Coral Sea Campaign
1300 - 1700 May 5, 1942
Seven American B-17s appeared over Lae at about 1300 flying at medium altitude. The
Japanese had been lulled into a sense of securiety due to the infrequent attacks on this base, so
had only three zeros flying CAP. Many of the others were being repaired and serviced from
previous attacks on Port Moresby.
The B-17s targeted the runway and adjacent structures. In this action, unlike their previous
attempt, the bombs were on target. The runway was cratered and several buildings were engulfed
in flames. The Americans are pretty sure they destroyed at least one hanger and may have
seriously damaged other structures as well.
For this great damage to Lae the Americans lost not a single plane. The Japanese gave up
pursuit as the B-17s lumbered south.
A minor raid in some respects, but if the Japanese lose Lae as a base their efforts to capture
Port Moresby will be seriously hampered.
The remainder of the period saw futile searching. Some contacts made but planes were
unavilable to intercept.