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Battle of the Coral Sea

Hyder Gulam

“Dixon to Carrier. Scratch One Flattop”


Battle of the Coral Sea
AIM:
 Application of aerospace
power capabilities to the
Battle of the Coral Sea
 Key events of the Battle
of the Coral Sea
 Key aerospace lesson to
be drawn from the Battle
of the Coral Sea
References

• Department of the Navy (USN) - Naval Historical Center: Battle of the


Coral Sea at
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/coralsea/coralsea.htm
• Wikipedia: Battle of the Coral Sea at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Coral_Sea
• Robert Lewis, Anzac Day: The Battle of the Coral Sea at
http://www.anzacday.org.au/history/ww2/bfa/coralsea.html
• Emiliano Springer, The Battle of the Coral Sea at
http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/st/~michaelm/coral1.html
• Sea Power Centre (RAN), General RAN History - The Battle of the Coral Sea
at http://www.navy.gov.au/spc/history/general/coralsea.html
• The Battle of the Coral Sea at
http://users.skynet.be/advocaat.depickere/Text/coral.html
Battle of the Coral Sea - Overview
ORBAT TBD-1 - Douglas Devastator

 Combatants:
United States Navy, Royal Australian Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy.
 Commanders:
Frank J. Fletcher, John G. Crace.
Shigeyoshi Inoue, Takeo Takagi.
 Strength:
2 large carriers, 3 cruisers
2 large carriers,1 light carrier, 4 cruisers.
 Casualties:
1 fleet carrier,1 destroyer,1 oil tanker sunk. 543 killed.
1 light carrier,1 destroyer sunk, 69 aircraft destroyed,1,074
killed
Time line: 03-05 May 1942

 Japanese naval force lands at Tulagi, establish


seaplane base to provide reconnaissance.
 RADM Fletcher takes Yorktown to interfere with
landings. Lexington refueling.
 Yorktown’s planes hit Tulagi, destroying Kikuzuki,
other ships and seaplanes.
 Fletcher rejoins Lexington, refuels Yorktown.
 Port Moresby Invasion Force and Covering Force
advance into Coral Sea from the north. Aircraft
carrier strike force enter Coral Sea from the east.
Aerospace Lesson
 Battlespace Management - Early Warning
and Control.
 Offensive air support - land
 Combat Support - Operations support/Force
multiplier (refuelling, logistics etc).
Time line - 06 May 1942:
 Land based B-17’s attack the Port Moresby
Invasion Force with usual no success - pointless in
high-level bombing against moving naval targets.
 Fletcher detaches RADM Crace (Task Force 44 -
3 cruisers and destroyers) to block course of Port
Moresby Invasion Force: risky as exposes surface
ships to land-based aircraft without air cover.
 Both fleets search for each other, including those
Allied aircraft based at Cooktown and Mareeba on
Cape York Peninsula.
Time line - 07 May 1942:
 Searching for each other’s carriers - get first blow.
 Japanese scout planes spot US oiler Neosho and
USS Sims (destroyer) - mistaken for carrier and
cruiser. Attacked by ineffective high level
bombing, and accurate dive bombers.
 Scout plane from Yorktown finds Covering
Group, light carrier Shoho and 4 heavy cruisers.
Faulty message coding transformed as 2 carriers
and 4 heavy cruisers.
 Strike force from Y & L overwhelm
Shoho - sinks in minutes.
Time line - 07 May 1942:
 Japanese land-based torpedo planes and
bombers attempt to strike TF 44 with no
success due to skillful seamanship.
 Japanese order Port Moresby Invasion force
to turn back.
 Late in the day, cream of Japanese carrier
pilots are sent to search for carriers - most
are shot down or lost in night time landings.
Aerospace Lesson
 Force protection of TF 44 - vulnerable to
airpower.
 Defensive Counter Air - sinking of oiler
Neosho.
 Offensive Air Support - Maritime: B-17
strike against Port Moresby Invasion Force
Time line - 08 May 1942:
 Respective scouts locate opponents - attack
each other at 1100 h - Japanese partly
concealed by thick weather, Americans under
clear skies.
 Shokaku attacked - unable to land/launch
planes.
 Lexington struck, situation deteriorates, and she
is scuttled.
 Yorktown badly damaged, but still operational -
recalled to Hawaii for repairs - Midway.
 Port Moresby amphibious operation called off.
Japanese carriers return to Japan for repairs -
not available for Midway.
Key Aerospace Power lesson:
 Air Superiority - the degree of dominance in the
air battle of one force over another which
permits the conduct of operations by the former
and its related land, sea and air forces at a
chosen time and place without prohibitive
interference by the opposing force.
– Offensive Counter Air (offensive capability,
which has both long range and endurance, by
neutralising an enemy’s aerospace power,
infrastructure and assets, at its source.
Summary:
 Good intelligence allowed the allies to prepare to meet
the Japanese offensive against Port Moresby - use of
radar.
 Gave pilots and sailors above Yorktown combat
experience.
 Allies needed better fighters and torpedo planes.
 Higher altitude for combat air patrols to thin-out
Japanese bombers.
 Better cooperation b/w land based aircraft and naval
units.
 More effective use of land based aircraft.
 Stealth over strength
 War of attrition - economic factors.
Questions?