Battle of Saipan, part of Pacific campaign of World War II,

Battle of Saipan

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The Battle of Saipan was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands from 15 June-9 July 1944. The Allied invasion fleet embarking the expeditionary forces left Pearl Harbor on 5 June 1944, the day before Operation Overlord in Europe was launched. The U.S. 2nd Marine Division4th Marine Division, and 27th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Holland Smith, defeated the 43rd Division of the Imperial Japanese Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito.

Battle of Saipan
Part of World War II, Pacific War
File:LVTs attacking Saipan.jpg
LVTs heading for shore on 15 June 1944. USS Birmingham in foreground; the cruiser firing in the distance is USS Indianapolis.
Date 15 June – 9 July 1944
Location SaipanMariana Islands
Result American Victory
United States Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United StatesRichmond K. Turner
United StatesHolland Smith
Empire of JapanYoshitsugu Saitō
JapanChūichi Nagumo
JapanTakeo Takagi
JapanMatsuji Ijuin
71,000 31,000
Casualties and losses
2,949 killed
10,364 wounded[1]
24,000 killed
5,000 suicides
921 prisoners
22,000 civilians dead (mostly suicides)


In the campaigns of 1943 and the first half of 1944, the Allies had captured the Solomon Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Papuan peninsula of New Guinea. This left the Japanese holding the Philippines, the Caroline IslandsPalau Islands and Mariana Islands.

File:Navajo Code Talkers.jpg

Navajo codetalkers played a key role in directing naval gunfire onto Japanese positions.

It had always been the intention of the American planners to bypass the Carolines and Palaus and to seize the Marianas and Taiwan. From these latter bases communications between the Japanese homeland and Japanese forces to the south and west could be cut. In addition, from the Marianas Japan would be well within the range of an air offensive relying on the new B-29 Superfortress long-rangebomber with its operational radius of 1,500 mi (2,400 km).

While not part of the original American plan Douglas MacArthur, commander of theSouthwest Pacific Area command, obtained authorization to advance through New Guinea and Morotai toward the Philippines. This allowed MacArthur to keep his personal pledge, made in his “I shall return” speech, to liberate the Philippines, and also allowed the active use of the large forces built up in the southwest Pacific theatre.

The Japanese, expecting an attack somewhere on their perimeter, thought an attack on the Caroline Islands most likely. To reinforce and supply their garrisons, they needed naval and air superiority, so Operation A-Go, a major carrier attack, was prepared for June 1944.


File:Battle of Saipan map.jpg

Map showing the progress of the Battle of Saipan

Drawing of D-Day (June 15, 1944) invasion beaches on Saipan.

Bombardment of Saipan began on 13 June 1944. Fifteen battleships were involved, and 165,000 shells were fired. Seven modern fast battleships delivered twenty-four hundred 16 in (410 mm) shells, but to avoid potential minefields, fire was from a distance of 10,000 yd (9,100 m) or more, and crews were inexperienced in shore bombardment.

File:Red Beach -2.jpg

Red Beach 2 at 13:00.

The following day the eight pre-Pearl Harborbattleships and eleven cruisers under AdmiralJesse B. Oldendorf replaced the fast battleships but were lacking in time and ammunition.

The landings began at 07:00 on 15 June 1944. More than 300 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the west coast of Saipan by about 09:00. Eleven fire support ships covered the Marine landings.

File:Marines take cover behind medium tank.jpg

Marines take cover behind a M4 Shermantank while cleaning out the northern end of the island of Saipan. 8 July 1944

The naval force consisted of thebattleships USS Tennessee and California. Thecruisers were USS Birmingham andIndianapolis. The destroyers were USS Norman ScottMonssenColahanHalsey Powell,BaileyRobinson and Albert W. Grant. Careful Japanese artillery preparation—placing flags in the bay to indicate the range—allowed them to destroy about 20 amphibious tanks, and the Japanese strategically placed barbed wire, artillery, machine gun emplacements, and trenches to maximize the American casualties.

File:USS Tennessee bombarding Guam.jpg

USS Tennessee bombarding Guam, July 1944
Career (US)
Name: USS Tennessee
Namesake: The State of Tennessee
Ordered: 28 December 1915
Builder: New York Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 14 May 1917
Launched: 30 April 1919
Commissioned: 3 June 1920
Decommissioned: 14 February 1947
Struck: 1 March 1959
Honors and
Navy Unit Commendation[1]
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with
10 battle stars[2]
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation[3]
Philippine Liberation Medal [3]
American Campaign Medal
Navy Occupation Medal w/ Asia Clasp [4]
World War II Victory Medal
Fate: Sold for scrap, 10 July 1959
General characteristics
Class and type: Tennessee-class battleship
Displacement: 33,190 tons (40,950 after refit)
Length: 624 ft (190 m)
Beam: 97.3 ft (29.7 m) (original)
114 ft (35 m) (rebuilt)
Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Speed: 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h)
Complement: 57 officers, 1026 men
Armament: 12 × 14 in (360 mm)/50 cal guns
14 × 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns
4 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal guns
2 × 21 in (530 mm)torpedo tubes
after reconstruction:
12 × 14 in (360 mm)/50 cal guns
16 × 5 inch (127 mm)/38 cal Mark 12 guns
40 × 40 mm anti-aircraft guns
41 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons
File:Uss california bb.jpg 

USS California at sea, mid-1930s

Career (US)
Name: USS California
Ordered: 28 December 1915
Builder: Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 25 October 1916
Launched: 20 November 1919
Commissioned: 10 August 1921
Decommissioned: 14 February 1947
Struck: 1 March 1959
Fate: Sold for scrap, 10 July 1959
General characteristics
Class and type: Tennessee-class battleship
Displacement: 32,300 tons (40,950 after refit)
Length: 624.5 ft (190.3 m)
Beam: 97.3 ft (29.7 m) (original)
114 ft (35 m) (rebuilt)
Draft: 30.3 ft (9.2 m)
Speed: 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h)
Complement: 57 officers, 1,026 men
Sensors and
processing systems:
CXAM RADAR from 1940[1]
Armament: As built: 

After reconstruction:

File:USS Birmingham (CL-62).jpg



Name: USS Birmingham
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company
Laid down: 17 February 1941
Launched: 20 March 1942
Commissioned: 29 January 1943
Decommissioned: 2 January 1947
Struck: 1 March 1959
Fate: Scrapped, 1959
General characteristics
Class and type: Cleveland-class cruiser
Displacement: 10,000 long tons (10,160 t)
Length: 610 ft 1 in (185.95 m)
Beam: 66 ft 4 in (20.22 m)
Draft: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Propulsion: 4 turbines, 4 boilers, 4 shafts
Speed: 33 kn (38 mph; 61 km/h)
Complement: 1,200 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 12 × 6 in (150 mm)/47 cal guns
• 12 × 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns
Service record
Operations: World War II
Awards: battle stars

File:USS Indianapolis CA-35.jpg

Indianapolis at Pearl Harbor in 1937
Career (United States)
Name: USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
Laid down: March 31, 1930
Launched: November 7, 1931
Commissioned: November 15, 1932
Honors and
10 Battle Stars
Fate: Sunk on July 30, 1945 by Japanese submarine I-58. 316 of 1,196 crewmen survived.
General characteristics
Class and type: Portland-class cruiser
Displacement: 9,800 tons
Length: 610 ft (190 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draft: 17 ft 4 in (5.28 m)
Propulsion: 8 × White-Foster boilers, single reduction geared turbines, 107,000 shp
Speed: 32.7 kn (37.6 mph; 60.6 km/h)
Complement: 629 officers and enlisted (peace), 1,269 officers and men (wartime)
Armament: 9 × 8 in (200 mm)/55 cal guns (3×3)
8 × 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal AA guns[1]
8 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
Aircraft carried: 2 × OS2U Kingfisher floatplanes

File:USS Norman Scott;0569002.jpg

USS Norman Scott (DD-690), June 1944, supporting the invasion of Saipan
Career (US)
Namesake: Norman Scott
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Laid down: 26 April 1943
Launched: 28 August 1943
Commissioned: 5 November 1943
Decommissioned: 30 April 1946
Struck: 15 April 1973
Fate: sold for scrap,
3 December 1973
General characteristics
Displacement: 2,050 tons
Length: 376.4 ft (114.7 m)
Beam: 39.6 ft (12.1 m)
Draft: 13.8 ft (4.2 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW);
2 propellors
Speed: 38 knot (70 km/h)
Range: 6500 nautical miles (12,000 km) @ 15 knot (28 km/h)
Complement: 329
Armament: 5 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 guns,
10 × 40 mm AA guns,
7 × 20 mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

File:USS Monssen;0579814.jpg

USS Monssen (DD-798) underway after she was recommissioned, circa 1951-1952.
Career (US)
Namesake: Mons Monssen
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding CorporationStaten Island
Laid down: 1 June 1943
Launched: 30 October 1943
Commissioned: 14 February 1944
Decommissioned: September 1957 or 3 December 1957
Struck: 1 February 1963
Fate: Sold for scrap, 21 October 1963
General characteristics
Class and type: Fletcher class destroyer
Displacement: 2,050 tons
Length: 376 ft 6 in (114.7 m)
Beam: 39 ft 8 in (12.1 m)
Draft: 17 ft 9 in (5.4 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW);
geared turbines;
2 propellers
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 15 kt
(12,000 km at 30 km/h)
Complement: 319
Armament: 5 × 5 in.(127 mm)/38 guns,
10 × 40 mm AA guns,
7 × 20 mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in. torpedo tubes,
6 × depth charge projectors,
2 × depth charge tracks

File:USS Halsey Powell (DD 686).jpg

USS Halsey Powell (DD-686)

Career (US) 






Halsey Powell
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company,Staten Island
Laid down: February 3, 1943
Launched: 30 June 1943
Commissioned: 25 October 1943
Decommissioned: prior to 27 April 1968
Struck: 2 June 1975
Fate: Transferred to the Republic of Korea, 27 April 1968
Career (ROK) Flag of South Korea.svg
Name: Seoul
Namesake: Seoul
Acquired: 27 April 1968
Struck: 1982
Fate: scrapped, 1982
General characteristics
Class and type: Fletcher class destroyer
Displacement: 2,050 tons
Length: 376.4 ft (114.7 m)
Beam: 39.6 ft (12.1 m)
Draft: 13.8 ft (4.2 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW) 

  • 2 propellers
Speed: 38 knots (70 km/h)
Range: 6500 nm @ 15 kn (12,000 km @ 28 km/h)
Complement: 329
Armament: 5 × 5 in/38 cal guns,
10 × 40 mm AA guns,
7 × 20 mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in torpedo tubes

File:Uss Robinson DD-562.jpg

The USS Robinson off the Puget Sound Navy Yard, 8 April 1944. She is wearing Dazzle camouflage variant Measure 32, Design 13D.
Career (US)
Namesake: Isaiah Robinson
Builder: Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 12 August 1942
Launched: 28 August 1943
Commissioned: 31 January 1944
Decommissioned: 1 April 1964
Struck: 1 December 1974
Fate: Sunk as target, 13 April 1982
General characteristics
Class and type: Fletcher class destroyer
Displacement: 2,050 tons
Length: 376 ft 6 in (114.7 m)
Beam: 39 ft 8 in (12.1 m)
Draft: 17 ft 9 in (5.4 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW); 2 propellers
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h)
Range: 6500 nmi. (12,000 km) @ 15 kt
Complement: 273
Armament: 5 × 5 in./38 guns (127 mm),
4 × 40 mm AA guns,
4 × 20 mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in. torpedo tubes,
6 × depth charge projectors,
2 × depth charge tracks


Landing Vehicle Tracked



File:LVT-4 1.jpg

Place of origin United States
Weight 16.5 tonnes
Length 7.95
Width 3.25
Height 2.49
Crew 3+30 passengers

Armor optional 6–13 mm
2 × .50 calBrowning M2HB MGs
2 × .30-06Browning M1919A4machine guns
Engine Continental W-670-9A; 7 cylinder, 4 cycle, gasolineradial engine
250 hp
Power/weight 15.2 hp/t
Suspension torsilastic
240 km (road), 80 km (water)
Speed 32 km/h, in water 12 km/h
27th Infantry Division (1917-1954)
27th Armored Division (1954-67)
27th Infantry Division SSI.svg
27th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia. The red circle stars depict Orion, punning on “O’Ryan”, the name of the division’s World War I commander John F. O’Ryan.
Active 1917–1919
1954-67 (27th Armored Division)
Country United States of America
Allegiance United States of America
Branch Army National Guard
Nickname New York
“O’Ryan’s Roughnecks”
Engagements World War I
World War II
Iraq Campaign {as 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team}
Major General John F. O’Ryan
U.S. Infantry Divisions (1939–present)
Previous Next
26th Infantry Division 28th Infantry Division

However, by nightfall the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions had a beachhead about 6 mi (9.7 km) wide and .5 mi (0.8 km) deep. The Japanese counter-attacked at night but were repulsed with heavy losses. On 16 June, units of the U.S. Army’s 27th Infantry Division landed and advanced on the Aslito airfield. Again the Japanese counter-attacked at night. On 18 June, Saito abandoned the airfield.

File:Colt45 USMC.jpg

Holding a Colt M1911, a Marine moves cautiously through the jungle of Saipan. July 1944.

The invasion surprised the Japanese high command, which had been expecting an attack further south. Admiral Toyoda Soemu,

Soemu Toyoda
May 22, 1885 – September 22, 1957 (aged 72)
Toyoda Soemu.JPG
Japanese Admiral Soemu Toyoda
Place of birth Kitsuki, ŌitaJapan
Place of death Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service 1905-1945
Rank Admiral
Commands held YuraHyūga
2nd NGS Division Mobilization, 4th NGS Division Communications, Education Bureau, Naval Affairs Bureau, IJN 4th FleetIJN 2nd Fleet, Naval Shipbuilding Command, KureNaval DistrictYokosuka Naval DistrictCombined Fleet, Navy General Staff[2]
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Order of the Sacred Treasures (1st class)
Other work Supreme War Council (Japan), Chief of Navy General Staff

commander-in-chief of the Japanese Navy, saw an opportunity to use the A-Go force to attack the U.S. Navy forces around Saipan. On 15 June, he gave the order to attack. But the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea was a disaster for the Imperial Japanese Navy, which lost three aircraft carriers and hundreds of planes. The garrisons of the Marianas would have no hope of resupply or reinforcement.

The first wave of Marines crouched along the Saipan beach where 700 Amtracs landed 8,000 men in the first 20 minutes.

Without resupply, the battle on Saipan was hopeless for the defenders, but the Japanese were determined to fight to the last man. Saito organized his troops into a line anchored onMount Tapotchau in the defensible mountainous terrain of central Saipan. The nicknames given by the Americans to the features of the battle—”Hell’s Pocket”, “Purple Heart Ridge” and “Death Valley”—indicate the severity of the fighting.

The Japanese used the many caves in the volcanic landscape to delay the attackers, by hiding during the day and making sorties at night. The Americans gradually developed tactics for clearing the caves by using flamethrower

teams supported by artillery and machine guns.


A Marine talks a terrified Chamorrowoman and her children into abandoning their refuge

The operation was marred by inter-service controversy when Marine General Holland Smith, unsatisfied with the performance of the 27th Division, relieved its commander, Army General Ralph C. Smith. However, General Holland Smith had not inspected the terrain over which the 27th was to advance. Essentially it was a valley surrounded by hills and cliffs under Japanese control. The 27th took heavy casualties and eventually, under a plan developed by General Ralph Smith and implemented after his relief, had one battalion hold the area while two other battalions successfully flanked the Japanese.

Marines dig in on the beachhead at Saipan.

By 7 July, the Japanese had nowhere to retreat. Saito made plans for a final suicidal banzai charge.

Dead Japanese soldiers lie where they fell during the final Banzai charge against American forces during the Battle of Attu, May 29, 1943.

Banzai charge (from the Japanese battle crybanzai“) was a term applied duringWorld War II by the Allied forces to human wave attacks mounted by infantry forces of the Imperial Japanese Army. The name Gyokusai (Japanese: 玉砕, honorable suicide; literally “jade shards”) was however used by the Naikaku Johōkyoku(Cabinet Information Bureau) and the media of the Imperial Japanese regime. These attacks were usually launched as a suicide attack to avoid surrender and dishonor or as a final attempt at maximizing the odds of success in the face of usually numerically superior Allied forces.


Gyokusai (玉砕?), literally “shattered jade“, is a Japanese euphemism for suicide attack, or suicide in the face of defeat (seppuku). It is based on a quote of the 7th century Classical Chinese text Book of Northern Qi, 大丈夫寧可玉砕何能瓦全 “a great man should die as a shattered jewel rather than live as an intact tile.” It was applied to a conception of honorable death in defeat by Saigō Takamori(1827–1877), and employed as a slogan ichioku gyokusai (一億玉砕?) “one hundred million broken jewels” by the Japanese government during the last months of the Pacific War, when Japan faced invasion by the Allies. Some of the precepts for this belief also came from misinterpretations of a key line in Tsunetomo Yamamoto‘s Hagakure, a well-known 18th-century treatise on bushido.

Allied troops during World War II called massed infantry attacks by the Imperial Japanese Army, “banzai charges” or “banzai attacks” because the assaulting Japanese infantrymen yelled “Banzai!” as they charged the Allied soldiers. The “banzai,” a battle cry to the fighting unit making the charge, was a gesture of esprit de corps and courage to follow the attack through. In the Japanese language “Banzai” (万歳?), literally “ten thousand years“, is a common exhortation of long life or celebration in Japan, essentially wishing for something or someone to persevere for eternity. During World War II, Tennōheika banzai! (天皇陛下万歳!?), literally “Ten thousand years to the Emperor” became a Japanese battle cry during charges, and was thus taken up by their Allied opponents.[1] The term was seldom used in this way by the Japanese

On the fate of the remaining civilians on the island, Saito said, “There is no longer any distinction between civilians and troops. It would be better for them to join in the attack with bamboo spears than be captured.” At dawn, with a group of 12 men carrying a great red flag in the lead, the remaining able-bodied troops—about 3,000 men—charged forward in the final attack. Amazingly, behind them came the wounded, with bandaged heads, crutches, and barely armed.

A U.S. Marine retrieves a living baby from a cave full of corpses. June 1944.

The Japanese surged over the American front lines, engaging both Army and Marine units. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 105th U.S. Infantry were almost destroyed, losing 650 killed and wounded. However, the fierce resistance of these two battalions, as well as that of Headquarters Company, 105th Infantry, and elements of 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines (an artillery unit) resulted in over 4,300 Japanese killed. For their actions during the 15-hour Japanese attack, three men of the 105th Infantry were awarded the Medal of Honor—all posthumously. Numerous others fought the Japanese until they were overwhelmed by the largest Japanese Banzai attack in the Pacific War.

Rearview of Japanese bunker at beach

Side port on bunker at water's edge

Secluded bunker at water's edge

A Japanese bunker secluded at water’s edge. American Memorial Park, Saipan. Viewed from entrance, and from side gunnery port.

By 16:15 on 9 July, Admiral Turner announced that Saipan was officially secured. Saito——along with commanders Hirakushi and Igeta—committed suicide in a cave. Also committing suicide at the end of the battle was Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo—the naval commander who led the Japanese carriers at Pearl Harbor and Midway Atoll—who had landed on Saipan to help lead the ground defense.

In the end, almost the entire garrison of troops on the island—at least 30,000—died. For the Americans, the victory was the most costly to date in the Pacific War. 2,949 Americans were killed and 10,364 wounded, out of 71,000 who landed. Among the wounded was the actor Lee Marvin. He was injured in the buttocks by Japanese fire which severed his sciatic nerve. He received a medical discharge

Civilian casualties

Saipan had been seized by Japan after World War I, and thus a large number of Japanese civilians lived there—at least 25,000. The U.S. erected a civilian prisoner encampment on 23 June that soon had more than 1,000 inmates. Electric lights at the camp were conspicuously left on overnight to attract other civilians with the promise of three warm meals and no risk of accidentally being shot in combat.

Weapons and the tactics of close quarter fighting also resulted in high civilian casualties. Civilians shelters were located virtually everywhere on the island, with very little difference noticeable to attacking Marines. The standard method of clearing suspected bunkers was with high-explosive and/or high-explosives augmented with petroleum (e.g. gelignite, napalm, diesel fuel). In such conditions, high civilian casualties were inevitable.

Emperor Hirohito personally found the threat of defection of Japanese civilians disturbing. Much of the community was of low caste, and there was a risk that live civilians would be surprised by generous U.S. treatment. Native Japanese sympathizers would hand the Americans a powerful propaganda weapon to subvert the “fighting spirit” of Japan in radio broadcasts. At the end of June, Hirohito sent out an imperial order encouraging the civilians of Saipan to commit suicide.[10] The order authorized the commander of Saipan to promise civilians who died there an equal spiritual status in the afterlife with those of soldiers perishing in combat. GeneralHideki Tōjō intercepted the order on 30 June and delayed its sending, but it went out anyway the next day. By the time the Marines advanced on the north tip of the island, from 8–12 July, most of the damage had been done. Over 20,000 Japanese civilians committed suicide in the last days of the battle to take the offered privileged place in the afterlife, some jumping from “Suicide Cliff” and “Banzai Cliff”. In all, about 22,000 Japanese civilians died.

File:Isley field end of war lg.jpg

Isley Field, filled with B-29 bombers, mid-1945.

Military Decorations

Harold G. Epperson

Harold Glenn Epperson
July 14, 1923 – June 25, 1944 (aged 20)
Epperson HG.jpg Moh right.gif
Harold G. Epperson, Medal of Honor recipient
Place of birth Akron, Ohio
Place of death KIA at Saipan
Place of burial Initially the 2nd Marine Division Cemetery on Saipan, Marianas Islands
re-interred in Winchester Cemetery,Winchester, Kentucky
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1942-1944
Rank Private First Class
Unit 1st Battalion 6th Marines
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Saipan
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

On 25 June 1944, PFC Harold G. Epperson, part of the 2nd Marine Division, threw himself on a grenade to contain the blast from killing members of his squad. For his bravery and sacrifice, PFC Epperson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.. Epperson’s Medal of Honor was presented to his mother in a ceremony on Wednesday, 4 July 1945 in Tiger Stadium, Massillon, Ohio.

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: July 14, 1923, Akron, Ohio. Accredited to: Ohio.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Saipan in the Marianas, on 25 June 1944. With his machinegun emplacement bearing the full brunt of a fanatic assault initiated by the Japanese under cover of predawn darkness, Pfc. Epperson manned his weapon with determined aggressiveness, fighting furiously in the defense of his battalion’s position and maintaining a steady stream of devastating fire against rapidly infiltrating hostile troops to aid materially in annihilating several of the enemy and in breaking the abortive attack. Suddenly a Japanese soldier, assumed to be dead, sprang up and hurled a powerful hand grenade into the emplacement. Determined to save his comrades, Pfc. Epperson unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and, diving upon the deadly missile, absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body. Stouthearted and indomitable in the face of certain death, Pfc. Epperson fearlessly yielded his own life that his able comrades might carry on the relentless battle against a ruthless enemy. His superb valor and unfaltering devotion to duty throughout reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Ben L. Salomon

Benjamin L. Salomon
September 1, 1914 – July 7, 1944 (aged 29)
Courtesy of
Place of birth Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Place of death Killed in action in Saipan
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1940 – 1944
Rank Captain
Unit 105th Infantry Regiment
27th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Saipan
Awards Medal of Honor

On 7 July 1944, Captain Ben L. Salomon, the battalion surgeon of 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division aided the evacuation of wounded soldiers. After defending his patients from four Japanese soldiers, he manned a machine gun post and effectively repelled numerous enemy forces to enable the evacuation of wounded personnel. When his body recovered after the battle, 98 dead Japanese soldiers were found in front of his position. For gallantry in battle, Captain Ben L. Salomon was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in May 2002. Salomon is the third Jewish service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment’s 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions’ combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomon’s aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Guy Gabaldon

Guy Louis Gabaldon
March 22, 1926 – August 31, 2006 (aged 80)
Gabaldon 1944.jpg
PFC Guy Gabaldon (right) poses in a group that includes Japanese prisoners in 1944
Captured (or persuaded to surrender) about 1,500 Japanese soldiers and civilians in World War II
Nickname “Gabby”, “The Pied Piper of Saipan”
Place of birth Los Angeles, California
Place of death Old Town, Florida
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1943 – 1945
Rank USMC-E2.svg
Private First Class
Unit 2nd Marine Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Saipan
Awards Navy Cross
Silver Star
Purple Heart

File:Guy Gabaldon.jpg

PFC Guy Gabaldon, a Mexican-American from Los Angeles, is officially credited with capturing more than 1,000 Japanese prisoners during the battle. PFC Gabaldon, who was raised by Japanese-Americans, used a combination of street Japanese and guile to convince soldiers and civilians alike that U.S. troops were not barbarians, and that they would be well treated upon surrender. For his outstanding bravery, Gabaldon received aSilver Star, which was upgraded to the Navy Cross. During the war, his commanders had requested that he receive the Medal of Honor for his actions; however, his initial award was the Silver Star. In 1998, efforts were re-initiated to secure the Medal of Honor for PFC Gabaldon. The effort is ongoing.

