Sunday, May 8, 2011

Battle of the Coral Sea - 1942

In the predawn hours of 8 May,  Japanese and American carriers sent out scouts in search of the enemy. U.S. Navy scouts made contact a few hours later and found the Japanese Navy already had launched their aircraft.   U.S. Navy carriers launched their attack aircraft soon after 9 a.m.

Each side's planes attacked the others ships at about 11a.m. The Japanese took advantage of the thick weather conditions to partially conceal their, while the U.S. Navy fleet was exposed by clear skies. 

Planes from USS Yorktown hit the Shokaku, followed somewhat later by part of USS Lexington's air group. These attacks left Shokaku unable to launch planes, and she left the area soon after to return to Japan for repairs. Her sister ship, Zuikaku, was steaming nearby under low clouds and was not attacked.

The Japanese struck the U.S. Navy carriers shortly after 11 a.m.  The Japanese hit Lexington hard with torpedoes with torpedoes and bombs.  For about an hour, Lexington seemed to have shrugged off her battle damage.  Unfortunately fires spread throughout the ship and she had to be abandoned and scuttled. Yorktown was also badly damaged by a bomb and several near misses, but remained in action. 

At the end of the day, both sides had retired from the immediate battle area. The Japanese sent Zuikaku back for a few days, even though her aircraft complement was badly depleted, but they had already called off their Port Moresby amphibious operation and withdrew the carrier on May 11th. At about the same time USS Yorktown was recalled to Pearl Harbor. After receiving quick repairs, she would play a vital role in the Battle of Midway in early June.

No comments: