In early May 1942 the Japanese launched Operation MO, a complex plan that involved the seizure of Tulagi and Port Moresby. Within the context of an ongoing regional war waged by land-based air forces, opposing fleet carriers were drawn into conflict for the first time in history. The result was the Battle of the Coral Sea, resulting in the loss of the USS Lexington and the withdrawal of the remaining American carrier.
The orthodox view of Coral Sea is of an Allied victory whereby the Japanese were forced to abandon their plan to capture Port Moresby. However, the authors make a compelling argument that the Japanese capacity to mount the invasion was largely intact and it was a serious error by their rigid and hierarchical command structure to postpone the invasion at this critical time.
Following the Coral Sea battle, the bloody aerial campaign continued in earnest between the land-based air forces. This resembled something of a slugfest between the opposing bases of Lae and Port Moresby – just one hour’s flying time apart.
The Allied offense was waged by American B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchell and B-26 Marauder bombers shuttling up from Australia. Protecting their critical base at Port Moresby were a few hard-battling P-39 Airacobra squadrons, which suffered an astounding loss rate during this period.
On the Japanese side, their formations of Betty and Nell bombers regularly pounded Moresby, and by June had begun targeting its vulnerable harbor. These were protected by the wide-ranging Zero fighters of the famed Tainan Kokutai, whose fighter pilots were amongst the best and most experienced to be found on any front during the Second World War.
Never before has this campaign been chronicled in such detail, with Allied accounts matched against Japanese records and supported by the most accurate artwork ever produced of this era. Both authors are uniquely qualified to tell this story. Raised in Port Moresby, Michael Claringbould is a globally acknowledged expert on the New Guinea conflict and both Japanese and USAAF aviation of this period. Peter Ingman is an acclaimed military history author specializing in the early part of the Pacific War.
Chapter 1 Airacobras Arrive: Port Moresby 30 April–4 May
Chapter 2 Japanese Plans and Allied Response
Chapter 3 Tulagi Invaded: 1–4 May
Chapter 4 Land-based Air Activities: 1–4 May
Chapter 5 Operation MO: the Moresby Invasion
Chapter 6 Coral Sea Region: 5 and 6 May
Chapter 7 Morning Carrier Strikes: 7 May
Chapter 8 Crace’s Ordeal: 7 May
Chapter 9 Hara’s High Stakes Gamble and Regional Operations: 7 May
Chapter 10 USN Carrier Strike: 8 May
Chapter 11 IJN Carrier Strike: 8 May
Chapter 12 Operation RY and the Coral Sea Region: 9–14 May
Chapter 13 Port Moresby and Horn Island: 8–14 May
Chapter 14 Coral Sea Region: 15–31 May
Chapter 15 Port Moresby: 15–31 May
Chapter 16 The Grind Continues: 1–18 June
Chapter 17 Defences of New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, Fiji and Townsville
Appendix 1 Allied Aircraft Losses and Fatalities
Appendix 2 Japanese Aircraft Losses and Fatalities
Appendix 3 Cumulative Aircraft Losses and Fatalities
Appendix 4 Aircraft Profiles - Three-Way
Appendix 5 Allied Aircraft Profiles – Side View
Appendix 6 Japanese Aircraft Profiles – Side View
"A detailed but easy-to-read narrative capturing all the important aspects of the ongoing campaign in the theater." ~Stone & Stone Second World War Books
"The authors provide well researched data on personnel involved on both sides. There are excellent data on primary aircraft involved in the conflict, both throughout the text and in appendices, showing three-views, key performance, and liveries." ~Air Power History
"In the multivolume South Pacific Air War, Australian experts Michael Claringbould and Peter Ingman cover the critical battles for the Coral Sea region, with both sides presented in unprecedented detail. A treasure trove of hitherto little-seen photographs are accompanied by maps and color profiles of virtually every aircraft type involved in the fighting." ~Aviation History Magazine
"With their thorough research of Allied accounts and Japanese records, the authors have produced a well-written and highly readable trilogy...Aviation historians and modelers will enjoy these books because of the wide variety and type aircraft involved and the informative details provided." ~The Hook
" This book deserves support as an important volume in the history of the period and is an exemplar of how research can question and indeed refute some earlier notions that have been ingrained in the historical narrative." ~Darryl Ford, J-AirCraft.com
"The book undoubtedly delivers on the authors' intent...and continues the excellent standard set by the first two volumes." ~Flightpath
"The authors are uniquely qualified to recount and assess this air and sea campaign." ~Wings Magazine
"The book is a very well written and the authors have brought a sense of excitement and anticipation to the individual combat actions." ~United Service
"... extremely well-researched with large amounts of information presented in a logical and easy to interpret way." ~Aero Australia
"Thanks to the efforts of Michael and Peter, this campaign’s history has been chronicled in good detail, allowing readers to understand what took place and why. The authors have [done] extensive research accessing Allied accounts and assessing Japanese records. The book has many photos and is and supported by accurate artwork showing what some of the aircraft of this era looked like in battle." ~Down Under Aviation News
It will appeal to all readers who have even a passing interest in military history. A most enjoyable read.'' ~Wings Magazine
"All together or separately, these unusual books represent a great history of a six-month period whose story has never been told in such detail..." ~The Skyhawk Association Journal
‘"This third volume of a four part series is truly impossible to put down once you begin reading. The detailed accounts boosted by a large volume of photos and incredible artwork literally drops the reader into the story. The generous amount of artwork in the book to include an individual piece to start each chapter along with a colour profile section at the end of the book really adds to the experience." ~Aviation Enthusiast Book Club