Navy Cross citation



Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve)
Headquarters & Service Company, 2nd Marine Regiment2nd Marine Division
Date of Action: June 15 – August 1, 1944

The Navy Cross is presented to Guy L. Gabaldon, Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism while serving with Headquarters and Service Company, Second MarinesSecond Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Saipan and TinianNorthern Mariana IslandsSouth Pacific Area, from 15 June to 1 August 1944. Acting as aJapanese Interpreter for the Second Marines, Private First Class Gabaldon displayed extreme courage and initiative in single-handedly capturing enemy civilian and military personnel during the Saipan and Tinian operations. Working alone in front of the lines, he daringly entered enemy caves, pillboxes, buildings, and jungle brush, frequently in the face of hostile fire, and succeeded in not only obtaining vital military information, but in capturing well over one thousand enemy civilians and troops. Through his valiant and distinguished exploits, Private First Class Gabaldon made an important contribution to the successful prosecution of the campaign and, through his efforts, a definite humane treatment of civilian prisoners was assured. His courageous and inspiring devotion to duty throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Approved by the Secretary of the Navy on November 23, 1960 (Upgraded from Silver Star)

Later years

File:Gabaldon GL dod 20040915.jpg

Guy Gabaldon speaking at Pentagon ceremony honoring Hispanic World War II veterans, September 2004.

Gabaldon ran unsuccessfully for United States Congress in California in 1964. In 1970, he moved to Saipan with his wife where he established a seafood business. There he authored and self-published a book; Saipan: Suicide Island, also re-printed as America Betrayed. He lived in Saipan for 20 years.

Gabaldon returned to California in 1995 and moved to Old Town, Florida in 2003. On September 2004, he was among the Hispanics honored by The Pentagon in a ceremony honoring Hispanic American World War II veterans. On July 7, 2006, Gabaldon was honored by the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa and the entire Los Angeles City Council. The Mayor and the City Council prepared a resolution which was sent to theWhite House requesting the Medal of Honor for Gabaldon. That same year the World War II Veteran’s Committee in Washington, D.C., a prominent organization that showcases the veterans of World War II and their history, featured Gabaldon on the cover of their quarterly magazine. Gabaldon was also honored by the National Council of La Raza, a national organization and a leading Latino civil rights advocate at their annual conference that July.

Various organizations have requested the Medal of Honor for Gabaldon, but their requests have been rejected. After lobbying by the Hispanic community, the case is currently under review by the Department of Defense so that Gabaldon’s Navy Cross Medal be upgraded to the original recommendation, the Medal of Honor.


On August 31, 2006, Gabaldon died in Old Town, Florida of heart disease. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.[11] Gabaldon is survived by his wife, Ohana; his sons Guy Jr., Ray, Tony, Yoshio, Jeffrey and Russell; his daughters Aiko, Hanako and Manya.


Saipan, one of the 15 chain islands of the Mariana, was only approximately 1,300 mi (1,100 nmi; 2,100 km) away from home islands of Japan. It was a very important strategic point for the U.S. during the second world war in the pacific theater. It was the key position for the Americans to bring the war to Japanese home land.

After the battle, Saipan became an important base for further operations in the Marianas, and then for the invasion of the Philippines in October 1944. Bombers based at Saipan attacked the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands and Japan. In response, Japanese aircraftattacked Saipan and Tinian on several occasions between November 1944 and January 1945. With the position secured, American army could also make advancement in the Philippines and also make direct contact with its Chinese ally.

For the Japanese, the defeat in the battle made the futility of the War in the Pacific all the more apparent. According to one Japanese admiral: “Our war was lost with the loss of Saipan” The famous American Marine Corps general said “it was the decisive battle of the Pacific offensive” and “it opened the way to the Japanese home islands. Four months later, the 100 B-29 bombers that took off from Saipan and attacked Tokyo, showed the decision, to take Saipan was correct.

The loss of Saipan was a heavy blow to the Japanese ambition. A meeting of senior generals and admirals decided that a symbolic change of leadership should be made and Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō should step aside. In addition, the Emperor should move away from day-to-day affairs so as to avoid looking too directly involved with the now losing war, to distance himself from blame if the war were lost. “shogun” Tōjō. Tōjō agreed and submitted his resignation. Emperor Hirohito—considering Tōjō the strongest war leader Japan had—resisted. Tōjō considered trying to shuffle the Cabinet but encountered too much hostility and gave up. On 18 July, Tōjō submitted again his resignation, this time unequivocally. His entire cabinet resigned with him.

During the course of the battle, Japanese accounts for the home front had concentrated on the fighting spirit and the heavy American casualties, but familiarity with geography would demonstrate that the battles slowly progressed northwards as the American forces advanced, and the reports ceased with the final battle, which was not reported to the public. After Tōjō’s resignation, an accurate, almost day-by-day, account of the fall was published by the army and navy, including the nearly total loss of all Japenese soldiers and civilians on the island, and the use of “human bullets”; the report had devastating effects on Japan, with the mass suicides being taken not as evidence of the Imperial Way but of defeat. This was the first time that the Japanese forces had accurately depicted a battle since Midway, which they had proclaimed a victory.

A group of Japanese soldiers, led by IJA Captain Sakae Oba, held out in the mountains until 1 December 1945. A total of 46 men laid down their arms when the final order to surrender reached them. A movie called 「太平洋の奇跡−フォックスと呼ばれた男−」“Taiheiyou no Kiseki ~Fox to Yobareta Otoko” (Miracle in Pacific – The man who was called Fox) about these survivors and their 512 day resistance will be released in Japan on February 11, 2011.

After the war concluded, apologists for Hirohito asserted that the order encouraging the civilians of Saipan to commit suicide for benefits in the afterlife had in fact been forged, along with other incriminating orders. Historian David Bergamini considers this unlikely, writing that “half the staff of the palace […] would have felt obliged to cut open their bellies if the sacred seals of the Throne had ever been misapplied.

Battle of Saipan order of battle is a description of the major ground combat formations that participated in the Battle of Saipanduring World War II. The battle took place between 15 June and 9 July 1944.

Imperial Japanese Army

  • HQ, 31st Army — Lieutenant General Saito Yoshitsugu
    • 14th Independent Mortar Battalion
    • 17th Independent Mortar Battalion
    • 20th Independent Mortar Battalion
    • 115th Airfield Battalion
    • 23d Field Airfield Construction Unit
    • Miscellaneous straggler units
  • 43rd Division
    • 118th Infantry Regiment
    • 135th Infantry Regiment
    • 136th Infantry Regiment
    • Divisional support
  • 47th Independent Mixed Brigade
    • 1st Battalion 18th Infantry Regiment
    • 3rd Battalion 9th Independent Mixed Brigade
    • 3rd Independent Mountain Artillery Regiment
    • 9th Tank Regiment (-)
    • 25th Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment
    • Miscellaneous units
  • 316th Independent Infantry Battalion
  • 317th Independent Infantry Battalion
  • 318th Independent Infantry Battalion

United States

  • XXIV Corps Artillery — Brigadier General Arthur M. Harper
    • 1st Provisional Gun Group
    • 225th Field Artillery Howitzer Group
  • 27th Infantry Division — Major General Ralph C. Smith
    • 105th Infantry Regiment
    • 106th Infantry Regiment
    • 165th Infantry Regiment
    • 104th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 105th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 106th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 249th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 102nd Engineer Combat Battalion
    • 502nd Engineer Combat Battalion
    • Attached units

Battle of the Coral Sea,Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II

Battle of the Coral Sea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and others

Battle of the Coral Sea
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
An explosion aboard USS Lexington
U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Lexington explodes on 8 May 1942, several hours after being damaged by a Japanese carrier air attack.
Date 4–8 May 1942
Location Coral Sea, between Australia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands
United States
Japan Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
US Naval Jack 48 stars.svg Frank J. Fletcher
Australia John Crace
US Naval Jack 48 stars.svg Thomas C. Kinkaid
US Naval Jack 48 stars.svg Aubrey Fitch
United States George Brett
Empire of Japan Shigeyoshi Inoue
Empire of Japan Takeo Takagi
Empire of Japan Kiyohide Shima
Empire of Japan Aritomo Gotō
Empire of Japan Chūichi Hara
fleet carriers,
13 destroyers,
seaplane tender,
128 carrier aircraft.
2 fleet carriers,
light carrier,
9 cruisers,
15 destroyers,
submarine chasers,
1 oil tanker,
1 seaplane tender,
12 transports,
127 carrier aircraft.
Casualties and losses
1 fleet carrier scuttled,
1 destroyer sunk,
1 oiler sunk,
1 fleet carrier damaged,
69 aircraft destroyed.
656 killed
1 light carrier sunk,
1 destroyer sunk,
3 small warships sunk,
1 fleet carrier damaged,
1 destroyer damaged,
2 smaller warships damaged,
1 transport damaged,
92 aircraft destroyed.
966 killed
v · d · e 

The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4-8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged each other. It was also the first naval battle in history in which neither side’s ships sighted or fired directly upon the other.

In an attempt to strengthen their defensive positioning for their empire in the South Pacific, Imperial Japanese forces decided to invade and occupy Port Moresby in New Guinea and Tulagi in the southeastern Solomon Islands. The plan to accomplish this, called Operation MO, involved several major units of Japan’s Combined Fleet, including two fleet carriers and a light carrier to provide air cover for the invasion fleets, under the overall command of Shigeyoshi Inoue. The U.S. learned of the Japanese plan through signals intelligence and sent two United States Navy carrier task forces and a jointAustralian-American cruiser force, under the overall command of American Admiral Frank J. Fletcher, to oppose the Japanese offensive.

On 3-4 May, Japanese forces successfully invaded and occupied Tulagi, although several of their supporting warships were surprised and sunk or damaged by aircraft from the U.S. fleet carrier Yorktown. Now aware of the presence of U.S. carriers in the area, the Japanese fleet carriers entered theCoral Sea with the intention of finding and destroying the Allied naval forces.

Beginning on 7 May, the carrier forces from the two sides exchanged airstrikes over two consecutive days. The first day, the U.S. sank the Japanese light carrier Shōhō, while the Japanese sank a U.S. destroyer and heavily damaged a fleet oiler (which was later scuttled). The next day, the Japanese fleet carrier Shōkaku was heavily damaged, the U.S. fleet carrierLexington was scuttled as a result of critical damage, and the Yorktown was damaged. With both sides having suffered heavy losses in aircraft and carriers damaged or sunk, the two fleets disengaged and retired from the battle area. Because of the loss of carrier air cover, Inoue recalled the Port Moresby invasion fleet, intending to try again later.

Although a tactical victory for the Japanese in terms of ships sunk, the battle would prove to be a strategic victory for the Allies for several reasons. Japanese expansion, seemingly unstoppable until then, had been turned back for the first time.

A hole created by a bomb exploding beneath decks in Yorktown between compartments C-301-L and C-402-A, 8 May 1942

More importantly, the Japanese fleet carriersShōkaku and Zuikaku — one damaged and the other with a depleted aircraft complement — were unable to participate in the Battle of Midway, which took place the following month, ensuring a rough parity in aircraft between the two adversaries and contributing significantly to the U.S. victory in that battle. The severe losses in carriers at Midway prevented the Japanese from reattempting to invade Port Moresby from the ocean.

Two months later, the Allies took advantage of Japan’s resulting strategic vulnerability in the South Pacific and launched the Guadalcanal Campaignthat, along with the New Guinea Campaign, eventually broke Japanese defenses in the South Pacific and was a significant contributing factor to Japan’s ultimate defeat in World War II.


Imperial Japanese expansion

File:Pacific War Japanese Advances.jpg

On 7 December 1941, using aircraft carriers, the Japanese attacked theU.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl HarborHawaii. The attack destroyed or crippled most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s battleships and initiated an open and formalstate of war between the two nations. In launching this war, Japanese leaders sought to neutralize the American fleet, seize possessions rich in natural resources, and obtain strategic military bases to defend their far-flung empire. At the same time that they were attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked Malaya, causing the United KingdomAustralia, and New Zealand to join the United States as Allies in the war against Japan. In the words of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Combined Fleet “Secret Order Number One”, dated 1 November 1941, the goals of the initial Japanese campaigns in the impending war were to “(eject) British and American strength from the Netherlands Indies and the Philippines, (and) to establish a policy of autonomous self-sufficiency and economic independence.

To support these goals, during the first few months of 1942, besides Malaya, Japanese forces attacked and successfully took control of the PhilippinesThailandSingapore, theNetherlands East IndiesWake IslandNew Britain, the Gilbert Islands, and Guam while inflicting heavy losses on opposing Allied land, naval, and air forces. Japan planned to use these conquered territories to establish a perimeter defense for its empire from which it expected to employ attritional tactics to defeat or exhaust any Allied counterattacks.

Shortly after the war began, Japan’s Naval General Staff recommended an invasion ofNorthern Australia to prevent Australia from being used as a base to threaten Japan’s perimeter defenses in the South Pacific. The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), however, rejected the recommendation, stating that it did not have the forces or shipping capacity available to conduct such an operation.

At the same time, Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the IJN’s 4th Fleet (also called the South Seas Force) which consisted of most of the naval units in the South Pacific area, advocated the occupation of Tulagi in the southeastern Solomon Islands and Port Moresby in New Guinea, which would put northern Australia within range of Japanese land-based aircraft. Inoue believed the capture and control of these locations would provide greater security and defensive depth for the major Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain. The navy’s general staff and the IJA accepted Inoue’s proposal and promoted further operations, using these locations as supporting bases, to seize New CaledoniaFiji, and Samoa and thereby cut the supply andcommunication lines between Australia and the United States.

In April 1942, the army and navy developed a plan that was titled Operation MO. The plan called for Port Moresby to be invaded from the ocean and secured by 10 May. The plan also included the seizure of Tulagi on 2-3 May, where the navy would establish a seaplane base for potential air operations against Allied territories and forces in the South Pacific and to provide a base for reconnaissance aircraft. Upon the completion of MO, the navy planned to initiate Operation RY, using ships released from the MOoperation, to seize Nauru and Ocean Island for their phosphate deposits on 15 May. Further operations against Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia (Operation FS) were to be planned once the MO and RY operations were completed. Because of a damaging air attack by Allied land- and carrier-based aircraft on Japanese naval forces invading the Lae-Salamaua area in New Guinea in March, Inoue requested the Combined Fleet to send carriers to provide air cover for the MO forces. Inoue was especially worried about Allied bombers stationed at air bases in Townsville and Cooktown, Australia, beyond the range of his own bombers located at Rabaul and Lae.

File:Inoue Shigeyoshi.jpg

Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the IJN 4th Fleet

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of Japan’s Combined Fleet, was concurrently planning an operation for June that he hoped would lure the U.S. Navy’s carriers, none of which had been damaged in the Pearl Harbor attack, into a decisive showdown with his fleet in the central Pacific near Midway Atoll. In the meantime, however, Yamamoto detached some of his large warships, including two fleet carriers, a light carrier, a cruiser division, and two destroyer divisions, to supportMO, and placed Inoue in charge of the naval portion of the MO operation.

Allied response

Unbeknown to the Japanese, the U.S. Navy, led by the Communication Security Section of theOffice of Naval Communications, had for several years enjoyed some success with penetrating Japanese communication ciphers and codes. By March 1942, the U.S .was able to decipher up to 15% of the IJN’s Ro or Naval Codebook D code (called the “JN-25B” code by the Americans) which was used by the IJN for approximately half of its communications. By the end of April the Americans were reading up to 85% of the signals broadcast in the Ro code.

In March 1942, the U.S. first noticed mention of the MO operation in intercepted messages. On 5 April, the Americans intercepted an IJN message directing a carrier and other large warships to proceed to Inoue’s area of operations. On 13 April, the British deciphered an IJN message informing Inoue that the Fifth Carrier Division, consisting of the fleet carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku, was en route to his command from Formosa via the main IJN base atTruk. The British passed the message to the Americans, along with their conclusion that Port Moresby was the likely target ofMO.

File:Frank Jack Fletcher-g14193.jpg

Frank Jack Fletcher, commander of US Task Force 17

Admiral Chester Nimitz, the new commander of Allied forces in the Pacific, and his staff discussed the deciphered messages and agreed that the Japanese were likely initiating a major operation in the Southwest Pacific in early May with Port Moresby as the probable target. The Allies regarded Port Moresby as a key base for a planned counteroffensive, under Douglas MacArthur, against Japanese forces in the southwest Pacific area. Nimitz’s staff also concluded that the Japanese operation might include carrier raids on Allied bases in Samoa and at Suva. Nimitz, after consultation with Admiral Ernest King, Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet, decided to contest the Japanese operation by sending all four of the Pacific fleet’s available aircraft carriers to the Coral Sea. By 27 April, further signals intelligence confirmed most of the details and targets of the MO and RY plans.

On 29 April, Nimitz issued orders that sent his four carriers and their supporting warships towards the Coral Sea. Task Force 17 (TF 17), commanded by Rear Admiral Fletcher and consisting of the carrier Yorktown, escorted by three cruisers and four destroyers and supported by a replenishment group of two oilers and two destroyers, was already in the South Pacific, having departedTongatabu on 27 April en route to the Coral Sea. TF 11, commanded by Rear Admiral Aubrey Fitchand consisting of the carrier Lexington with two cruisers and five destroyers, was between Fiji and New Caledonia. TF 16, commanded by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey and including the carriers Enterprise and Hornet, had just returned to Pearl Harbor from theDoolittle Raid in the central Pacific and therefore would not reach the South Pacific in time to participate in the battle.

Nimitz placed Fletcher in command of Allied naval forces in the South Pacific area until Halsey arrived with TF 16. Although the Coral Sea area was under MacArthur’s command, Fletcher and Halsey were directed to continue to report to Nimitz while in the Coral Sea area, not to MacArthur.

Based on intercepted radio traffic from TF 16 as it returned to Pearl Harbor, the Japanese assumed that all but one of the U.S. Navy’s carriers were in the central Pacific. The Japanese did not know the location of the remaining carrier, but did not expect an American carrier response to MO until the operation was well underway.


File:Coral sea.jpg

Map of the battle, 3-9 May, showing the movements of most of the major forces involved

During late April, the Japanese submarines RO-33 and RO-34 reconnoitered the area where landings were planned. The submarines investigated Rossel Island and the Deboyne Group anchorage in the Louisiade ArchipelagoJomard Channel, and the route to Port Moresby from the east. They did not sight any Allied ships in the area and returned to Rabaul on 23 and 24 April respectively.

The Japanese Port Moresby Invasion Force, commanded by Rear Admiral Kōsō Abe, included 11 transport ships carrying about 5,000 soldiers from the IJA’s South Seas Detachment plus approximately 500 troops from the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force(SNLF). Escorting the transports was the Port Moresby Attack Force with one light cruiser and six destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Sadamichi Kajioka.

Abe’s ships departed Rabaul for the 840 nmi (970 mi; 1,560 km) trip to Port Moresby on 4 May and were joined by Kajioka’s force the next day. The ships, proceeding at 8 kn (9.2 mph; 15 km/h), planned to transit the Jomard Channel in the Louisiades to pass around the southern tip of New Guinea to arrive at Port Moresby by May 10. The Allied garrison at Port Moresby numbered around 5,333 men, but only half of these were infantry and all were badly equipped and undertrained

Leading the invasion of Tulagi was the Tulagi Invasion Force, commanded by Rear AdmiralKiyohide Shima, consisting of two minelayers, two destroyers, six minesweepers, two subchasers, and a transport ship carrying about 400 troops from the 3rd Kure SNLF. Supporting the Tulagi force was the Covering Group with the light carrier Shōhō, four heavy cruisers, and one destroyer, commanded by Rear Admiral Aritomo Gotō. A separate Cover Force (sometimes referred to as the Support Group), commanded by Rear AdmiralKuninori Marumo and consisting of two light cruisers, the seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru, and three gunboats, joined the Covering Group in providing distant protection for the Tulagi invasion. Once Tulagi was secured on 3 or 4 May, the Covering Group and Cover Force were to reposition to help screen the Port Moresby invasion. Inoue directed the MOoperation from the cruiser Kashima, with which he arrived at Rabaul from Truk on May 4.

An aircraft carrier screen.
The diagram shows the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown surrounded by a screen of cruisers and destroyers. The diameter of the “circle” is approximately 3.6 kms.

Gotō’s force left Truk on 28 April, cut through the Solomons between Bougainville andChoiseul and took station near New Georgia Island. Marumo’s support group sortied from New Ireland on 29 April headed forThousand Ships BaySanta Isabel Island, to establish a seaplane base on 2 May to support the Tulagi assault. Shima’s invasion force departed Rabaul on 30 April.

D3A Type 99 dive bomber of either Shokaku or Zuikaku in flight, either en route to attack Neosho and Sims in morning or returning from failed scouting mission in afternoon, Battle of Coral Sea, 7 May

D3A Type 99 dive bomber of either Shokaku or Zuikaku in flight, either en route to attack Neosho and Sims in morning or returning from failed scouting mission in afternoon, Battle of Coral Sea, 7 May

The Carrier Strike Force with carriers Zuikaku and Shōkaku, two heavy cruisers, and six destroyers sortied from Truk on 1 May. The strike force was commanded by Vice Admiral Takeo Takagi (flag on cruiser Myoko) with Rear Admiral Chūichi Hara, on Zuikaku, in tactical command of the carrier air forces. The Carrier Strike Force was to proceed down the eastern side of the Solomon Islands and enter the Coral Sea south of Guadalcanal. Once in the Coral Sea, the carriers were to provide air cover for the invasion forces, eliminate Allied air power at Port Moresby, and intercept and destroy any Allied naval forces which entered the Coral Sea in response.

Shoho heavily damaged, late afternoon of 7 May 1942

Shoho heavily damaged, late afternoon of 7 May 1942

En route to the Coral Sea, Takagi’s carriers were to deliver nine Zero fighter aircraft to Rabaul. Bad weather during two attempts to make the delivery on 2-3 May compelled the aircraft to return to the carriers, stationed 240 nmi (280 mi; 440 km) from Rabaul, and one of the Zeros was forced to ditch in the ocean. In order to try to keep to the MO timetable, Takagi was forced to abandon the delivery mission after the second attempt and directed his force towards the Solomon Islands to refuel.

Shoho torpedoed, photographed by pilot from Lexington, Battle of Coral Sea, 7 May 1942

Shoho torpedoed, photographed by pilot from Lexington, Battle of Coral Sea, 7 May 1942

To give advance warning of the approach of any Allied naval forces, the Japanese had sent submarines  and I-29 to form a scouting line in the ocean about 450 nmi (520 mi; 830 km) southwest of Guadalcanal. Fletcher’s forces, however, had passed into the Coral Sea area before the submarines took station, and the Japanese were therefore unaware of their presence. Another submarine, I-21, which was sent to scout around Nouméa, was attacked by Yorktown aircraft on 2 May. The submarine took no damage and apparently did not realize that it had been attacked by carrier aircraft. RO-33 and RO-34 were also deployed in an attempt to blockade Port Moresby, and arrived off the town on 5 May. Neither submarine engaged any ships during the battle.

File:USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the Battle of the Coral Sea, April 1942.jpg

Yorktown conducts aircraft operations in the Pacific sometime before the battle. A fleet oiler is in the near background.

On the morning of 1 May, TF 17 and TF 11 united about 300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km) northwest of New Caledonia (16°16′S 162°20′E).[28] Fletcher immediately detached TF11 to refuel from the oiler Tippecanoe while TF 17 refueled from Neosho. TF 17 completed refueling the next day, but TF 11 reported that they would not be finished fueling until 4 May. Fletcher elected to take TF 17 northwest towards the Louisiades and ordered TF 11 to meet TF 44, which was en route from Sydney and Nouméa, on 4 May once refueling was complete. TF 44 was a joint Australia–U.S. warship force under MacArthur’s command, led by Australian Rear Admiral John Crace, made up of the cruisersHMAS AustraliaHobart, and USS Chicago, along with three destroyers. Once completed refueling TF 11, Tippecanoe departed the Coral Sea to deliver its remaining fuel to Allied ships at Efate.

A bomb hole on Yorktown's flight deck, viewed from underneath, 8 May 1942

A bomb hole on Yorktown’s flight deck, viewed from underneath, 8 May 1942


For more details on this topic, see Invasion of Tulagi (May 1942).

Early on 3 May, Shima’s force arrived off Tulagi and began disembarking the naval troops to occupy the island. Tulagi was undefended, for the small garrison of Australian commandos and a Royal Australian Air Force reconnaissance unit had evacuated just before Shima’s arrival. The Japanese forces immediately began construction of a seaplane and communications base. Aircraft fromShōhō covered the landings until early afternoon, when Gotō’s force turned towards Bougainville to refuel in preparation to support the landings at Port Moresby.

