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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

Photo # 80-G-11916:  Heavy explosion on USS Lexington blows an aircraft over the side, 8 May 1942

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

Battle of the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942 --
Sinking of USS Lexington, 8 May 1942

At about 5:30 PM, as the abandonment of Lexington was nearing completion, a large explosion tore through her hangar amidships. Fires were now "roasting" torpedo warheads stowed in the after hangar, and these detonated in a spectacular blast soon after the carrier's Commanding Officer, Captain Frederick C. Sherman, left her. In keeping with the rules of the sea, he was the last man off. Thereafter, the great carrier burned furiously, shrouded in smoke almost from stem to stern. She was finally scuttled by destroyer torpedoes and sank at about 8PM.

This page features views taken during the explosions and fires that sank USS Lexington on 8 May 1942.

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-7406

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    An explosion amidships on USS Lexington (CV-2), while she was being abandoned during the afternoon of 8 May 1942. This may be the explosion reported to have taken place at 1727 hrs, which was followed by a "great explosion" aft as stowed torpedo warheads detonated on the hangar deck.
    Note whaleboat underway in the foreground.

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

    Online Image: 73KB; 740 x 605 pixels

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

     
    Photo #: 80-G-16668

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    Explosion amidships on USS Lexington (CV-2), 8 May 1942. This is probably the explosion at 1727 hrs that took place as the carrier's abandonment was nearing its end.
    Ships standing by include the cruiser Minneapolis (CA-36) and destroyers Morris (DD-417), Anderson (DD-411) and Hammann (DD-412).

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

    Online Image: 83KB; 740 x 605 pixels

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

    Note:
    The original print is reversed. Orientation has been corrected in this digital image.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-16669

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    Smoke rises soon after an explosion amidships on USS Lexington (CV-2), 8 May 1942. This is probably the explosion at 1727 hrs that took place as the carrier's abandonment was nearing its end.
    Ships standing by include the cruiser Minneapolis (CA-36) and destroyers Morris (DD-417), Anderson (DD-411) and Hammann (DD-412).

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

    Online Image: 83KB; 740 x 590 pixels

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

     
    Photo #: NH 76561

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    Explosion amidships on USS Lexington (CV-2), 8 May 1942. This is probably the explosion at 1727 hrs that took place as the carrier's abandonment was nearing its end.
    Ships standing by include two cruisers and several destroyers.
    Photographed 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: 101KB; 740 x 535 pixels

     
    Photo #: 80-G-7413

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    A heavy explosion on board USS Lexington (CV-2) blows an aircraft over her side, 8 May 1942. This is probably the "great explosion" from the detonation of torpedo warheads stowed in the starboard side of the hangar, aft, that followed an explosion amidships at 1727 hrs.
    At left is USS Hammann (DD-412), which was backing away with a load of the carrier's survivors on board.
    Photographed from USS Minneapolis (CA-36).

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

    Online Image: 50KB; 740 x 610 pixels

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

     
    Photo #: 80-G-11916

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    A heavy explosion on board USS Lexington (CV-2) blows an aircraft over her side, 8 May 1942. This is probably the "great explosion" from the detonation of torpedo warheads stowed in the starboard side of the hangar, aft, that took place just after the ship's Commanding Officer, Captain Frederick C. Sherman, left Lexington.
    At left is the bow of USS Hammann (DD-412), which was backing away with a load of the carrier's survivors on board.
    This view appears to be cropped from Photo # 80-G-7413.

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

    Online Image: 69KB; 740 x 610 pixels

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

     
    Photo #: 80-G-16651

    Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942


    A "mushroom cloud" rises after a heavy explosion on board USS Lexington (CV-2), 8 May 1942. This is probably the "great explosion" from the detonation of torpedo warheads stowed in the starboard side of the hangar, aft, that followed an explosion amidships at 1727 hrs.
    Note USS Yorktown (CV-5) on the horizon in the left center, and destroyer USS Hammann (DD-412) at the extreme left.

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

    Online Image: 93KB; 740 x 615 pixels

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

     
    Photo #: NH 51382

    USS Lexington (CV-2)


    Burning and sinking after her crew abandoned ship during the Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942.
    Note planes parked aft, where fires have not yet reached.

    U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

    Online Image: 84KB; 740 x 610 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."


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    Page made 26 July 2000
    Coding updated 6 May 2001