scuttled in the battle.
At the time, the battle looked like a Japanese victory in terms of numbers
(sunk), but the ultimate victory belonged to the Allies since two major
Japanese carriers were taken out and were unable to take part in the next
major battle, which was the battle of Midway. This particular battle also
marked the beginning of the turning back of the Japanese expansion.
Here is a photo of an explosion on the Lexington from my Photobucket:
Here's my personal assessment:
Picking a winner for the Battle of the Coral Sea from a tactical standpoint (meaning who endured the worst losses) is like trying to figure out who is winning a chess game while it is still being played. The chess gurus have long sense established a point system that based on what they believe to be the power that that individual piece has. Its the opinion of a friend of mine, who was a member of his high school chess club, that the knight should be worth more then a bishop. That because his knights play a more significant role in his style of play then it apparently does for the chess gurus that came up with this point system. Therefore, he would not hesitate to exchange one of his bishop for one of his opponents knights.
How does any of this apply to figuring out who won the Battle of the Coral Sea from a tactical standpoint? The following quote is an excerpt from the Encyclopædia Britannica that I have on my hard drive. (Because it is on my hard drive rather then online, I can't provide a link for you to go to.) Its a casualty list for the battle. For us to pick a tactical winner, we need to assign a point value to all of the ships on this list. This can be very subjective.
"On May 5 and 6, 1942, opposing carrier groups sought each other, and in the morning of May 7 Japanese carrier-based planes sank a U.S. destroyer and an oiler. Fletcher's planes sank the light carrier Shoho and a cruiser. The next day Japanese aircraft sank the U.S. carrier Lexington and damaged the carrier Yorktown, while U.S. planes so crippled the large Japanese carrier Shokaku that it had to retire from action."
So the Japanese casualties were...
Ships sunk: 1 Light Carrier & 1 Cruiser
Damaged: 1 Large Carrier (Missed the Battle of Midway and didn't return to action until August 1942, 2 months after Midway http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/s...-s/shokaku.htm)
US casualties were...
Ships sunk 1 Fleet Carrier, 1 Destroyer & 1 Oiler
Damaged: 1 Fleet Carrier (Fought in the Battle of Midway)
My score card: The US having a Fleet Carrier sunk is definitely worse that the Japanese Light Carrier. However, I believe that the Japanese loosing 1 Cruiser is far worse then us loosing a destroyer and oiler. The fact that the Yorktown was able to fight at Midway, but the Shokaku couldn't return to action until two months later, also scores heavly in favor of the US. Others may score this differently, but I score it as a tactical draw.
From a strategic perspective, the stopping of the Japanese expansion was just the tip of the iceberg. The Japanese objective was to take Port Moresby in the Southwest corner of New Guinea and Tulagi in the southern Solomons. The Japanese needed these bases for their planned invasion of Australia. The following quote is from the same Britannica article and it elaborates on why the loss was so strategically bad for Japan.
"So many Japanese planes were lost that the Port Moresby invasion force, without adequate air cover and harassed by Allied land-based bombers, turned back to Rabaul. The four-day engagement was a strategic victory for the Allies."
Last edited by FanInAZ; 06-05-2010 at 08:30 PM.
What is today the 66th anniversary of?
What was the name of the German general that spearheaded their last offensive on the Western Front that would become known as the "Battle of the Bulge"?
What is a "Stringbag?"
“Science must not impose any philosophy, any more than the telephone must tell us what to say" G.K. Chesterton
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