B5N 'Kate' torpedo bomber getting hit by anti-aircraft fire, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942

B5N ‘Kate’ torpedo bomber getting hit by anti-aircraft fire, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942

At 17:00 on 3 May, Fletcher was notified that the Japanese Tulagi invasion force had been sighted the day before, approaching the southern Solomons. Unbeknownst to Fletcher, TF 11 had completed refueling that morning ahead of schedule and was only 60 nmi (69 mi; 110 km) east of TF 17, but was unable to communicate its status because of Fletcher’s orders to maintain radio silence. TF 17 changed course and proceeded at 27 kn (31 mph; 50 km/h) towards Guadalcanal to launch airstrikes against the Japanese forces at Tulagi the next morning.

Bombing attack on Japanese carrier Shokaku, Battle of the Coral Sea, 8 May 1942, photo 1 of 2

Bombing attack on Japanese carrier Shokaku, Battle of the Coral Sea, 8 May 1942,

On 4 May, from a position 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) south of Guadalcanal (11°10′S 158°49′E), a total of 60 aircraft from TF 17 launched three consecutive strikes against Shima’s forces off Tulagi. Yorktown‘s aircraft surprised Shima’s ships and sank the destroyer Kikuzuki (09°07′S 160°12′E) and three of the minesweepers, damaged four other ships, and destroyed four seaplanes which were supporting the landings. The Americans lost one dive bomber and two fighters in the strikes, but all of the aircrews were eventually rescued. After recovering its aircraft late in the evening of May 4, TF17 retired towards the south. In spite of the damage suffered in the carrier strikes, the Japanese continued construction of the seaplane base and began flying reconnaissance missions from Tulagi by May 6.

Cruiser Minneapolis picked up Lexington survivors, 8 May 1942

Cruiser Minneapolis picked up Lexington survivors, 8 May 1942

Takagi’s Carrier Striking Force was refueling 350 nmi (400 mi; 650 km) north of Tulagi when it received word of Fletcher’s strike on 4 May. Takagi terminated refueling, headed southeast, and sent scout planes to search east of the Solomons, believing that the American carriers were in that area. Since no Allied ships were in that area, the search planes found nothing.

A whaleboat helped evacuate men from Lexington, 8 May 1942

A whaleboat helped evacuate men from Lexington, 8 May 1942

Air searches and decisions

At 08:16 on 5 May, TF 17 rendezvoused with TF 11 and TF 44 at a predetermined point 320 nmi (370 mi; 590 km) south of Guadalcanal (15°S 160°E). At about the same time, four F4F Wildcat fighter aircraft from Yorktown intercepted a Kawanishi Type 97 reconnaissance aircraft from the Yokohama Air Group of the 25th Air Flotilla based at the Shortland Islands and shot it down 11 nmi (13 mi; 20 km) from TF 11. The aircraft was unable to send a report before it crashed, but when it failed to return to base the Japanese correctly assumed that it had been shot down by carrier aircraft.

A whaleboat and a motor launch evacuated Lexington, 8 May 1942; TBD, SBD and F4F aircraft could be seen on the flight deck

A whaleboat and a motor launch evacuated Lexington, 8 May 1942; TBD, SBD and F4F aircraft could be seen on the flight deck

A message from Pearl Harbor notified Fletcher that radio intelligence had deduced the Japanese planned to land their troops at Port Moresby on 10 May and their fleet carriers would likely be operating close to the invasion convoy. Armed with this information, Fletcher directed TF 17 to refuel from Neosho. After the refueling was completed on 6 May, he planned to take his forces north towards the Louisiades and do battle on 7 May.

Damage to Lexington after bomb hit near the port forward 5-inch gun gallery, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942, photo 2 of 4

Damage to Lexington after bomb hit near the port forward 5-inch gun gallery, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942, photo 2 of 4

In the meantime, Takagi’s carrier force steamed down the east side of the Solomons throughout the day on 5 May, turned west to pass south of San Cristobal (Makira), and entered the Coral Sea after transiting between Guadalcanal and Rennell Island in the early morning hours of 6 May. Takagi commenced refueling his ships 180 nmi (210 mi; 330 km) west of Tulagi in preparation for the carrier battle he expected would take place the next day.

Damage to Lexington after bomb hit near the port forward 5-inch gun gallery, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942, photo 3 of 4

Damage to Lexington after bomb hit near the port forward 5-inch gun gallery, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942,

On 6 May, Fletcher absorbed TF 11 and TF 44 into TF 17. Believing the Japanese carriers were still well to the north near Bougainville, Fletcher continued to refuel. Reconnaissance patrols conducted from the American carriers throughout the day failed to locate any of the Japanese naval forces, because they were located just beyond scouting range.

Damage to Lexington after bomb hit near the port forward 5-inch gun gallery, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942, photo 4 of 4

Damage to Lexington after bomb hit near the port forward 5-inch gun gallery, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942,

At 10:00, a Kawanishi reconnaissance flying boat from Tulagi sighted TF 17 and notified its headquarters. Takagi received the report at 10:50. At that time, Takagi’s force was about 300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km) north of Fletcher, near the maximum range for his carrier aircraft. Takagi, whose ships were still refueling, was not yet ready to engage in battle. He concluded, based on the sighting report, TF 17 was heading south and increasing the range. Furthermore, Fletcher’s ships were under a large, low-hanging overcast which Takagi and Hara felt would make it difficult for their aircraft to find the American carriers. Takagi detached his two carriers with two destroyers under Hara’s command to head towards TF 17 at 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h) in order to be in position to attack at first light the next day while the rest of his ships completed refueling.

File:Zuikaku air raid.jpg

Aircraft are prepared for a morning sortie on the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Zuikaku, east of the Solomon Islands, on May 5, 1942. On May 7 and 8 the carrier was involved in exchanges of airstrikes with United States Navy carriers during the Battle of the Coral Sea.

American B-17 bombers based in Australia and staging through Port Moresby attacked the approaching Port Moresby invasion forces, including Gotō’s warships, several times during the day on May 6 without success. MacArthur’s headquarters radioed Fletcher with reports of the attacks and the locations of the Japanese invasion forces. MacArthur’s fliers’ reports of seeing a carrier (Shōhō) about 425 nmi (489 mi; 787 km) northwest of TF17 further convinced Fletcher fleet carriers were accompanying the invasion force.


Animated map of the battle, 6-8 May

At 18:00, TF 17 completed fueling and Fletcher detached Neosho with a destroyer, Sims, to take station further south at a prearranged rendezvous (16°S 158°E). TF 17 then turned to head northwest towards Rossel Island in the Louisiades. Unbeknownst to the two adversaries, their carriers were only 70 nmi (130 km) away from each other by 20:00 that night. At 20:00 (13°20′S 157°40′E), Hara reversed course to meet Takagi who had completed refueling and was now heading in Hara’s direction.

Survivors of USS Lexington rescued by a cruiser, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942

Survivors of USS Lexington rescued by a cruiser, Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942

Late on 6 May or early on 7 May, Kamikawa Maru set up a seaplane base in the Deboyne Group in order to help provide air support for the invasion forces as they approached Port Moresby. The rest of Marumo’s Cover Force then took station near the D’Entrecasteaux Islands to help screen Abe’s oncoming convoy.

Carrier battle, first day

Morning strikes

At 06:25 on May 7, TF 17 was 115 nmi (132 mi; 213 km) south of Rossel Island (13°20′S 154°21′E). At this time, Fletcher sent Crace’s cruiser and destroyer force, now designated Task Group 17.3 (TG 17.3), to block the Jomard Passage. Fletcher understood that Crace would be operating without air cover since TF 17’s carriers would be busy trying to locate and attack the Japanese carriers. The detachment of Crace’s warships reduced the anti-aircraft defenses for Fletcher’s carriers. Nevertheless, Fletcher decided that the risk was necessary in order to ensure that the Japanese invasion forces could not slip through to Port Moresby while he was engaged with the Japanese carriers.

Above: Men evacuating the “Lady Lex.”

Believing Takagi’s carrier force was somewhere north of his location, in the vicinity of the Louisiades, Fletcher directed Yorktown to send 10 SBD dive bombers as scouts to search that area beginning at 06:19. In the meantime, Takagi, located approximately 300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km) east of Fletcher (13°12′S 158°05′E), launched 12 Type 97 carrier bombers at 06:00 to scout for TF 17. Hara believed that Fletcher’s ships were located to the south and advised Takagi to send the aircraft to search that area. Around the same time, Gotō’s cruisers Kinugasa and Furutaka launched four Kawanishi E7K2 Type 94 floatplanes to search southeast of the Louisiades. Augmenting their search were several floatplanes from Deboyne, four Kawanishi Type 97s from Tulagi, and threeMitsubishi Type 1 bombers from Rabaul. Each side readied the rest of its carrier attack aircraft to launch immediately once the enemy was located.

Torpedo damage on Lexington, 8 May 1942

Torpedo damage on Lexington, 8 May 1942

At 07:22 one of Takagi’s carrier scouts, from Shōkaku, reported that it had located American ships bearing 182°, 163 nmi (188 mi; 302 km) from Takagi. At 07:45, the scout confirmed that it had located “one carrier, one cruiser, and three destroyers”. AnotherShōkaku scout aircraft quickly confirmed the sighting. The Shōkaku aircraft had actually sighted and misidentified the Neosho and Sims. Believing that he had located the American carriers, Hara, with Takagi’s concurrence, immediately launched all of his available aircraft. A total of 78 aircraft—18 Zero fighters, 36 Type 99 dive bombers, and 24 torpedo aircraft—began launching from Shōkaku and Zuikaku at 08:00 and were on their way by 08:15 towards the reported sighting.

Japanese carrier Shokaku damaged after Battle of Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Japanese carrier Shokaku damaged after Battle of Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

At 08:20, one of the Furutaka aircraft found Fletcher’s carriers and immediately reported it to Inoue’s headquarters at Rabaul, which passed the report on to Takagi. The sighting was confirmed by a Kinugasa floatplane at 08:30. Takagi and Hara, confused by the conflicting sighting reports they were receiving, decided to continue with the strike on the ships to their south, but turned their carriers towards the northwest to close the distance with Furutaka’s reported contact. Takagi and Hara considered that the conflicting reports might mean that the U.S. carrier forces were operating in two separate groups.

Repair activities aboard Shokaku's boat deck, damaged by the second bomb that hit her during the Battle of Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Repair activities aboard Shokaku’s boat deck, damaged by the second bomb that hit her during the Battle of Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942
Photographer S. Fukuchi

At 08:15, a Yorktown SBD piloted by John L. Nielsen sighted Gotō’s force screening the invasion convoy. Nielsen, making an error in his coded message, reported the sighting as “two carriers and four heavy cruisers” at 10°3′S 152°27′E, 225 nmi (259 mi; 417 km) northwest of TF17.[49] Fletcher concluded that the Japanese main carrier force had been located and ordered the launch of all available carrier aircraft to attack. By 10:13, the American strike of 93 aircraft — 18 F4F Wildcats, 53 SBD dive bombers, and 22 TBD Devastator torpedo bombers — was on its way. At 10:19, Nielsen landed and discovered his coding error.

Repairing a machine gun position aboard Shokaku, which was damaged by the third bomb hit during Battle of the Coral Sea, , Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Repairing a machine gun position aboard Shokaku, which was damaged by the third bomb hit during Battle of the Coral Sea, , Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Although Gotō’s force included Shōhō, Nielsen thought that he had seen two cruisers and four destroyers. At 10:12, however, Fletcher had received a report from a flight of three United States Army B-17s of an aircraft carrier, ten transports, and 16 warships 30 nmi (35 mi; 56 km) south of Nielsen’s sighting at 10°35′S 152°36′E. The B-17s actually saw the same thing as Nielsen: Shōhō, Gotō’s cruisers, plus the Port Moresby Invasion Force. Believing that the B-17 sighting was the main Japanese carrier force, Fletcher directed the airborne strike force towards this target.

File:Coral Sea Neosho Burning.jpg

Neosho (upper center) is left burning and slowly sinking at the completion of the Japanese dive bombing attack.

At 09:15, Takagi’s strike force reached its target area, sighted Neosho and Sims, and searched in vain for the American carriers. Finally, at 10:51 Shōkaku scout aircrews realized they were mistaken in their identification of the oiler and destroyer as aircraft carriers. Takagi now realized the American carriers were between him and the invasion convoy, placing the invasion forces in extreme danger. Takagi ordered his aircraft to immediately attack Neosho and Sims and then return to their carriers as quickly as possible. At 11:15, the torpedo bombers and fighters abandoned the mission and headed back towards the carriers with their ordnance while the 36 dive bombers attacked the two American ships.

Shokaku's damaged flight deck as the result of bomb hits during Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Shokaku’s damaged flight deck as the result of bomb hits during Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Four dive bombers attacked Sims and the rest dived on Neosho. The destroyer was hit by three bombs, broke in half, and sank immediately, killing all but 14 of her 192-man crew.Neosho was hit by seven bombs. One of the dive bombers, hit by anti-aircraft fire, crashed into the oiler. Heavily damaged and without power, Neosho was left drifting and slowly sinking (16°09′S 158°03′E). Before losing power, Neosho was able to notify Fletcher by radio that she was under attack and in trouble, but garbled any further details as to just who or what was attacking her and gave wrong coordinates (16°25′S 157°31′E) for its position.

Close-up view of damaged received from the third bomb hit on Shokaku during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Close-up view of damaged received from the third bomb hit on Shokaku during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

The American strike aircraft sighted Shōhō a short distance northeast of Misima Island at 10:40 and deployed to attack. The Japanese carrier was protected by six Zeros and two Type 96 ‘Claude’ fighters flying combat air patrol (CAP), as the rest of the carrier’s aircraft were being prepared below decks for a strike against the American carriers. Gotō’s cruisers surrounded the carrier in a diamond formation, 3,000–5,000 yd (2,700–4,600 m) off each of Shōhō‘s corners.

File:Shoho g17026.jpg

Shōhō is bombed and torpedoed by U.S. carrier aircraft.

Attacking first, Lexington‘s air group, led by Commander William B. Ault, hit Shōhō with two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs and five torpedoes, causing severe damage. At 11:00,Yorktown‘s air group attacked the burning and now almost stationary carrier, scoring with up to 11 more 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs and at least two torpedoes.

View of repair crew inspecting the dislodged forward elevator aboard Shokaku, damaged by the first bomb hit received at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

View of repair crew inspecting the dislodged forward elevator aboard Shokaku, damaged by the first bomb hit received at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Torn apart, Shōhō sank at 11:35 (10°29′S 152°55′E). Fearing more air attacks, Gotō withdrew his warships to the north, but sent the destroyer Sazanami back at 14:00 to rescue survivors. Only 203 of the carrier’s 834-man crew were recovered. Three American aircraft were lost in the attack, including two SBDs from Lexington and one from Yorktown. All of Shōhō‘s aircraft complement of 18 was lost, but three of the CAP fighter pilots were able to ditch at Deboyne and survived. At 12:10, using a prearranged message to signal TF 17 on the success of the mission, Lexington SBD pilot and squadron commander Robert E. Dixon radioed “Scratch one flat top! Signed Bob.

View of damaged anchor chains of Shokaku, cut by the first bomb hit received at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

View of damaged anchor chains of Shokaku, cut by the first bomb hit received at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Kure, Japan, between 17 May and 27 Jun 1942

Afternoon operations

The American aircraft returned and landed on their carriers by 13:38. By 14:20, the aircraft were rearmed and ready to launch against the Port Moresby Invasion Force or Gotō’s cruisers. Fletcher, however, was concerned that the whereabouts of the rest of the Japanese fleet carriers were still unknown. He had been informed that Allied intelligence sources believed that up to four Japanese carriers might be supporting the MO operation. Fletcher concluded that by the time his scout aircraft located the remaining Japanese carriers it would be too late in the day to mount a strike. Thus, Fletcher decided to hold off on another strike this day and remain concealed under the thick overcast with fighters ready in defense. Fletcher turned TF17 southwest.

USS Sims (DD-409), 1939-1942

Sims was attacked from all directions. The destroyer defended herself as best she could. Three 500-pound bombs hit the destroyer. Two exploded in the engine room; and, within minutes, the ship buckled amidships and began to sink, stern first. As Sims slid beneath the waves, there was a tremendous explosion that raised what was left of the ship almost 15 feet out of the water. Chief R. J. Dicken, in a damaged whaleboat, picked up 14 other survivors. They remained with Neosho, still afloat despite severe damage, until they were rescued by Henley (DD-391) on 11 May. Sims was struck from the Navy list on 24 June 1942.

Apprised of the loss of Shōhō, Inoue ordered the invasion convoy to temporarily withdraw to the north and ordered Takagi, at this time located 225 nmi (259 mi; 417 km) east of TF 17, to destroy the American carrier forces. As the invasion convoy reversed course, it was bombed by eight U.S. Army B-17s, but was not damaged. Gotō and Kajioka were told to assemble their ships south of Rossel Island for a night surface battle if the American ships came within range.

At 12:40, a Deboyne-based seaplane sighted and reported Crace’s force bearing 175°, 78 nmi (90 mi; 144 km) from Deboyne. At 13:15, an aircraft from Rabaul sighted Crace’s force but submitted an erroneous report, stating the force contained two carriers and was located bearing 205°, 115 nmi (213 km) from Deboyne. Based on these reports, Takagi, who was still awaiting the return of all of his aircraft from attacking Neosho, turned his carriers due west at 13:30 and advised Inoue at 15:00 that the U.S. carriers were at least 430 nmi (490 mi; 800 km) west of his location and that he would therefore be unable to attack them that day.

File:TG17.3 and HMAS Australia under attack Coral Sea.jpg

HMAS Australia (center) and TG17.3 under air attack on May 7

Inoue’s staff directed two groups of attack aircraft from Rabaul, already airborne since that morning, towards Crace’s reported position. The first group included 12 torpedo-armed Type 1 bombers and the second group comprised 19 Mitsubishi Type 96 land attack aircraft armed with bombs. Both groups found and attacked Crace’s ships at 14:30 and claimed to have sunk a “California-type” battleship and damaged another battleship and cruiser. In reality, Crace’s ships were undamaged and shot down four Type 1s. A short time later, three U.S. Army B-17s mistakenly bombed Crace, but caused no damage.

The U.S.S. Henley (DD-391)

On the afternoon of May 11, 1942, the destroyer U.S.S. Henley discovered the stricken tanker, U.S.S. Neosho, listing in the Coral Sea with 123 men on board.   After expediting the transfer of survivors, the Henley tried to sink the Neosho to prevent the ship from falling into the hands of the Japanese.  The Henley fired a torpedo — which was a dud.  The second torpedo found its mark but it failed to sink the Neosho.  The Henley then opened fire with its 5″ guns.  After the Henley fired 146 rounds, the Neosho sunk into the Coral Sea, stern first.  Many of theNeosho survivors wept as they watched the ordeal from the railing of the Henley and as the Neosho slipped under the waves, they said a final farewell to their faithful friend.

After the Neosho was sunk, the Henley searched for additional survivors of the Neosho.  Failing to find any, it sped for the nearest hospital, at Brisbane, Australia.

Crace at 15:26 radioed Fletcher he could not complete his mission without air support. Crace retired southward to a position about 220 nmi (250 mi; 410 km) southeast of Port Moresby to increase the range from Japanese carrier- or land-based aircraft while remaining close enough to intercept any Japanese naval forces advancing beyond the Louisiades through either the Jomard Passage or the China Strait. Crace’s ships were low on fuel, and as Fletcher was maintaining radio silence (and had not informed him in advance), Crace had no idea of Fletcher’s location, status, or intentions.

The U.S.S. Helm (DD-388)

On the morning of May 16, a full nine days after the attack, the destroyer U.S.S. Helm spotted a life raft from theU.S.S. Neosho floating in the Coral Sea.  Miraculously, four survivors were aboard the small raft.  Shortly after the Neosho had been attacked on May 7, 68 men had climbed into four life rafts and lashed them together.  During the next nine days, all but four of these men perished from thirst and exposure; some, nearly delirious, drank seawater and died quickly.

Shortly after the men were rescued by the U.S.S. Helm, one man, named Kenneth Bright, died aboard theHelm.  Several days later, another, named Thaddeus Tunnel, died in a hospital in Brisbane, Australia.  The only two survivors of the original group of 68, William Smith and Jack Roslyn, returned to the U.S. and lived for many more years.

Shortly after 15:00, Zuikaku monitored a message from a Deboyne-based reconnaissance aircraft reporting (incorrectly) Crace’s force had altered course to 120° true (southeast). Takagi’s staff assumed the aircraft was shadowing Fletcher’s carriers and determined if the Allied ships held that course, they would be within striking range shortly before nightfall. Takagi and Hara determined to attack immediately with a select group of aircraft, minus fighter escort, even though it meant the strike would return after dark.

To try to confirm the location of the American carriers, at 15:15 Hara sent a flight of eight torpedo bombers as scouts to sweep 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) westward. About that same time, the dive bombers returned from their attack on Neosho and landed. Six of the weary dive bomber pilots were told they would be immediately departing on another mission. Choosing his most experienced crews, at 16:15 Hara launched 12 dive bombers and 15 torpedo planes with orders to fly bearing 277° to 280 nmi (320 mi; 520 km). The eight scout aircraft reached the end of their 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) search leg and turned back without seeing Fletcher’s ships.

Fletcher’s flagship, theU.S.S. Yorktown, at anchor in 1937 in Hampton, Virginia.

Adm_Jack_Fletcher_-_600x400.jpg (19319 bytes)Admiral Jack Fletcher, commander of the U.S. fleet during the Battle of the Coral Sea

At 17:47, TF 17 — operating under thick overcast 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) west of Takagi — detected the Japanese strike on radar heading in their direction, turned southeast into the wind, and vectored 11 CAP Wildcats, including one piloted by James H. Flatley, to intercept. Taking the Japanese formation by surprise, the Wildcats shot down seven torpedo bombers and one dive bomber, and heavily damaged another torpedo bomber (which later crashed), at a cost of three Wildcats lost.

TheU.S.S. Lexington, known as the “Lady Lex,” in 1941 near San Diego

Adm_Aubrey_Fitch_-_600x400.jpg (25354 bytes)

Admiral Aubrey Fitch, commander of theLexingtoncarrier group

Having taken heavy losses in the attack, which also scattered their formations, the Japanese strike leaders canceled the mission after conferring by radio. The Japanese aircraft all jettisoned their ordnance and reversed course to return to their carriers. The sun set at 18:30. Several of the Japanese dive bombers encountered the American carriers in the darkness, around 19:00, and briefly confused as to their identity, circled in preparation for landing before anti-aircraft fire from TF 17’s destroyers drove them away. By 20:00, TF 17 and Takagi were about 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) apart. Takagi turned on his warships’ searchlights to help guide the 18 surviving aircraft back and all were recovered by 22:00.

The Japanese light carrier, Shoho — part of another Japanese force entirely — was in line with the reported sighting, or at least close enough to be spotted by the American pilots.  The 93 American planes swooped down on the Shoho which, while not the large Japanese fleet they were expecting, would have to suffice.  The Shoho’s fate was sealed and after a furious 30-minute attack by the American dive-bombers and torpedo bombers, it sunk at 11:35 a.m.  Lt. Commander R. E. Dixon, an American pilot, reported back to the Yorktown using a phrase that would soon become famous, “Scratch one flattop!”

It was a clear victory for the Allies.  The American pilots, returning to their carriers, were jubilant.

In the meantime, at 15:18 and 17:18 Neosho was able to radio TF 17 she was drifting northwest in a sinking condition. Neosho‘s 17:18 report gave wrong coordinates, which would hamper subsequent U.S. rescue efforts to locate the doomed oiler. More significantly, the news informed Fletcher his only nearby available fuel supply was gone.

The doomed aircraft carrier USS Lexington burns three hours after being attacked
by torpedo bombers. Enormous internal explosions reduced the carrier to a useless hulk.

As nightfall ended aircraft operations for the day, Fletcher ordered TF 17 to head west and prepared to launch a 360° search at first light. Crace also turned west to stay within striking range of the Louisiades. Inoue directed Takagi to make sure he destroyed the U.S. carriers the next day, and postponed the Port Moresby landings to 12 May. Takagi elected to take his carriers 120 nmi (140 mi; 220 km) north during the night so he could concentrate his morning search to the west and south and ensure that his carriers could provide better protection for the invasion convoy. Gotō and Kajioka were unable to position and coordinate their ships in time to attempt a night attack on the Allied warships.

A crew member aboard the USS Yorktown
readies bombs for loading on to aircraft.

Both sides expected to find each other early the next day, and spent the night preparing their strike aircraft for the anticipated battle as their exhausted aircrews attempted to get a few hours sleep. In 1972, U.S. Vice Admiral H. S. Duckworth, after reading Japanese records of the battle, commented, “Without a doubt, May 7, 1942, vicinity of Coral Sea, was the most confused battle area in world history.”[67] Hara later told Yamamoto’s chief of staff, Admiral Matome Ugaki, he was so frustrated with the “poor luck” the Japanese had experienced on 7 May that he felt like quitting the navy.

