The Battle of the
Coral Sea

Consisting of the actions at Tulagi,
May 4th; off Misima, May 7th; and
in the Coral Sea on May 8th, 1942



U. S. Confidential - British Secret

Publication Section, Combat Intelligence Branch





Office of Naval Intelligence

Washington, D. C.

January 8, 1943.

Combat Narratives are a series of studies of United States naval operations of the current war for the information of officers. They are based upon official documents and contain not only an account of the several actions but also a series of charts and illustrations which should assist the understanding of these events.

Material printed herein is Confidential and should be guarded (1) in circulation and custody of the Narratives and (2) in avoiding discussion of their contents with or within the hearing of any others than commissioned or warrant officers.

Director of Naval Intelligence.


A near hit off the stbard bow of a Zuikaku class carrier.

January 8, 1943

Combat Narratives have been prepared by the Publication Section of the Combat Intelligence Branch of the Office of Naval Intelligence for the information of the officers of the United States Navy.

The data on which these studies are based are those official documents which are suitable for a confidential publication. This material has been collated and presented in chronological order.

In perusing these narratives, the reader should bear in mind that while they recount in considerable detail the engagements in which our forces participated, certain underlying aspects of these operations must be kept in a secret category until after the end of the war.

It should be remembered also that the observations of men in battle are sometimes at variance. As a result, the reports of commanding officers may differ although they participated in the same action and shared a common purpose. In general, Combat Narratives represent a reasoned interpretation of these discrepancies. In those instances where views cannot be reconciled, extracts from the conflicting evidence are reprinted.

Thus, an effort has been made to provide accurate and, within the above-mentioned limitations, complete narrative with charts covering raids, combats, joint operations, and battles in which our Fleets have engaged in the current war. It is hoped that these narratives will afford a clear view of what has occurred, and form a basis for a broader understanding which will result in ever more successful operations.

E. J. King
Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations.


The Battle of the Coral Sea 1
  Our forces joined 2
The action at Tulagi on May 4th 5
  Observations 9
  Events between Tulagi and Misima 9
The action off Misima, May 7th 13
  The air groups 13
    The Lexington group 15
    The Yorktown group 16
  Combat air patrol on May 7th 17
  Results of the 7th 20
The action of May 8th 21
    The Yorktown group 22
    The Lexington group 23
  Air attack on our task force 25
  Combat air patrol on the 8th 26
    The fighters 26
    The scout bombers (SBD's) 28
  Attack on the Yorktown 29
  Experiences of ships with the Yorktown 31
    Astoria 31
    Portland 32
    Chester 32
    Hammann 33
    Russell 33
    Aylwin 34
  Attack on the Lexington 34
  Experiences of ships with the Lexington 35
    Minneapolis 35
    New Orleans 36
    Phelps 37
    Dewey 37
    Morris 37
    Anderson 38
  Sinking of the Lexington 39
Conclusions 46
Appendix 47
  Rescue of Yorktown pilots from Guadalcanal 47
  Loss of the Neosho and Sims 48
  Enemy aircraft attack on the support force 53
  Results of a direct hit on the Yorktown 55
  Designations and symbols of United States ships and naval aircraft 57

Charts and Illustrations
(Coral Sea)

Chart: Southwest Pacific (facing p. 1).

Illustration: Near hit on Zuikaku class carrier (facing p. 1).

Illustration: Torpedo planes attacking the Shoho (facing p. 26).

Illustrations: Effects of a hit on Lexington gun gallery;
Abandoning the Lexington;
Explosion rocks the Lexington (center of book).

Illustration: Lexington survivors rescued by cruiser (facing p. 27).

Chart: Task Force FOX track 4-8 May, 1942 (facing p. 60).

Illustrations: Grumman "Wildcat" and Japanese Zero fighters (facing p. 60).

Last updated: September 14, 2002

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation