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April 05, 2021

79th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea

Today marks the 79th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Battle of the Coral Sea was a significant air and naval engagement fought between the Americans, Australians and Japanese on May 4-8, 1942.

It was a major turning point in the Pacific War because it effectively stopped the Japanese advance to the south towards Australia.

Though a draw, this battle was important for two reasons. It was a major turning point in the Pacific War because it effectively stopped the Japanese advance to the south towards Australia. It was also the first naval engagement in history fought without the opposing ships firing a single shot at each other. This type of carrier warfare would later become more commonplace as a fighting method in the Pacific War.

Towards the end of April 1942, Allied Intelligence learned of a Japanese plan to seize Port Moresby in south-eastern New Guinea and at Tulagi in the southern Solomons. They alerted all available sea and air power.

When the Japanese landed at Tulagi on 3rd May, carrier-based US planes struck the landing group, sinking one destroyer as well as some landing barges and minesweepers.

On the 5th and 6th May, the Japanese and US carrier groups sought each other, and on the morning of the 7th May, Japanese carrier-based planes sank a US oiler and destroyer. US forces sank the Japanese light carrier Shoho and a cruiser. The next day, Japanese aircraft sank the US carrier Lexington and damaged the carrier Yorktown. Meanwhile, the large Japanese carrier Shokaku was so crippled by damage from US Planes that it had to retire from action.

Without adequate air cover and still warding off attacks from Allied land-based bombers, Japanese forces turned back to Rabaul. They had simply lost too many planes for the Port Moresby invasion force to continue. Thus, although a draw, the four-day engagement is often thought of as a strategic victory for the Allies.

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