Carrier battle, second day

Attack on the Japanese carriers

File:Kamikawa-maru 1939.jpg

Kamikawa Maru at Amoi, China sometime between 1938 and 1940.

Career (Japan) IJN Ensign
Name: Kamikawa Maru
Builder: Kawasaki, Kōbe Shipyard
Laid down: August 5, 1936
Launched: December 13, 1936
Acquired: March 15, 1937
Commissioned: September 18, 1937
Out of service: May 29, 1943
Struck: July 15, 1943
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk by United States Navy submarine Scamp
General characteristics
Class and type: Kamikawa Class
Displacement: 6, 863 tons standard
Length: 479 feet
Beam: 62 feet
Draft: 30 feet td>
Propulsion: 1 Kawasaki-M. A. N. diesel, 1 shaft, 7, 600 shp
Speed: 28 knots
Armament: 2 x 5.9-inch, 2 x 25mm AA, 2 x 13mm MG
Aircraft carried: 12 seaplanes (24 stored)
Aviation facilities: Two catapults, cranes

At 06:15 on 8 May, from a position 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) east of Rossel Island (10°25′S 154°5′E), Hara launched seven torpedo bombers to search the area bearing 140-230° south and out to 250 nmi (290 mi; 460 km) from the Japanese carriers. Assisting in the search were three Kawanishi Type 97s from Tulagi and four Type 1 bombers from Rabaul. At 07:00, the carrier striking force turned to the southwest and was joined by two of Gotō’s cruisers, Kinugasa and Furutaka, for additional screening support. The invasion convoy, Gotō, and Kajioka steered towards a rendezvous point 40 nmi (46 mi; 74 km) east of Woodlark Islandto await the outcome of the carrier battle. During the night, the warm frontal zone with low-hanging clouds which had helped hide the American carriers on 7 May had moved north and east and now covered the Japanese carriers, limiting visibility to between 2 nmi (2.3 mi; 3.7 km) and 15 nmi (17 mi; 28 km).

Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Ordered: 1938 Fiscal Year
Laid down: 6 October 1938
Launched: 25 September 1939
Commissioned: 31 May 1940[1]
Struck: 5 October 1945
Fate: scrapped 1947
General characteristics
Class and type: Katori class cruiser
Displacement: 5,890 tons (standard)
6,180 tons (full load)
Length: 129.77 meters
Beam: 15.95 meters
Draught: 5.75 meters
Propulsion: 2-shaft geared turbines plus diesel motors;
3 Kampon boilers;
8,000 shp
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h)
Range: 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 315
  • 4 x 140 mm/50 caliber guns(2×2)
  • 2 x 127 mm/40 caliber AA guns (1×2)
  • 4 x 25 mm Type 96 AA guns (later increased to 30)
  • 8 x 13 mm AA guns
  • 4 x 533 mm torpedo tubes (2×2)
Aircraft carried: 1 x floatplane, 1 catapult

At 06:35, TF 17 — operating under Fitch’s tactical control and positioned 180 nmi (210 mi; 330 km) southeast of the Lousiades, launched 18 SBDs to conduct a 360° search out to 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km). The skies over the American carriers were mostly clear, with 17 nmi (20 mi; 31 km) visibility.



Role Patrol flying boat
Manufacturer Kawanishi
First flight 14 July 1936
Introduced January 1938
Retired 1945 (Japan)
Primary user IJN Air Service
Number built 215

File:Kawanishi H6K Type 97 Transport Flying Boat Mavis H6K-16s.jpg

Though the picture shows a H6K “Mavis” going down in flames, it also shows to advantage the graceful shape of the aircraft

File:Kawanishi H6K Type 97 Transport Flying Boat Mavis H6K-8s.jpg

Kawanishi A H6K2-L Navy Transport Flying Boat Type 97

At 08:20, a Lexington SBD piloted by Joseph G. Smith spotted the Japanese carriers through a hole in the clouds and notified TF 17. Two minutes later, a Shōkaku search plane commanded by Kenzō Kanno sighted TF 17 and notified Hara. The two forces were about 210 nmi (240 mi; 390 km) away from each other. Both sides raced to launch their strike aircraft.

A6M “Zero”
Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero Model 22 (NX712Z), used in the film Pearl Harbor
Role Fighter
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
First flight 1 April 1939
Introduction July 1940
Retired 1945 (Japan)
Primary users Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
Chinese Nationalist Air Force
Produced 1940–1945
Number built 10,939
Variants Nakajima A6M2-N

At 09:15, the Japanese carriers launched a combined strike of 18 fighters, 33 dive bombers, and 18 torpedo planes, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Kakuichi Takahashi. The American carriers each launched a separate strike. Yorktown‘s group consisted of six fighters, 24 dive bombers, and nine torpedo planes and was on its way by 09:15. Lexington‘s group of nine fighters, 15 dive bombers, and 12 torpedo planes was off at 09:25. Both the American and Japanese carrier warship forces turned to head directly for each other’s location at high speed in order to shorten the distance their aircraft would have to fly on their return legs.

File:A 030701.jpg

Myōkō at Singapore the end of World War II
Career IJN Ensign
Name: Haguro
Ordered: 1924
Builder: Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
Laid down: October 25, 1924
Launched: April 16, 1927
Commissioned: July 31, 1929
Struck: 10 August 1946
Fate: Scuttled in the Straits of Malacca, 8 June 1946
General characteristics
Class and type: Myōkō-class cruiser
Displacement: 13,300 long tons (13,500 t)
Length: 201.7 m (661 ft 9 in)
Beam: 20.73 m (68 ft 0 in)
Draft: 6.32 m (20 ft 9 in)
Propulsion: 4-shaft geared turbines
12 boilers
130,000 shp
Speed: 36 knots (41 mph; 67 km/h)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) at 14 kn (16 mph; 26 km/h)
Complement: 773
Armament: • 10 × 203 mm (8.0 in) guns (5×2)
• 6 × 120 mm (4.7 in) guns (to 1934)or 8 × 127 mm (5.0 in) guns (from 1935)
• 2 × 13 mm (0.51 in) machine guns
• 12 × 610 mm (24 in) torpedo tubes[1]
Armor: • Main belt: 100 mm (3.9 in)
• Main deck: 37 mm (1.5 in)
• Turrets: 25 mm (0.98 in)
• Barbettes: 75 mm (3.0 in)
Aircraft carried: 2
Service record
Operations: Battle of the Philippines (1941–42)
Battle of the Java Sea (1942)
Battle of the Coral Sea (1942)
Battle of Midway (1942)
Operation Ke (1942)
Battle of Empress Augusta Bay (1943)
Battle of the Philippine Sea (1944)
Battle of Leyte Gulf (1944)

Yorktown‘s dive bombers, led by William O. Burch, reached the Japanese carriers at 10:32, and paused to allow the slower torpedo squadron to arrive so that they could conduct a simultaneous attack. At this time, Shōkaku and Zuikaku were about 10,000 yd (9,100 m) apart, with Zuikaku hidden under a rain squall of low-hanging clouds. The two carriers were protected by 16 CAP Zero fighters. The Yorktown dive bombers commenced their attacks at 10:57 on Shōkaku and hit the radically maneuvering carrier with two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs, tearing open the forecastle and causing heavy damage to the carrier’s flight and hangar decks. TheYorktown torpedo planes missed with all of their ordnance. Two U.S. dive bombers and two CAP Zeros were shot down during the attack.

File:IJN Kinugasa.jpg

Heavy cruiser Kinugasa on commissioning at Kobe
Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Kinugasa
Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Laid down: 24 October 1924
Launched: 24 October 1926
Commissioned: 30 September 1927[1]
Struck: 15 December 1942
Fate: sunk 13 November 1942 by United States Navy and USMC aircraft duringNaval Battle of Guadalcanal at 08°45′S 157°00′E
General characteristics
Class and type: Aoba class cruiser
Type: heavy cruiser
Displacement: 8,300 tons (standard); 9,000 (final)
Length: 185.17 meters
Beam: 15.83 meters (initial)
17.56 meters (final)
Draught: 5.71 meters (initial)
5.66 meters (final)
Propulsion: 4-shaft Brown Curtis geared turbines
12 Kampon boilers
102,000 shp
Speed: 36 knots – 33.43 knots
Range: 7,000 nm @ 14 knots (initial)
8,223 nmi at 14 knots (final)
Complement: 643 (initial) – 657 (final)
Armament: (initial) 


  • 6 × 8in (203mm)/50-cal guns (3×2),
  • 4 × 4.7in (120mm)/45-cal (4×1),
  • 8 × 24in (610mm) torpedo tubes (2×4)
  • 50 x 25 mm AA guns
Armor: 76 mm (belt)
36 mm (deck)
Aircraft carried: 1 x floatplane (initial)
2 x floatplane, 1 catapult (final)

Lexington‘s aircraft arrived and attacked at 11:30. Two dive bombers attacked Shōkaku, hitting the carrier with one 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb, causing further damage. Two other dive bombers dove on Zuikaku, missing with their bombs. The rest of Lexington‘s dive bombers were unable to find the Japanese carriers in the heavy clouds. Lexington‘s TBDs missedShōkaku with all 11 of their torpedoes. The 13 CAP Zeros on patrol at this time shot down three Wildcats.

With her flight deck heavily damaged and 223 of her crew killed or wounded, Shōkaku was unable to conduct further aircraft operations. Her captain, Takatsugu Jōjima, requested permission from Takagi and Hara to withdraw from the battle, to which Takagi agreed. At 12:10, Shōkaku, accompanied by two destroyers, retired to the northeast.

File:Japanese cruiser Furutaka.jpg

Heavy cruiser Furutaka in 1926
Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Namesake: Mount Furutaka, located on Etajima, Hiroshima,immediately behind theImperial Japanese Navy Academy
Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Mitsubishi shipyards, Nagasaki
Laid down: 5 December 1922
Launched: 25 February 1925
Commissioned: 31 March 1926[1]
Struck: 20 December 1944
Fate: sunk 12 October 1942 by USS Salt Lake City and USS Duncan at theBattle of Cape Esperance
02°28′S 152°11′E
General characteristics
Class and type: Furutaka class heavy cruiser
Displacement: 7,950 tons (standard); 9,150 tons (after modification)
Length: 176.8 meters
Beam: 15.8 meters
Draught: 5.6 meters
Propulsion: 4-shaft Parsons geared turbines
12 Kampon boilers
102,000 shp
Speed: 34.5 knots (64 km/h)
Range: 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 616
Armament: (initial) 6 × 7.9in (200mm)/50-cal guns (6×1), 4 × 3.1in (76mm)/40-cal (4×1), 12 × 24in (610mm) torpedo tubes(6×2) 

(final) 6 × 20 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval gun‎s (3×2), 4 × 4.7in (120mm)/45-cal (4×1),

8 × 24in (610mm) torpedo tubes (2×4)

Armor: 76 mm (belt)
36 mm (deck)
Aircraft carried: 1 x Nakajima E4N2 floatplane
(2 x Kawanishi E7K2 from 1936)
Aviation facilities: 1 catapult (from 1933)

Attack on the U.S. carriers

At 10:55, Lexington‘s CXAM-1 radar detected the inbound Japanese aircraft at a range of 68 nmi (78 mi; 126 km) and vectored nine Wildcats to intercept. Expecting the Japanese torpedo bombers to be at a much lower altitude than they actually were, six of the Wildcats were stationed too low, and thus missed the Japanese aircraft as they passed by overhead.[76] Because of the heavy losses in aircraft suffered the night before, the Japanese could not execute a full torpedo attack on both carriers. Lieutenant Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki, commanding the Japanese torpedo planes, sent 14 to attack Lexington and four to attack Yorktown. A Wildcat shot down one and 8 patrolling Yorktown SBDs destroyed three more as the Japanese torpedo planes descended to take attack position. Four SBDs were shot down by Zeros escorting the torpedo planes.

Role reconnaissance floatplane
Manufacturer Kawanishi Aircraft Company
First flight 6 February 1933
Introduced 1935
Retired 1943
Primary user IJN Air Service
Number built 533

The Japanese attack began at 11:13 as the carriers, stationed 3,000 yd (2,700 m) apart, and their escorts opened fire with anti-aircraft guns. The four torpedo planes which attacked Yorktown all missed. The remaining torpedo planes successfully employed a pincer attack on Lexington, which had a much larger turning radius than Yorktown, and, at 11:20, hit her with two Type 91 torpedoes. The first torpedo buckled the port aviation gasoline stowage tanks. Undetected, gasoline vapors spread into surrounding compartments. The second torpedo ruptured the port water main, reducing water pressure to the three forward firerooms and forcing the associated boilers to be shut down. The ship, however, could still make 24 kn (28 mph; 44 km/h) with her remaining boilers. Four of the Japanese torpedo planes were shot down by anti-aircraft fire.

Mitsubishi G4M1 of 801st Kokutai Type 1 land-based attack aircraft”
Role Twin-engine medium bomber
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Designed by Kiro Honjo
First flight 23 October 1939
Introduced June 1941
Retired 1945
Primary user Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
Number built 2,435

The 33 Japanese dive bombers circled to attack from upwind, and thus did not begin their dives from 14,000 ft (4,300 m) until three to four minutes after the torpedo planes had begun their attacks. The 19 Shōkaku dive bombers, under Takahashi, lined up onLexington while the remaining 14, directed by Tamotsu Ema, targeted Yorktown. Escorting Zeros shielded Takahashi’s aircraft from four Lexington CAP Wildcats which attempted to intervene, but two Wildcats circling above Yorktown were able to disrupt Ema’s formation.

Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” in flight.
Role Torpedo and dive bomber
Manufacturer Nakajima Aircraft Company
First flight 1937
Primary user Imperial Japanese Navy
Number built ~1,150

Takahashi’s bombers damaged Lexington with two bomb hits and several near misses, causing fires which were contained by 12:33. At 11:27, Yorktown was hit in the center of her flight deck by a single 250 kg (550 lb), semi-armor-piercing bomb which penetrated four decks before exploding, causing severe structural damage to an aviation storage room and killing or seriously wounding 66 men. Up to 12 near misses damaged Yorktown‘s hull below the waterline. Two of the dive bombers were shot down by a CAP Wildcat during the attack.

File:Tamotsu Ema.jpg

Tamotsu Ema, leader of theZuikaku dive bombers which damaged Yorktown

As the Japanese aircraft completed their attacks and began to withdraw, believing that they had inflicted fatal damage to both carriers, they ran a gauntlet of CAP Wildcats and SBDs. In the ensuing aerial duels, three SBDs and three Wildcats for the U.S., and three torpedo bombers, one dive bomber, and one Zero for the Japanese were downed. By 12:00, the U.S. and Japanese strike groups were on their way back to their respective carriers. During their return, aircraft from the two adversaries passed each other in the air, resulting in more air-to-air altercations. Kanno’s and Takahashi’s aircraft were shot down, killing both of them.

USS Enterprise CV-6
Career (United States)
Name: USS Enterprise (CV-6)
Ordered: 1933
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding
Laid down: 16 July 1934
Launched: 3 October 1936
Commissioned: 12 May 1938
Decommissioned: 17 February 1947
  • The Big E
  • Lucky E
  • The Grey Ghost
Honors and
Fate: Scrapped 1958–1960
General characteristics
Class and type: Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: As built: 

  • 19,800 tons standard
  • 25,500 tons full load

From October 1943:

  • 21,000 tons standard
  • 32,060 tons full load
Length: As built: 

  • 770 feet (230 m) waterline
  • 824 ft 9 in (251.38 m) overall

From July 1942:

  • 827 ft 5 in overall length
Beam: As built: 

  • 83 ft 3 in (25.37 m)
  • 109 ft 6 in (33.38 m) overall

From October 1942:

  • 114 ft 5 in overall width

From October 1943:

  • 95 ft 5 in waterline
Draft: 25 ft 11.5 in (7.912 m)
  • 9 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
  • 4 × Parsons geared turbines
  • 120,000 shp
  • 4 × propellers
Speed: 32.5 knots (37.4 mph; 60.2 km/h)
Range: 12,500 nautical miles (23,150 km; 14,380 mi) at 15 knots (17 mph; 28 km/h)
Complement: 2,217 officers and men (1941)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament: As built: 

From April 1942:

From mid-June 1942 to mid-July 1942:

  • 8 × 5″/38 cal
  • 5 × quad 1.1″/75 cal
  • 32 × 20 mm Oerlikons

From mid-July 1942 to September 1942:

  • 8 × 5 in/38 cal
  • 5 × quad 1.1 in/75 cal
  • 40 × 20 mm Oerlikons

From October 1942:

  • 8 × 5 in/38 cal
  • 4 × quad 40 mm Bofors guns
  • 1 × quad 1.1 in/75 cal
  • 44 × 20 mm Oerlikons(46 from 11/42)

From October 1943:

  • 8 × 5 in/38 cal
  • 40 × 40 mm Bofors (8×2, 6×4)
  • 50 × 20 mm Oerlikon

From September 1945:

  • 8 × 5 in/38 cal
  • 54 × 40 mm Bofors (5×2, 11×4)
  • 32 × 20 mm Oerlikons (16×2)
  • 2.5–4 in belt
  • 60 lb protective decks
  • 4 in bulkheads
  • 4 in side and 2 in top round conning tower
  • 4 in side over steering gear
Aircraft carried: 90 aircraft
Aviation facilities:
  • 3 × elevators
  • 2 × flight deck hydraulic catapults
  • 1 × hangar deck hydraulic catapults

Recovery, reassessment, and retreat

The strike forces, with many damaged aircraft, reached and landed on their respective carriers between 12:50 and 14:30. In spite of damage, Yorktown and Lexington were both able to recover aircraft from their returning air groups. During recovery operations, for various reasons the U.S. lost an additional five SBDs, two TBDs, and a Wildcat, and the Japanese lost two Zeros, five dive bombers, and one torpedo plane. Forty-six of the original 69 aircraft from the Japanese strike force returned from the mission and landed on Zuikaku. Of these, three more Zeros, four dive bombers, and five torpedo planes were judged damaged beyond repair and were immediately jettisoned into the ocean.


VT-6 TBDs on the USS Enterprise

As TF 17 recovered its aircraft, Fletcher assessed the situation. The returning aviators reported they had heavily damaged one carrier, but that another had escaped damage. Fletcher noted that both his carriers were hurt and that his air groups had suffered high fighter losses. Fuel was also a concern due to the loss of Neosho. At 14:22, Fitch notified Fletcher that he had reports of two undamaged Japanese carriers and that this was supported by radio intercepts. Believing that he faced overwhelming Japanese carrier superiority, Fletcher elected to withdraw TF17 from the battle. Fletcher radioed MacArthur the approximate position of the Japanese carriers and suggested that he attack with his land-based bombers.

Around 14:30, Hara informed Takagi that only 24 Zeros, eight dive bombers, and four torpedo planes from the carriers were currently operational. Takagi was worried about his ships’ fuel levels; his cruisers were at 50% and some of his destroyers were as low as 20%. At 15:00, Takagi notified Inoue his fliers had sunk two American carriers — Yorktown and a “Saratoga-class” — but heavy losses in aircraft meant he could not continue to provide air cover for the invasion. Inoue, whose reconnaissance aircraft had sighted Crace’s ships earlier that day, recalled the invasion convoy to Rabaul, postponed MO to 3 July, and ordered his forces to assemble northeast of the Solomons to begin the RY operation. Zuikaku and her escorts turned towards Rabaul while Shōkaku headed for Japan.

File:D3A1 Akagi.jpg 

Aichi D3A1 from carrier Akagi.

Role Carrier-based dive bomber
Manufacturer Aichi Kokuki KK
First flight January 1938
Introduced 1940[1]
Primary user Imperial Japanese Navy
Number built 1,486
(470 D3A1)[1]
(1,016 D3A2)[1]
File:D3A1 flight.jpg

Aichi D3A1 in flight.

File:D3A2 maintenance.jpg

Aichi D3A2 during maintenance.

File:Jap planes preparing-Pearl Harbor.jpg

Aichi D3A1 “Val” dive bombers prepare to take off from a Japanese aircraft carrier during the morning of 7 December 1941 to attack Pearl Harbor.

Aichi D3A from Shokaku return to their carrier after attacking the US carrierEnterprise during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August 1942.

Aboard Lexington, damage control parties had put out the fires and restored her to operational condition, however at 12:47, sparks from unattended electric motors ignited gasoline fumes near the ship’s central control station. The resulting explosion killed 25 men and started a large fire. Around 14:42, another large explosion occurred, starting a second severe fire. A third explosion occurred at 15:25 and at 15:38 the ship’s crew reported the fires as uncontrollable. Lexington‘s crew began abandoning ship at 17:07. After the carrier’s survivors were rescued, including Fitch and the carrier’s captain,Frederick C. Sherman, at 19:15 the destroyer Phelps fired five torpedoes into the burning ship, which sank in 2,400 fathoms at 19:52 (15°15′S 155°35′E). Two hundred sixteen of the carrier’s 2,951-man crew went down with the ship, along with 36 aircraft. Phelps and the other assisting warships left immediately to rejoin Yorktown and her escorts, which had departed at 16:01, and TF17 retired to the southwest. Later that evening, MacArthur informed Fletcher that eight of his B-17s had attacked the invasion convoy and that it was retiring to the northwest.

USS Chicago underway off New York City, during the 31 May 1934 fleet review.
Career (United States)
Name: USS Chicago
Namesake: City of Chicago
Launched: 10 April 1930
Commissioned: 9 March 1931
Honors and
Three battle stars
Fate: Sunk during the Battle of Rennell Island, 30 January 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Northampton-class cruiser
Displacement: 9,300 tons
Length: 600.3 ft (183.0 m)
Beam: 66.1 ft (20.1 m)
Draft: 16.5 ft (5.0 m)
Speed: 32 knots
Complement: 621 officers and enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
CXAM RADAR from 1940[1]
Armament: 9 × 8″/55 caliber guns
4 × 5 in/25 cal guns[2]
6 × 21 in torpedo tubes

That evening, Crace detached Hobart, which was critically low on fuel, and the destroyer Walke, which was having engine trouble, to proceed to Townsville. Crace overheard radio reports saying the enemy invasion convoy had turned back, but, unaware Fletcher had withdrawn, he remained on patrol with the rest of TG17.3 in the Coral Sea in case the Japanese invasion force resumed its advance towards Port Moresby.


On 9 May, TF 17 altered course to the east and proceeded out of the Coral Sea via a route south of New Caledonia. Nimitz ordered Fletcher to return Yorktown to Pearl Harbor as soon as possible after refueling at Tongatabu. During the day, U.S. Army bombers attacked Deboyne and Kamikawa Maru, inflicting unknown damage. In the meantime, having heard nothing from Fletcher, Crace deduced that TF17 had departed the area. At 01:00 on 10 May0, hearing no further reports of Japanese ships advancing towards Port Moresby, Crace turned towards Australia and arrived at Cid Harbor, 130 nmi (150 mi; 240 km) north of Townsville, on May 11.

TBD Devastator
File:Douglas TBD-1 VT-6 in flight c1938.jpeg 

US Navy TBD-1 Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6),USS Enterprise (CV-6), 1938

Role Torpedo bomber
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight 15 April 1935
Introduced 3 August 1937
Retired 1942 (from active service)
1944 (completely)
Primary user United States Navy
Produced 1937-1939
Number built 130

At 22:00 on 8 May, Yamamoto ordered Inoue to turn his forces around, destroy the remaining Allied warships, and complete the invasion of Port Moresby. Inoue did not cancel the recall of the invasion convoy, but ordered Takagi and Gotō to pursue the remaining Allied warship forces in the Coral Sea. Critically low on fuel, Takagi’s warships spent most of 9 May refueling from the fleet oiler Tōhō Maru. Late in the evening of 9 May, Takagi and Gotō headed southeast, then southwest into the Coral Sea. Seaplanes from Deboyne assisted Takagi in searching for TF 17 on the morning of 10 May. Fletcher and Crace, however, were already well on their way out of the area. At 13:00 on 10 May, Takagi concluded that the enemy was gone and decided to turn back towards Rabaul. Yamamoto concurred with Takagi’s decision and ordered Zuikaku to return to Japan to replenish her air groups. At the same time, Kamikawa Maru packed up and departed Deboyne. At noon on 11 May, a U.S. Navy PBY on patrol from Nouméa sighted the drifting Neosho (15°35′S 155°36′E). The U.S. destroyer Henley responded and rescued 109 Neosho and 14 Sims survivors later that day, then scuttled the tanker with torpedoes.

SBD Dauntless
A-24 Banshee
United States Navy SBD Dauntless
Role Dive bomber
National origin United States
Manufacturer Douglas
Designed by Ed Heinemann
First flight 1 May 1940
Introduced 1940
Retired 1959 (Mexico)
Primary users United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
United States Army Air Forces
Free French Air Force
Produced 1940-1944
Number built 5,936
Developed from Northrop BT

File:Northrop XBT-1 and XBT-2 comparison.jpg

Comparison of the XBT-1 and XBT-2 (SBD).

