Coral Sea Campaign

0500 May 6, 1942


The night was saw both sides struggling to repair damage from the day before. Planes were shuttled between bases to prepare for the days activities, and the fleets moved to get into position to find and destroy the enemy. At dawn search plans were sent out - but the Allies had already made plans - and so had the Japanese.

As dawn broke over Port Moresby a Japanese cruiser fleet had appeared off shore and began B-26 to bombard the base. There was some significant damage from the shelling - especially to the runway, but only three planes were destroyed in the bombardment. Then the Allies had their revenge. After a flight of airacobras shot down one Pete spotter plane and drove of another, two flights of B-26's hit the four cruisers of the Japanese fleet with a devastating torpedo attack. Two heavy cruisers - the Kinugasu and the Aoba - were sunk, and the heavy cruisers Kako and Furutaka were seriously damaged. Many spectators to this event wondered whether the Japanese had sent a suicide mission, or were using this ploy to divert the Allies from a more worthy prize. B-17

While this was going on a flight of B-17s on a bombing mission to Lae were intercepted by four zeros, and while all but one got through they took significant damage. When the fortresses arrived at Lae a small flight of three B-25s were already attacking. The four zeros on CAP initially went after this pitiful flight, but when the B-17s arrived they diverted and went after the more juicy targets, with some effect. One suffered a bomb bay hit and exploded. B-25 Eventually only four B-17s of the original six attacked the base, and their bombing was ineffective. The B-26s, on the other hand, had some success scoring several hits on Lae's runway. One zero was lost in the attack.

A thousand miles away at Tulagi, strike forces from the American carriers attacked the Japanese assets based there. With thirty eight planes attacking there was little the three Rufe's could do. Rufe They did shot down two devastators, but were all three destroyed by the escorting wildcats. Although over thirty bombers got through to the base, the Japanese lost only one troop transport and one destroyer. The search planes based there were unscratched, and the base itself suffered little damage, while the attacking planes were severely damaged.

This dawn attack was a major punch by the Allies, and the Japanese have suffered severe losses. But now the Allies have to catch their breath - And the Japanese have all their planes ready to strike at any targets that appear in the next few hours.

USS Yorktown
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