign, eventually broke Japanese defenses in the South Pacific and
was a significant contributing factor to Japan's ultimate surrender in
World War II.
1.1 Japanese expansion
1.2 Allied response
2.3 Air searches and decisions
2.4 Carrier battle, first day
2.4.1 Morning strikes
2.4.2 Afternoon operations
2.5 Carrier battle, second day
2.5.1 Attack on the Japanese carriers
2.5.2 Attack on the U.S. carriers
2.5.3 Recovery, reassessment and retreat
4.1 New type of naval warfare
4.2 Tactical and strategic implications
4.4 Situation in the South Pacific
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
On 7 December 1941, using aircraft carriers, Japan attacked the U.S.
Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack destroyed or
crippled most of the Pacific Fleet's battleships and brought the
United States into the war. In launching this war, Japanese leaders
sought to neutralize the U.S. fleet, seize territory rich in natural
resources, and obtain strategic military bases to defend their
far-flung empire. At the same time that they were attacking Pearl
Harbor, the Japanese attacked Malaya, causing the United Kingdom,
Australia, and New Zealand to join the
United States in the war
against Japan. In the words of the
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN)
Combined Fleet's "Secret Order Number One", dated 1 November 1941, the
goals of the initial Japanese campaigns in the impending war were to
"[eject] British and American strength from the Netherlands Indies and
the Philippines, [and] to establish a policy of autonomous
self-sufficiency and economic independence."
Japanese advances in the Southwest Pacific from December 1941 to April
To support these goals, during the first few months of 1942, besides
Malaya, Japanese forces attacked and successfully took control of the
Philippines, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, Wake Island, New
Gilbert Islands and Guam, inflicting heavy losses on
opposing Allied land, naval and air forces. Japan planned to use these
conquered territories to establish a perimeter defense for its empire
from which it expected to employ attritional tactics to defeat or
exhaust any Allied counterattacks.
Shortly after the war began, Japan's Naval General Staff recommended
an invasion of Northern
Australia to prevent
Australia from being used
as a base to threaten Japan's perimeter defences in the South Pacific.
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), however, rejected the
recommendation, stating that it did not have the forces or shipping
capacity available to conduct such an operation. At the same time,
Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the IJN's Fourth Fleet
(also called the South Seas Force) which consisted of most of the
naval units in the South Pacific area, advocated the occupation of
Tulagi in the southeastern
Solomon Islands and
Port Moresby in New
Guinea, which would put Northern
Australia within range of Japanese
land-based aircraft. Inoue believed the capture and control of these
locations would provide greater security and defensive depth for the
major Japanese base at
Rabaul on New Britain. The navy's general staff
and the IJA accepted Inoue's proposal and promoted further operations,
using these locations as supporting bases, to seize New Caledonia,
Samoa and thereby cut the supply and communication lines
Australia and the United States.
In April 1942, the army and navy developed a plan that was titled
Operation MO. The plan called for
Port Moresby to be invaded from the
sea and secured by 10 May. The plan also included the seizure of
Tulagi on 2–3 May, where the navy would establish a seaplane base
for potential air operations against Allied territories and forces in
the South Pacific and to provide a base for reconnaissance aircraft.
Upon the completion of MO, the navy planned to initiate Operation RY,
using ships released from MO, to seize
Nauru and Ocean Island for
their phosphate deposits on 15 May. Further operations against Fiji,
New Caledonia (Operation FS) were to be planned once MO and
RY were completed. Because of a damaging air attack by Allied land-
and carrier-based aircraft on Japanese naval forces invading the
Lae-Salamaua area in
New Guinea in March, Inoue requested Japan's
Combined Fleet send carriers to provide air cover for MO. Inoue was
especially worried about Allied bombers stationed at air bases in
Townsville and Cooktown, Australia, beyond the range of his own
bombers, based at
Rabaul and Lae.
Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the Fourth Fleet of the Imperial
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Combined Fleet, was
concurrently planning an operation for June that he hoped would lure
the U.S. Navy's carriers, none of which had been damaged in the Pearl
Harbor attack, into a decisive showdown in the central Pacific near
Midway Atoll. In the meantime Yamamoto detached some of his large
warships, including two fleet carriers, a light carrier, a cruiser
division, and two destroyer divisions, to support MO, and placed Inoue
in charge of the naval portion of the operation.
Unknown to the Japanese, the U.S. Navy, led by the Communication
Security Section of the Office of Naval Communications, had for
several years enjoyed some success with penetrating Japanese
communication ciphers and codes. By March 1942, the U.S. was able to
decipher up to 15% of the IJN's Ro or Naval Codebook D code (called
"JN-25B" by the U.S.), which was used by the IJN for approximately
half of its communications. By the end of April, the U.S. was reading
up to 85% of the signals broadcast in the Ro code.
In March 1942, the U.S. first noticed mention of the MO operation in
intercepted messages. On 5 April, the U.S. intercepted an IJN message
directing a carrier and other large warships to proceed to Inoue's
area of operations. On 13 April, the British deciphered an IJN message
informing Inoue that the Fifth Carrier Division, consisting of the
fleet carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku, was en route to his command from
Formosa via the main IJN base at Truk. The British passed the message
to the U.S., along with their conclusion that
Port Moresby was the
likely target of MO.
Frank Jack Fletcher, commander of U.S. Task Force 17
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the new commander of U.S. forces in the
Central Pacific, and his staff discussed the deciphered messages and
agreed that the Japanese were likely initiating a major operation in
the Southwest Pacific in early May with
Port Moresby as the probable
target. The Allies regarded
Port Moresby as a key base for a planned
counteroffensive, under General Douglas MacArthur, against Japanese
forces in the South West Pacific area. Nimitz's staff also concluded
that the Japanese operation might include carrier raids on Allied
Samoa and at Suva. Nimitz, after consultation with Admiral
Ernest King, Commander in Chief of the
United States Fleet, decided to
contest the Japanese operation by sending all four of the Pacific
Fleet's available aircraft carriers to the Coral Sea. By 27 April,
further signals intelligence confirmed most of the details and targets
of the MO and RY plans.
On 29 April, Nimitz issued orders that sent his four carriers and
their supporting warships towards the Coral Sea. Task Force 17
(TF 17), commanded by Rear Admiral Fletcher and consisting of the
carrier Yorktown, escorted by three cruisers and four destroyers and
supported by a replenishment group of two oilers and two destroyers,
was already in the South Pacific, having departed
Tongatabu on 27
April en route to the Coral Sea. TF 11, commanded by Rear Admiral
Aubrey Fitch and consisting of the carrier Lexington with two cruisers
and five destroyers, was between
Fiji and New Caledonia. TF 16,
William F. Halsey
William F. Halsey and including the carriers
Enterprise and Hornet, had just returned to
Pearl Harbor from the
Doolittle Raid in the central Pacific. TF16 immediately departed but
would not reach the South Pacific in time to participate in the
battle. Nimitz placed Fletcher in command of Allied naval forces in
the South Pacific area until Halsey arrived with TF 16.
Coral Sea area was under MacArthur's command, Fletcher
and Halsey were directed to continue to report to Nimitz while in the
Coral Sea area, not to MacArthur.
Based on intercepted radio traffic from TF 16 as it returned to
Pearl Harbor, the Japanese assumed 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 remaining carrier, but did not expect an U.S. carrier
response to MO until the operation was well under way.
Further information: Battle of the
Coral Sea order of battle
During late April, the Japanese submarines Ro-33 and Ro-34
reconnoitered the area where landings were planned. The submarines
investigated Rossel Island and the Deboyne Group anchorage in the
Louisiade Archipelago, Jomard Channel, and the route to Port Moresby
from the east. They did not sight any Allied ships in the area and
Rabaul on 23 and 24 April respectively.
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
South Seas Detachment plus approximately 500 troops
3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF). Escorting the
transports was the
Port Moresby Attack Force with 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, proceeding at
8 kn (9.2 mph; 15 km/h), planned to transit the Jomard
Channel in the Louisiades to pass around the southern tip of New
Guinea to arrive at
Port Moresby by 10 May. The Allied garrison at
Port Moresby numbered around 5,333 men, but only half of these were
infantry and all were badly equipped and undertrained.
Map of the battle, 3–9 May, showing the movements of most of the
major forces involved
Leading the invasion of
Tulagi was the
Tulagi Invasion Force,
commanded by Rear Admiral Kiyohide Shima, consisting of two
minelayers, two destroyers, six minesweepers, two subchasers and a
transport ship carrying about 400 troops from the 3rd
Tulagi force was the Covering Group with the light
carrier Shōhō, four heavy cruisers, and one destroyer, commanded by
Rear Admiral Aritomo Gotō. A separate Cover Force (sometimes referred
to as the Support Group), commanded by Rear Admiral Kuninori Marumo
and consisting of two light cruisers, the seaplane tender Kamikawa
Maru and three gunboats, joined the Covering Group in providing
distant protection for the
Tulagi invasion. Once
Tulagi was secured on
3 or 4 May, the Covering Group and Cover Force were to reposition to
help screen the
Port Moresby invasion. Inoue directed the MO
operation from the cruiser Kashima, with which he arrived at Rabaul
from Truk on 4 May.
Gotō's force left Truk on 28 April, cut through the Solomons between
Bougainville and Choiseul and took station near
New Georgia Island.
Marumo's support group sortied from New Ireland on 29 April headed for
Thousand Ships Bay, Santa Isabel Island, to establish a seaplane base
on 2 May to support the
Tulagi assault. Shima's invasion force
Rabaul on 30 April.