On 10 May, the RY operation commenced. After the operation’s flagship, minelayer Okinoshima, was sunk by the American submarine S-42 on 12 May (05°06′S 153°48′E), the landings were postponed to 17 May. In the meantime, Halsey’s TF 16 reached the South Pacific near Efate and, on 13 May, headed north to contest the Japanese approach to Nauru and Ocean Island. On 14 May, Nimitz, having obtained intelligence concerning the Combined Fleet’s upcoming operation against Midway, ordered Halsey to make sure that Japanese scout aircraft sighted his ships the next day, after which he was to return to Pearl Harbor immediately. At 10:15 on 15 May, a Kawanishi reconnaissance aircraft from Tulagi sighted TF 16 445 nmi (512 mi; 824 km) east of the Solomons. Halsey’s feint worked. Fearing a carrier air attack on his exposed invasion forces, Inoue immediately canceled RY and ordered his ships back to Rabaul and Truk. On 19 May, TF 16 — which had returned to the Efate area to refuel — turned towards Pearl Harbor and arrived there on 26 May. Yorktown reached Pearl the following day.

File:HMAS Australia Oct 1937 SLV.jpg

Australia in October 1937
Career (Australia)
Builder: John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd.(ClydebankScotland)
Yard number: 512
Laid down: 26 August 1925
Launched: 17 March 1927
Commissioned: 24 April 1928
Decommissioned: 31 August 1954
Motto: “Endeavour”
Nickname: “The Aussie”
Fate: Sold for scrap 25 January 1955. On 26 March 1955 vessel left Sydney under tow to the United Kingdom where it was broken up at Barrow-in-Furness
Badge: HMAS australia2 crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type: County class heavy cruiser
Displacement: 9,850 tons (10,010 t) standard, 13,450 tons (13,670 t) full load
Length: 630 ft (190 m)
Beam: 68.25 ft (20.80 m)
Draught: 16.25 ft (4.95 m)
Propulsion: 4 shaft Brown-Curtis geared turbines, 8 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 80,000 shp (60,000 kW).
Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range: 3,100 nautical miles (5,700 km) at 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
13,300 nautical miles (24,600 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
3,400 tons (3,450 t) fuel oil
Complement: 679 (848 at war)
Armament: Original configuration:
8 x BL 8-inch (203.2 mm) Mk VIII guns (4 twin turrets)
4 x QF 4-inch (101.6 mm) Mk V anti-aircraft guns (single mounts)
4 x 3 pdr guns
Armour: Original configuration:
1 to 4 inches (25 to 100 mm) magazine box protection
1.375 inches (34.9 mm) deck
1 inch (25 mm) side-plating, turrets, and bulkheads
4.5 inches (11 cm) belt
4 inches (10 cm) internal boiler room sides (added 1936-1940)
Aircraft carried: 1 aircraft Seagull III, later Walrus

File:HMAS Australia bridge.jpg

View of the bridge and forward turrets of HMASAustralia, September 1944. Captain Emile Dechaineux is in the foreground, wearing a white shirt and facing right.

Shōkaku reached Kure, Japan, on 17 May, almost capsizing en route during a storm due to her battle damage. Zuikaku arrived at Kure on 21 May, having made a brief stop at Truk on 15 May. Acting on signals intelligence, the U.S. placed eight submarines along the projected route of the carriers’ return paths to Japan, but the submarines were not able to make any attacks. Japan’s Naval General Staff estimated that it would take two to three months to repair Shōkaku and replenish the carriers’ air groups. Thus, both carriers would be unable to participate in Yamamoto’s upcoming Midway operation. The two carriers rejoined the Combined Fleet on 14 July and were key participants in subsequent carrier battles against U.S. forces. The five I-class submarines supporting the MO operation were retasked to support an attack on Sydney Harbour three weeks later as part of a campaign to disrupt Allied supply linesEn route to Truk, however, I-28 was torpedoed on 17 May by the U.S. submarine Tautog and sunk with all hands.

Matome Ugaki
February 15, 1890- August 15, 1945 (aged 55)[1]
Ugaki Matome.jpg

Japanese Admiral Matome Ugaki

Place of birth Okayama, OkayamaJapan
Place of death off OkinawaJapan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service 1912-1945
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held YakumoHyūga
1st NGS Division Operations, Chief-of-Staff Combined Fleet, 1st Battleship Division, IJN 5th Air Fleet[2]
Battles/wars World War II
oBattle of Leyte Gulf
oBattle of the Sibuyan Sea
oBattle off Samar


A new type of naval warfare

The battle was the first naval engagement in history in which the participating ships never sighted or fired directly at each other. Instead, manned aircraft acted as the offensive artillery for the ships involved. Thus, the respective commanders were participating in a new type of warfare, carrier-versus-carrier, with which neither had any experience; as a result, both sides made mistakes. In H. P. Willmot’s words, the commanders “had to contend with uncertain and poor communications in situations in which the area of battle had grown far beyond that prescribed by past experience but in which speeds had increased to an even greater extent, thereby compressing decision-making time. Because of the greater speed with which decisions were required, the Japanese were at a disadvantage as Inoue was too far away at Rabaul to effectively direct his naval forces in real time, in contrast to Fletcher who was on-scene with his carriers. The Japanese admirals involved were often slow to communicate important information to each other.

Mitsubishi G3M
Role Medium bomber
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Designed by Kiro Honjo
First flight July 1935
Introduced 1935
Retired 1945
Primary user Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
Number built 1,048

The experienced Japanese carrier aircrews performed better than those of the U.S., achieving greater results with an equivalent number of aircraft. The Japanese attack on the American carriers on 8 May was better coordinated than the U.S. attack on the Japanese carriers. The Japanese suffered much higher losses to their carrier aircrews, however, losing 90 aircrewmen killed in the battle compared with 35 for the Americans. Japan’s cadre of highly skilled carrier aircrews with which it began the war were, in effect, irreplaceable because of an institutionalized limitation in its training programs and the absence of a pool of experienced reserves or advanced training programs for new airmen. Coral Sea started a trend which would result in the irreparable decimation of Japan’s veteran carrier aircrews by the end of October 1942.

File:USS Northampton (CA-26).jpg

USS Northampton (CA-26) at Brisbane, Australia, on 15 August 1941, carrying an early CXAM radar on her mainmast.

USS Northampton (CA-26) the painted-on bow wave gives a false impression of ship’s speed
Career (United States)
Name: USS Northampton (CA-26)
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Corp.’s Fore River Shipyard of Quincy, Mass.
Laid down: 12 April 1928
Launched: 5 September 1929
Commissioned: 17 May 1930
Honors and
Silver-service-star-3d.png Bronze-service-star-3d.png Six battle stars
Fate: Sunk Battle of Tassafaronga on 30 November 1942.
General characteristics
Type: Northampton-class heavy cruiser
Displacement: 9,050 tons
Length: 600 ft 3 in (182.96 m)
Beam: 66 ft 1 in (20.14 m)
Draft: 16 ft 4 in (4.98 m)
  • Parsons turbines
  • 8 × White-Forster boilers
  • 4 × screws
  • 107,000 shp (80,000 kW)
Speed: 32.5 kn (37.4 mph; 60.2 km/h)
  • Total:621
    • Officer:55
    • Enlisted:566
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament: 9 × 8 in (200 mm)/55 cal Mk 10/11 guns (3×3), 4 × 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal Mk 10 guns (4×1), 9 × 21 in (530 mm)torpedo tubes (3×3), 24 × 40 mm/56 cal Mk 1/2 Bofors AA cannons (6×4), 28 × 20 mm/70 cal Mk 2/3/4 Oerlikon AA cannons (28×1)
  • 3 in (76 mm) belt and 1 in (25 mm) deck over machinery
  • 3.75 in (95.25 mm) side and 2 in (51 mm) deck over magazines
  • 1.5 in (38.1 mm) barbettes
  • 2.5 in (63.5 mm) face, 2 in (51 mm) roof, and .75 in (19.05 mm) side and rear on gunhouses
Aircraft carried: 2 × floatplanes

While the Americans did not perform as expected, they did learn from their mistakes in the battle and made improvements to their carrier tactics and equipment, including fighter tactics, strike coordination, torpedo bombers, and defensive strategies, such as anti-aircraft artillery, which contributed to better results in later battles. Radar gave the Americans a limited advantage in this battle, but its value to the U.S. Navy would increase over time as the technology improved and the Allies learned how to employ it more effectively. Following the loss of Lexington, improved methods for containing aviation fuel and better damage control procedures were implemented by the Americans. Coordination between the Allied land-based air forces and the U.S. Navy was poor during this battle, but this too would improve over time.


A May 13, 1942 editorial cartoon from the Japanese English-language newspaperJapan Times & Advertiser depicts a dejected Uncle Sam joining Winston Churchillin erecting grave markers for Allied ships which Japan had sunk, or claimed to have sunk, at Coral Sea and elsewhere.


F4F Wildcat taking off from theUSS Ranger (CV-4) in November, 1942. The CXAM-1 antenna is at the top of the ship’s mast. It is the rectangular object made of wires.

Japanese and U.S. carriers would face off against each other again in the battles ofMidway, the Eastern Solomons, and the Santa Cruz Islands in 1942, and the Philippine Sea in 1944. Each of these battles was strategically significant, to varying degrees, in deciding the course and ultimate outcome of the Pacific War.

File:USS Washington (BB-56) off New York City, August 1942.jpg

USS Washington (BB-56) off New York City, New York, 21 August 1942, with CXAM-1 antenna visible top center.

CXAM radar

The CXAM radar system was the first production radar system deployed on United States Navy ships. It followed several earlier prototype systems, such as the NRL radar installed in April 1937 on the destroyer Leary; its successor, the XAF, installed in December 1938 on the battleship New York; and the first RCA-designed system, the CXZ, installed in December 1938 or January 1939 on the battleship Texas. Based on testing in January 1939, where the XAF was more reliable, the US Navy ordered RCA to build six XAF-based units for deployment and then shortly thereafter ordered 14 more.

The first six units RCA produced (delivered in 1940) were denoted “CXAM” and were a fusion of XAF and CXZ technologies. These were installed on the battleship California, the aircraft carrier Yorktown (in September 1940), and the heavy cruisers Pensacola,NorthamptonChester, and Chicago. The next 14 units RCA produced (also delivered in 1940) were denoted “CXAM-1” and were slight improvements over the CXAM design. These were installed on the battleships Texas (in October 1941), PennsylvaniaWest Virginia,North Carolina, and Washington; on the aircraft carriers LexingtonSaratogaRanger,Enterprise, and Wasp; on the heavy cruiser Augusta; on two light cruisers; and on the seaplane tender Curtiss.

Radar detection range of aircraft depends on altitude, size, and number of aircraft. The CXAM is listed (in U.S. Radar, Operational Characteristics of Radar Classified by Tactical Application) as being able to detect single aircraft at 50 miles and to detect large ships at 14 miles. Other sources list CXAM detection range on aircraft out to 100 miles. Lexington‘s CXAM-1 detected the incoming Japanese carrier aircraft strike at a range of 68 miles during the battle of the Coral Sea.

The US Army’s first non-prototype radar system, the SCR-270 radar, was developed in parallel with the CXAM.

The US Navy’s use of radar was an important advantage in World War II compared to theImperial Japanese Navy‘s lack of widespread use of radar on its ships.

Type 91 torpedo
File:Type 91 torpedo.JPG 

Type 91 torpedoes aboard an aircraft carrier, each lower half was retouched in black to conceal the roll rudders.

Type Aerial torpedo
Place of origin Japan
Service history
In service 1931 – 1945
Used by Imperial Japanese Navy
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Rear Admiral Shoji Naruse and his team
Designed 1930 – 1945
Unit cost 20,000 yen (in the year 1941)
Weight 848 kg (1,870 lb)
Length 5.270 m (17 ft 4 in)
Diameter 45 cm (17-3/4 in)

Maximum range 2,000 m (2,187 yd)
Warhead weight 323.6 kg with high explosive 235kg, (713.4 lb with 518 lb) for Type 91 warhead rev.3

Engine wet-heater type, 8-cylinder radial engine
Wingspan 69 cm (27-1/4 in. in the air), 66 cm (26 in. in the water)
Speed 42 knots (77.8 km/h, 48.3 mile/h)
gyrocompass guided vertical rudder control system, gyroscope guided anti-rolling controller system
single-engine carrier-based attack aircraft, twin-engine land-based attack aircraft

Type 91 torpedo

The Type 91 was an aerial torpedo of the Imperial Japanese Navy which was designed to be launched from an aircraft. It was used in the naval battle of carrier task forces in World War II.

The Type 91 aerial torpedo rev.2 won the admiration of the world. This torpedo had two unique characteristics:

  • Wooden attachments (developed in 1936) on the tail fins, acting as aerodynamic stabilizers, which were to shed away on water entry.
  • An angular acceleration control system (PID controller) to control rolling movements, which was highly advanced and the biggest breakthrough in aerial torpedo development in 1941.

This system made it possible to release the Type 91 not only at a cruising speed of 180 knots (or 333 km/h, 207 mile/h) at an altitude of 20 m (66 ft) in a shallow water military port, but also in a power-glide torpedo-bombing run, at the Nakajima B5N2‘s maximum speed of 204 knots (or 378 km/h, 234 mile/h), into choppy waves of a rather heavy sea.

The Type 91 torpedo had 450 mm (17-3/4 in) diameter. There were five models of body design and five models of warhead design put into service, with warheads from 213.5 kg to 526.0 kg (or 470.7 lb to 1160 lb) of high explosive 149.5 kg to 420.0 kg (or 329.6 lb to 925.9 lb), and effective ranges from 2,000 m to 1,500 m (or 2,187 yd to 1,640 yd) at 42 knots (or 77.8 km/h, 48.3 mile/h).

The Type 91 torpedo was the only one practical aerial torpedo of the Imperial Japan. So it was also known as the Koku Gyorai, or aerial torpedo. Surface warships and submarines used other types of torpedo, namely theType 93 and Type 95 respectively, while the Type 97 torpedo was designed for use by midget submarines.

Armor-piercing shot and shell

An armor-piercing shell is a type of ammunition designed to penetrate armor. From the 1860s to 1950s, a major application of armor-piercing projectiles was to defeat the thick armor carried on many warships. From the 1920s onwards, armor-piercing weapons were required for anti-tank missions.

An armor-piercing shell must withstand the shock of punching through armor plating. Shells designed for this purpose have a greatly strengthened case with a specially hardened and shaped nose, and a much smaller bursting charge. Some smaller-caliber AP shells have an inert filling, or incendiary charge in place of the HE bursting charge. The AP shell is now little used in naval warfare, as modern warships have little or no armor protection,[citation needed] but it remains the preferred round in tank warfare, as it has a greater “first-hit kill” probability than a high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) round, especially against a target with composite armor, and because of higher muzzle velocity, is also more accurate than a HEAT round.

Armor-piercing cartridges are also available as small arms ammunition, primarily for use as an anti-matériel round or to defeat body armor.

Armor piercing shell of the APBC
1 Light weight ballistic cap
2 Steel alloy piercing shell
3 Desensitized bursting charge (TNT,TrinitrophenolRDX…)
4 Fuse (set with delay to explode inside the target)
5 Bourrelet (front) and driving band (rear)

British naval 15-inch capped armor-piercing shell, 1943

Tactical and strategic implications

Both sides publicly claimed victory after the battle. In terms of ships lost, the Japanese won a tactical victory by sinking an American fleet carrier, an oiler, and a destroyer (41,826long tons (42,497 t)) versus a light carrier, a destroyer, and several smaller warships (19,000 long tons (19,000 t)) sunk by the Americans. Lexington represented, at that time, 25% of U.S. carrier strength in the Pacific. The Japanese public was informed of the victory with overstatement of the American damage and understatement of their own.

In strategic terms, however, the Allies won because the seaborne invasion of Port Moresbywas averted, lessening the threat to the supply lines between the U.S. and Australia. Although the withdrawal of Yorktown from the Coral Sea conceded the field, the Japanese were forced to abandon the operation that had initiated the Battle of Coral Sea in the first place.

The battle marked the first time that a Japanese invasion force had been turned back without achieving its objective, which greatly lifted the morale of the Allies after a series of defeats by the Japanese during the initial six months of the Pacific Theater. Port Moresby was vital to Allied strategy and its garrison would most likely have been overwhelmed by the Japanese invasion troops. The Navy, however, also exaggerated the damage it had inflicted, which was to cause the press to treat its reports of Midway with more caution.

The results of the battle had a substantial effect on the strategic planning of both sides. Without a hold in New Guinea, the subsequent Allied advance, arduous though it was, would have been more difficult. For the Japanese, who focused on the tactical results, the battle was seen as merely a temporary setback. The results of the battle confirmed the low opinion held by the Japanese of American fighting capability and supported their belief that future carrier operations against the U.S. were assured of success.[103]


One of the most significant effects of the Coral Sea battle was the loss of Shōkaku and Zuikaku to Yamamoto for his planned showdown with the American carriers at Midway (Shōhō was to have been employed at Midway in a tactical role supporting the Japanese invasion ground forces). The Japanese believed that they had sunk two carriers in the Coral Sea, but this still left at least two more U.S. Navy carriers, Enterprise and Hornet, which could help defend Midway. The aircraft complement of the American carriers was larger than that of their Japanese counterparts, which, when combined with the land-based aircraft at Midway, meant that the Combined Fleet no longer enjoyed a significant numerical aircraft superiority over the Americans for the impending battle. In fact, the Americans would have three carriers to oppose Yamamoto at Midway, because Yorktown remained operational despite the damage from Coral Sea, and the U.S. Navy was able to patch her up sufficiently at Pearl Harbor between 27 and 30 May to allow participation in the battle. At Midway, Yorktown‘s aircraft played crucial roles in sinking two Japanese fleet carriers. Yorktown also absorbed both Japanese aerial counterattacks at Midway which otherwise would have been directed at the two remaining American carriers.

File:G13065 USS Yorktown Pearl Harbor May 1942.jpg

Yorktown in drydock at Pearl Harbor on 29 May 1942, shortly before departing for Midway

In contrast to the strenuous efforts by the Americans to employ the maximum forces available for Midway, the Japanese apparently did not even consider trying to includeZuikaku in the operation. No effort appears to have been made to combine the survivingShōkaku aircrews with Zuikaku‘s air groups or to quickly provide Zuikaku with replacement aircraft so she could participate with the rest of the Combined Fleet at Midway. Shōkaku herself was unable to conduct further aircraft operations, with her flight deck heavily damaged, and she required almost three months of repair in Japan.

Historians H. P. Willmott, Jonathan Parshall, and Anthony Tully consider Yamamoto made a significant strategic error in his decision to support the MO operation. Since Yamamoto had decided the decisive battle with the Americans was to take place at Midway, he should not have diverted any of his important assets, especially fleet carriers, to a secondary operation like MO. Yamamoto’s decision meant Japanese naval forces were weakened just enough at both the Coral Sea and Midway battles to allow the Allies to defeat them in detail. Willmott adds, if either operation was important enough to commit fleet carriers, then all of the Japanese carriers should have been committed to each in order to ensure the success of both. By committing crucial assets to MO, Yamamoto made the more important Midway operation dependent on the secondary operation’s success.

Moreover, Yamamoto apparently missed the other implications of the Coral Sea battle: the unexpected appearance of American carriers in exactly the right place and time to effectively contest the Japanese, and U.S. Navy carrier aircrews demonstrating sufficient skill and determination to do significant damage to the Japanese carrier forces. These would be repeated at Midway, and as a result, Japan lost four fleet carriers, the core of her naval offensive forces, and thereby lost the strategic initiative in the Pacific War. Parshall and Tully point out that, due to American industrial strength, once Japan lost its numerical superiority in carrier forces, which resulted at Midway, Japan could never regain it. Parshall and Tully add, “The Battle of the Coral Sea had provided the first hints that the Japanese high-water mark had been reached, but it was the Battle of Midway that put up the sign for all to see.

Situation in the South Pacific

The Australians and U.S. forces in Australia were initially disappointed with the outcome of the Battle of the Coral Sea, fearing the MOoperation was the precursor to an invasion of the Australian mainland and the setback to Japan was only temporary. In a meeting held in late May, the Australian Advisory War Council described the battle’s result as “rather disappointing” given that the Allies had had advance notice of Japanese intentions. General MacArthur provided Australian Prime Minister John Curtin with his assessment of the battle, stating that “all the elements that have produced disaster in the Western Pacific since the beginning of the war” were still present as Japanese forces could strike anywhere if supported by major elements of the IJN.

File:Kokoda retreat (AWM 013288).jpg

Australian troops defending the approach to Port Moresby along the Kokoda Track in September 1942

Because of the severe losses in carriers at Midway, however, the Japanese were unable to support another attempt to invade Port Moresby from the sea, forcing Japan to try to take Port Moresby by land. Japan began its land offensive towards Port Moresby along theKokoda Track on 21 July from Buna and Gona. By then, the Allies had reinforced New Guinea with additional troops (primarily Australian). The added forces slowed, then eventually halted the Japanese advance towards Port Moresby in September 1942, and defeated an attempt by the Japanese to overpower an Allied base at Milne Bay.

In the meantime, the Allies sought to take advantage of their victories at Coral Sea and Midway by seizing the strategic initiative from Japan. The Allies chose Tulagi and nearby Guadalcanal as the target of their first offensive. The failure of the Japanese to take Port Moresby, and their defeat at Midway, had the effect of dangling their base at Tulagi without effective protection from other Japanese bases. Tulagi was four hours flying time from Rabaul, the nearest large Japanese base.

On 7 August 1942, 11,000 U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal and 3,000 U.S. Marines landed on Tulagi and nearby islands.The Japanese troops on Tulagi and nearby islands were outnumbered and killed almost to the last man in the Battle of Tulagi and Gavutu-Tanambogo while the U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal captured an airfield under construction by the Japanese. Thus began the Guadalcanal and Solomon Islands Campaigns that resulted in a series of attritional, combined-arms battles between Allied and Japanese forces over the next year which, in tandem with the New Guinea campaign, eventually neutralized Japanese defenses in the South Pacific, inflicted irreparable losses on the Japanese military—especially its navy—and contributed significantly to the Allies’ eventual victory over Japan.

Baltic Sea letter in a bottle found 24 years later

Baltic Sea letter in a bottle found 24 years later



MOSCOW – Nearly a quarter-century after a German boy tossed a message in a bottle off a ship in the Baltic Sea, he’s received an answer.

A 13-year-old Russian, Daniil Korotkikh, was walking with his parents on a beach when he saw something glittering lying in the sand.

“I saw that bottle and it looked interesting,” Korotkikh told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “It looked like a German beer bottle with a ceramic plug, and there was a message inside.”

His father, who knows schoolboy German, translated the letter, carefully wrapped in cellophane and sealed by a medical bandage.

It said: “My name is Frank, and I’m five years old. My dad and I are traveling on a ship to Denmark. If you find this letter, please write back to me, and I will write back to you.”

The letter, dated 1987, included an address in the town of Coesfeld.

The boy in the letter, Frank Uesbeck, is now 29. His parents still live at the letter’s address.

“At first I didn’t believe it,” Uesbeck told the AP about getting the response from Korotkikh. In fact, he barely remembered the trip at all; his father actually wrote the letter.

The Russian boy and the German man met each other earlier this month via an Internet video link.

Korotkikh showed Uesbeck the bottle where he found the message and the letter that he put in a frame.

The Russian boy said he does not believe that the bottle actually spent 24 years in the sea: “It would not have survived in the water all that time,” he said.

He believes it had been hidden under the sand where he found it — on the Curonian Spit, a 100-kilometer (60-mile) stretch of sand in Lithuania and Russia.

In the web chat earlier this month, Uesbek gave Korotkikh his new address to write to and promised to write back when he receives his letter.

“He’ll definitely get another letter from me,” the 29-year-old said.

Uesbeck was especially thrilled that he was able to have a positive impact on a life of a young person far away from Germany.

“It’s really a wonderful story,” he said. “And who knows? Perhaps one day we will actually be able to arrange a meeting in person.”


Eddy reported from Berlin.


Military Women Pilots


quimby History tells us that the first licensed woman pilot in the United States was Harriet Quimby in 1911. History forgets to tell us that Katherine Wright, sister of the Wright brothers, had as much to do with the first flight at Kittyhawk as did her brothers. Women flew airplanes before they could vote – but not in the U.S. military!

During WWI Princess Eugenie Shakhovskaya and Princess Sophie Alexandrovna Dolgorunaya were among the first women to become military pilots in Europe and though American women pilots volunteered, none were taken seriously. We all know the story of the gallant WASP pilots – women who flew every airplane made during WWII – including an experimental jet at 350 mph at 35,000 feet, (flown by Ann Baumgartner in 1944) – yet were not considered military pilots until decades later.


Jacqueline Cochran broke the sound barrier in 1953, set speed and altitude records and lobbied for the use of women pilots in the military – to no avail. Civilian women were flying over the North Pole, around the world, and through the sound barrier but until the ’70s the military resisted having women pilots.

