Coral Sea Campaign
1700 to nightfall May 5, 1942
The Allies launched a flight of Marauders and a flight of B-17s from Port Moresby to attack
Lae. The Marauders, launched in error, came in first and picked up the Japanese CAP. They were
brutalized in their attack but did significant damage to the airbase. The B-17s flew in over the
runway and unloaded and had several direct hits. As both flights flew off over the mountains the
base at Lae was ablaze with the runway significantly damaged.|
The Japanese were more ambitious in their attacks. A large flight of Nells attacked a
stationary Cruiser and Destroyer fleet at Port Moresby. The Airacobras assigned to CAP were out
of position - much too high - and couldn't get into the fight. When they finally got into range of
the Nells their own fleet's AA caused them significant damage. Considering survival the better
part of valor they flew off.
The Nells, however, went right for the throat. After some initial problems their torpedo
attacks became devastating. The heavy cruiser New Orleans was sunk, and the heavy cruisers
Minneapolis and Astoria received significant damage. The destroyer Phelps was also struck and
sunk. As the Nells flew off over the mountains the sea was alive with American sailors swimming
to the shore.
In the third and final action of this time period the Japanese had reports of a carrier fleet -
two carriers and two cruisers. They launched significant resources at this fleet - which turned out
to be two oilers and two destroyers.
In the first wave Vals and Kates swarmed this small fleet and sank both oilers, the Neosho
and the Tippecanoe, and the destroyer Sims. The Japanese lost several planes in the attack.
In the second wave 22 Bettys armed with torpedoes converged on the hapless destroyer
Worden. In desperation the Worden tried to maneuver out of harms way but there were just too
many enemy planes. In short order the Worden joined its comrades at the bottom of the sea and
the Bettys flew off without a scratch.