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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

Photo # 80-G-19100:  USS Lexington under attack by Japanese dive bombers, 8 May 1942

Online Library of Selected Images:
-- EVENTS -- World War II in the Pacific --

Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942 --
Japanese Air Attacks & Damage to USS Lexington, 8 May 1942

While the American carrier planes were en route to attack the Japanese, some seventy of the latter's aircraft were flying the other way. USS Lexington spotted them on radar just before 1100 and both she and Yorktown increased speed and launched more defending fighters. The Japanese caught the large and relatively unmaneuverable Lexington in a converging "anvil" attack and planted two torpedoes on her port side, one amidships and one forward. The enemy dive bombers struck virtually simultaneously, hitting Lexington with two bombs, one on the port side of the flight deck and one in the island, and added several damaging near misses.

Despite her damage, and the loss of many lives, Lexington soon corrected a seven degree list and resumed flight operations. However, deep inside her hull, gasoline fumes were making their way through the forward part of the ship. At 1247, a big explosion set fires and gravely impared internal communications. Even so, the carrier steamed at 25 knots, while continuing to land her planes.

However, her crew was fighting a losing damage control battle. After two more hours, another explosion caused more internal havoc. Lexington's problems were now out of control. She suspended flight operations and asked for help from other ships. By 1630, she was forced to secure her engines. Shortly after 5 PM, her crew was ordered to abandon ship.

This page features views of Japanese air attacks on 8 May 1942, and of the resulting damage to USS Lexington.

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

  • Events of 8 May 1942.

    For links to additional pictorial coverage on the Battle of the Coral Sea, see:

  • Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942 -- Overview and Special Image Selection.

    If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

    Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

    Photo #: 80-G-16639

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    A Japanese plane passes over a U.S. destroyer during attacks on the U.S. aircraft carriers, late in the morning of 8 May 1942.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 74KB; 740 x 605 pixels

    Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-16638

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    Japanese Type 97 Shipboard Attack Plane ("Kate" torpedo bomber) is hit by anti-aircraft fire during attacks on the U.S. aircraft carriers, late in the morning of 8 May 1942.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 96KB; 740 x 590 pixels

    Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

     
    Photo #: NH 95579

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    USS Lexington (CV-2) under air attack on 8 May 1942, as photographed from a Japanese plane.
    Heavy black smoke from her stack and white smoke from her bow indicate that the view was taken just after those areas were hit by bombs.
    Destroyer in the lower left appears to be USS Phelps (DD-360).

    The original print was from the illustration files for Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison's "History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II".

    U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

    Online Image: 84KB; 740 x 550 pixels

     
    Photo #: 80-G-19100

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    USS Lexington (CV-2) under Japanese dive bomber attack, shortly before Noon on 8 May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 62KB; 740 x 605 pixels

    Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-7414

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    USS Lexington hit and burning, during the later part of the Japanese air attack on 8 May.
    Note anti-aircraft bursts in the vicinity, and a plane off the ship's bow.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 138KB; 740 x 610 pixels

    Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-16643

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    USS Lexington (CV-2) afire and down at the bow, but still steaming and operating aircraft, shortly after she was hit by Japanese torpedoes and bombs during the Battle of the Coral Sea.
    This view was taken about Noon on 8 May 1942, before fires were extinguished from a bomb hit on the carrier's smokestack.
    Plane overhead is a Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighter.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 92KB; 740 x 605 pixels

    Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

     
    Photo #: NH 76560

    USS Lexington (CV-2)


    Underway during the Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942. This view appears to have been taken in the early afternoon, after planes had been recovered and initial damage control measures effected, but before the start of the fires that led to the ship's loss.
    This is the last known photograph of Lexington in operational condition.
    Taken from USS Portland (CA-33).

    Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1972. Collection of Captain Benjamin Perlman.

    U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

    Online Image: 56KB; 740 x 310 pixels

     


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

  • Events of 8 May 1942.

    For links to additional pictorial coverage on the Battle of the Coral Sea, see:

  • Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942 -- Overview and Special Image Selection.


    If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."


    Return to Naval Historical Center home page.

    Page made 25 July 2000
    Coding updated 6 May 2001