History of the Second World War, Volume 2

Carrier duel in the Coral Sea O Top to bottom: Near misses burst alongside the S hokaku-as she frantically zig-zags to avoid the bombs. The lower photographs show the last US attacks on the light carrier Shoho\ smothered by 13 bomb and seven torpedo hits, she sank soon after 1135 hours on May 7 Top to bottom: The loss of the Lexington. Listing and on fire from her leaking fuel the Lexington is abandoned by her crew after several violent explosions. Then the Lexingtons crew is taken aboard the destroyer escort 1942 May 1: Task Force 17 is formed under Rear-Admiral Fletcher to operate in the Coral Sea. Japanese take Mandalay. May 2: Fletcher (Yorktown) leaves Rear- Admiral Fitch (Lexington) refuelling and heads west to search for the Japanese. May 3:1100 hours: Following the successful Japanese attack on Tulagi Rear-Admiral Goto (Shoho) moves to cover the Port Moresby Invasion Force. 1900 hours: Fletcher receives news of Tulagi landings and moves north. Neosho, Russell detached to rendezvous with Fitch. May 4: Following an air-strike against Tulagi Fletcher returns south. May 5: Fletcher rejoins Fitch and spends the day refuelling. The Japanese Striking Force under Vice-Admiral Takagi (Shokaku and Zuikaku) enters Coral Sea. May 6: Fletcher re-forms his forces and sends Neosho and Sims south to the next refuelling rendezvous. Corregidor surrenders: the whole of the Philippines is now in Japanese hands. May 7:0645 hours: Fletcher detaches Cruiser Support Group under Rear-Admiral Crace to(RN) attack Japanese Port Moresby Invasion Group. 0810 hours: Crace sighted by Japanese aircraft. 0815 hours: American aircraft sight ‘two carriers and four heavy cruisers'. 0830 hours: Fletcher sighted by Shoho. 0900 hours: Japanese attack Sims and Neosho. Inouye orders invasion fleet to turn away. 0926-1030 hours: Fletcher launches strike. 1100 hours: Shoho sighted. 1135 hours: Shoho sunk. 1358 hours: Crace attacked by land-based aircraft. 1630 hours: Hara launches air-strike which fails to locate the Americans. 2400 hours: Invasion of Port Moresby is postponed. May 8:0815 hours: American aircraft locate Shokaku and Zuikaku. Japanese locate Lexington and Saratoga. 0900-0925 hours: Both sides launch strikes. 1057 hours: Shokaku attacked and disabled. 1118 hours: Yorktown and Lexington attacked. 1120 hours: Lexington hit by torpedo but continues to receive aircraft. 1247 hours: Major explosion on Lexington. 1300 hours: Takagi sends Shokaku to Truk. 1710 hours: Lexington abandoned. 1956 hours: Lexington sunk by torpedo. 2400 hours: Yamamoto orders Takagi to locate and destroy American forces but these have withdrawn out of range.
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