The Navy, not the Air Force, took the first step – in 1974 six women earned their wings and became the first Naval aviators. The Army followed suit in 1974 and trained female helicopter pilots.chopper

The Air Force caught up in 1976 and admitted women to the pilot training program. But there was a catch. By virtue of exisiting policies, their flying was limited to non-combat. Military women pilots would not be flying combat missions.
At least not yet.

The first ten female officers to graduate
from Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training
– T-38- Williams AFB, Arizona.
1977. Dept. of Defense Photo.

Although the military finally trained women pilots the services still played games with gender quotas, the pilot slots, combat exclusion laws and the type aircraft women were allowed to fly. From 1976 to 1993 women pilots were kept out of the cockpits of combat aircraft – in actual combat. Even though women aviators flew during Panama, Grenada and Desert Storm their presence was somehow “excluded” from combat records. Not until 1993 were women allowed to fly combat aircraft.

The first woman pilot in the United States flew in 1911 – it took the military 65 years to recognize and train women as pilots and another seventeen years to permit them to invade the sacrosanct area of combat aircraft. Gratefully the tide is turning. An all women Air Force Fly Over team was present at the dedication of the Women’s Memorial in 1997. A female Air Force Colonel – Eileen Collins – was the first woman to command a space shuttle mission in 1999. Air Force B-52’s and Navy Tomcats are being flown by women.
Finally – the sky is not the limit for women in the military!

During Desert Storm the first woman pilot gave her life while flying in a combat zone. Major Marie T. Rossi died at age 32 on March 1, 1991, when the Chinook helicopter she was piloting crashed near her base in northern Saudia Arabia. The unit she commanded was among the very first American units to cross into enemy held territory flying fuel and ammunition to the rapidly advancing 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. Major Rossi is buried in Arlington Cemetery where her simple epitaph there reads “First Female Combat Commander To Fly into Battle.”

Major Marie Rossi
Another of the first American woman to fly in combat in the ’90s was Lt Col.Martha McSally, ranked as the top female Air Force pilot. Lt Col McSally was among the first women trained by the Air Force as a fighter pilot. During a 1995-96 tour of duty in Kuwait, she became the first woman in military history to fly a combat sortie in a fighter aircraft. She also flew more than 100 combat hours on an A-10 Warthog attack plane over Iraq in the mid-1990s, and served as a flight commander and trainer of combat pilots.

Lt Col McSally

In 1993 when Secretary of Defense Les Aspin opened combat aviation to women, including enlisted female aircrew members, allowing women to fly combat missions, opportunities opened even more for women pilots and crew members. With these new opportunities female pilot numbers are increasing steadily with more and more women completing pilot training.

USAF Fighter Pilot Carrie Howell
Today, in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida targets in Afghanistan and Iraq, women are filling aircrew positions as bomber pilots, navigators, tanker pilots, and weapons officers – those who specialize in operating in flight arms – loadmasters, and varied officer and enlisted aircrew positions.

In the 2004 Air Force 19.6 % of the force was female.
*18.2 percent of the officers were women and 20 percent of the enlisted corps was women.
* 60.2 percent of the female officers are line officers; 39.8 percent are non-line.
*The population of women in the Air Force was 73,074.
* Women first began entering pilot training in 1976, fighter pilot training in July 1993 and navigator training in 1977.
*2004 there were 519 (3.8 percent) female pilots and 195 (4.1 percent) female navigators and over 600 enlisted crew members.

Women first began entering pilot training in 1976, fighter pilot training in July 1993 and navigator training in 1977.
Currently – 2005-06 – there are 568 (4.1 percent) female pilots and 210 (4.6 percent) female navigators.

F-15 Pilot’s Story


The 2006 Air Force Thunderbirds team includes first female pilot. Major Nicole Malachowski, of the 494th Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, joins the team as the first female demonstration pilot on any U.S. military high performance jet team.

For a lot more information about women in aviation and space visit some of the following excellent sites:


Major Nicole Malachowski and Major Samantha Weeks

By Chicago, Illinois • April 2, 2008

By Woman Pilot staff writer (

Major Nicole Malachowski

Major Nicole M. E. Malachowski, the first female demonstration pilot on the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds”, performed her first public performance with the team in March 2006. Major Malachowski flies the No. 3 jet as the right wing pilot in the diamond formation.

As a member of the Thunderbirds, she flew F-16 Fighting Falcon and spend over 200 days on the road. Major Nicole Malachowski performed with the Thunderbird team at the Chicago Air and Water Show in August 2007. Her last performance with the Thunderbird team was in November 2007.

A graduate of the Air Force Academy, she has been an Air Force officer for 11 years, a fighter pilot in the F-15E for 8 years, and a pilot with the Thunderbirds for 18 months. She’s married to an F-15E WSO, Her call sign is “FiFi”.

Maj. Nicole Malachowski entered the Air Force in 1996 upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy. She served as an F-15E Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander with the 494th Fighter Squadron in Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. She has logged over than 1,300 hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 1,000 hours in the F-15E. Other aircraft she has flown are: T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-15E, F-16C/D.

Major Nicole Malachowski provided air support over Kosovo in 1998 during the Bosnian/Serb conflict and on Election Day in Iraq. Major Malachowski served four months in Operation Iraqi Freedom –  F-15 Strike Eagle fighter. She is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Major Samantha Weeks

A second female pilot joined the Thunderbird team in June 2007. Major Samantha Weeks flies #6 – opposing solo pilot. Major Weeks is a 1997 graduate of the Air Force Academy. She served with the 12th Fighter Squadron as a flight commander and instructor pilot, flying the F-15C/D “Eagle.” She has flown missions for the 94th Fighter Squadron over Iraq. She flies the F-16 “Fighting Falcon with the Thunderbirds.  She’s from Rome, New York and married to an USAF major, Curtis Weeks.

The President of the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots, Patricia Noyes Prentiss, visited Chicago to watch Nicole and Samantha fly in the Chicago Air and Water Show. Ms. Prentiss and Editor-in-Chief of the 99 News magazine, Bobbi Roe, interviewed the Thunderbird pilots at their staging airport before the air show. Both Thunderbird female pilots are members of the prestigious international association of women pilots with over 5,000 members worldwide.

Women Airforce Service Pilots

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and its predecessor groups the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron(WAFS) (from September 10, 1942) were pioneering organizations of civilian female pilots employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forcesduring World War II. The WFTD and WAFS were combined on August 5, 1943, to create the paramilitary WASP organization. The female pilots of the WASP would end up numbering 1,074, each freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties. The WASP flew over 60 million miles in all, in every type of military aircraft. WASPs were granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

Twenty-five thousand women applied to join the WASP, but only 1,830 were accepted and took the oath, and out of those only 1,074 women passed the training and joined

Elizabeth L. Gardner, WASP, at the controls of a B-26 Marauder

By the summer of 1941, the famous women pilots Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran and test-pilotNancy Harkness Love independently submitted proposals for the use of female pilots in non-combat missions to the US Army Air Forces (USAAF, the predecessor to the United States Air Force or USAF) after the outbreak of World War II in Europe.The motivation was to free male pilots for combat roles by employing qualified female pilots on missions such as ferrying aircraft from factories to military bases, and towing drones and aerial targets. Leading into Pearl Harbor,General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, commander of the USAAF, had turned down both Love’s 1940 proposal and the proposal of the better connected and more famous Cochran despite unsubtle lobbying by Eleanor Roosevelt, but essentially promised command of any such effort to Cochran, should such a force be needed in the future.

Deanie Parish in front of P-47 Thunderbolton the flight line at Tyndall Air Force Base,Florida, in 1944

While the U.S. was not yet fighting in the war, Cochran had gone to England to volunteer to fly for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).The ATA had been using female pilots since January 1940 and was starting to train new ones as well. The American women who flew in the ATA were the first American women to fly military aircraft.[5] They flew the Royal Air Force’s front-line aircraft—SpitfiresTyphoonsHudsonsMitchellsBlenheimsOxfordsWalruses, and Sea Otters—in a non-combat role, but in combat-like conditions. Most of these women served the war in the ATA. In fact, only three members of the ATA returned to the U.S. to participate in the WASP program.


Shirley Slade, WASP trainee—Lifemagazine feature story

The U.S. was building its air power and military presence in anticipation of direct involvement in the conflict and had belatedly begun to drastically expand its men in uniform. This period had led to a dramatic increase in activity for the U.S. Army Air Forces, and there were obvious gaps in “manpower” that could be filled by women. However, it was not until after the attack on Pearl Harbor brought U.S. armed forces into the war that it became evident there were not enough male pilots.

To those most involved within the USAAF, especially in the new Ferrying Division of the Air Transport Command (ATC), the numbers were painfully obvious. Ferrying Division commander Brig. Gen. William H. Tunner, in charge of acquiring civilan ferry pilots, decided to integrate a civilian force of female pilots into the AAF after speaking with a fellow ATC staff officer, Major Robert M. Love and his wife Nancy. Convinced of the feasibility of the program by Mrs. Love, who had a Commercial Pilot Licence, he asked her to draw up a proposal, unaware that Arnold had shelved a similar proposal by Tunner’s superior, Maj. Gen. Robert Olds.

Cochran had committed to go to Great Britain in March 1942 for a trial program of female pilots with the ATA, and used her association with President and Mrs. Roosevelt to lobby Arnold to reject any plan that did not commission women and set up an independent organization commanded by women. Ironically, Tunner’s proposal called for commissioning women in theWAACs, which was turned down after review by Arnold.

By mid-summer of 1942, Arnold was willing to consider the prior proposals seriously. Tunner and Love’s plan was reviewed by ATC headquarters, and forwarded by now-commander Gen. Harold L. George to Arnold, who was fully aware of it and gave it his blessing after Mrs. Roosevelt suggested a similar idea in a newspaper column. The Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron (WAFS), headed by Mrs. Love, went into operation on September 10, 1942. Soon the Air Transport Command began using women to ferry planes from factory to air fields.

Cochran returned to the United States on September 10 as the new organization was being publicized, and immediately confronted Arnold for an explanation. Arnold claimed ignorance and blamed the ATC staff, in particular George’s chief of staff, Col. (and former president ofAmerican AirlinesC. R. Smith. With the publicity involved, the WAFS program could not be reversed, and so on September 15 Cochran’s training proposal was also adopted. Cochran and Love’s squadrons were thereby established separately: as the 319th Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) at Municipal Airport (now Hobby Airport) in Houston, Texas, with Cochran as commanding officer, and the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, 2nd Ferrying Group, at New Castle (Delaware) Army Air Base (now New Castle Airport).

Though rivals, the two programs and their respective leaders operated independently and without acknowledgment of each other until the summer of 1943, when Cochran pushed aggressively for a single entity to control the activity of all women pilots. Although Tunner in particular objected on the basis of differing qualification standards and the absolute necessity of ATC being able to control its own pilots, Cochran’s pre-eminence with Arnold prevailed, and in July 1943 he ordered the programs merged, with Cochran as director. The WAFS and the WFTD combined to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

Initial WASP training

WASP training spanned 19 groups of women including The Originals, or WAFS led by Nancy Love, and The Guinea Pigs—Jacqueline Cochran’s first of 18 classes of women pilots. WASPs were required to complete the same primary, basic, and advanced training courses as male Army Air Corps pilots, and many went on to specialized flight training. There were two Chinese-American women in the WASP, Hazel Ying Lee and Maggie Gee (pilot). Hazel Ying Lee died following a runway collision, but Maggie Gee survived the war. Ola Mildred Rexroat, an Oglala Sioux woman from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, was the only Native American woman in the WASP; she survived the war and later joined the Air Force. All the other members of the WASP were white; no African-Americans were allowed to join the WASP.

The WAFS, each with an average of about 1,400 flying hours and a commercial pilot rating, received 30 days of orientation to learn Army paperwork and to fly by military regulations. Afterward, they were assigned to various ferrying commands.

The Guinea Pigs started training at Houston Municipal Airport on November 16, 1942, as part of the 319th Army Air Force Women’s Flying Training Detachment (AAFWFTD). This was just after the WAFS had started their orientation in Wilmington, Delaware. Unlike the WAFS, the women that reported to Houston did not have uniforms and had to find their own lodging. The “Woofteddies” (WFTD) also had minimal medical care, no life insurance, no crash truck, no fire truck, a loaned ambulance from Ellington, insufficient administrative staff, and a hodgepodge of aircraft—23 types—for training. As late as January 1943, when the third class was about to start their training, the three classes were described by Byrd Granger in On Final Approach as, “a raggle-taggle crowd in a rainbow of rumpled clothing” as they gathered for morning and evening colors.[10]

File:43-3 Jan-1943.jpg

Photo by Lois Hailey, Class of 43-3 in January 1943—start of training

This lack of resources was combined with the foggy and wet Houston weather, which delayed the graduation of the first class from February to April. Conditions included the wet sticky clay soil everywhere, and a scarcity of rest rooms; the potential for morale problems was significant. To minimize this, the Fifinella Gazette was started. The first issue was published February 10, 1943. The female gremlin Fifinella, conceived by Roald Dahl and drawn by Walt Disney, was used as the official WASP mascot and appeared on their shoulder patches.

The first Houston class started with 38 women with a minimum of 200 hours. Twenty-three graduated on April 24, 1943, at the only Houston WASP graduation at Ellington Army Air Field. The second Houston class, starting in December 1942 with a minimum of 100 hours, finished their training just in time to move to Sweetwater and become the first graduating class from Avenger Field on May 28, 1943. The third class completed their advanced training at Avenger Field and graduated July 3, 1943. Half the fourth class, 76 women, started their primary training in Houston on February 15, 1943, and then transferred to Sweetwater.

On March 7, 1943, the Houston classes incurred their first fatality. Margaret Oldenburg of 43-W-4 and her instructor, Norris G. Morgan, crashed seven miles south of Houston and were killed on impact.

By the end of May 1943, the Houston 319th AAFWFTD was history. Later, in the summer of 1943, both the WAFS and WFTD were renamed WASP.

Duties of the WASP

The WASP women pilots each already had a pilot’s license. They were trained to fly “the Army way” by the U.S. Army Air Forces at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. More than 25,000 women applied for WASP service, and fewer than 1,900 were accepted.[12] After completing four months of military flight training, 1,078 of them earned their wings and became the first women to fly American military aircraft. Except for the fact that the women were not training for combat, their course of instruction was essentially the same as that for aviation cadets. The WASPs thus received no gunnery training and very little formation flying and acrobatics, but went through the maneuvers necessary to be able to recover from any position. The percentage of trainees who were eliminated during training compared favorably with the elimination rates for male cadets in the Central Flying Training Command.


Florene Watson preparing a P-51D-5NAfor a ferry flight from the factory atInglewood, California

After training, the WASPs were stationed at 120 air bases across the U.S. assuming numerous flight-related missions, relieving male pilots for combat duty. They flew sixty million miles of operational flights from aircraft factories to ports of embarkation and military training bases, towing targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice and simulated strafing missions, and transporting cargo. Almost every type of aircraft flown by the USAAF during World War II was also flown at some point by women in these roles. In addition, a few exceptionally qualified women were allowed to test rocket-propelled planes, to pilot jet-propelled planes, and to work with radar-controlled targets. Between September 1942 and December 1944, the WASP delivered 12,650 aircraft of 78 different types.

Thirty-eight WASP fliers lost their lives while serving during the war — 11 in training and 27 on active duty, all in accidents. Because they were not considered to be in the military under the existing guidelines, a fallen WASP was sent home at family expense without traditional military honors or note of heroism. The army would not even allow the U.S. flag to be put on fallen WASP pilots’ coffins.

Battle for militarization

The WASP were civil service employees and did not receive military benefits, unlike their male counterparts. On the other hand, they were not administratively tied to the Army Air Forces and could resign at any time after completion of their training, although few if any did.

On 30 September 1943 the first of the WASP militarization bills was introduced in the United States House of Representatives. Both Cochran and Arnold desired a separate corps headed by a woman colonel (similar to the WACWAVESSPAR, and Marine heads). The War Department, however, consistently opposed such a move, since there was no separate corps for male pilots as distinguished from nonrated AAF officers. Instead, it preferred that women be commissioned in the WAC and thus added to some 2,000 “Air WAC” officers already assigned, for whom flying duty was then legally permissible.

On June 21, 1944, the bill in the House to give the WASP military status was narrowly defeated after civilian male pilots, reacting to closure of some civilian flight training schools and termination of two male pilot training commissioning programs, lobbied against the bill. The House Committee on the Civil Service (Ramspeck Committee) reported on June 5, 1944, that it considered the WASP was unnecessary, and unjustifiably expensive, and recommended that the recruiting and training of inexperienced women pilots be halted.

Cochran had been pushing for a resolution of the question, in effect delivering an ultimatum to either commission the women or disband the program. The AAF had developed an excess of pilots and pilot candidates, and as a result, Arnold (who had been a proponent of militarization) ordered that the WASP be disbanded by December 20, 1944.[5] Arnold is quoted from a speech he delivered at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas on December 7, 1944:

The WASP have completed their mission. Their job has been successful. But as is usual in war, the cost has been heavy. Thirty-eight WASP have died while helping their country move toward the moment of final victory. The Air Forces will long remember their service and their final sacrifice.

At the conclusion of the WASP program there were 916 women pilots on duty with the AAF, with 620 assigned to the Training Command, 141 to the Air Transport Command, 133 to the numbered air forces in the Continental United States, 11 to the Weather Wing, 9 to the technical commands, and one to the Troop Carrier Command.


Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying Fortress

Women Airforce Service Pilots Badge

The Women Airforce Service Pilots Badge is a decoration of the United States Army that was issued during the Second World War. The badge created for the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP (not WASPs, because the acronym already includes the plural “Pilots”), was awarded to more than a thousand women who had qualified for employment as civilian, non-combat pilots of military aircraft used by the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII. The first wings were privately and hastily designed and paid for out of the pockets of Floyd Odlum and his wife, Jacqueline Cochran, who in 1942 became the head of WASP.

The first seven classes of WASP flight school graduates in 1943 were issued silver wings with a central shield-shaped escutcheon, with the class number engraved on it. On the scroll above the shield, where the 999th appears, was the squadron number of the Training Command. The first two classes were marked with the 319th, and thereafter the 318th for the remaining five classes in 1943.

Classes graduating in 1944 and thereafter were issued the newly designed official Army Air Forces WASP wings with a diamond-shaped lozenge in the center. Unlike the earlier WASP wing design, with its central shield-shaped escutcheon, the new silver badge conformed to heraldic tradition by incorporating a lozenge centered between two wings. In heraldic usage, a lozenge is the traditional shape of a woman’s coat of arms. It is said to have been selected for its resemblance to the shape of the shield carried by Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, weaving, crafts, and war. This design was used until the deactivation of WASP in December 1944. There were no more WASP wings authorized after that.

Following the 1947 creation of the United States Air Force, the next appearance of women Air Force pilots was in the 1970s, at which time all Air Force pilots were authorized to wear the same wing badge.


Women in the Air Force (WAF) was a United States Air Force program which served to bring women into limited roles in the Air Force. WAF was formed in 1948, when President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, allowing women to serve directly in the military.

WAF was distinct from the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), a small group of female transport pilots that was formed in 1942 with Nancy H. Love as commander. WAFS was folded into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) in 1943; WASP was disbanded in December, 1944

When the USAF was officially formed in 1947, a number of former Women’s Army Corps members (WACs) continued serving in the Army but performed Air Force duties, as the Air Force did not admit women in its first year. Some WACs chose to transfer to the WAFs when it became possible.

At its inception in 1948, WAF was limited to 4,000 enlisted women and 300 female officers. Women were encouraged to fill many different roles but were not to be trained as pilots, even though the United States Army Air Corps had graduated their first class of female pilots in April 1943 under wartime conditions. The WAF directorship was to be filled by a non-pilot. All WAFs were assigned ground duties, most ending up in clerical and medical positions.

Women who were already pilots and who would have been good candidates for WAF leadership were instead diverted to the Air Force Reserves. For example, Nancy Harkness Love, founder and commander of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and executive of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), was awarded the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Reserves in 1948 after it was directed to admit women. Jacqueline Cochran, who had volunteered in the RAF and had demonstrated solid leadership in greatly expanding the WASP program, was similarly directed to join the Reserves in 1948 within which she rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1969. Female pilots in the Reserves were classified as federal civilian employees, not active military personnel.

File:WASP Congressional Gold Medal.jpg

On July 1, 2009 President Barack Obama and the United States Congress awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. Three of the roughly 300 surviving WASPs were on hand to witness the event. During the ceremony President Obama said, “The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since. Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve.” On March 10, 2010, 200 surviving WASPs came to the US Capitol to accept the Congressional Gold Medal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders

File:Madge Moore WASP.JPG

Madge Moore showing the Daedalian Fighter Flight (Nellis AFB, NV) the WASP Congressional Gold Medal she was presented in Washington, D.C.

From Rusia :


For Soviet women aviators, instrumental to this change was Marina Raskova, a famous Russian aviator, often referred  as the ‘Russian Amelia Earhart’. Raskova became a famous aviator as both a pilot and a navigator in the 1930s. She was the first woman to become a navigator in theSoviet Air Force in 1933. Raskova is credited with using her personal connections with Joseph Stalinto convince the military to form three combat regiments for women. The Soviet Union was the first nation to allow women pilots to fly combat missions. These regiments flew a combined total of more than 30,000 combat sorties, produced at least thirty Heroes of the Soviet Union, and included at least two fighter aces. This military unit was initially called Aviation Group 122 while the three regiments received training. After their training, the three regiments received their formal designations as the586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment and the125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment.









History of Peru

History of Peru

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and other sources

The history of Peru spans several millennia. Long before the Incas, there existed peoples who thrived in this territory. About 15,200 years ago, groups of people are believed to have crossed the Bering Straitfrom Asia and survived as nomads, hunting, gathering fruits and vegetables and fishing in the sea, rivers and lakes. Peruvian territory was home to the Norte Chico civilization, one of the six oldest in the world, and to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. It was conquered by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century, which established a Viceroyalty with jurisdiction over most of its South American domains. The nation declared independence from Spain in 1821 but consolidated only after the Battle of Ayacucho, three years later.

History of Peru
Coat of Arms of Peru
This article is part of a series 

By chronology
Ancient civilizations
Inca Empire
Spanish conquest
Peru–Bolivian Confederation
Guano era
War of the Pacific
Ecuadorian-Peruvian war
Internal conflict
By nation
History of the Inca Empire
History of the Viceroyalty of Peru
History of the Republic of Peru
By topic
Demographic history
Economic history

Pre-Columbian cultures

Hunting tools dating back to more than 11,000 years have been found in the caves in Pachacamac, Telarmachay, Junin and Lauricocha. Some of the oldest civilizations appeared circa 6000 BC in the coastal provinces of Chilca and Paracas, and in the highland province of Callejón de Huaylas. Over the following three thousand years, inhabitants switched from nomadic lifestyles to cultivating land, as evidence from sites such as JiskairumokoKotosh, and Huaca Prieta demonstrates. Cultivation of plants such as corn and cotton (Gossypium barbadense) began, as well as the domestication of animals such as the wild ancestors of the llama, the alpaca, and the guinea pig. Inhabitants practiced spinning andknitting of cotton and wool, basketry, and pottery.

Urubamba Valley

Urubamba Valley
Location: Sacred Valley of the Urubamba

As these inhabitants became sedentary, farming allowed them to build settlements and new societies emerged along the coast and in the Andean mountains. The first known city in all of the Americas wasCaral, located in the Supe Valley 200 km north of Lima. It is the oldest city in America and was built in approximately 2500 BC.

What is left from the civilization, also called Norte Chico, are about 30 pyramidical structures built up in receding terraces ending in a flat roof; some of them measured up to 20 meters in height. Caral is one of six world centers of the rise of civilization.

Urubamba Valley

Urubamba Valley
Location: Sacred Valley of the Urubamba

In the early 21st century, archeologists have discovered new evidence of ancient pre-Ceramic complex cultures. In 2005 Tom D. Dillehay and his team announced the discovery of three irrigation canals that were 5400 years old, and a possible fourth that is 6700 years old, all in theZaña Valley in northern Peru, evidence of community activity to support improved agriculture at a much earlier date than previously believed.In 2006, Robert Benfer and a research team discovered a 4200-year-old observatory at Buena Vista, a site in the Andes several kilometers north of present-day Lima. They believe the observatory was related to the society’s reliance on agriculture and understanding the seasons. The site includes the oldest three-dimensional sculptures found thus far in South America. In 2007 the archeologist Walter Alva and his team found a 4000-year-old temple with painted murals at Ventarrón, in the northwest Lambayeque region. The temple contained ceremonial offerings gained from exchange with Peruvian jungle societies, as well as those from the Ecuadoran coast. Such finds show sophisticated, monumental construction requiring large-scale organization of labor, suggesting that hierarchical, complex cultures arose in South America much earlier than scholars had thought.

Nazca line artwork.