The Carrier Strike Force, with the carriers Zuikaku and Shōkaku, two
heavy cruisers, and six destroyers, sortied from Truk on 1 May. The
strike force was commanded by
Takeo Takagi (flag on
cruiser Myōkō), with Rear Admiral Chūichi Hara, on Zuikaku, in
tactical command of the carrier air forces. The Carrier Strike Force
was to proceed down the eastern side of the
Solomon Islands and enter
Coral Sea south of Guadalcanal. Once in the Coral Sea, the
carriers were to provide air cover for the invasion forces, eliminate
Allied air power at Port Moresby, and intercept and destroy any Allied
naval forces which entered the
Coral Sea in response.
En route to the Coral Sea, Takagi's carriers were to deliver nine Zero
fighter aircraft to Rabaul. Bad weather during two attempts to make
the delivery on 2–3 May compelled the aircraft to return to the
carriers, stationed 240 nmi (280 mi; 440 km) from
Rabaul, and one of the Zeros was forced to ditch in the sea. In order
to try to keep to the MO timetable, Takagi was forced to abandon the
delivery mission after the second attempt and direct his force towards
Solomon Islands to refuel.
To give advance warning of the approach of any Allied naval forces,
the Japanese sent submarines I-22, I-24, I-28 and I-29 to form a
scouting line in the ocean about 450 nmi (520 mi;
830 km) southwest of Guadalcanal. Fletcher's forces had entered
Coral Sea area before the submarines took station, and the
Japanese were therefore unaware of their presence. Another submarine,
I-21, which was sent to scout around Nouméa, was attacked by Yorktown
aircraft on 2 May. The submarine took no damage and apparently did not
realize that it had been attacked by carrier aircraft. Ro-33 and Ro-34
were also deployed in an attempt to blockade Port Moresby, arriving
off the town on 5 May. Neither submarine engaged any ships during the
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, TF 17 and TF 11 united about
300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km) northwest of New Caledonia
(16°16′S 162°20′E / 16.267°S 162.333°E / -16.267;
162.333). Fletcher immediately detached TF11 to refuel from the
oiler Tippecanoe, while TF 17 refueled from Neosho. TF 17
completed refueling the next day, but TF 11 reported that they
would not be finished fueling until 4 May. Fletcher elected to take
TF 17 northwest towards the Louisiades and ordered TF 11 to
meet TF 44, which was en route from Sydney and Nouméa, on 4 May once
refueling was complete. TF 44 was a joint Australia–U.S.
warship force under MacArthur's command, led by Australian Rear
Admiral John Crace and made up of the cruisers HMAS Australia,
Hobart, and USS Chicago, along with three destroyers. Once it
completed refueling TF 11, Tippecanoe departed the
Coral Sea to
deliver its remaining fuel to Allied ships at Efate.
Further information: Invasion of
Tulagi (May 1942)
Early on 3 May, Shima's force arrived off
Tulagi and began
disembarking the naval troops to occupy the island.
undefended: the small garrison of Australian commandos and a Royal
Australian Air Force reconnaissance unit evacuated just before Shima's
arrival. The Japanese forces immediately began construction of a
seaplane and communications base.
Aircraft from Shōhō covered the
landings until early afternoon, when Gotō's force turned towards
Bougainville to refuel in preparation to support the landings at Port
At 17:00 on 3 May, Fletcher was notified that the Japanese Tulagi
invasion force had been sighted the day before, approaching the
southern Solomons. Unknown to Fletcher, TF 11 completed refueling
that morning ahead of schedule and was only 60 nmi (69 mi;
110 km) east of TF 17, but was unable to communicate its
status because of Fletcher's orders to maintain radio silence.
TF 17 changed course and proceeded at 27 kn (31 mph;
50 km/h) towards
Guadalcanal to launch airstrikes against the
Japanese forces at
Tulagi the next morning.
On 4 May, from a position 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km)
Guadalcanal (11°10′S 158°49′E / 11.167°S
158.817°E / -11.167; 158.817), a total of 60 aircraft from
TF 17 launched three consecutive strikes against Shima's forces
off Tulagi. Yorktown's aircraft surprised Shima's ships and sank the
destroyer Kikuzuki (09°07′S 160°12′E / 9.117°S
160.200°E / -9.117; 160.200) and three of the minesweepers,
damaged four other ships, and destroyed four seaplanes which were
supporting the landings. The U.S. lost one dive bomber and two
fighters in the strikes, but all of the aircrew were eventually
rescued. After recovering its aircraft late in the evening of 4 May,
TF 17 retired towards the south. In spite of the damage suffered
in the carrier strikes, the Japanese continued construction of the
seaplane base and began flying reconnaissance missions from
Takagi's Carrier Striking Force was refueling 350 nmi
(400 mi; 650 km) north of
Tulagi when it received word of
Fletcher's strike on 4 May. Takagi terminated refueling, headed
southeast, and sent scout planes to search east of the Solomons,
believing that the U.S. carriers were in that area. Since no Allied
ships were in that area, the search planes found nothing.
Air searches and decisions
At 08:16 on 5 May, TF 17 rendezvoused with TF 11 and
TF 44 at a predetermined point 320 nmi (370 mi;
590 km) south of
Guadalcanal (15°S 160°E / 15°S
160°E / -15; 160). At about the same time, four Grumman F4F
Wildcat fighters from Yorktown intercepted a Kawanishi H6K
reconnaissance flying boat from the
Yokohama Air Group
Yokohama Air Group of the 25th Air
Flotilla based at the
Shortland Islands and shot it down 11 nmi
(13 mi; 20 km) from TF 11. The aircraft failed to send
a report before it crashed, but when it didn't return to base the
Japanese correctly assumed that it had been shot down by carrier
A message from
Pearl Harbor notified Fletcher that radio intelligence
deduced the Japanese planned to land their troops at
Port Moresby on
10 May and their fleet carriers would likely be operating close to the
invasion convoy. Armed with this information, Fletcher directed
TF 17 to refuel from Neosho. After the refueling was completed on
6 May, he planned to take his forces north towards the Louisiades and
do battle on 7 May.
Zuikaku crewmen service aircraft on the carrier's flight deck on 5 May
In the meantime, Takagi's carrier force steamed down the east side of
the Solomons throughout the day on 5 May, turned west to pass south of
San Cristobal (Makira), and entered the
Coral Sea after transiting
Rennell Island in the early morning hours of 6
May. Takagi commenced refueling his ships 180 nmi (210 mi;
330 km) west of
Tulagi in preparation for the carrier battle he
expected would take place the next day.
On 6 May, Fletcher absorbed TF 11 and TF 44 into TF 17.
Believing the Japanese carriers were still well to the north near
Bougainville, Fletcher continued to refuel. Reconnaissance patrols
conducted from the U.S. carriers throughout the day failed to locate
any of the Japanese naval forces, because they were located just
beyond scouting range.
At 10:00, a Kawanishi reconnaissance flying boat from
TF 17 and notified 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, near the maximum range
for his carrier aircraft. Takagi, whose ships were still refueling,
was not yet ready to engage in battle. He concluded, based on the
sighting report, TF 17 was heading south and increasing the
range. Furthermore, Fletcher's ships were under a large, low-hanging
overcast which Takagi and Hara felt would make it difficult for their
aircraft to find the U.S. carriers. Takagi detached his two carriers
with two destroyers under Hara's command to head towards TF 17 at
20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h) in order to be in position to
attack at first light the next day while the rest of his ships
U.S. B-17 bombers based in Australia and staging through Port
Moresby attacked the approaching
Port Moresby invasion forces,
including Gotō's warships, several times during the day on 6 May
without success. MacArthur's headquarters radioed Fletcher with
reports of the attacks and the locations of the Japanese invasion
forces. MacArthur's fliers' reports of seeing a carrier (Shōhō)
about 425 nmi (489 mi; 787 km) northwest of TF17
further convinced Fletcher fleet carriers were accompanying the
Animated map of the battle, 6–8 May
At 18:00, TF 17 completed fueling and Fletcher detached Neosho
with a destroyer, Sims, to take station further south at a prearranged
rendezvous (16°S 158°E / 16°S 158°E / -16; 158).
TF 17 then turned to head northwest towards Rossel Island in the
Louisiades. Unbeknownst to the two adversaries, their carriers were
only 70 nmi (130 km) away from each other by 20:00 that
night. At 20:00 (13°20′S 157°40′E / 13.333°S
157.667°E / -13.333; 157.667), Hara reversed course to meet Takagi
who completed refueling and was now heading in Hara's direction.
Late on 6 May or early on 7 May, Kamikawa Maru set up a seaplane base
Deboyne Islands in order to help provide air support for the
invasion forces as they approached Port Moresby. The rest of Marumo's
Cover Force then took station near the
D'Entrecasteaux Islands to help
screen Abe's oncoming convoy.
Carrier battle, first day
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 154.350°E / -13.333; 154.350). At this time, Fletcher
sent Crace's cruiser force, now designated Task Group 17.3
(TG 17.3), to block the Jomard Passage. Fletcher understood that
Crace would be operating without air cover since TF 17's carriers
would be busy trying to locate and attack the Japanese carriers.
Detaching Crace reduced the anti-aircraft defenses for Fletcher's
carriers. Nevertheless, Fletcher decided the risk was necessary to
ensure the Japanese invasion forces could not slip through to Port
Moresby while he engaged the carriers.
Believing Takagi's carrier force was somewhere north of him, in the
vicinity of the Louisiades, beginning at 06:19, Fletcher directed
Yorktown to send 10
Douglas SBD Dauntless
Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers as scouts to
search that area. Hara in turn believed Fletcher was south of him and
advised Takagi to send the aircraft to search that area. Takagi,
approximately 300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km) east of Fletcher
(13°12′S 158°05′E / 13.200°S 158.083°E / -13.200;
158.083), launched 12 Nakajima B5Ns at 06:00 to scout for TF 17.
Around the same time, Gotō's cruisers Kinugasa and Furutaka launched
four Kawanishi E7K2 Type 94 floatplanes to search southeast of the
Louisiades. Augmenting their search were several floatplanes from
Deboyne, four Kawanishi H6Ks from Tulagi, and three Mitsubishi G4M
bombers from Rabaul. Each side readied the rest of its carrier attack
aircraft to launch immediately once the enemy was located.
Japanese carrier dive bombers head towards the reported position of
U.S. carriers on 7 May.
At 07:22 one of Takagi's carrier scouts, from Shōkaku, reported U.S.
ships bearing 182° (just west of due south), 163 nmi
(188 mi; 302 km) from Takagi. At 07:45, the scout confirmed
that it had located "one carrier, one cruiser, and three destroyers".
Another Shōkaku scout aircraft quickly confirmed the sighting.
The Shōkaku aircraft actually sighted and misidentified the oiler
Neosho and destroyer Sims, which had earlier been detailed away from
the fleet to a southern rendezvous point. Believing that he had
located the U.S. carriers, Hara, with Takagi's concurrence,
immediately launched all of his available aircraft. A total of 78
aircraft—18 Zero fighters, 36
Aichi D3A dive bombers, and 24 torpedo
aircraft—began launching from Shōkaku and Zuikaku at 08:00 and were
on their way by 08:15 towards the reported sighting.
At 08:20, one of the Furutaka aircraft found Fletcher's carriers and
immediately reported it to Inoue's headquarters at Rabaul, which
passed the report on to Takagi. The sighting was confirmed by a
Kinugasa floatplane at 08:30. Takagi and Hara, confused by the
conflicting sighting reports they were receiving, decided to continue
with the strike on the ships to their south, but turned their carriers
towards the northwest to close the distance with Furutaka's reported
contact. Takagi and Hara considered that the conflicting reports
might mean that the U.S. carrier forces were operating in two separate
At 08:15, a Yorktown SBD piloted by John L. Nielsen sighted Gotō's
force screening the invasion convoy. Nielsen, making an error in his
coded message, reported the sighting as "two carriers and four heavy
cruisers" at 10°3′S 152°27′E / 10.050°S 152.450°E /
-10.050; 152.450, 225 nmi (259 mi; 417 km) northwest of
TF17. Fletcher concluded that the Japanese main carrier force was
located and ordered the launch of all available carrier aircraft to
attack. By 10:13, the U.S. strike of 93 aircraft – 18 Grumman F4F
Douglas SBD Dauntless
Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers, and 22 Douglas TBD
Devastator torpedo bombers – was on its way. At 10:19, Nielsen
landed and discovered his coding error. Although Gotō's force
included the light carrier Shōhō, Nielsen thought that he saw two
cruisers and four destroyers and thus the main fleet. At 10:12,
Fletcher received a report of an aircraft carrier, ten transports, and
16 warships 30 nmi (35 mi; 56 km) south of Nielsen's
sighting at 10°35′S 152°36′E / 10.583°S 152.600°E /
-10.583; 152.600. The B-17s actually saw the same thing as Nielsen:
Shōhō, Gotō's cruisers, plus the
Port Moresby Invasion Force.
Believing that the B-17's sighting was the main Japanese carrier force
(which was in fact well to the east), Fletcher directed the airborne
strike force towards this target.
Neosho (upper center) is left burning and slowly sinking at the
completion of the Japanese dive bombing attack.
At 09:15, Takagi's strike force reached its target area, sighted
Neosho and Sims, and searched in vain for the U.S. carriers. Finally,
at 10:51 Shōkaku scout aircrews realized they were mistaken in their
identification of the oiler and destroyer as aircraft carriers. Takagi
now realized the U.S. carriers were between him and the invasion
convoy, placing the invasion forces in extreme danger. Takagi ordered
his aircraft to immediately attack Neosho and Sims and then return to
their carriers as quickly as possible. At 11:15, the torpedo bombers
and fighters abandoned the mission and headed back towards the
carriers with their ordnance while the 36 dive bombers attacked the
two U.S. ships.
Four dive bombers attacked Sims and the rest dived on Neosho. The
destroyer was hit by three bombs, broke in half, and sank immediately,
killing all but 14 of her 192-man crew. Neosho was hit by seven bombs.
One of the dive bombers, hit by anti-aircraft fire, crashed into the
oiler. Heavily damaged and without power, Neosho was left drifting and
slowly sinking (16°09′S 158°03′E / 16.150°S 158.050°E
/ -16.150; 158.050). Before losing power, Neosho was able to notify
Fletcher by radio that she was under attack and in trouble, but
garbled any further details as to just who or what was attacking her
and gave wrong coordinates (16°25′S 157°31′E / 16.417°S
157.517°E / -16.417; 157.517) for its position.
The U.S. strike aircraft sighted Shōhō a short distance northeast of
Misima Island at 10:40 and deployed to attack. The Japanese carrier
was protected by six Zeros and two
Mitsubishi A5M fighters flying
combat air patrol (CAP), as the rest of the carrier's aircraft were
being prepared below decks for a strike against the U.S. carriers.
Gotō's cruisers surrounded the carrier in a diamond formation,
3,000–5,000 yd (2,700–4,600 m) off each of Shōhō's
Shōhō is bombed and torpedoed by U.S. carrier aircraft.
Attacking first, Lexington's air group, led by Commander William B.
Ault, 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 and now almost stationary carrier, scoring with
up to 11 more 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs and at least 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).
Fearing more air attacks, Gotō withdrew his warships to the north,
but sent the destroyer Sazanami back at 14:00 to rescue survivors.
Only 203 of the carrier's 834-man crew were recovered. Three U.S.
aircraft were lost in the attack: two SBDs from Lexington and one from
Yorktown. All of Shōhō's aircraft complement of 18 was lost, but
three of the CAP fighter pilots were able to ditch at Deboyne and
survived. At 12:10, using a prearranged message to signal TF 17
on the success of the mission, Lexington SBD pilot and squadron
commander Robert E. Dixon radioed "Scratch one flat top! Signed
The U.S. aircraft returned and landed on their carriers by 13:38. By
14:20, the aircraft were rearmed and ready to launch against the Port
Moresby Invasion Force or Gotō's cruisers. Fletcher was concerned
that the locations of the rest of the Japanese fleet carriers were
still unknown. He was informed that Allied intelligence sources
believed that up to four Japanese carriers might be supporting the MO
operation. Fletcher concluded that by the time his scout aircraft
found the remaining carriers it would be too late in the day to mount
a strike. Thus, Fletcher decided to hold off on another strike this
day and remain concealed under the thick overcast with fighters ready
in defense. Fletcher turned TF 17 southwest.
Apprised of the loss of Shōhō, Inoue ordered the invasion convoy to
temporarily withdraw to the north and ordered Takagi, at this time
located 225 nmi (259 mi; 417 km) east of TF 17, to
destroy the U.S. carrier forces. As the invasion convoy reversed
course, it was bombed by eight U.S. Army B-17s, but was not damaged.
Gotō and Kajioka were told to assemble their ships south of Rossel
Island for a night surface battle if the U.S. ships came within
At 12:40, a Deboyne-based seaplane sighted and reported Crace's
detached cruiser and destroyer force on a bearing of 175°,
78 nmi (90 mi; 144 km) from Deboyne. At 13:15, an
Rabaul sighted Crace's force but submitted an erroneous
report, stating the force contained two carriers and was located,
bearing 205°, 115 nmi (213 km) from Deboyne. Based on these
reports, Takagi, who was still awaiting the return of all of his
aircraft from attacking Neosho, turned his carriers due west at 13:30
and advised Inoue at 15:00 that the U.S. carriers were at least
430 nmi (490 mi; 800 km) west of his location and that
he would therefore be unable to attack them that day.
Australia (center) and TG17.3 under air attack on 7 May
Inoue's staff directed two groups of attack aircraft from Rabaul,
already airborne since that morning, towards Crace's reported
position. The first group included 12 torpedo-armed G4M bombers and
the second group comprised 19
Mitsubishi G3M land attack aircraft
armed with bombs. Both groups found and attacked Crace's ships at
14:30 and claimed to have sunk a "California-type" battleship and
damaged another battleship and cruiser. In reality, Crace's ships were
undamaged and shot down four G4Ms. A short time later, three U.S. Army
B-17s mistakenly bombed Crace, but caused no damage.
Crace at 15:26 radioed Fletcher he could not complete his mission
without air support. Crace retired southward to a position about
220 nmi (250 mi; 410 km) southeast of
Port Moresby to
increase the range from Japanese carrier- or land-based aircraft while
remaining close enough to intercept any Japanese naval forces
advancing beyond the Louisiades through either the Jomard Passage or
the China Strait. Crace's ships were low on fuel, and as Fletcher was
maintaining radio silence (and had not informed him in advance), Crace
had no idea of Fletcher's location, status, or intentions.
Shortly after 15:00, Zuikaku monitored a message from a Deboyne-based
reconnaissance aircraft reporting (incorrectly) Crace's force altered
course to 120° true (southeast). Takagi's staff assumed the aircraft
was shadowing Fletcher's carriers and determined if the Allied ships
held that course, they would be within striking range shortly before
nightfall. Takagi and Hara were determined to attack immediately with
a select group of aircraft, minus fighter escort, even though it meant
the strike would return after dark.
