Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942
Events of 8 May 1942



Before dawn on 8 May, both the Japanese and the American carriers sent out scouts to locate their opponents. These made contact a few hours later, by which time the Japanese already had their strike planes in the air. The U.S. carriers launched theirs' soon after 9AM, and task force commander Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher turned over tactical command to Rear Admiral Aubrey W. Fitch, who had more carrier experience. Each side's planes attacked the other's ships at about 11AM. At that time the Japanese were partially concealed by thick weather, while the Americans were operating under 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 molested.

The Japanese struck the American carriers shortly after Eleven, and, in a fast and violent action, scored with torpedoes on Lexington and with bombs on both carriers. For about an hour, Lexington seemed to have shrugged off her damages, but the situation then deteriorated as fires spread through the ship. She was abandoned later in the day and scuttled. Yorktown was also badly damaged by a bomb and several near misses, but remained in operational condition.

By 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.


This page features views of U.S. carriers operating on the morning of 8 May 1942 and provides links to other photographs taken during that day.

For other Battle of the Coral Sea photographs taken on 8 May 1942, see:

Links to additional pictorial coverage Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942 - Overview and Special Image Selection.

Click photograph for larger image.

Photo #: 80-G-16569

Battle of Coral Sea, May 1942


USS Lexington (CV-2) during the action, seen from USS Yorktown (CV-5), 8 May 1942.
Large number of planes on deck and low sun indicate that the photo was taken early in the morning, prior to launching the strike against the Japanese carrier force. Yorktown has several SBDs and F4Fs on deck with engines running, apparently preparing to take off. Lexington, whose silhouette has been altered by the earlier removal of her 8-inch gun turrets, has planes parked fore and aft, and may be respotting her deck in preparation for launching aircraft.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 120KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-16568

Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


USS Lexington (CV-2) with planes spotted fore and aft, photographed from USS Yorktown (CV-5). Probably taken during the early morning of 8 May, before planes were launched to attack the Japanese carriers.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 108KB; 740 x 595

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-16565

Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


USS Lexington (CV-2) underway, as seen from USS Yorktown (CV-5), probably during the early morning of 8 May 1942.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 88KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-16566

Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


USS Lexington (CV-2) underway, probably during the early morning of 8 May 1942. Photographed from USS Yorktown (CV-5).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 70KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions





About Us | Privacy Policy | Webmaster | FOIA request | Navy.mil | This is a US Navy website