Many other civilizations developed and were absorbed by the most powerful ones such as Kotosh,Chavin, Paracas, LimaNascaMocheTiwanakuWariLambayequeChimuChan Chan, andChincha, among others. The Paracas culture emerged on the southern coast around 300 BC. They are known for their use of vicuña fibers instead of just cotton to produce fine textiles—innovations that did not reach the northern coast of Peru until centuries later. Coastal cultures such as theMoche and Nazca flourished from about 100 BC to about 700 CE: the Moche produced impressive metalwork, as well as some of the finest pottery seen in the ancient world, while the Nazca are known for their textiles and the enigmatic Nazca lines.

Andean landscape with glaciers and snow-capped peak
Location: Sacred Valley of the Urubamba

These coastal cultures eventually began to decline as a result of recurring el Niño floods anddroughts. In consequence, the Huari and Tiwanaku, who dwelt inland in the Andes became the predominant cultures of the region encompassing much of modern-day Peru and Bolivia. They were succeeded by powerful city-states, such as ChancaySipan, and Cajamarca, and two empires: Chimor and Chachapoyas culture These cultures developed relatively advanced techniques of cultivation, gold and silver craft, potterymetallurgy, and knitting. Around 700 BC, they appear to have developed systems of social organization that were the precursors of the Incacivilization.

Face formation at Ollantaytambo
The rock face is flanked by granaries which were placed on mountainside to protect against raids
Location: Sacred Valley of the Urubamba

Not all Andean cultures were willing to offer their loyalty to the Incas as the Incas expanded their empire, and many were openly hostile. The people of the Chachapoyas culture were an example of this, but the Inca eventually conquered and integrated them into their empire.

For a breakdown of these cultures by era, see Cultural periods of Peru.

Inca Empire (1438–1532)

The Incas created the largest empire and dynasty of pre-Columbian America. The Tahuantinsuyo—which is derived from Quechua for “The Four United Regions”—reached its greatest extension at the beginning of the 16th century. It dominated a territory that included (from north to south): Ecuador, part of Colombia, the northern half of Chile, and the north-west part of Argentina; and from east to west, from Bolivia to theAmazonian forests and Peru.

Gold art displayed at the Oori Kancha or Temple of the Sun in Cuzco
Now known as the Monastery and Church of Santo Domingo
Location: Cuzco

The empire originated from a tribe based in Cuzco, which became the capital. Pachacutec was the first ruler to considerably expand the boundaries of the Cuzco state. His offspring later ruled an empire by both violent and peaceful conquest.

Andean woman in traditional Quencha attire

Andean woman in traditional Quencha attire
Location: Sacred Valley of the Urubamba

In Cuzco, the royal city was created to resemble a Cougar; the head, the main royal structure, formed what is now known as Sacsayhuaman. The Empire’s administrative, political, and military center was located inCuzco. The empire was divided into four quarters: Chinchasuyo, Antisuyo, Contisuyo, and Collasuyo.

Quechua was the official language, imposed on the citizens. It was the language of a neighbouring tribe of the original tribe of the empire. Conquered populations—tribes, kingdoms, states, and cities—were allowed to practice their own religions and lifestyles, but had to recognize Inca cultural practices as superior to their own. Inti, the sun god, was to be worshipped as one of the most important gods of the empire. His representation on earth was the Inca (“Emperor”).

Smiling mothers with babies on their backs

Smiling mothers with babies on their backs
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

The Tahuantinsuyo was organized in dominions with a stratified society, in which the ruler was the Inca. It was also supported by an economy based on the collective property of the land. In fact, the Inca Empire was conceived like an ambitious and audacious civilizing project, based on a mythical thought, in which the harmony of the relationships between the human being, nature, andgods was truly essential.

Mothers and kids in the Willoq community

Mothers and kids in the Willoq community
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

Many interesting customs were observed, for example the extravagant feast of Inti Raymi which gave thanks to the God Sun, and the young women who were the Virgins of the Sun, sacrificial virgins devoted to the Inti. The empire, being quite large, also had an impressive transportation system of roads to all points of the empire called the Inca Trail, and chasquis, message carriers who relayed information from anywhere in the empire to Cuzco.


Machu Picchu (Quechua: Old Peak; sometimes called the “Lost City of the Incas”) is a well-preserved pre-Columbian Inca ruin located on a high mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley, about 70 km (44 mi) northwest of Cuzco. Elevation measurements vary depending on whether the data refers to the ruin or the extremity of the mountain; Machu Picchu tourist information reports the elevation as 2,350 m (7,711 ft)[1]. Forgotten for centuries by the outside world, although not by locals, it was brought back to international attention by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham III, who rediscovered it in 1911 and wrote a best-selling work about it. Peru is pursuing legal efforts to retrieve thousands of artifacts that Bingham removed from the site.

Smiling Willoq man in Ollantaytambo

Smiling Willoq man in Ollantaytambo
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

Although Machu Picchu is by far the most well-known internationally, Peru boasts many other sites where the modern visitor can see extensive and well-preserved ruins, remnants of the Inca-period and even older constructions. Much of the Inca architecture and stonework found at these sites continues to confound archaeologists. For example, at Sacsayhuaman, in Cuzco, the zig-zag-shaped walls are composed of massive boulders fitted very precisely to one another’s irregular, angular shapes. No mortar holds them together, but nonetheless they have remained absolutely solid through the centuries, surviving earthquakes that flattened many of Cuzco‘s colonial constructions. Damage to the walls visible today was mainly inflicted during battles between the Spanish and the Inca, as well as later, in the colonial era. As Cuzco grew, Sacsayhuaman’s walls were partially dismantled, the site becoming a convenient source of construction materials for the city’s newer inhabitants. Today we not only do not know how these stones were shaped and smoothed, lifted on top of one another (they really are very massive) or fitted together by the Incas; we also don’t know how they got the stones to the site in the first place. The stone used is not native to the area, and most likely came from mountains many miles away.

Conquest of Peru (1532–1572)

When the Spanish landed in 1531, Peru‘s territory was the nucleus of the highly developed Inca civilization. Centered at Cuzco, the Inca Empire extended over a vast region, stretching from northern Ecuador to central Chile.

Ruins of Sacsayhuaman outside of Cuzco

Ruins of Sacsayhuaman outside of Cuzco
Location: Cuzco

Francisco Pizarro and his brothers were attracted by the news of a rich and fabulous kingdom.[13] In 1532, they arrived in the country, which they called Peru. (The formsBiruPirú, and Berú are also seen in early records.) According to Raúl Porras Barrenechea, Peru is not a Quechuan nor Caribbean word, but Indo-Hispanic or hybrid.

Agricultural terraces and rice fields in valley near the Willoq community

Agricultural terraces and rice fields in valley near the Willoq community
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

In the years between 1524 and 1526 smallpox, introduced from Panama and preceding the Spanish conquerors swept through the Inca Empire.[14] The death of the Incan rulerHuayna Capac as well as most of his family including his heir, caused the fall of the Incan political structure and contributed to the civil war between the brothers Atahualpa and Huáscar.[15] Taking advantage of this, Pizarro carried out a coup d’état. On November 16, 1532, while the natives were in a celebration in Cajamarca, the Spanish in a surprise move captured the Inca Atahualpa during the Battle of Cajamarca, causing a great consternation among the natives and conditioning the future course of the fight. When Huascar was killed, the Spanish tried and convicted Atahualpa of the murder, executing him by strangulation.

Inka ruins on way to Machu Picchu

Inka ruins on way to Machu Picchu
Location: Urubamba

For a period, Pizarro maintained the ostensible authority of the Inca, recognizing Tupac Huallpa as the Inca after Atahualpa’s death. But the conqueror’s abuses made this façade too obvious. Spanish domination consolidated itself as successive indigenous rebellions were bloodily repressed. By March 23, 1534, Pizarro and the Spanish had refounded the Inca city of Cuzco as a new Spanish colonial settlement.

Willoq baby

Willoq baby
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

Establishing a stable colonial government was delayed for some time by native revolts and bands of the Conquistadores (led by Pizarro andDiego de Almagro) fighting among themselves. A long civil war developed, from which the Pizarros emerged victorious at the Battle of Las Salinas. In 1541, Pizarro was assassinated by a faction led by Diego de Almagro (El Mozo), and the stability of the original colonial regime was shaken up in the ensuing civil war.

Pizarro and his followers in Lima in 1535

Despite this, the Spaniards did not neglect the colonizing process. Its most significant milestone was the foundation of Lima in January 1535, from which the political and administrative institutions were organized. The new rulers instituted an encomienda system, by which the Spanish extracted tribute from the local population, part of which was forwarded to Seville in return for converting the natives to Christianity. Title to the land itself remained with the king of Spain. As governor of Peru, Pizarro used the encomienda system to grant virtually unlimited authority over groups of native Peruvians to his soldier companions, thus forming the colonial land-tenure structure. The indigenous inhabitants of Peru were now expected to raise Old World cattlepoultry, and crops for their landlords. Resistance was punished severely, giving rise to the “Black Legend“.

Young girl in Willoq community wearing traditional clothing
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

The necessity of consolidating Spanish royal authority over these territories, led to the creation of a Real Audiencia (Royal Audience). The following year, in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru (in Spanish, Virreinato del Perú) was established, with authority over most of Spanish-ruled South America. (ColombiaEcuadorPanamá and Venezuela were split off as the Viceroyalty of New Granada (in Spanish, Virreinato de Nueva Granada) in 1717; and ArgentinaBoliviaParaguay, andUruguay were set up as the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776.)

Willoq boys

Willoq boys
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

In response to the internal strife plaguing the country after Pizarro’s death, Spain finally sentBlasco Núñez Vela to be Peru’s first viceroy in 1544. He was later killed by Pizarro’s brother,Gonzalo Pizarro, but a new viceroy, Pedro de la Gasca, eventually managed to restore order. He captured and executed Gonzalo Pizarro.

Willoq man wearing traditional red clothing

Willoq man wearing traditional red clothing
Location: Willoq community in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru

A census taken by the last Quipucamayoc indicated that there were 12 million inhabitants of Inca Peru; 45 years later, under viceroy Toledo, the census figures amounted to only 1,100,000 Indians. Historian David N. Cook estimates that their population decreased from an estimated 9 million in the 1520s to around 600,000 in 1620 mainly because of infectious diseases.While the attrition was not an organized attempt at genocide, the results were similar. Scholars now believe that, among the various contributing factors, epidemic disease such as smallpox(unlike the Spanish, the Amerindians had no immunity to the disease) was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the American natives. Inca cities were given Spanish Christian names and rebuilt as Spanish towns centered around a plaza with a church or cathedral facing an official residence. A few Inca cities like Cuzco retained native masonry for the foundations of their walls. Other Inca sites, like Huanuco Viejo, were abandoned for cities at lower altitudes more hospitable to the Spanish.

Machu Picchu silhouette

Machu Picchu silhouette
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

Viceroyalty of Peru (1542–1824)

In 1542, the Spanish Crown created the Viceroyalty of Peru, which was reorganized after the arrival of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572. He put an end to the indigenous State ofVilcabamba, executed Tupac Amaru I. He also sought economic development through commercial monopoly and mineral extraction, mainly from the silver mines of Potosí. He reused the Inca mita, a forced labor program, to mobilize native communities for mining work. This organization transformed Peru into the principal source of Spanish wealth and power in South America.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

The town of Lima, founded by Pizarro on January 18, 1535 as the “Ciudad de Reyes” (City of Kings), became the seat of the new viceroyalty. It grew into a powerful city, with jurisdiction over most of Spanish South America. Precious metals passed through Lima on its way to the Isthmus of Panama and from there to Seville, Spain. On the local level, Spanish encomenderos depended on local chieftains (curacas) to control even the most remote settlements, in a rigorous hierarchy. By the 18th century, Lima had become a distinguished and aristocratic colonial capital, seat of a university and the chief Spanish stronghold in the Americas.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

Nevertheless, throughout this period, the Inca were not entirely suppressed. In the eighteenth century alone, there were fourteen large uprisings, the most important of which were that of Juan Santos Atahualpa in 1742, and Sierra Uprising of Tupac Amaru II in 1780.

Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu in background

Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu in background
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

The creation of the Viceroyalties of New Granada and Rio de la Plata (at the expense of its territory), the duty exemptions that moved the commercial center from Lima to Caracas and Buenos Aires, and the decrease of the mining and textile production determined the progressive decay of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

The economic crisis favored the indigenous rebellion from 1780 to 1781. This rebellion was headed by Túpac Amaru II. At this time, theNapoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and the degradation of the Royal power took place. The Creole rebellion of Huánuco arose in 1812 and the rebellion of Cuzco arose between 1814 and 1816. These rebellions defended the liberal principles sanctioned by theConstitution of Cadiz of 1812.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

These events created a favorable climate so that emancipating ideas developed between the Spanish Criollo people throughout the Spanish America. In contrast, the Criollo oligarchy in Perú remained mostly Spain loyalist, which accounts for the fact that the Viceroyalty of Perubecame the last redoubt of the Spanish dominion in South America.

Colonial tapestry, late 17th or early 18th century. It was woven by Indian weavers for a Spanish client, incorporating then-fashionable Chinese imagery.

Republic of Peru

Wars of independence (1810–1824)

Peruvian War of Independence
Part of Spanish American wars of independence
Battle of Ayacucho.jpg
The Battle of Ayacucho
Date 1809-1824
Location Peru and Upper Peru
Result Peru becomes independent of the Spanish monarchy
Army of the North 

United Liberating Army

Pro-Independent Militias

Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Kingdom of Spain
Commanders and leaders
Francisco Antonio de Zela
Victor Valdinario
Mateo Pumacahua
José de San Martín
José de la Riva Agüero
José Bernardo de Tagle
Simón Bolívar
Thomas Cochrane
José Fernando de AbascalJoaquín de la Pezuela
José de la Serna
Pedro Antonio Olañeta
Pro-independence militias
Army of the North
United Liberating Army
Royalist Army


Mateo Pumacahua

Peru’s movement toward independence was launched by an uprising of Spanish-American landowners and their forces, led by José de San Martín of Argentina and Simón Bolívar ofVenezuela. San Martín, who had displaced the royalists of Chile after the Battle of Chacabuco, and who had disembarked in Paracas in 1819, led the military campaign of 4,200 soldiers. The expedition which included warships was organized and financed by Chile which sailed fromValparaiso in August 1820. San Martin proclaimed the independence of Peru in Lima on July 28, 1821, with the words “… From this moment on, Peru is free and independent, by the general will of the people and the justice of its cause that God defends. Long live the homeland! Long live freedom! Long live our independence!“.

Terraces at Machu Picchu

Terraces at Machu Picchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

Still, the situation remained changing and emancipation was only completed by December 1824, when General Antonio José de Sucre defeated Spanish troops at the Battle of Ayacucho. Spain made futile attempts to regain its former colonies, such as at the Battle of Callao, and only in 1879 finally recognized Peruvian independence.

File:La Independencia del Perú.jpg

José de San Martín’s proclamation of the independence of Peru on July 28, 1821 inLima, Peru.

Territorial disputes (1824–1884)

After independence, Peru and its neighbors engaged in intermittent territorial disputes.

A short-lived attempt to reunite Peru and Bolivia was made during the period 1836–1839 when the Peru-Bolivian Confederation came into existence, severe internal opposition led to its demise in the War of the Confederation.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

Peru embarked on a railroad building program. Henry Meiggs built a standard gauge line from Callao across the Andes to the Interior, Huancayo; striking for Cuzco he built the line but also bankrupted the country.

Agricultural terracing at Machupicchu

Agricultural terracing at Machupicchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

In 1879, Peru entered the War of the Pacific which lasted until 1884. Bolivia invoked its alliance with Peru against Chile. The Peruvian Government tried to mediate the dispute by sending a diplomatic team to negotiate with the Chilean government, but the committee concluded that war was inevitable. Chile declared war on April 5, 1879. Almost five years of war ended with the loss of the department of Tarapacá and the provinces of Tacna and Arica, in the Atacama region.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Inca ruins
Location: Machu Picchu

Originally Chile committed to a referendum for the cities of Arica and Tacna to be held years later, in order to self determine their national affiliation. However, Chile refused to apply the Treaty, and both countries could not determine the statutory framework. In an arbitrage that both countries admitted, the USA decided that the plebiscite was impossible to take, therefore, direct negotiations between the parties led to a treaty (Treaty of Lima, 1929), in which Arica was ceded to Chile and Tacna remained in Peru. Tacna returned to Peru on August 29, 1929. The territorial loss and the extensive looting of Peruvian cities by Chilean troops left scars on the country’s relations with Chile that have not yet fully healed.

Andes mountains near Machu Picchu

Andes mountains near Machu Picchu
Location: Machu Picchu Pueblo

Following the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War of 1941, the Rio Protocol sought to formalize the boundary between those two countries. Ongoing boundary disagreements led to a brief war in early 1981 and the Cenepa War in early 1995, but in 1998 the governments of both countries signed a historic peace treaty that clearly demarcated the international boundary between them. In late 1999, the governments of Peru and Chile likewise similarly implemented the last outstanding article of their 1929 border agreement.

Llama at Machu Picchu

Llama at Machu Picchu
Llamas are not naturally found at Machu Picchu.
Location: Machu Picchu

Aristocratic Republic (1884–1930)

After the War of the Pacific, an extraordinary effort of rebuilding began. The government started to initiate a number of social and economic reforms in order to recover from the damage of the war. Political stability was achieved only in the early 1900s.

Machu Picchu viewed from atop Huayna Picchu

Machu Picchu viewed from atop Huayna Picchu
Huayna Picchu means “Young Mountain”
Location: Machu Picchu

In 1894, Nicolás de Piérola, after allying his party with the Civil Party of Peru to organize guerrillas with fighters to occupy Lima, oustedAndrés Avelino Cáceres and once again became president of Peru in 1895. After a brief period in which the military once again controlled the country, civilian rule was permanently established with Pierola’s election in 1895. His second term was successfully completed in 1899 and was marked by his reconstruction of a devastated Peru by initiating fiscal, military, religious, and civil reforms. Until the 1920s, this period was called the “Aristocratic Republic”, since most of the presidents that ruled the country were from the social elite.

Machu Picchu Pueblo along Urubamba river

Machu Picchu Pueblo along Urubamba river
Location: Pueblo at Machu Picchu

During Augusto B. Leguía‘s periods in government (1908–1912 and 1919–1930, the latter known as the “Oncenio” (the “Eleventh”), the entrance of American capital became general and the bourgeoisie was favored. This policy, along with increased dependence on foreign investment, focused opposition from the most progressive sectors of Peruvian society against the landowner oligarchy.

Stranger fig roots wrapped around Kapok tree

Stranger fig roots wrapped around Kapok tree
Location: Manu National Park in the Rainforest of Peru

In 1929, Peru and Chile signed a final peace treaty, the Treaty of Lima by which Tacna returned to Peru and Peru yielded permanently the formerly rich provinces of Arica and Tarapaca, but kept certain rights to the port activities in Arica and decisions of what Chile can do on those territories.

Red-and-green macaws (Ara chloroptera)

Red-and-green macaws (Ara chloroptera)
Location: Manu National Park in the Rainforest of Peru

The alternancy between democracy and militarism (1930–1979)

After the worldwide crisis of 1929, numerous brief governments followed one another. The APRA party had the opportunity to cause system reforms by means of political actions, but it was not successful. This was a nationalistic movement, populist and anti-imperialist, headed byVictor Raul Haya de la Torre in 1924. The Socialist Party of Peru, later the Peruvian Communist Party, was created four years later and it was led by Jose C. Mariategui.

Red-and-green macaws in flight above clay lick

Red-and-green macaws in flight above clay lick
Scientific name: Ara chloroptera Local name: Guacamayo cabezón
Location: Manu National Park in the Rainforest of Peru

Repression was brutal in the early 1930s and tens of thousands of APRA followers (Apristas) were executed or imprisoned. This period was also characterized by a sudden population growth and an increase in urbanization. The last Peruvian census that attempted to classify persons according to ethnicity was in 1940, when 53% of the population was found to be white or mestizo and 46% was found to beindigenous. During World War II, Peru was the first South American nation to align with the United States and its allies against Germany and Japan.

Turniptail Gecko or Turnip-tailed Gecko (Thecadactylus rapicauda) on tree trunk in Peru

Turniptail Gecko or Turnip-tailed Gecko (Thecadactylus rapicauda) on tree trunk in Peru
Location: Manu National Park in the Rainforest of Peru

In the mid-20th century, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre (founder of the APRA), together with José Carlos Mariátegui (leader of the Peruvian Communist Party), were two major forces in Peruvian politics. Ideologically opposed, they both managed to create the first political parties that tackled the social and economic problems of the country. Although Mariátegui died at a young age, Haya de la Torre was twice elected president, but prevented by the military from taking office.

peru35: Cuzco, Peru: old lady with Quechua hat - photo by M.Bergsma - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

peru35: Cuzco, Peru: old lady with Quechua hat – photo by M.Bergsma
this image is part of

President Bustamante y Rivero hoped to create a more democratic government by limiting the power of the military and the oligarchy. Elected with the cooperation of the APRA, conflict soon arose between the President and Haya de la Torre. Without the support of the APRA party, Bustamante y Rivero found his presidency severely limited. The President disbanded his Aprista cabinet and replaced it with a mostly military one. In 1948, Minister Manuel A. Odria and other right-wing elements of the Cabinet urged Bustamante y Rivero to ban the APRA, but when the President refused, Odría resigned his post.

peru133: Cuzco, Peru: people sit on the foundation of Muyucmarca, one of  Sacsayhuaman's three great towers - view of the mountains - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

people sit on the foundation of Muyucmarca, one of Sacsayhuaman’s three great towers – view of the mountains – photo by C.Lovell

In a military coup on October 29, Gen. Manuel A. Odria became the new President. Odría’s presidency was known as the Ochenio. He came down hard on APRA, momentarily pleasing the oligarchy and all others on the right, but followed a populist course that won him great favor with the poor and lower classes. A thriving economy allowed him to indulge in expensive but crowd-pleasing social policies. At the same time, however, civil rights were severely restricted and corruption was rampant throughout his régime.

peru137: Cuzco region, Peru: Quechua girl with her grandmother and llamas- bucolic scene - Peruvian Andes - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

Quechua girl with her grandmother and llamas- bucolic scene – Peruvian Andes – photo by C.Lovell

It was feared that his dictatorship would run indefinitely, so it came as a surprise when Odría allowed new elections. During this time,Fernando Belaúnde Terry started his political career, and led the slate submitted by the National Front of Democratic Youth. After the National Election Board refused to accept his candidacy, he led a massive protest, and the striking image of Belaúnde walking with the flag was featured by newsmagazine Caretas the following day, in an article entitled “Así Nacen Los Lideres” (“Thus Are Leaders Born”). Belaúnde’s 1956 candidacy was ultimately unsuccessful, as the dictatorship-favored right-wing candidacy of Manuel Prado Ugarteche took first place.

peru134: Cuzco region, Peru: Quechua woman with baby – Inca descendents - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

Quechua woman with baby – Inca descendents – photo by C.Lovell

Belaúnde ran for president once again in the National Elections of 1962, this time with his own party, Acción Popular (Popular Action). The results were very tight; he ended in second place, following Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre (APRA), by less than 14,000 votes. Since none of the candidates managed to get the Constitutionally-established minimum of one third of the vote required to win outright, selection of the President should have fallen to Congress; the long-held antagonistic relationship between the military and APRA prompted Haya de la Torre to make a deal with former dictator Odria, who had come in third, which would have resulted in Odria taking the Presidency in a coalition government.

peru136: Cuzco region, Peru: old Quechua man playing guitar - Peruvian Andes - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

old Quechua man playing guitar – Peruvian Andes – photo by C.Lovell

However, widespread allegations of fraud prompted the Peruvian military to depose Prado and install a military junta, led by Ricardo Perez Godoy. Godoy ran a short transitional government and held new elections in 1963, which were won by Belaúnde by a more comfortable but still narrow five percent margin.

Throughout Latin America in the 1960s, communist movements inspired by the Cuban Revolution sought to win power through guerrilla warfare. The Revolutionary Left Movement (Peru), or MIR, launched an insurrection that had been crushed by 1965, but Peru’s internal strife would only accelerate until its climax in the 1990s.

