Coral Sea

Relief map of
        Coral Sea

The Coral Sea lies between Australia to the west, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to the north, and the New Hebrides and New Caledonia to the east. It is a beautiful, usually calm body of water. The most direct shipping route from the United States to Australia passes through this area, and as a result the Japanese attempted to seize Port Moresby and Tulagi in order to isolate Australia. This lead to the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 7-8, 1942, the first major carrier battle of the Pacific War.

Battle of the Coral Sea

Following the successful conclusion of the Japanese Centrifugal Offensive on 8 March 1942, Japanese planners began to feel that there was no need to pause to consolidate their conquests and build up their defense perimeter as originally planned. Losses had been so light that the Japanese began to look for new worlds to conquer instead.

Attention soon focused on cutting the supply lines to Australia by seizing southern New Guinea and advancing to New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa. Combined Fleet commander Yamamoto further stretched an already overly ambitious strategy by insisting on taking Midway and the western Aleutians immediately following the New Guinea operation, as a way to lure the American Pacific Fleet to its destruction. All these targets were part of the original Japanese war plan, but on a much less ambitious schedule.

Preparations. The accelerated schedule meant that most of the carriers of 1 Air Fleet would not be able to participate in the New Guinea operation. After five months of intensive operations, from the Pearl Harbor raid to the Indian Ocean raid, 1 Air Fleet badly needed to pause for refit and replenishment of its air groups. Only Shokaku and Zuikaku could be ready in time for the New Guinea operation. Meanwhile, the other four would prepare for the Midway operation. Neither Yamamoto and his staff nor the Navy General Staff anticipated any serious difficulties with either operation.

However, the Americans had broken into the Japanese naval codes and were forewarned of the Japanese move. The earliest clue was that Kaga began to exchange messages with 4 Fleet, an unusual pattern that suggested the carrier would soon be operating in 4 Fleet's area. (This was correct at the time, though Kaga was later dropped from the Japanese order of battle for the operation.) Jack Fletcher was dispatched with Task Force 17 (Yorktown) from Tongatabu on 27 April. He joined Fitch's Task Force 11 (Lexington) at Point Butternut, 300 miles (480 km) southeast of Guadalcanal, on the afternoon of 1 May. Halsey was just returning from the Doolittle raid and was immediately sent to the Coral Sea with the Enterprise and Hornet, but did not arrive in time for the battle.

Inoue, commanding 4 Fleet, came up with a complex plan for Operation MO, with several moving parts. This invited defeat in detail, which was very nearly what took place. Inoue relied on achieving surprise and was contemptuous of American naval power. Indeed, in many respects, the plans for Operation MO suffered from the same flaws that were evident in the plans for the Midway operation. In the first phase of Operation MO, the Support Force (Marumo), consisting of a couple of old light cruisers and some gunboats, would escort seaplane carrier Kamikawa Maru to establish a series of seaplane bases in the northern Solomons. These would cover the final advance on Tulagi by Tulagi Invasion Force (Shima). Marumo would then establish seaplane bases south of New Britain to help cover the movement against Port Moresby. The Japanese time table called for six flying boats and nine seaplanes to arrive at the Shortland Islands on 28 April and additional seaplanes to begin operating out of Thousand Ships Bay on 2 May. Tulagi itself would be invaded before dawn on 3 May and was expected to fall within a day. Additional air support would be provided by light carrier Shoho under Goto Aritomo.

In the next phase, flying boats would advance to Tulagi and provide cover for Takagi's Striking Force (Shokaku and Zuikaku) to making a flanking move around the eastern Solomons and enter the Coral Sea from the east. Historians from Morison (1949) on have often characterized Takagi's wide left hook as an attempt to ambush the American carriers, with Shoho as bait, and with the land-based air in Rabaul acting as the anvil against which Takagi would hammer the Americans. However, Lundstrom (2006) has pointed out that Inoue did not expect to encounter American carriers until Operation MO was nearly complete. The purpose of Takagi's flanking movement was to avoid American air searches, which were concentrated in the northern Coral Sea, and allow Takagi to surprise and destroy the Allied land-based air forces at Townsville and other northeastern Australian airfields. Inoue, the Japanese Billy Mitchell, feared land-based aircraft much more than he feared American carrier aviation, and he believed the movement to Port Moresby would be dangerously exposed even with friendly carrier air cover. The Townsville strikes were to take place at dawn on 7 May, after which Takagi would move take up position in the center of the Coral Sea and await developments.

However, on 29 April 1942, Yamamoto intervened to cancel the Townsville strike and order Takagi to be on the lookout for the American carriers. The Striking Group's left hook maneuver remained unaltered although its original purpose was no longer relevant.

Meanwhile Kajioka would sail from Rabaul on 4 May with Port Moresby Invasion Group, consisting of his 6 Destroyer Squadron and 11 transports. He would be met by Goto returning from covering the Tulagi invasion and would be also covered by seaplanes from Deboyne Island, where a seaplane base was to be set up by 6 May, and Cape Rodney (148.364E 10.182S), where the base was to be established by 8 May. The assault on Port Moresby itself was scheduled for 10 May.

Once Port Moresby was secured, Takagi and Shima would join with forces from the Marshalls to seize Ocean Island and Nauru, then Takagi and Goto would hurry back to Japan to prepare for the Midway operation.

Fletcher had intelligence indicating that the Japanese had at least three, and possibly as many as five, carriers in the area. He also had a healthy respect for land-based air operating out of Rabaul. He therefore planned to keep his carriers just outside of Japanese air search range and wait for an opportunity to pounce on any Japanese force that moved out from under the Japanese air umbrella. He wisely chose to merge his task force and Fitch's, but because the two carriers had vastly different turning radii, he expected the carriers to evade independently if attacked, with the screen instructed to divide between the two carriers. Fletcher also designated two surface attack groups, TG 17.2 under Kinkaid and TG 17.3 under Crace. He resisted the temptation to shift his headquarters to a cruiser so that he could lead any surface attack personally, judging the communications facilities inadequate. Fitch was designated as the air group commander and would retain a screen of four destroyers. This plan was completely orthodox for the time, strongly resembling American prewar fleet exercises, and was meant to be flexible.

Both sides were supported by land-based air, but neither carrier task force commander had direct control of the land-based air units.

The Battle. The Allies were aware that the Japanese plan called for an invasion of Tulagi, and accordingly the Australians pulled out their tiny garrison on 1 May 1942, the same day that Fletcher rendezvoused with Fitch. Fletcher then refueled each task force in turn, declining to refuel simultaneously in dangerous waters. He planned to empty Tippecanoe and retain Neosho in reserve. Logistics were still uncertain at this point in the war, which would continue to influence Fletcher's decisions. Fueling did not go well and Fitch reported he would not be completed before 4 May. Fletcher, with intelligence indicating increased Japanese activity in the Solomons, decided to move further north and await Fitch there. Land-bases reconnaissance aircraft failed to detect Marumo's Support Force off New Georgia or Goto's Covering Force closing north of Choiseul, and Fletcher did not expect trouble before Fitch could rejoin him.

Two days later, Shima's Tulagi Invasion Force took possession of Tulagi and began setting up a seaplane base, all according to schedule. However, Takagi was delayed by poor weather that interfered with a ferry of 16 carrier aircraft to Rabaul. The carefully timed MO operation was already beginning to come apart, and on account of a secondary task that Takagi should never have been burdened with

Fletcher got word of the Tulagi invasion at 1830 on 3 May, just as he was preparing for the overnight run to rendezvous with Fitch to the northwest. He was then 400 miles (640 km) south of Tulagi but his ships had ample fuel for an overnight dash north to launch strikes against Tulagi from the southwest. Radio silence hindered the two carrier commanders from coordinating their activities at this point in the battle; unknown to Fletcher, Fitch had finished refueling ahead of schedule and was just 60 miles (100 km) to his east. Fletcher sent Neosho to meet Fitch and order him to a new rendezvous at Point Corn, 325 miles (520 km) south of Guadalcanal, while Task Force 17 carried out the strike against Tulagi.

Fletcher launched a full deck load by 0702 on 4 May. Takagi, with the main Japanese carrier force, was still north of Bougainville and out of range of the action. However, in spite of the lack of Japanese air cover, and a front that concealed the approaching American aircraft until they were almost on top of their targets, the American attack accomplished little except alerting the Japanese that American carriers were in the area. The aging destroyer Kikuzuki was bombed and driven aground, a total loss, and two small minesweepers were also sunk. Minesweeper Tama Maru was torpedoed. Three more attack waves accomplished little more than the destruction of five Mavis flying boats, but this at least ensured that the Japanese carrier force would have little support from shore-based reconnaissance. This was particularly important given that the Japanese carrier strike force did not have any of the Tone-class seaplane cruisers to provide the usual seaplane reconnaissance. American losses were limited to a single Devastator forced down on the south coast of Guadalcanal, from which the aircrew were rescued by Hammann.  Fletcher briefly considered detaching two of his cruisers to clean up any survivors at Tulagi, but thought better of the order, which would have left the ships unprotected against Takagi's approaching carriers.

The next day, 5 May 1942, Fletcher rejoined Fitch and began topping off his fuel bunkers. An H6K "Mavis" from Rabaul spotted the force before being shot down, but, incredibly, 25 Air Flotilla did not report this to Inoue. The American task forces were left unmolested to finish refueling before shaping course towards Port Moresby, leaving Neosho and Sims at what Fletcher assumed was a place of relative safety. Meanwhile, Takagi's force also refueled before entering Coral Sea from the east. Fletcher was aware that an invasion force was on the way to Port Moresby and that it was supported by a carrier force, but he had no idea of Takagi's whereabouts: It was Takagi's turn to be concealed by the cold front. Intelligence suggested Takagi was off Bougainville, and in any case it was natural for Fletcher to assume the Japanese would be closing on Port Moresby, their principal objective. The code breakers had also intercepted Yamamoto's April 29 message calling off the Townsville strike, but could only break part of the message and thought Yamamoto was ordering the strike. All these considerations led Fletcher to move west and focus his attention west and north, leaving him dangerously vulnerable to being blindsided by Takagi. Had Takagi been on schedule, the situation might have turned out very poorly for the Americans.

On 6 May the two main carrier forces continued to sail undetected, but Shoho was bombed by a force of B-17s that failed to hit their target.

On 7 May, both sides mistakenly launched full strikes against minor targets after searching in the wrong direction. Takagi had decided to search the area south and west of his force, believing Fletcher to be further south than he was, and Takagi's pilots mistook Fletcher's service force for a carrier task force. Takagi immediately launched a full strike which, after determining that there were no carriers in the target area, proceeded to sink destroyer Sims and cripple tanker Neosho. The Neosho's navigator was badly rattled and miscalculated his navigational fix, with the result that the tanker was not located for four days. 123 survivors were taken off and the ship scuttled, and another four survivors on rafts were rescued six days later.

Fletcher had send Crace with his cruiser force ahead at 0538 on 7 May to attack Port Moresby Invasion Group as it exited Jomard Passage southeast of New Guinea. This decision that has been criticized for needlessly weakening Fletcher's antiaircraft screen, but Fletcher was thinking of prewar tactical exercises in which opposing carriers quickly neutralized each other. If the upcoming carrier battle ended in such a draw, Crace would still be in a position to stop the Port Moresby invasion. Crace supported the decision in a letter written in 1957, and Fletcher's antiaircraft expert, Schindler, told Lundstrom (2006) in 1972 that the contribution of Crace's ships to the antiaircraft screen was of little significance.

Crace was spotted and attacked by both Japanese and American land-based aircraft; fortunately for the Allies, neither attack did any damage (though the Japanese raid placed two bombs uncomfortably close to Australia), and Crace's antiaircraft accounted for five Japanese bombers. Meanwhile, Fletcher had sent his search planes north, missing Takagi to his east, and one scout discovered the two old cruisers of Marumo's Support Force. His report was mistakenly encoded to indicate two large carriers. Fletcher launched a full strike, which was already in the air when the mistake was discovered. According to one witness, when the scout responsible for the miscoded report arrived back at Task Force 17, Fletcher briefly lost his composure and shouted, "Young man, do you know what you have done? You have just cost the United States two carriers!"

Fletcher quickly decided to let the strike proceed north in hopes that it could be redirected to a better target if one was sighted, rather than bring the strike back on board and leave his carriers vulnerable while incurring a lengthy delay before being able to strike again. The strike chanced upon Shoho and her escorts, and the light carrier was smothered under a hail of bombs and torpedoes from the 96 planes in the American strike. The Americans lost two aircraft, and Yorktown was left with just 14 aerial torpedoes in her magazines. The remaining ships of the Covering Group fled north without even rescuing survivors. Kajioka could hear the explosions just over the horizon and began to withdraw to the northwest as well. Inoue ordered Kajioka's Port Moresby Invasion Group to continue on this course until the Americans had been properly dealt with. As it turned out, this was the closest the invasion force ever got to Port Moresby.

Photograph of Japanese carrier Hosho under

Shoho under attack. Naval Historical Center.

At this point, Fletcher still did not know Takagi's whereabouts, but his own location had finally reached the Japanese commander. Takagi launched a dusk strike of twelve Vals and fifteen Kates, but these were unable to locate the Americans, who were once again under the weather front. On their return, the Japanese planes were jumped by American fighters, which shot down nine Japanese aircraft at the cost of two fighters. The surviving Japanese aircraft became so confused that they jettisoned their ordnance and attempted to land on the American carriers, thinking they were Japanese. Because Hara's best aircrew had been assigned to this dangerous dusk mission, the losses were more severe than the numbers alone would indicate.

Meanwhile, Fitch's radar operator observed aircraft circling 30 miles (50 km) to the east and disappearing one by one, leading him to conclude that he was seeing the Japanese landing circle and Takagi's force was just 30 miles away. However, this information did not reach Fletcher for two and a half hours, and postwar analysis of the two force tracks shows that Takagi was never closer than one hundred miles (160 km). Lundstrom (2006) speculates that the circling Japanese aircraft were experiencing interference by the U.S. fighter director transmissions with their homing signals. Sherman later criticized Fletcher for not launching a night attack with one of his torpedo squadrons, but there is no evidence anyone made the suggestion at the time, and darkness, bad weather, and the difficulty of spotting the squadron on the darkened flight decks (which would probably have required launching some of the fighters and dive bombers just to clear the deck) argue against such a move. Fletcher briefly considered a surface attack, but decided to keep his force together for the next day's battle, a decision in which both Kinkaid and later Nimitz fully concurred. Takagi, for his part, never even considered a night surface attack.

That night Fletcher continued slowly west. Aware that the Japanese could maneuver during the night so as to be in almost any direction by morning, Fletcher ordered that a circular dawn search, covering the entire 360 degrees, out to a maximum of 125 miles (200 km). This required a full squadron (18 SBDs). Fletcher retained 16 F4Fs for combat air patrol and eight more SBDs for anti-torpedo-plane patrol, and ordered that the search planes be used to augment the anti-torpedo-plane patrol after they returned from their search. This left Fletcher with 75 aircraft for his strike. Takagi in turn was ordered by Inoue to take up a position 125 miles southeast of the Louisiades by dawn, which put him north of Fletcher. Knowing the Americans were almost certainly to his south, Takagi was able to search the southern sector with just seven aircraft.

At 0822 the next day, 8 May 1942, one of Takagi's search planes located the Americans. At almost exactly the same time (0820), an American search plane found the Japanese. The Japanese had their strike in the air by 0930. After launching his strike, Takagi raced south towards the Americans, a blunder that brought his force within striking distance of the shorter-ranged American carrier aircraft. Fitch began launching the American strike at 0847, and Fletcher ordered the task force to steam for the Japanese in order to shorten the return flight. The Japanese strike consisted of 69 aircraft with well-trained crews, versus the 75 aircraft with less experienced crews in the American strike. Furthermore, the American force was now well south of the weather front and sailing in bright sunshine, while the Japanese force was within the cover of the front. The only clear advantage possessed by the Americans was radar.

The American strike ran into bad weather, which concealed Zuikaku, but which also aided the American approach to Shokaku. The American aircrews performed rather poorly, failing to hit the ship with any torpedoes and scoring only three bomb hits. The American Mark 13 torpedoes were so slow that the Japanese carrier was able to outrun them. The three bomb hits rendered Shokaku incapable of launching aircraft, but the fires were quickly put out and there was no damage below the waterline. The strike cost the Americans eight aircraft and the Japanese two defending Zeros.

The Japanese attack was more successful. Although the Japanese strike was detected 70 miles (110 km) out, the fighter director was inexperienced and only nine Wildcats, which were low on fuel, were covering the force. The six at low altitude missed the approaching Japanese torpedo bombers in the clouds, while the three at higher altitude were too low to intercept the Japanese dive bombers. Nine more fighters were launched at once, and twelve dive bombers were pressed into service to repel the Japanese torpedo bombers. Five of these dive bombers were lost to the escorting Zeros, along with three of the fighters. Perhaps ten Japanese attackers were shot down by the American fighters and dive bombers and another three accounted for by antiaircraft, but many more Japanese aircraft were later forced to ditch or were jettisoned from their carriers after landing.

Lexington was caught in an anvil attack (thirteen torpedo planes attacking from both sides of the bow) and was unable to avoid being hit by two torpedoes on her port side. She also took two small bomb hits. Yorktown was able to avoid the torpedoes from the four Kates that attacked her, as well as most of the bombs from the 14 Vals that dived on her, but was hit by a single bomb that did moderate damage.  Although Lexington had a slight list (7 degrees) and a flooded fire room, she was still able to make 24.5 knots. Yorktown experienced slight flooding from very near misses, and damage to the uptakes temporarily put three fire rooms out of action and reduced her speed to 24 knots. Both carriers were still capable of flight operations, and Fletcher radioed Nimitz: "First enemy attack completed no vital damage our force" (Lundstrom 2006). It certainly seemed that way at the time.

Both strike leaders were lost, Takahashi Kakuichi for the Japanese and William Ault for the Americans.

The Shokaku's air group was instructed to land on Zuikaku, but not all got the word. Of those that reached Zuikaku, 46 were able to land, but a dozen were jettisoned in the rush to strike the aircraft below and seven more ditched near the carrier. By 1430 Hara had just nine dive bombers and torpedo bombers available for a second strike. In addition, some of Takagi's destroyers were down to just 20 percent of fuel capacity. Believing he had sunk both American carriers and damaged several other warships, Takagi turned north at 1500. The order to withdraw was confirmed by Inoue at 1545.

Fletcher decided not to attempt a second strike. The Lexington air group was very late returning to the carriers, leaving him with less than twenty operational torpedo and dive bombers; the bad weather near the targets might make them difficult to find; Lexington was vulnerable; and the loss of Neosho meant the fuel situation could quickly become critical. In addition, Yorktown had only seven torpedoes left in her magazines. Fitch and his staff were consulted and concurred in the decision, Fitch lingering just long enough to recover the rest of the Lexington air group.

Photograph of explosion on carrier

Lexington suffers secondary explosions. Naval Historical Center.

Aftermath. Fletcher planned to move south-southwest to flank the Port Moresby invasion convoy (which he did not know had already turned back), to draw closer to Crace, and to come within cover of land-based aircraft. He informed Nimitz that he would transfer as many of Lexington's aircraft to Yorktown as possible that night and send Lexington back to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

Unfortunately for the Americans, poor damage control led to a buildup of gasoline fumes in the Lexington from aviation gasoline tanks that had been cracked by the torpedo hits. At 1245 on the afternoon of May 8, an explosion ripped through the ship, and fires broke out that could not be brought under control. An even more massive explosion at 1442 caused black smoke to billow out of the hangar deck and the stacks. A third massive explosion at 1600 signaled the end. Though she was still afloat, her captain and the task force commander agreed that saving the crew was more important than saving the ship, and Lexington was scuttled after an orderly evacuation, in spite of a fourth massive explosion shortly after sunset that threw flaming wreckage in all directions. Phelps delivered the coup de grace with five torpedoes 1915, and the ship finally rolled over and sank at 1942. The loss of Lexington allowed the Japanese to claim a tactical victory.

With no naval air cover for the invasion force, with an exaggerated sighting report of Crace's force that turned one of his cruisers into a battleship, and with Allied land-based aircraft active around Port Moresby, Inoue  postponed the Port Moresby invasion until 7 July.  By then the Japanese had suffered catastrophe at Midway, and the invasion never took place. The failure of the Japanese to seize Port Moresby made the battle a strategic victory for the Americans.

Damaged and with its aerial torpedo magazines nearly empty, Yorktown withdrew and headed for Bremerton for repairs. There were some tense moments on 9 May, including a mistaken report of pursuing Japanese carriers at 0900. Fletcher reportedly commented that "In spite of what we've been through, it looks as though we're not going to get away with it. But by God, we'll go down like Americans" (Lundstrom 2006). He ordered a small search-strike mission by four dive bombers, which discovered that the pursuing "carrier" was a flat reef with waves crashing around it.

Yamamoto was surprised and upset that Inoue had ordered the carriers to retreat, and countermanding orders reached Takagi to pursue the retreating Americans at 0200 on 9 May. However, after a halfhearted attempt to do so, Takagi turned back for good at about 1300 on 10 May.

The loss of Lexington taught the Americans a hard lesson in the importance of damage control. Later in the war, U.S. ships damaged far more badly than Lexington at Coral Sea would be saved through improved damage control techniques. The Americans also were not well served by their land-based search planes, whose reports were poorly interpreted and slowly disseminated.

In addition to foiling the Port Moresby invasion, the battle of the Coral Sea put two Japanese carriers out of action for the subsequent battle of Midway. Meanwhile Nimitz, warned by his code breakers that the Japanese were preparing for a large operation in the central Pacific, ordered Yorktown to return to Pearl Harbor rather than continue to Bremerton.  Hasty repairs allowed her to play a decisive role at Midway.

Japanese order of battle

Task Force MO (Inoue; at Rabaul)     

Land-Based Air Force (Yamada; at Rabaul)    
From 25 Air Flotilla

At Rabaul:

12 A6M Zero
41 D3A Val
3 seaplanes

At Lae:

6 A6M Zero

At Shortland:

3 seaplanes

At Tulagi:

6 seaplanes

At Truk:
Not released until 4 May 1942

45 D3A Val
45 A6M Zero

Carrier Striking Force (Takagi)

CA Myoko

CA Haguro

Carrier Division 5 (Hara)

CV Zuikaku

21 A6M Zero
21 D3A Val
21 B5N Kate

CV Shokaku

21 A6M Zero
20 D3A Val
21 B5N Kate

Destroyer Division 7

DD Ushio

DD Akebono

Destroyer Division 27

DD Ariake

DD Yugure

DD Shiratsuyu

DD Shigure

AO Toho Maru

Invasion Forces (Goto)     

Tulagi Invasion Group (Shima)

AM Okinoshima
Sunk on 4 May

AM Koei Maru

AP Azumasan Maru
Carrying part of "Kure" Force and a construction battalion

DD Kikuzuki
Destroyed on 4 May

DD Yuzuki

SC Toshi Maru #3

SC Tama Maru #8

AM Hagoromo Maru

AM Noshiro Maru #2

AM Tama Maru
Sunk on 4 May

AMc Wa-1
Sunk on 4 May

AMc Wa-1 Sunk on 4 May

Port Moresby Invasion Group (Kajioka)

Destroyer Squadron 6 (Kajioka)

CL Yubari

DD Oite

DD Asanage

DD Uzuki

DD Mutsuki

DD Mochizuki

DD Yayoi

Transport Unit (Abe)

CM Tsugaru

AM W-20

4 Navy AP
Carrying 3 Kure SNLF and base units  

AP Mogamigawa Maru

AP Akibasan Maru (4607 tons, 12 knots)    

AP Chowa Maru

AP Syoka Maru

6 Army AP
Carrying South Seas Detachment

AP China Maru (5869 tons, 10 knots)

AP Daifuku Maru

AP Asakasan Maru (8709 tons, 16.5 knots)     

AP Marsue Maru

AP Mito Maru (7061 tons, 12.0 knots)

AP Nichibi Maru

AM Hagoromo Maru

AM Noshiro Maru #3

AM Fumi Maru #2

AM Seki Maru #3

AO Goyo Maru (8469 tons, 14.5 knots) Also transported Navy troops

AO Hoyo Maru

AR Oshima

Support Group (Marumo)

Cruiser Division 18

CL Tenryu

CL Tatsuta

CVS Kamikawa Maru

PG Keijo Maru

PG Seikai Maru (2693 tons)

PG Nikkai Maru

Covering Group (Goto)

CA Aoba

CA Kako

CA Kinugasa

CA Furutaka

CVL Shoho

12 A6M Zero
9 B5N Kate

DD Sazanami

Submarine Force

Patrol Group

SS I-21

SS I-22

SS I-24

SS I-28

SS I-29

Raiding Group

SS Ro-33

SS Ro-34

Allied order of battle

Task Force 17 (Fletcher)

TG 17.2 Attack Group (Kinkaid)

CA Minneapolis

CA New Orleans

Cruisers, TF17 (Smith)

CA Astoria

CA Chester

CA Portland

Destoyers, TF17

DD Phelps

DD Dewey

DD Farragut

DD Aylwin

DD Monaghan

TG 17.3 Support Group (Crace)     

CA Australia

CA Chicago

CL Hobart

DD Perkins

DD Walke

TG 17.5 Carrier Group (Fitch)

CV Lexington

23 F4F Wildcat
36 SBD Dauntless
12 TBD Devastator

CV Yorktown

21 F4F Wildcat
38 SBD Dauntless
13 TBD Devastator

Destroyer Screen

DD Morris

DD Anderson

DD Hammann

DD Russell

TG 17.6 Fueling Group

AO Neosho

AO Tippecanoe

DD Sims

DD Worden

TG 17.9 Search Group

AV Tangier (at Noumea)

12 PBY-5 of VP-71 and VP-72

Southwest Pacific Area (MacArthur)

Allied Air Forces (Brett)

3 Light Bombardment Group (Charters Towers)

19 B-25
19 A-24
14 A-20

22 Medium Bombardment Group (Townsville)

12 B-25
80 B-26

8 Fighter Group

50 P-39 (Port Moresby)
50 P-39 (Townsville)

19 Heavy Bombardment Group (Cloncurry)

48 B-17

49 Fighter Group (Darwin)

90 P-40

35 Fighter Group (Sydney)

100 P-39

Task Force 42 Eastern Australia Submarine Group (Rockwell)

Task Group 42.1

AS Griffin

Submarine Division 53

SS S-42

SS S-43

SS S-44

SS S-45

SS S-46

SS S-47

Submarine Division 201

SS S-37

SS S-38

SS S-39

SS S-40

SS S-41


Gamble (2010)

Lundstrom (2006)

Morison (1949)

Spector (1985)

Willmott (1983)

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