To try to confirm the location of the U.S. carriers, at 15:15 Hara
sent a flight of eight torpedo bombers as scouts to sweep 200 nmi
(230 mi; 370 km) westward. About that same time, the dive
bombers returned from their attack on Neosho and landed. Six of the
weary dive bomber pilots were told they would be immediately departing
on another mission. Choosing his most experienced crews, at 16:15 Hara
launched 12 dive bombers and 15 torpedo planes with orders to fly on a
heading of 277° to 280 nmi (320 mi; 520 km). The eight
scout aircraft reached the end of their 200 nmi (230 mi;
370 km) search leg and turned back without seeing Fletcher's
At 17:47, TF 17 – operating under thick overcast 200 nmi
(230 mi; 370 km) west of Takagi – detected the Japanese
strike on radar heading in their direction, turned southeast into the
wind, and vectored 11 CAP Wildcats, including one piloted by James H.
Flatley, to intercept. Taking the Japanese formation by surprise, the
Wildcats shot down seven torpedo bombers and one dive bomber, and
heavily damaged another torpedo bomber (which later crashed), at a
cost of three Wildcats lost.
Having taken heavy losses in the attack, which also scattered their
formations, the Japanese strike leaders canceled the mission after
conferring by radio. The Japanese aircraft all jettisoned their
ordnance and reversed course to return to their carriers. The sun set
at 18:30. Several of the Japanese dive bombers encountered the U.S.
carriers in the darkness, around 19:00, and briefly confused as to
their identity, circled in preparation for landing before
anti-aircraft fire from TF 17's destroyers drove them away. By
20:00, TF 17 and Takagi were about 100 nmi (120 mi;
190 km) apart. Takagi turned on his warships' searchlights to
help guide the 18 surviving aircraft back and all were recovered by
In the meantime, at 15:18 and 17:18 Neosho was able to radio
TF 17 she was drifting northwest in a sinking condition. Neosho's
17:18 report gave wrong coordinates, which hampered subsequent U.S.
rescue efforts to locate the oiler. More significantly, the news
informed Fletcher his only nearby available fuel supply was gone.
As nightfall ended aircraft operations for the day, Fletcher ordered
TF 17 to head west and prepared to launch a 360° search at first
light. Crace also turned west to stay within striking range of the
Louisiades. Inoue directed Takagi to make sure he destroyed the U.S.
carriers the next day, and postponed the
Port Moresby landings to 12
May. Takagi elected to take his carriers 120 nmi (140 mi;
220 km) north during the night so he could concentrate his
morning search to the west and south and ensure that his carriers
could provide better protection for the invasion convoy. Gotō and
Kajioka were unable to position and coordinate their ships in time to
attempt a night attack on the Allied warships.
Both sides expected to find each other early the next day, and spent
the night preparing their strike aircraft for the anticipated battle
as their exhausted aircrews attempted to get a few hours' sleep. In
Vice Admiral H. S. Duckworth, after reading Japanese
records of the battle, commented, "Without a doubt, May 7, 1942,
vicinity of Coral Sea, was the most confused battle area in world
history." Hara later told Yamamoto's chief of staff, Admiral
Matome Ugaki, he was so frustrated with the "poor luck" the Japanese
experienced on 7 May that he felt like quitting the navy.
Carrier battle, second day
Attack on the Japanese carriers
Under overcast skies, an
A6M Zero fighter leads the air group launch
off the deck of Shōkaku the morning of 8 May.
At 06:15 on 8 May, from a position 100 nmi (120 mi;
190 km) east of Rossel Island (10°25′S 154°5′E /
10.417°S 154.083°E / -10.417; 154.083), Hara launched seven
torpedo bombers to search the area bearing 140–230°, out to
250 nmi (290 mi; 460 km) from the Japanese carriers.
Assisting in the search were three Kawanishi H6Ks from
Tulagi and four
G4M bombers from Rabaul. At 07:00, the carrier striking force turned
to the southwest and was joined by two of Gotō's cruisers, Kinugasa
and Furutaka, for additional screening support. The invasion convoy,
Gotō, and Kajioka steered towards a rendezvous point 40 nmi
(46 mi; 74 km) east of
Woodlark Island to await the outcome
of the carrier battle. During the night, the warm frontal zone with
low-hanging clouds which had helped hide the U.S. carriers on 7 May
moved north and east and now covered the Japanese carriers, limiting
visibility to between 2 and 15 nmi (2.3 and 17.3 mi; 3.7 and
At 06:35, TF 17 – operating under Fitch's tactical control and
positioned 180 nmi (210 mi; 330 km) southeast of the
Lousiades, launched 18 SBDs to conduct a 360° search out to
200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km). The skies over the U.S.
carriers were mostly clear, with 17 nmi (20 mi; 31 km)
At 08:20, a Lexington SBD piloted by Joseph G. Smith spotted the
Japanese carriers through a hole in the clouds and notified
TF 17. Two minutes later, a Shōkaku search plane commanded by
Kenzō Kanno sighted TF 17 and notified Hara. The two forces were
about 210 nmi (240 mi; 390 km) apart. Both sides raced
to launch their strike aircraft.
Yorktown (foreground) and Lexington turn to launch under clear skies
on 8 May.
At 09:15, the Japanese carriers launched a combined strike of 18
fighters, 33 dive bombers, and 18 torpedo planes, commanded by
Lieutenant Commander Kakuichi Takahashi. The U.S. carriers each
launched a separate strike. Yorktown's group consisted of six
fighters, 24 dive bombers, and nine torpedo planes and was on its way
by 09:15. Lexington's group of nine fighters, 15 dive bombers, and 12
torpedo planes was off at 09:25. Both the U.S. and Japanese carrier
warship forces turned to head directly for each other's location at
high speed in order to shorten the distance their aircraft would have
to fly on their return legs.
Yorktown's dive bombers, led by William O. Burch, reached the Japanese
carriers at 10:32, and paused to allow the slower torpedo squadron to
arrive so that they could conduct a simultaneous attack. At this time,
Shōkaku and Zuikaku were about 10,000 yd (9,100 m) apart,
with Zuikaku hidden under a rain squall of low-hanging clouds. The two
carriers were protected by 16 CAP Zero fighters. The Yorktown dive
bombers commenced their attacks at 10:57 on Shōkaku and hit the
radically maneuvering carrier with two 1,000 lb (450 kg)
bombs, tearing open the forecastle and causing heavy damage to the
carrier's flight and hangar decks. The Yorktown torpedo planes missed
with all of their ordnance. Two U.S. dive bombers and two CAP Zeros
were shot down during the attack.
Shōkaku, at high speed and turning hard, has suffered 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
dove on 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 at this time shot down three
With her flight deck heavily damaged and 223 of her crew killed or
wounded, Shōkaku was unable to conduct further aircraft operations.
Her captain, Takatsugu Jōjima, requested permission from Takagi and
Hara to withdraw from the battle, to which Takagi agreed. At 12:10,
Shōkaku, accompanied by two destroyers, retired to the northeast.
Attack on the U.S. carriers
At 10:55, Lexington's CXAM-1 radar detected the inbound Japanese
aircraft at a range of 68 nmi (78 mi; 126 km) and
vectored nine Wildcats to intercept. Expecting the Japanese torpedo
bombers to be at a much lower altitude than they actually were, six of
the Wildcats were stationed too low, and thus missed the Japanese
aircraft as they passed by overhead. Because of the heavy losses
in aircraft suffered the night before, the Japanese could not execute
a full torpedo attack on both carriers. Lieutenant Commander Shigekazu
Shimazaki, commanding the Japanese torpedo planes, sent 14 to attack
Lexington and four to attack Yorktown. A Wildcat shot down one and 8
patrolling Yorktown SBDs destroyed three more as the Japanese torpedo
planes descended to take attack position. Four SBDs were shot down by
Zeros escorting the torpedo planes.
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, and their escorts opened fire with
anti-aircraft guns. The four torpedo planes which attacked Yorktown
all missed. The remaining torpedo planes successfully employed a
pincer attack on Lexington, which had a much larger turning radius
than Yorktown, and, at 11:20, hit her with two Type 91 torpedoes. The
first torpedo buckled the port aviation gasoline stowage tanks.
Undetected, gasoline vapors spread into surrounding compartments. The
second torpedo ruptured the port water main, reducing water pressure
to the three forward firerooms and forcing the associated boilers to
be shut down. The ship could still make 24 kn (28 mph;
44 km/h) with her remaining boilers. Four of the Japanese torpedo
planes were shot down by anti-aircraft fire.
The 33 Japanese dive bombers circled to attack from upwind, and thus
did not begin their dives from 14,000 ft (4,300 m) until
three to four minutes after the torpedo planes began their attacks.
The 19 Shōkaku dive bombers, under Takahashi, lined up on Lexington
while the remaining 14, directed by Tamotsu Ema, targeted Yorktown.
Escorting Zeros shielded Takahashi's aircraft from four Lexington CAP
Wildcats which attempted to intervene, but two Wildcats circling above
Yorktown were able to disrupt Ema's formation. Takahashi's bombers
damaged Lexington with two bomb hits and several near misses, causing
fires which were contained by 12:33. At 11:27, Yorktown was hit in the
centre of her flight deck by a single 250 kg (550 lb),
semi-armour-piercing bomb which penetrated four decks before
exploding, causing severe structural damage to an aviation storage
room 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.
Tamotsu Ema, leader of the Zuikaku dive bombers that damaged Yorktown
As the Japanese aircraft completed their attacks and began to
withdraw, believing that they inflicted fatal damage to both carriers,
they ran a gauntlet of CAP Wildcats and SBDs. In the ensuing aerial
duels, three SBDs and three Wildcats for the U.S., and three torpedo
bombers, one dive bomber, and one Zero for the Japanese were downed.
By 12:00, the U.S. and Japanese strike groups were on their way back
to their respective carriers. During their return, aircraft from the
two adversaries passed each other in the air, resulting in more
air-to-air altercations. Kanno's and Takahashi's aircraft were shot
down, killing both of them.
Recovery, reassessment and retreat
The strike forces, with many damaged aircraft, reached and landed on
their respective carriers between 12:50 and 14:30. In spite of damage,
Yorktown and Lexington were both able to recover aircraft from their
returning air groups. During recovery operations, for various reasons
the U.S. lost an additional five SBDs, two TBDs, and a Wildcat, and
the Japanese lost two Zeros, five dive bombers, and one torpedo plane.
Forty-six of the original 69 aircraft from the Japanese strike force
returned from the mission and landed on Zuikaku. Of these, three more
Zeros, four dive bombers and five torpedo planes were judged damaged
beyond repair and were immediately jettisoned into the sea.
As TF 17 recovered its aircraft, Fletcher assessed the situation.
The returning aviators reported they heavily damaged one carrier, but
that another had escaped damage. Fletcher noted that both his carriers
were hurt and that his air groups had suffered high fighter losses.
Fuel was also a concern due to the loss of Neosho. At 14:22, Fitch
notified Fletcher that he had reports of two undamaged Japanese
carriers and that this was supported by radio intercepts. Believing
that he faced overwhelming Japanese carrier superiority, Fletcher
elected to withdraw TF17 from the battle. Fletcher radioed MacArthur
the approximate position of the Japanese carriers and suggested that
he attack with his land-based bombers.
Around 14:30, Hara informed Takagi that only 24 Zeros, eight dive
bombers, and four torpedo planes from the carriers were currently
operational. 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 notified Inoue his fliers had sunk two U.S. carriers –
Yorktown and a "Saratoga-class" – but heavy losses in aircraft meant
he could not continue to provide air cover for the invasion. Inoue,
whose reconnaissance aircraft sighted Crace's ships earlier that day,
recalled the invasion convoy to Rabaul, postponed MO to 3 July, and
ordered his forces to assemble northeast of the Solomons to begin the
RY operation. Zuikaku and her escorts turned towards
Shōkaku headed for Japan.
Lexington, burning and abandoned
Aboard Lexington, damage control parties put out the fires and
restored her to operational condition, but at 12:47, sparks from
unattended electric motors ignited gasoline fumes near the ship's
central control station. The resulting explosion killed 25 men and
started a large fire. Around 14:42, another large explosion occurred,
starting a second severe fire. A third explosion occurred at 15:25 and
at 15:38 the ship's crew reported the fires as uncontrollable.
Lexington's crew began abandoning ship at 17:07. After the carrier's
survivors were rescued, including Admiral Fitch and the ship'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 / 15.250°S 155.583°E /
-15.250; 155.583). Two hundred and sixteen of the carrier's 2,951-man
crew went down with the ship, along with 36 aircraft. Phelps and the
other assisting warships left immediately to rejoin Yorktown and her
escorts, which departed at 16:01, and TF17 retired to the southwest.
Later that evening, MacArthur informed Fletcher that eight of his
B-17s had attacked the invasion convoy and that it was retiring to the
That evening, Crace detached Hobart, which was critically low on fuel,
and the destroyer Walke, which was having engine trouble, to proceed
to Townsville. Crace overheard radio reports saying the enemy invasion
convoy had turned back, but, unaware Fletcher had withdrawn, he
remained on patrol with the rest of TG17.3 in the
Coral Sea in case
the Japanese invasion force resumed its advance towards Port
On 9 May, TF 17 altered course to the east and proceeded out of
Coral Sea via a route south of New Caledonia. Nimitz ordered
Fletcher to return Yorktown to
Pearl Harbor as soon as possible after
refueling at Tongatabu. During the day, U.S. Army bombers attacked
Deboyne and Kamikawa Maru, inflicting unknown damage. In the meantime,
having heard nothing from Fletcher, Crace deduced that TF17 had
departed the area. At 01:00 on 10 May, hearing no further reports of
Japanese ships advancing towards Port Moresby, Crace turned towards
Australia and arrived at Cid Harbor, 130 nmi (150 mi;
240 km) south of Townsville, on 11 May.
At 22:00 on 8 May, Yamamoto ordered Inoue to turn his forces around,
destroy the remaining Allied warships, and complete the invasion of
Port Moresby. Inoue did not cancel the recall of the invasion convoy,
but ordered Takagi and Gotō to pursue the remaining Allied warship
forces in the Coral Sea. Critically low on fuel, Takagi's warships
spent most of 9 May refueling from the fleet oiler Tōhō Maru. Late
in the evening of 9 May, Takagi and Gotō headed southeast, then
southwest into the Coral Sea. Seaplanes from Deboyne assisted Takagi
in searching for TF 17 on the morning of 10 May. Fletcher and
Crace were already well on their way out of the area. At 13:00 on 10
May, Takagi concluded that the enemy was gone and decided to turn back
towards Rabaul. Yamamoto concurred with Takagi's decision and ordered
Zuikaku to return to Japan to replenish her air groups. At the same
time, Kamikawa Maru packed up and departed Deboyne. At noon on 11
May, a U.S. Navy PBY on patrol from Nouméa sighted the drifting
Neosho (15°35′S 155°36′E / 15.583°S 155.600°E /
-15.583; 155.600). The U.S. destroyer Henley responded and rescued 109
Neosho and 14 Sims survivors later that day, then scuttled the tanker
On 10 May,
Operation RY commenced. After the operation's flagship,
minelayer Okinoshima, was sunk by the U.S. submarine S-42 on 12 May
(05°06′S 153°48′E / 5.100°S 153.800°E / -5.100;
153.800), the landings were postponed until 17 May. In the meantime,
Halsey's TF 16 reached the South Pacific near
Efate and, on 13
May, headed north to contest the Japanese approach to
Nauru and Ocean
Island. On 14 May, Nimitz, having obtained intelligence concerning the
Combined Fleet's upcoming operation against Midway, ordered Halsey to
make sure that Japanese scout aircraft sighted his ships the next day,
after which he was to return to
Pearl Harbor immediately. At 10:15 on
15 May, a Kawanishi reconnaissance aircraft from
TF 16 445 nmi (512 mi; 824 km) east of the
Solomons. Halsey's feint worked. Fearing a carrier air attack on his
exposed invasion forces, Inoue immediately canceled RY and ordered his
ships back to
Rabaul and Truk. On 19 May, TF 16 – which
returned to the
Efate area to refuel – turned towards Pearl Harbor
and arrived there on 26 May. Yorktown reached Pearl the following
Bomb damage to Shōkaku's bow and forward flight deck
Shōkaku reached Kure, Japan, on 17 May, almost capsizing en route
during a storm due to her battle damage. Zuikaku arrived at
Kure on 21
May, having made a brief stop at Truk on 15 May. Acting on signals
intelligence, the U.S. placed eight submarines along the projected
route of the carriers' return paths to Japan, but the submarines were
not able to make any attacks. Japan's Naval General Staff estimated
that it would take two to three months to repair Shōkaku and
replenish the carriers' air groups. Thus, both carriers would be
unable to participate in Yamamoto's upcoming Midway operation. The two
carriers rejoined the
Combined Fleet on 14 July and were key
participants in subsequent carrier battles against U.S. forces. The
five I-class submarines supporting the MO operation were retasked to
support an attack on Sydney Harbour three weeks later as part of a
campaign to disrupt Allied supply lines. En route to Truk the
submarine I-28 was torpedoed on 17 May by the U.S. submarine Tautog
and sunk with all hands.
New type of naval warfare
The battle was the first naval engagement in history in which the
participating ships never sighted or fired directly at each other.
Instead, manned aircraft acted as the offensive artillery for the
ships involved. Thus, the respective commanders were participating in
a new type of warfare, carrier-versus-carrier, with which neither had
any experience. In H. P. Willmot's words, the commanders "had to
contend with uncertain and poor communications in situations in which
the area of battle had grown far beyond that prescribed by past
experience but in which speeds had increased to an even greater
extent, thereby compressing decision-making time." Because of the
greater speed with which decisions were required, the Japanese were at
a disadvantage as Inoue was too far away at
Rabaul to effectively
direct his naval forces in real time, in contrast to Fletcher who was
on-scene with his carriers. The Japanese admirals involved were often
slow to communicate important information to one another.
The experienced Japanese carrier aircrews performed better than those
of the U.S., achieving greater results with an equivalent number of
aircraft. The Japanese attack on the U.S. carriers on 8 May was better
coordinated than the U.S. attack on the Japanese carriers. The
Japanese suffered much higher losses to their carrier aircrews, losing
ninety aircrew killed in the battle compared with thirty-five for the
U.S. side. Japan's cadre of highly skilled carrier aircrews with which
it began the war were, in effect, irreplaceable because of an
institutionalised limitation in its training programs and the absence
of a pool of experienced reserves or advanced training programs for
Coral Sea started a trend which resulted in the
irreparable attrition of Japan's veteran carrier aircrews by the end
of October 1942.
The U.S. did not perform as expected, but they learned from their
mistakes in the battle and made improvements to their carrier tactics
and equipment, including fighter tactics, strike coordination, torpedo
bombers and defensive strategies, such as anti-aircraft artillery,
which contributed to better results in later battles.
Radar gave the
U.S. a limited advantage in this battle, but its value to the U.S.
Navy increased over time as the technology improved and the Allies
learned how to employ it more effectively. Following the loss of
Lexington, improved methods for containing aviation fuel and better
damage control procedures were implemented by the U.S.
Coordination between the Allied land-based air forces and the U.S.
Navy was poor during this battle, but this too would improve over
A 13 May 1942 editorial cartoon from the Japanese English-language
newspaper Japan Times & Advertiser depicts a dejected Uncle Sam
John Bull 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 faced off against each other 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 was
strategically significant, to varying degrees, in deciding the course
and ultimate outcome of the Pacific War.
Tactical and strategic implications
Both sides publicly claimed victory after the battle. In terms of
ships lost, the Japanese won a tactical victory by sinking a U.S.
fleet carrier, an oiler, and a destroyer – 41,826 long tons
(42,497 t) – versus a light carrier, a destroyer, and several
smaller warships – 19,000 long tons (19,000 t) – sunk by the
U.S. side. Lexington represented, at that time, 25% of U.S. carrier
strength in the Pacific. The Japanese public was informed of the
victory with overstatement of the U.S. damage and understatement of
In strategic terms, the Allies won because the seaborne invasion of
Port Moresby was averted, lessening the threat to the supply lines
between the U.S. and Australia. Although the withdrawal of Yorktown
Coral Sea conceded the field, the Japanese were forced to
abandon the operation that had initiated the Battle of
Coral Sea in
the first place.
The battle marked the first time that a Japanese invasion force was
turned back without achieving its objective, which greatly lifted the
morale of the Allies after a series of defeats by the Japanese during
the initial six months of the Pacific Theatre.
Port Moresby was vital
to Allied strategy and its garrison could well have been overwhelmed
by the experienced Japanese invasion troops. The U.S. Navy also
exaggerated the damage it inflicted, which was to cause the press
to treat its reports of Midway with more caution.
The results of the battle had a substantial effect on the strategic
planning of both sides. Without a hold in New Guinea, the subsequent
Allied advance, arduous though it was, would have been more
difficult. For the Japanese, who focused on the tactical results,
the battle was seen as merely a temporary setback. The results of the
battle confirmed the low opinion held by the Japanese of U.S. fighting
capability and supported their overconfident belief that future
carrier operations against the U.S. were assured of success.
One of the most significant effects of the
Coral Sea battle was the
loss of Shōkaku and Zuikaku to Yamamoto for his planned battle in the
air with the U.S. carriers at Midway (Shōhō was to have been
employed at Midway in a tactical role supporting the Japanese invasion
ground forces). The Japanese believed 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 help defend Midway. The
aircraft complement of the U.S. carriers was larger than that of their
Japanese counterparts, which, when combined with the land-based
aircraft at Midway, meant that the
Combined Fleet no longer enjoyed a
significant numerical aircraft superiority over the U.S. Navy for the
impending battle. In fact, the U.S. would have three carriers to
oppose Yamamoto at Midway, because, despite the damage the ship
suffered during the
Coral Sea battle, Yorktown was able to return to
Hawaii. Although estimates were that the damage would take two weeks
to repair, Yorktown put to sea only 48 hours after entering drydock at
Pearl Harbor, which meant that she was available for the next
confrontation with the Japanese. At Midway, Yorktown's aircraft
played crucial roles in sinking two Japanese fleet carriers. Yorktown
also absorbed both Japanese aerial counterattacks at Midway which
otherwise would have been directed at Enterprise and Hornet.
Yorktown in drydock at
Pearl Harbor on 29 May 1942, shortly before
departing for Midway
In contrast to the strenuous efforts by the U.S. to employ the maximum
forces available for Midway, the Japanese apparently did not even
consider trying to include Zuikaku in the operation. No effort appears
to have been made to combine the surviving Shōkaku aircrews with
Zuikaku's air groups or to quickly provide Zuikaku with replacement
aircraft so she could participate with the rest of the Combined Fleet
at Midway. Shōkaku herself was unable to conduct further aircraft
operations, with her flight deck heavily damaged, and she required
almost three months of repair in Japan.
Historians H. P. Willmott, Jonathan Parshall, and Anthony Tully
believe Yamamoto made a significant strategic error in his decision to
support MO with strategic assets. Since Yamamoto had decided the
decisive battle with the U.S. was to take place at Midway, he should
not have diverted any of his important assets, especially fleet
carriers, to a secondary operation like MO. Yamamoto's decision meant
Japanese naval forces were weakened just enough at both the Coral Sea
and Midway battles to allow the Allies to defeat them in detail.
Willmott adds, if either operation was important enough to commit
fleet carriers, then all of the Japanese carriers should have been
committed to each in order to ensure success. By committing crucial
assets to MO, Yamamoto made the more important Midway operation
dependent on the secondary operation's success.
Moreover, Yamamoto apparently missed the other implications of the
Coral Sea battle: the unexpected appearance of U.S. carriers in
exactly the right place and time to effectively contest the Japanese,
and U.S. Navy carrier aircrews demonstrating sufficient skill and
determination to do significant damage to the Japanese carrier forces.
These would be repeated at Midway, and as a result, Japan lost four
fleet carriers, the core of her naval offensive forces, and thereby
lost the strategic initiative in the Pacific War. Parshall and Tully
point out that, due to U.S. industrial strength, once Japan lost its
numerical superiority in carrier forces as a result of Midway, Japan
could never regain it. Parshall and Tully add, "The Battle of the
Coral Sea had provided the first hints that the Japanese high-water
mark had been reached, but it was the
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway that put up the
sign for all to see."
Situation in the South Pacific
The Australians and U.S. forces in
Australia were initially
disappointed with the outcome of the Battle of the Coral Sea, fearing
the MO operation was the precursor to an invasion of the Australian
mainland and the setback to Japan was only temporary. In a meeting
held in late May, the Australian Advisory War Council described the
battle's result as "rather disappointing" given that the Allies had
advance notice of Japanese intentions. General MacArthur provided
Australian Prime Minister
John Curtin with his assessment of the
battle, stating that "all the elements that have produced disaster in
the Western Pacific since the beginning of the war" were still present
as Japanese forces could strike anywhere if supported by major
elements of the IJN.
Australian troops defending the approach to
Port Moresby along the
Kokoda Track in September 1942
Because of the severe losses in carriers at Midway, the Japanese were
unable to support another attempt to invade
Port Moresby from the sea,
forcing Japan to try to take
Port Moresby by land. Japan began its
land offensive towards
Port Moresby along the
Kokoda Track on 21 July
from Buna and Gona. By then, the Allies had reinforced
New Guinea with
additional troops (primarily Australian) starting with the Australian
14th Brigade which embarked at
Townsville on 15 May. The added
forces slowed, then eventually halted the Japanese advance towards
Port Moresby in September 1942, and defeated an attempt by the
Japanese to overpower an Allied base at Milne Bay.
In the meantime, the Allies learned in July that the Japanese had
begun building an airfield on Guadalcanal. Operating from this base
the Japanese would threaten the shipping supply routes to Australia.
To prevent this from occurring, the U.S. chose
Tulagi and nearby
Guadalcanal as the target of their first offensive. The failure of the
Japanese to take Port Moresby, and their defeat at Midway, had the
effect of dangling their base at
effective protection from other Japanese bases.
Tulagi and Guadalcanal
were four hours flying time from Rabaul, the nearest large Japanese
Three months later, on 7 August 1942, 11,000
United States Marines
landed on Guadalcanal, and 3,000 U.S. Marines landed on
nearby islands. The Japanese troops on
Tulagi and nearby islands
were outnumbered and killed almost to the last man in the Battle of
Tulagi and Gavutu–Tanambogo and the U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal
captured an airfield under construction by the Japanese. Thus
Solomon Islands campaigns that resulted in a
series of attritional, combined-arms battles between Allied and
Japanese forces over the next year which, in tandem with the New
Guinea campaign, eventually neutralized Japanese defenses in the South
Pacific, inflicted irreparable losses on the Japanese
military—especially its navy—and contributed significantly to the
Allies' eventual victory over Japan.
The delay in the advance of Japanese forces also allowed the Marine
Corps to land on
Funafuti on 2 October 1942, with a Naval Construction
Battalion (Seabees) building airfields on three of the atolls of
Tuvalu from which USAAF B-24 Liberator bombers of the Seventh Air
Force operated. The atolls of
Tuvalu acted as a staging post during
the preparation for the
Battle of Tarawa
Battle of Tarawa and the
Battle of Makin
Battle of Makin that
commenced on 20 November 1943, which was the implementation of
Battle of the
Coral Sea (1959)
Crusade in the Pacific, Episode 5: The Navy Holds: 1942
(13m:30s-19:37), a segment of an episode from a TV documentary series
aired originally in 1951 and made from the theatrical releases of
Movietone News in 1942.
War in the Pacific, Part I: The Pacific in Eruption, an episode from
another documentary but made from the same
Movietone News newsreels of
1942. Also available in DVD format.
Battle of the
Coral Sea – Lest We Forget, online documentary
released in 2010.
World War II
World War II battles
List of orders of battle#World War II
United States Navy in World War II
^ US carrier aircraft numbers by ship the morning of 7 May: Lexington-
Douglas SBD Dauntless
Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers, 12 Douglas TBD Devastator
torpedo bombers, 19 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighters; Yorktown- 35 SBD,
10 TBD, 17 F4F-3 (Lundstrom,
Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 190).
^ The smaller warships included 5 minesweepers, 2 minelayers, 2
subchasers, and 3 gunboats. Japanese carrier aircraft numbers by ship:
Aichi D3A Type 99 "kanbaku" dive bombers, 19 Nakajima B5N
Type 97 "kankō" torpedo bombers, 18 A6M2 Zero fighters; Zuikaku- 21
kankō, 22 kanbaku, 20 Zeros; Shōhō- 6 kankō, 4
Mitsubishi A5M Type
96 fighters, 8 Zeros (Lundstrom,
Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 188;
Millot, p. 154.) Cressman (p.93) states Shōhō carried 13 fighters
without specifying how many of which type. Lundstrom's numbers are
used in this article.
^ Wilmott (1983), p. 286; Crave, p. 449; Gillison, pp. 518–519.
Yorktown lost 16 and Lexington lost 51 aircraft, including 33 SBDs, 13
TBDs, and 21 F4Fs. One
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) PBY maritime
patrol aircraft was lost on 4 May and another on 6 May (Gillison). One
B-17 from the 40th Reconnaissance Squadron returning from a bombing
mission ran out of fuel on 7 May and crashed and was destroyed. That
loss is not recorded in the total aircraft lost. (Salecker, p.181).
^ Carrier aircrew deaths were: Yorktown-14, Lexington-21. Warship crew
deaths were: Lexington-216, Yorktown-40, Sims-178, Neosho-175, and
Chicago-2 (Phillips; ONI, pp. 25–45). The crews of the two RAAF PBYs
totalled about 10 men.
Guadalcanal Campaign, p.92; Wilmott (1983), p.286;
Millot, p.160. Breakdown of carrier aircraft losses: 19 Zeros,
19 kanbaku, and 31 kankō. Millot adds that 2 Kawanishi H6K
maritime patrol, 5
Mitsubishi G4M (Type 1) bombers, 3 smaller
seaplanes, and 87 carrier aircraft were destroyed.
^ Breakdown of deaths: Carrier aircrew-90, Shōhō-631, Shōkaku-108,
Tulagi invasion force-87, and approximately 50 killed in the destroyed
H6K, Type 1, and smaller seaplanes (Peattie, pp. 174–175; Gill, p.
44; Tully, "IJN Shoho" and "IJN Shokaku").
^ Parker, p. 3; see also Millot, pp. 12–13.
^ Murray, pp. 169–195; Willmott (1982), p. 435; Willmott (2002), pp.
3–8; Millot, pp. 12–13; Henry, p. 14; Morison, p. 6.
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).
^ 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. The IJA and IJN
agreed to wait until the planned operation to occupy Midway and the
Aleutians was completed before attacking
Samoa (Hayashi, p.
Senshi Sōshō states IJN troops were also to seize Samarai
Island to secure the
China Strait through the Louisiades (Bullard, p.
^ 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. The carrier Kaga was originally assigned to the
MO operation. but was replaced by the 5th Carrier Division on 12 April
after Inoue complained that one fleet carrier was not sufficient
(Lundstrom and Parshall).
^ Parker, pp. 20–22; Willmott, (2002), pp. 21–22; Parshall, p. 60.
For unknown reasons, the IJN postponed making their scheduled change
of the Ro code from 1 April to 1 to 27 May 1942 (Wilmott, pp. 21–22;
Lundstrom (2006), p. 119). The U.S. operated Fleet Radio Units in
Pearl Harbor and, with the Australians, at Melbourne
(Prados, pp. 300–303).
^ Prados, p. 301
^ 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
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
Battle of Midway informed the US 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
Louisiade Archipelago and thus transmitted the island names in
Katakana in the clear, making it easier for the U.S. 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.
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. Lexington returned to
Pearl Harbor on 26 March 1942 after
operating in the
Coral Sea with Yorktown and departed on 15 April to
United States Marine Corps Brewster F2A fighters and pilots
to Palmyra Atoll. After the delivery, on 18 April, TF 11 was
ordered to head for
Fiji and then towards
New Caledonia to rendezvous
with TF 17 (Lundstrom,
Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 135 &
163–166). Halsey was to take command of all three task forces once
TF 16 arrived in the
Coral Sea area (Lundstrom,
Pearl Harbor to
Midway, p. 167). TF 17 consisted of Yorktown, cruisers Astoria,
Chester, and Portland, plus the destroyers Hammann, Anderson, Perkins,
Morris, Russell, and Sims and oilers Neosho and Tippecanoe. Yorktown's
captain was Elliott Buckmaster. TF11 included the cruisers Minneapolis
and New Orleans plus destroyers Phelps, Dewey, Aylwin, and Monaghan
(Wilmott 1983, p. 189). TF 16 departed
Pearl Harbor on 30 April
^ Willmott 1983, pp. 185–186
^ Willmott (2002), pp. 25–26; Lundstrom (2006), p. 139; Spector, p.
^ Hashimoto (1954), p. 54; Hackett and Kingsepp "RO-33" and "RO-34".
^ 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.
South Seas Detachment
South Seas Detachment was commanded by
Major General Tomitarō
United States Army Center of Military History (USACMH) (Vol 1),
p. 47). Rottman states that the
South Seas Detachment
South Seas Detachment included 4,886
total troops including the 55th
Infantry Group and 144th Infantry
Regiment from the 55th Division, 47th Field Anti-
and attached medical and water supply support units. Senshi Sōshō
only lists nine transports by name (Bullard, pp. 56–57).
^ 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.
^ USACMH (Vol 1), p. 48.
^ Jersey, pp. 58–60; Dull, p. 124.
^ Millot, p. 37; Lundstrom (2006), p. 147.
^ 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.
^ 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).
^ Wilmott (2002), p. 38–39; Lundstrom,
Pearl Harbor to Midway, p.
187; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 140–145. The nine Zeros were intended for
Tainan Air Group
Tainan Air Group based at Vunakanau Airfield. 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
^ 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 detached destroyers
Anderson and Sims to look for the submarine. The two ships returned
the next morning (3 May) without making contact with the submarine
(Lundstrom 2006, p. 144). I-27, along with I-21, was assigned to scout
around Nouméa during the MO operation (Hackett, "IJN Submarine
^ Morison, p. 20
^ 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 coming from Australia. TF44 was
formerly known as the
ANZAC Squadron and was assigned to MacArthur's
command, under US Rear Admiral
Herbert Fairfax Leary
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 US 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).
^ Jersey, p. 60; Wilmott (2002), p. 38; Lundstrom (2006), pp.
144–145; D'Albas, pp. 95–96; Hata, p. 58.
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 US 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.
^ Lundstrom (2006), pp. 146–149; Brown, p. 62, Hoyt, pp. 21–31;
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).
^ Lundstrom (2006), p. 147; D'Albas, p. 96. US 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.
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.
^ 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).
^ 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
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 US Navy PBYs did not sight him
(Lundstrom). Takagi's oiler was Tōhō Maru (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
Thomas C. Kinkaid
Thomas C. Kinkaid (Lundstrom (2006), p. 137).
Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 181–182; Hoyt, p. 35; Dull,
p. 130; Lundstrom (2006), pp. 155–156.
^ 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,
^ 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
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 US 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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
Pearl Harbor to Midway, p. 190; Cressman, p. 95; Dull, p.
130; Lundstrom (2006), p. 166.
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.
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.
^ Bullard, p. 63
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.
^ 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 US 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).
A Shōkaku torpedo plane which ditched at
Indispensable Reefs on 7 May
1942, photographed on 9 June
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 U.S.
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
Tulagi strike floating off Guadalcanal, but did not attempt to
capture or kill them (Cressman, p. 92).
^ 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. 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
Medal of Honor
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).
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 a strike of
five torpedo planes and three Zeros belowdecks when the U.S. attack
occurred. Three Zeros were aloft at the beginning of the attack and
three more were launched as the attack commenced. Senshi Sōshō,
Japan's War Ministry's official history, apparently specifies that
Gotō's cruisers were 3,000 to 5,000 yards (2,743 to 4,572 m)
away in order to warn the carrier of incoming aircraft, not to provide
anti-aircraft support (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
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).
^ 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. US 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
Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 207–208; Dull, p. 132;
Lundstrom (2006), p. 169; Gillison, p. 519.
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.
^ 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
torpedoes, were from the IJN's
4th Air Group
4th Air Group (4th Kōkūtai) and
launched from Vunakanau airfield, Rabaul, at 09:15 escorted by 11
Zeros from the
Tainan Air Group
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
Genzan Air Group
Genzan Air Group and were originally assigned to bomb Port
Moresby. All were operating as part of the
25th Air Flotilla
25th Air Flotilla under the
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 U.S. 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).
^ 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,
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).
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.
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
William Wolfe Wileman was one of the Wildcat pilots who
survived the action.
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 US 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).
^ Lundstrom (2006), pp. 173–174. Tippecanoe was sent 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).
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.
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).
^ Chihaya, p. 128
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).
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 assume close-in
anti-submarine patrol duty upon their return to TF17. At this time
operational aircraft strength for TF17 was 117, including 31 fighters,
65 dive bombers, and 21 torpedo planes (Lundstrom 2006, p. 183) Eight
SBDs were assigned as close-in anti-submarine patrol, and 16 fighters,
eight from each ship, to the CAP (Lundstrom 2006, p. 183). Around
01:10, Fletcher detached the destroyer Monaghan to try to find out
what happened to Neosho. Monaghan searched throughout the day, but,
basing her search on the erroneous coordinates in the tanker's last
message, was unable to locate 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 located Japanese
carriers northeast of his position.
