Battle of the Coral Sea

WWII: The Greater East Asia War

East Asia 1942.0508

Battle of the Coral Sea

World War II, Pacific War, Second Sino-Japanese War (8 May 1942)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

After conquering Southeast Asia, Japan moved to cut Australia's supply line to the US by completing the occupation of New Guinea and its neighboring islands. However, the Japanese invasion fleet had to be turned back when it ran into an American carrier force in the Coral Sea. The ensuing battle was dominated by aircraft carriers, with neither side's ships sighting each other.

Main Events

Japanese conquer Burma

Japanese capture Tulagi, capital of British Solomon Islands

Battle of the Coral Sea

In preparation for Operation MO - the intended Japanese landing at Port Moresby, New Guinea - a Japanese naval force, including two fleet carriers and one light carrier, advances into the Coral Sea to hunt down US carriers known to be operating there. Over the next few days, they fight the first naval engagement in which neither side's ships sight each other, with Japan losing the light carrier Shōhō and taking damage to the fleet carrier Shōkaku, and the US losing the fleet carrier Lexington and taking damage to the fleet carrier Yorktown. Although the US losses are worse, Japan is forced to abandon Operation MO.

US forces in the Philippines surrender to Japan

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