|Date from||05 May 1942|
|Date to||08 May 1942|
Second World War, 1939-1945
The Battle of the Coral Sea
The Japanese planned to consolidate their advance by clearing New Guinea and capturing Port Moresby, while simultaneously attacking Amercian positions in the Solomon Islands.
A striking force of 3 carriers under the command of General Inoue entered the Coral Sea on 6 May, providing cover for an invasion fleet that was to mount an attack on Port Moresby. Opposing them was the US Navy's Task Force 17, commanded by Rear Admiral Frank Fletcher, which consisted of two carriers, three heavy cruisers and a suport greoup Task Force 44, including the Australian cruiser HMAS Australia and HMAS Hobart under the command of Rear Admiral John Crace.
On the morning of 7 May, American aircraft located and sank the Japanese light carrier Shoho. Land basaed aircraft launched several attacks on the American ships without managing any hits. In the early evening aircraft from the Yorktown intercepted a force of Japanese bombers, shooting down nine of them. On the following day each side launched simultaneous aerial strikes against the others carriers. American attacks damaged the Shokaku to the extent that it was unable to recover aircraft and was ordered out of the action. The first Japanese attacks inflicted hits on both American carriers, the Lexington having to be abandoned at the end of the day when fires caused by an internal explosion could not be controlled.
The Japanese suffered significant losses of aircraft and this, together with the uncertainty about remianing American strength and Admiral Inoue's cautious nature, led the commander to postpone the assault on Port Moresby.