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).
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 U.S. 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).
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 states that Miyazawa was a member of Shōkaku's fighter
group and that he died after shooting down a US 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
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 US aircraft (Hata, p. 48).
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 US aircraft
during the attack, at a cost of two Zeros destroyed and two damaged.
Actual US losses in the attack were two SBDs (from Yorktown) and three
Wildcats (from Lexington). More US aircraft were lost during the
subsequent return to their carriers. The destroyers which accompanied
Shōkaku's retirement were Ushio and Yūgure (Tully).
^ 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 and 8,000 ft (760 and
2,440 m) when the Japanese aircraft, stacked between 10,000 and
13,000 ft (3,000 and 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 U.S. carriers even though
he was low on fuel.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.
^ 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 initially proposed sending 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 US aircraft, both carrier and land-based, had
apparently sighted Zuikaku twice but were unaware that this was the
same carrier (Hoyt, p. 133).
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.
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 / 15.200°S
155.450°E / -15.200; 155.450. 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.
^ Gill, pp. 52–53; Pelvin; Lundstrom (2006), p. 198.
^ Gill, p. 53; Lundstrom,
Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 283–4; Millot,
p. 105; Cressman, pp. 117–8; Hoyt, pp. 170–3; Pelvin. On 9 May,
Yorktown counted 35 operational aircraft: 15 fighters, 16 dive
bombers, and seven torpedo planes (Lundstrom 2006, pp. 200 & 204).
Fletcher stationed Russell and Aylwin 20 nmi (23 mi;
37 km) astern as radar pickets to warn of any Japanese pursuit
(Lundstrom 2006, p. 204). On 9 May, a Yorktown SBD on scout patrol
sighted what it thought was a Japanese carrier 175 nmi
(201 mi; 324 km) from TF17. Yorktown dispatched a strike
force of four SBDs, which could not locate the target. It was later
determined the scout probably sighted the Lihou Reef and Cays
(Lundstrom 2006, pp. 205–6). Fourteen US Army B-17s from Townsville
also responded to the erroneous report. During the false alarm, an SBD
crashed in the sea; the crew was rescued. On 11 May, Fletcher
dispatched cruisers Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Astoria with three
destroyers under Kinkaid to rendezvous with Halsey's TF16 near Efate
after a brief stop at Nouméa (Lundstrom 2006, p. 205). Gillison (p.
527) reports that Japanese float fighters from Deboyne attacked and
seriously damaged an RAAF reconnaissance PBY, from 11th Squadron,
commanded by Flying Officer Miller, on 9 May.
Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 284–90; Millot, pp.
106–7; Cressman, p. 118; Hoyt, p. 171; Dull, p. 134; Lundstrom
(2006), pp. 200 & 206–7; Chihaya, pp. 124–5. The invasion
convoy returned to
Rabaul on 10 May. Takagi intended to complete the
delivery of the Tainan Zeros to
Rabaul and then provide air support
for the RY operation before Yamamoto ordered the ship back to Japan.
After further repairs to battle-damaged aircraft, on 9 May Zuikaku
counted 24 fighters, 13 dive bombers, and eight torpedo planes
operational. Takagi's scout aircraft sighted the drifting Neosho on 10
May, but Takagi decided the tanker was not worth another strike
(Lundstrom 2006, p. 207). Takagi completed delivery of the Zeros to
Rabaul after turning back on 10 May. Matome Ugaki, Yamamoto's chief of
staff, stated that he initiated and sent the order in Yamamoto's name
to Takagi to pursue the Allied ships (Chihaya, p. 124). Four US Army
B-25 bombers attacked Japanese floatplanes moored at Deboyne on 10
May, but apparently caused no damage. The bombers did not see Kamikawa
Maru present (Gillison, p. 527).
^ ONI, p. 52; Millot, p. 108; Morison, pp. 35–7. The PBY was from
Tangier's air group. The US destroyer Helm recovered four more Neosho
crewmen from a drifting raft (Morison coords: 15°25′S
154°56′E / 15.417°S 154.933°E / -15.417; 154.933; ONI
coords: 15°16′S 155°07′E / 15.267°S 155.117°E /
-15.267; 155.117) on 14 May, the sole survivors of the group which
abandoned ship in panic on 7 May (ONI, p. 53; Millot, p. 108 and
Morison, p. 36). Hoyt incorrectly says that it was U.S. destroyer
Phelps who recovered the final four survivors (Hoyt, pp. 192–3). Two
more Neosho crewmembers died on 13 May aboard Henley from their
injuries (Hoyt) and one of the four rescued from the ocean by Helm
died soon after rescue (Morison, p. 36).
^ "Neosho II (AO-23)". www.history.navy.mil. Naval History and
Heritage Command. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
^ Brown, p. 63, Lundstrom,
Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 285–296 &
313–315; Millot, p. 107; Cressman, p. 120; Lundstrom (2006), pp.
208–211 & 216; Chihaya, pp. 126–127; Morison, pp. 61–62. The
RY invasion force included one light cruiser, one minelayer, two
destroyers, and two transports (Lundstrom). Takagi's cruisers and
destroyers provided distant cover to the north. Ocean and
later occupied by the Japanese without opposition on 25–26 August
and held until the end of the war (Millot and Morison). Yorktown
refueled from an Australian armed merchant cruiser HMAS Kanimbla
Tongatabu on 16 May, and then – along with her escorts – from
the oiler USS Kanawha on 18 May (Lundstrom 2006, pp. 207 &
216). The initial U.S. intelligence on Yamamoto's upcoming operation
indicated an attack on Oahu, but around 17 May, Midway emerged as the
probable target (Lundstrom 2006, pp. 208 & 212).
^ Tully, "IJN Shokaku"; Hackett, "HIJMS Submarine I-28"; Parshall, p.
Pearl Harbor to Midway, pp. 298–299; Blair, pp.
230–233; Tully, "Shōkaku" and "Zuikaku"; Pelvin; Gillison, p. 531.
Shōkaku almost capsized because she had to steam at high speed during
the trip to Japan to avoid attacks from the U.S. submarines. The high
speed caused her to take on water through her damaged bow. Four
submarines— Gar, Greenling, Tautog, and Grampus – were stationed
off Truk, and four more – Drum, Grenadier, Triton, and Pollack –
between Truk and Japan. Triton sighted a carrier, believed to be
Shōkaku, at 6,700 yd (6,100 m) but was unable to close and
attack (Holmes, p. 74; Blair, pp. 230–233). Tully states Shōkaku
was joined by destroyers Kuroshio, Oyashio, and Hayashio on 12 May in
Philippine Sea and Ushio and Yūgure were released to escort
Zuikaku from Truk.
^ Willmott 2002, pp. 37–38
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ 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 US 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).
^ 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.
^ D'Albas, p. 102; Stille, pp. 4–5 & 72–78. The US Navy later
named a Midway-class aircraft carrier USS
Coral Sea after the
^ 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.
^ Edwin P. Hoyt, Japan's War, pp. 283–4 ISBN 0-07-030612-5
^ 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.
^ 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
^ 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
^ Lundstrom (2006), p. 203; D'Albas, p. 109; Stille, p. 72; Morison,
^ Willmott 1983, p. 118
^ Zimmerman, Dwight (26 May 2012). "Battle of Midway: Repairing the
Yorktown After the Battle of the Coral Sea". Defense Media Network.
Faircount Media Group. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
^ Parshall, pp. 63–67, Millot, p. 118; Dull, p. 135; Lundstrom
(2006), p. 203, Ito, pp. 48–49.
^ Parshall, pp. 63–67
^ Willmott (1982), pp. 459–460; Parshall, pp. 58–59.
^ Parshall, pp. 63–67, 58–59 & 430; Ito, p. 59; Lundstrom
(2006), p. 222.
^ Gill, pp. 55–56; Frame, p. 57.
^ McCarthy, p. 111
^ USACMH (Vol II), pp. 138–139; Frame, p. 56; Bullard, pp. 87 &
94; McDonald, p. 77; Willmott (2002), pp. 98–99, 104–105,
^ Frank, p. 17 & 194–213; Willmott (2002), pp. 90–96.
^ Frank, p. 51
^ Frank, p. 61–62 & 79–81.
^ Frank, p. 428–92; Dull, p. 245–69; Willmott (2002),
pp. xiii–xvii, 158 & 167; Parshall, p. xx.
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Art and World War II
Expulsion of Germans
Occupation of Germany
Territorial changes of Germany
Occupation of Japan
First Indochina War
Indonesian National Revolution
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
Allied war crimes
Soviet war crimes
British war crimes
United States war crimes
German (Forced labour) / Wehrmacht war crimes
Italian war crimes
Japanese war crimes
Croatian war crimes
against the Serbs
against the Jews
Romanian war crimes
German military brothels
Rape during the occupation of Japan
Rape of Nanking
Rape of Manila
Rape during the occupation of Germany
Rape during the liberation of France
Rape during the liberation of Poland
Finnish prisoners of war in the Soviet Union
German prisoners of war in the Soviet Union
German prisoners of war in the United States
Italian prisoners of war in the Soviet Union
Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union
Japanese prisoners of war in World War II
German mistreatment of Soviet prisoners of war
Polish prisoners of war in the Soviet Union
Romanian prisoners of war in the Soviet Union
Soviet prisoners of war in Finland