Coral Sea Campaign
1700 May 5, 1942
5 May 1942. IJN Naval Base Rabual
1700 and many actions to report.
The 1300 air raid had been a close thing, little damage had been inflicted
on the base by the Americans. All was quiet until the sound of airplanes'
engines coming over the water. A flight of B26 medium bombers coming in at
medium level to attack the base. These are same planes that sank one of our
carriers yesterday. Our cap was at the same altitude as the bombers and
quickly made for them strafing and hitting them on every pass. At one point
our fighters got in too close and the enemy planes hit back with their own
defensive guns. But no matter how we tried the planes would not go down.
Two of our planes got off the ground and took part in the air battle.
Suddenly B17 heavy bombers came in at high altitude roaring in to the air
battle. It was at this point the CAP broke off and let our anti aircraft
take care of the bombers. At first though it seemed as if they had trouble
ranging in on the enemy bombers and the AA had little effect. But as the
bombers flew over the coast they took more and more damage. By then though
it was too late and the bombers released their loads on the base. Several
buildings were slightly damaged and the runway took several hits. These
would all be easily repaired. The bombers flew off over the mountains.
Several were seen trailing smoke, it would be awhile before many would fly
For several hour today our search planes had been watching the American
ships steam back and forth in the bay off Pt. Moresby. We supposed that
the American had thought to have these stationed off shore of the base to
increase their anti aircraft effectiveness. What it gave us were more
targets for our naval air forces. Two Naval Air Groups made up of Nells
were loaded with torpedoes and sent to sink these floating batteries. The
two groups came in over the water at wave top level in a long glide down to
attack level. As luck would have it the CAP was high over head. We would
sink the American ships and be long gone before the enemy fighters would
ever get near our bombers. There were three cruisers and two destroyers. We
came in low and targeted the cruisers intending to launch at medium
distance. As with all plans this one never lasted past first contact with
the enemy. Several of the Nells took light damage as they moved into close
range to launch their torpedoes. A destroyer put itself between a cruiser
and a torpedo and was sunk for its effort. It did not though save the
cruiser. After Astoria Class cruiser was hit with successive torpedoes it
rolled over and sank. As the battle continued the AA began to slacken as
the other ships began to take damage from our Long Lance torpedoes. As our
planes flew off our tally was one Astoria Class Heavy Cruiser sunk, two
other Astoria Class Heavy Cruisers burning and listing heavily, one
destroyer sunk and another damaged. Our loss was minimal with light damage
to our bombers. Another day like to today and the enemy will run out of
South Coral Sea.
A search plane reported a task force of two carriers and two cruisers.
Thinking that we had found the American carriers two Naval Air Groups of
Betty's were sent, plus an attack from one of our carriers. Fate dealt us a
bad joke when all we found were two tankers and their escorting
destroyers. Feeling frustrated at missing the carriers the pilots went
after the helpless tankers and their escorts with a vengence. The first in
were from the carrier, when they were done a lone destroyer was seen
steaming in circles picking up survivors. Then two flights of Betty's came
roaring in. The hapless ship dodged five torpedoes before taking a hit
amidships breaking in two and sinking. The pilots reported large oil
slicks on the surface. It turned out the tankers were loaded with fuel! The
American will be short on fuel before too long.
The second day has endedwith many Allied ships sitting on the bottom of the
sea. He is crippled, but the search goes on for his carriers.