The military has been prominent in Peruvian history. Coups have repeatedly interrupted civilian constitutional government. The most recent period of military rule (1968–1980) began when General Juan Velasco Alvarado overthrew elected President Fernando Belaúnde Terry of thePopular Action Party (AP). As part of what has been called the “first phase” of the military government’s nationalist program, Velasco undertook an extensive agrarian reform program and nationalized the fish meal industry, some petroleum companies, and several banks and mining firms.

peru58:  Cuzco, Peru: the city and the surrounding hills - photo by J.Fekete - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

the city and the surrounding hills – photo by J.Fekete

General Francisco Morales Bermúdez replaced Velasco in 1975, citing Velasco’s economic mismanagement and deteriorating health. Morales Bermúdez moved the revolution into a more conservative “second phase,” tempering the radical measures of the first phase and beginning the task of restoring the country’s economy. A Constitutional Assembly was created in 1979, which was led by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre. Morales Bermúdez presided over the return to civilian government in accordance with a new constitution drawn up in 1979.

peru130: Cuzco, Peru: the beautiful tile roofs of the Andean city of Cuzco - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

the beautiful tile roofs of the Andean city of Cuzco – photo by C.Lovell

Democratic restoration and elections (1979–present day)

During the 1980s, cultivation of illicit coca was established in large areas on the eastern Andean slope. Rural insurgent movements, like theShining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) increased during this time and derived significant financial support from alliances with the narcotraffickers, leading to the Internal conflict in Peru.

peru32: Cuzco, Peru: roof decoration - bulls - photo by M.Bergsma - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

roof decoration – bulls – photo by M.Bergsma

In the May 1980 elections, President Fernando Belaúnde Terry was returned to office by a strong plurality. One of his first actions as President was the return of several newspapers to their respective owners. In this way, freedom of speech once again played an important part in Peruvian politics. Gradually, he also attempted to undo some of the most radical effects of the Agrarian Reform initiated by Velasco, and reversed the independent stance that the Military Government of Velasco had with the United States.

peru14: Cusco, Peru: Monstrance of La Merced church - Ostensoir - Monstranz - custodia - photo by J.Fekete - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

Monstrance of La Merced church – Ostensoir – Monstranz – custodia – photo by J.Fekete

Belaúnde’s second term was also marked by the unconditional support for Argentine forces during the Falklands War with the United Kingdom in 1982. Belaúnde declared that “Peru was ready to support Argentina with all the resources it needed.” This included a number of fighter planes and possibly personnel from the Peruvian Air Force, as well as ships, and medical teams. Belaunde’s government proposed a peace settlement between the two countries, but it was rejected by both sides, as both claimed undiluted sovereignty of the territory. In response to Chile‘s support of the UK, Belaúnde called for Latin American unity.

peru45: Cuzco, Peru: Cathedral of Santo Domingo, side entrance - Unesco world heritage site - photo by J.Fekete - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

.Cathedral of Santo Domingo, side entrance – Unesco world heritage site -photo by J.Fekete

The nagging economic problems left over from the previous military government persisted, worsened by an occurrence of the “El Niño” weather phenomenon in 1982–83, which caused widespread flooding in some parts of the country, severe droughts in others, and decimated the schools of ocean fish that are one of the country’s major resources. After a promising beginning, Belaúnde’s popularity eroded under the stress of inflation, economic hardship, and terrorism.

peru13: Cusco, Peru: Cathedral of Santo Domingo, built over the ruins of the Inca Viracocha's palace - photo by J.Fekete - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

Cathedral of Santo Domingo, built over the ruins of the Inca Viracocha’s palace – photo by J.Fekete

In 1985, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) won the presidential election, bringing Alan García to office. The transfer of the presidency from Belaúnde to García on July 28, 1985, was Peru’s first exchange of power from one democratically elected leader to another for the first time in 40 years.

peru132: Cuzco, Peru: llama in the city, near market stalls - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

llama in the city, near market stalls – photo by C.Lovell

With a parliamentary majority for the first time in APRA’s history, Alan García started his administration with hopes for a better future. However, economic mismanagement led to hyperinflation from 1988 to 1990. García’s term in office was marked by bouts of hyperinflation, which reached 7,649% in 1990 and had a cumulative total of 2,200,200% between July 1985 and July 1990, thereby profoundly destabilizing the Peruvian economy.

peru127: Cuzco region, Peru: old hacienda house, built on a foundation of Inca stone work - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

old hacienda house, built on a foundation of Inca stone work – photo by C.Lovell

Owing to such chronic inflation, the Peruvian currency, the sol, was replaced by the Inti in mid-1985, which itself was replaced the nuevo sol(“new sun”) in July 1991, at which time the new sol had a cumulative value of one billion old soles. During his administration, the per capita annual income of Peruvians fell to $720 (below the level of 1960) and Peru’s Gross Domestic Product dropped 20%. By the end of his term, national reserves were a negative $900 million.

peru36: Cuzco, Peru: La Compañia church - Spanish splendour for the ancient Inca capital - Plaza de Armas - Unesco world heritage site - photo by J.Fekete - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

La Compañia church – Spanish splendour for the ancient Inca capital – Plaza de Armas – Unesco world heritage site – photo by J.Fekete

The economic turbulence of the time acerbated social tensions in Peru and partly contributed to the rise of the violent rebel movementShining Path. The García administration unsuccessfully sought a military solution to the growing terrorism, committing human rights violations which are still under investigation.

peru5: Cuzco, Peru: La Compañia Church was built by the Jesuits on the Plaza de Armas – it stands over the foundations of Huayana Capac’s palace - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

La Compañia Church was built by the Jesuits on the Plaza de Armas – it stands over the foundations of Huayana Capac’s palace – photo by C.Lovell

Concerned about the economy, the increasing terrorist threat from Sendero Luminoso and MRTA, and allegations of official corruption, voters chose a relatively unknown mathematician-turned-politician, Alberto Fujimori, as president in 1990. The first round of the election was won by well-known writer Mario Vargas Llosa, a conservative candidate who went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010, but Fujimori defeated him in the second round. Fujimori implemented drastic measures that caused inflation to drop from 7,650% in 1990 to 139% in 1991. Faced with opposition to his reform efforts, Fujimori dissolved Congress in the auto-golpe of April 5, 1992. He then revised the constitution; called new congressional elections; and implemented substantial economic reform, including privatization of numerous state-owned companies, creation of an investment-friendly climate, and sound management of the economy.

peru15: Cuzco region, Peru: Quechua girl with hat - photo by J.Fekete - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

Quechua girl with hat – photo by J.Fekete

Fujimori’s administration was dogged by several insurgent groups, most notably Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), which carried on a terrorist campaign in the countryside throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He cracked down on the insurgents and was successful in largely quelling them by the late 1990s, but the fight was marred by atrocities committed by the both Peruvian security forces and the insurgents: the Barrios Altos massacre and La Cantuta massacre by Government paramilitary groups, and the bombings of Tarata and Frecuencia Latinaby Shining Path. Those examples subsequently came to be seen as symbols of the human rights violations committed during the last years of violence. With the capture of Abimael Guzmán (known as President Gonzalo) in September 1992, the Shining Path received a severe blow which practically destroyed the organization.

peru197: Urcos, Quispicanchi province, Cuzco region, Peru: monument to Tupac Amaru II and the rebels of the failed Indian uprising of 1781 - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

monument to Tupac Amaru II and the rebels of the failed Indian uprising of 1781 – photo by C.Lovell

In December 1996, a group of insurgents belonging to the MRTA took over the Japanese embassy in Lima, taking 72 people hostage. Military commandos stormed the embassy compound in May 1997, which resulted in the death of all 15 hostage takers, one hostage, and 2 commandos. It later emerged, however, that Fujimori’s security chief Vladimiro Montesinos may have ordered the killing of at least eight of the rebels after they surrendered.

peru131: Qenko, Cuzco region, Peru: a carved rock monolith dominates the Inca shrine - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

a carved rock monolith dominates the Inca shrine – photo by C.Lovell

Fujimori’s constitutionally questionable decision to seek a third term and subsequent tainted victory in June 2000 brought political and economic turmoil. A bribery scandal that broke just weeks after he took office in July forced Fujimori to call new elections in which he would not run. The scandal involved Vladimiro Montesinos, who was shown in a video broadcast on TV bribing a politician to change sides. Montesinos subsequently emerged as the center a vast web of illegal activities, including embezzlement, graft, drug trafficking, as well as human rights violations committed during the war against Sendero Luminoso.

peru6: Cuzco, Peru: Cyclopean walls of Sacsahuaman - megalithic walls - earthquake-proof due to the polygonal style of construction - photo by M.Bergsma - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

Cyclopean walls of Sacsahuaman – megalithic walls – earthquake-proof due to the polygonal style of construction – photo by M.Bergsma

In November 2000, Fujimori resigned from office and went to Japan in self-imposed exile, avoiding prosecution for human rights violations and corruption charges by the new Peruvian authorities. His main intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, fled Peru shortly afterwards. Authorities in Venezuela arrested him in Caracas in June 2001 and turned him over to Peruvian authorities; he is now imprisoned and charged with acts of corruption and human rights violations committed during Fujimori’s administration.

peru128: Cuzco, Peru: the ruins of Sacsayhuaman incorporate some of the largest stones ever used by the Inca - main battlements - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

the ruins of Sacsayhuaman incorporate some of the largest stones ever used by the Inca – main battlements – photo by C.Lovell

A caretaker government presided over by Valentín Paniagua took on the responsibility of conducting new presidential and congressional elections. The elections were held in April 2001; observers considered them to be free and fair. Alejandro Toledo (who led the opposition against Fujimori) defeated former President Alan García.

peru18: Peru - Cusco: Cyclopean walls of Sacsahuaman - ruins - photo by J.Fekete - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

Cyclopean walls of Sacsahuaman – ruins – photo by J.Fekete

The newly elected government took office on July 28, 2001. The Toledo Administration managed to restore some degree of democracy to Peru following the authoritarianism and corruption that plagued both the Fujimori and García governments. Innocents wrongfully tried by military courts during the war against terrorism (1980–2000) were allowed to receive new trials in civilian courts.

peru129: Cuzco, Peru: doorway at the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuamán which form the puma head portion of Cuzco - photo by C.Lovell - (c) - Stock Photography agency - Image Bank

doorway at the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuamán which form the puma head portion of Cuzco – photo by C.Lovell

On August 28, 2003, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), which had been charged with studying the roots of the violence of the 1980–2000 period, presented its formal report to the President.

President Toledo was forced to make a number of cabinet changes, mostly in response to personal scandals. Toledo’s governing coalition had a minority of seats in Congress and had to negotiate on an ad hoc basis with other parties to form majorities on legislative proposals. Toledo’s popularity in the polls suffered throughout the last years of his regime, due in part to family scandals and in part to dissatisfaction amongst workers with their share of benefits from Peru’s macroeconomic success. After strikes by teachers and agricultural producers led to nationwide road blockages in May 2003, Toledo declared a state of emergency that suspended some civil liberties and gave the military power to enforce order in 12 regions. The state of emergency was later reduced to only the few areas where the Shining Path was operating.

On July 28, 2006 former president Alan García became the current President of Peru. He won the 2006 elections after winning in a runoff against Ollanta Humala.

In May 2008, President García was a signatory to the The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations. Peru has ratified the treaty.

Battle of Ayacucho

Battle of Ayacucho
Part of Peruvian War of Independence
File:Battle of Ayacucho.jpg
The Battle of Ayacucho.
Date 9 December 1824
Location Quinua, PeruHuamanga ProvinceLocation of the province Huamanga in Ayacucho.svg
Result Decisive Independentist Victory
Capitulation of the Royalist Army
End of Spanish rule in South America
Flag of Peru (1822 - 1825).svg Republic of Perú 

Spain Spain 

Commanders and leaders
Bandera de Angostura (20 de noviembre de 1817).svg Antonio José de Sucre Spain Viceroy La Serna
Spain José de Canterac
United Liberation Army [5]Total: 5780[6]-8500[7]men 

Royalist Army [9]Total: 6906-9310 men [10] 

Casualties and losses
979 2,100 killed or captured
3,500 prisoners

The Battle of Ayacucho (Spanish pronunciation: [aʝaˈkutʃo]) was a decisive military encounter during the Peruvian War of Independence. It was the battle that sealed the independence of Peru, as well as the victory that ensured independence for the rest of South America. It is thus also considered the end of the Spanish American wars of independence.

As of late 1824, Royalists still had control of most of the south of Peru as well as ofReal Felipe Fort in the port of Callao. On December 9, 1824, the Battle of Ayacucho, or Battle of La Quinua, took place at Pampa de La Quinua, a few kilometers away from Ayacucho, near the town of Quinua between Royalist and Independentistforces. Independentist forces were led by Antonio José de SucreSimón Bolívar‘s lieutenant. Viceroy José de la Serna was wounded, and after the battle second commander-in-chief José de Canterac signed the final capitulation of the Royalist army.

The modern Peruvian Army celebrates the anniversary of this battle.


In 1820, Spain began what would shortly become a political disaster. An expedition of 20,000 soldiers waiting to be sent to Río de la Plata to help the royalists of America revolted under the encouragement of General Rafael Riego. In the subsequent weeks the revolt spread and King Ferdinand VII was forced to restore the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812, which he had suppressed six years earlier. This event ended Spain’s ability to send reinforcements to America, which in turn eventually forced the royalist armies of the viceroyalties of Peru and New Spain (today’s Mexico), which had contained the Spanish American revolution so far, to deal with the patriot forces on their own. The royalists in each viceroyalty, however, took different paths.

In New Spain, royalists, after defeating the insurgents, proclaimed a negotiated separation from Liberal Spain through the Plan of Iguala, which they negotiated with the remaining patriots, and the Treaty of Córdoba, which they negotiated with the new head of government, Juan O’Donojú. In Peru Viceroy Joaquín de la Pezuela was discredited after a royalist expedition to Chile under Mariano Osorio was defeated and advances in Peru were made by José de San Martín. The viceroy was overthrown on January 29, 1821, in Aznapuquio in a coup by General José de la Serna, who proclaimed his adhesion to the restored Spanish Constitution.

The independentists started the new year with a promising victory. At Cerro de Pasco they defeated a Peruvian royalist army commanded by Viceroy La Serna. But royalists had a solid military training. Their first victory came against the independentist army commanded by Domingo Tristán and Agustín Gamarra in campaigns in the Ica Region. A year later, San Martin had withdrawn from the scene after the Interview of Guayaquil and royalist forces had smashed Rudecindo Alvarado‘s Liberating Expedition in campaigns in Torata and Moquegua. The year 1823 ended with the La Serna destroying another patriot army commanded byAndrés de Santa Cruz and Agustín Gamarra in yet another open campaign in Puno, which started with the Battle of Zepita and the resulted in the occupation of La Pazon August 8. After scattering Santa Cruz’s isolated troops. La Serna retrievedArequipa after beating Antonio José de Sucre‘s Gran Colombian force on October 10. Sucre decided to evacuated the Gran Colombian troops, set sailing on October 10, 1823, saving himself and his troops, although losing the best of his cavalry. Viceroy La Serna ended the campaign after reaching Oruro in Upper Peru.

On the political front, the last remnants of optimism among patriots faded away with accusations of treason against Peruvian presidents José de la Riva Agüero and José Bernardo de Tagle. Riva Agüero deported deputies of the Peruvian Congress and organized another congress inTrujillo. After being found guilty of high treason by the Peru Congress  he was banished to Chile. This act, in turn, was considered by Simón Bolívar as treasonous. Tagle, who had arranged that all armies under his command supported Bolívar against the royalist enemy, was now searched by Bolívar was looking to capture and execute him. Tagle took shelter with the royalists in the fortress of Callao, which was under siege.

Nevertheless, by the end of 1823, the situation had started to become critical for those who defended the king’s cause. In spite of the impressive military triumphs, Bolívar’s request for reinforcements from Colombia made him a threat to the royalist army. Both sides prepared for the confrontation they knew was coming:

Viceroy la Serna for his part, without direct communications with the Peninsula, with the most sad news of the state of the Metropolis [Spain] […] and reduced to its own and exclusive resources, but nobly trusting in his subordinates’ decision, union, loyalty and fortune, hurried the reorganization of his troops and prepared for the fight with the giant of Costafirme [Venezuela] that he saw coming soon. Another triumph for Spanish armies in that situation would make the Castilian flag wave again with unmatchable glory even to Ecuador; but another fate was already irrevocably written in the books of destiny.

1824 Events

Buenos Aires Truce and Callao Revolt

Historian Rufino Blanco Fombona says that “Still in 1824 Bernardino Rivadavia makes a pact with Spanish, obstructing Ayacucho Campaign”:on July 4, 1823, Buenos Aires made a truce with Spanish commissionaires (Preliminary Peace Convention (1823)) that forced it to send negotiators to other South American governments so that it could had effect. It was stipulated that hostilities would cease after 60 days after its ratification and would subsist over a year and half; meanwhile, a definitive peace and friendship would be negotiated. This was the reason for which they had a meeting in Salta Juan Gregorio de Las Heras city with brigadier Baldomero Espartero, obtaining no agreement. Among other measures taken by the viceroy for containing the imminent rebellion, on January 10, 1824 Casimiro Olañeta was ordered:

I warn Your Excellency that you should not arrange any expedition in any direction over down provinces without my express order because, besides they are having a meeting in Salta trying to negotiate, General Las Heras on Government of Buenos Aires’ side and Brigadier Espartero on this superior Government’s side (…)

Rivadavia believed that the project would establish peace and stopped authority’s efforts of Salta over Upper Peru, refusing assistance and withdrawing advanced posts, in detriment of the cause of Peru.

In that matter, the Irish historian, of military origin, Daniel Florencio O’Leary was of the opinion that with that that truce “Buenos Aires has implicitly withdrawn from the struggle”, and that “Buenos Aires Government pacts with the Spanish, on detriment of the American cause”.

On January 1, 1824, Bolívar fell terribly ill in Pativilca. At that time, Félix Álzaga, plenipotentiary minister of Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata arrived to Lima, in order to request Peru its adhesion to the truce, which was rejected by the Peruvian Congress. Nevertheless, since February 4, 1824 the quarters of Callao rioted, having the whole Argentinian infantry of the Libertor Expedition, together with some Chilean, Peruvians and Colombians: nearly 2000 men that in addition went over to the royalists , raising the Spanish pavilion and handing over the fortresses of Callao. The mounted grenadier regiment of the Andes also revolted in Lurin on February 14: two squadrons went over to the Callao to join the riot, but when they noticed that they had joined the royalists, a hundred of them with regiment bosses went to Lima to join. The unit was then reorganized by General Mariano Necochea. On the verge of such events, the minister of Colombia, Joaquín Mosquera “fearing the ruin of our army” asked:«And what do you plan to do now?», and Bolívar, in a decided, answered:

—Simón Bolívar, Pativilca, 1824.

The Site of El Callao extended the war until 1826, and immediately resulted in the occupation of Lima Canterac, and it is said that, on May 1824, with a military action against Bolívar “they would have given the final blow to independence in this part of America”

Olañeta’s Rebellion

Surprisingly, at the start of year 1824, the entire royalist army of Upper Peru (today’s Bolivia) rioted led by Pedro Antonio Olañeta a royalist against the viceroy of Peru (a liberal), after receiving news that the Constitutional Government had fallen in Spain. Indeed, the monarchFerdinand VII of Spain and his absolutists followers recovered the government, supported by 132,000 French soldiers from the Holy Alliancearmy, which will occupy Spain until 1830. Rafael del Riego was hanged out on November 7, 1823 and the people of the liberal movement were executed, outcast or exiled from Spain. On October 1, 1823, the monarch decreed the abolition of everything approved during the last three years of constitutional government, which annulled the designation of La Serna as viceroy of Peru. The scope of the purge over the constitutionals of Vice-royalty Peru seemed infallible.

Olañeta ordered the attack of the Upper Peruvian royalists against the constitutionals of Peruvian viceroyalty.[23]La Serna changed his plans of going down to the coast to fight Bolívar, and sent Jerónimo Valdés with a force of 5000 veteran to cross the river River Desaguadero, which took place on January 22, 1824, in order to drive them toPotosí against his former subordinate, “because there are indications of a meditated treason, joining the dissidents of Buenos Aires”. Memorias para la historia de las armas españolas en el Perú (“Memories for the history of the Spanish armies in Peru”) from peninsular official Andrés García Camba (1846) detail the overturning that the incidents in Upper Peru produced in defensive plans of the viceroy. After a long campaign in the battles of Tarabuquillo, Sala, Cotagaita, and finally La Lava on August 17 of year 1824, both royalists forces of Viceroyalty Peru (liberals) and of the provinces of Upper Peru (absolutists), were mutually decimated.

Bolivar, having news of Olañeta, took advantage of the dismounting of the royalist defensive system so that he “moved the whole month of May to Jauja”, and face José de Canterac isolated in Junín on August 6 of 1824. And so, a non-stop persecution started with the consequent desertion of 2700 royalists, which immediately went over to the independentists lines. Finally, October 7 of 1824, having his troops right in front of the doors of Cuzco, Bolívar gave general Sucre the command of the new battle front, which followed the course of the Apuríma River, and he withdraw to Lima in order to take from the capital more loans to keep the war going in Peru, and to receive a Colombian division of 4000 men given up by Páez which would arrive after Ayacucho.

Ayacucho campaign


Grand Marshal of AyacuchoAntonio José de Sucre.

The defeat of the expeditionary force of Canterac, forced La Serna to bring Jerónimo Valdés from Potosí, who came with forced marched with his soldiers. Gathered the royalist generals, and in spite of the signs of sincere adhesion of Cusco, the viceroy rejected a direct assault because of the lack of instruction of his army, enlarged by the massive return of peasants a few weeks earlier. On the contrary, he intended to cut Sucre’s rearguard through march and countermand maneuvers, which happen since Cusco to the encounter in Ayacucho, along the Andean range. Thereby, the royalists planned a quick strike which they made on December 3 in battle of Corpahuaico or Matará, where they caused the liberator army more than 500 casualties sand the loss of a big part of ammunition and artillery, having lost only 30 men. However, Sucre and his assistant managed to keep the troop organized and prevented the viceroy from exploiting this local success. Although having suffered important losses of men and material, Sucre kept the United Army in an ordered fall back, and always situated in assured positions of difficult access, like Quinoa field.

Another book of memories, In the service of the Republic of Peru, from general Guillermo Miller, offers the vision of the independentists. Besides Bolívar’s and Sucre’s talents, the United Army seeded from an important part of the century’s military experience: the Rifles battalion of the army of Colombia was composed of European mercenary troops, which were mostly British volunteers. This unit was substantially damaged in Corpahuico. Among its ranks, there were also veterans from the Spanish Independence, the North American Independence, and from the Spanish American Wars; there were even cases like the German Major Carlos Sowersby, veteran from the Battle of Borodino against Napoleón Bonaparte in Russia in 1812.

The royalists had had consumed their resources in a war of movements without achieving a decisive victory against the liberator army. Because of the extremely hard conditions of a campaign in the Andine range, both armies felt in numbers the effects of disease and desertion, which affected the independents as well as the armies lacking of military training and the armies made up by enemy prisoners. The royalists chiefs had positioned themselves in the heights of Condorcunca (which means condor’s neck in Quechua). This was a good defensive position but one which they couldn’t hold for long given they had food supplies for less than five days, which would mean the dispersion of the army and certain defeat under the close arrival of Columbian reinforcement. The army was impelled to make a desperate decision: the Battle of Ayacucho was about to begin.

Battle disposition

There is a debate regarding the numbers of fighters, but there must be taken into account that both armies started with similar forces (8500 independents vs, 9310 royalists) that were diminished during the next weeks until the very day of the battle (5780 independentists vs. 6906 loyals) because of the reasons exposed so far.


Battle of Ayacucho

United Liberation Army

Before the battle beginning, general Sucre harangued his troops:

“Soldiers, South America’s luck depends on today’s efforts; another day of glory will crown your admirable. Soldiers, Long live the Liberator! Long live Bolívar, the Savior of Peru!.”
Antonio José de Sucre
Our line formed an angle; the right, composed by the battalions of Bogotá, Boltijeros, Pichincha and Caracas, of the first division of Colombia, under command of senior general Córdova. The left, by the battalions 1.° 2.° 3.° and the Peruvian legion, with the hussars of Junin, under senior general La Mar. On the center, the grenadiers and hussars of Colombia, with general Miller; and in reserve the Rifles, Vencedor and Bargas Batalions, of the first division of Colombia, under command of senior general Lara.
Parte de la batalla de Ayacucho

Marshal Sucre doesn’t mention in this part the Mounted Grenadiers of Río de la Plata. General Miller in his Memoirs of General Miller: in the service of the republic of Peru offers the full composition of the armies under Sucre:

Cordova Division (on the right): Bogota, Caracas, Voltigeur Regiment, Pichincha.
Miller Cavalry(in the centre): Junin Hussars, Colombia Grenadiers, Colombian Hussars, Buenos Ayres Grenadiers cavalry regiments.
La Mar Division (on the left): Peruvian Legion, N° 1, 2, N° 3 infantry battalions.
Lara Division (in reserve): Vargas, Vencedores, Rifle Regiment.[26] 

Miller’s assertion regarding that the Junín Hussars were in his division[27] contradicts what Sucre says in the part.
Royalist Army of Perú

The Spanish quickly moved their troops down, getting to the gaps to our left the battalions Cantabria, Centro, Castro, 1° Imperial and two Hussar squadrons with a six pieces battery, strengthing too much the attack on that zone. On the center, formed the battalions Burgos, Infante, Victoria, Guias and 2° of the first Regiment, supporting the left of these ones with the three squadrons of the Union, San Carlos, the four of the Guards Grenadiers and the five pieces of artillery already situated; and over the heights to our left the battalions 1 and 2 of Gerona, 2° Imperial, 1° of the first Regiment, Fernandinos, and the squadron of Viceroy’s Alaberderos Grenadiers.[25]



Croquis de la batalla de Ayacucho.[28]
A. Royalists positions in the night from 8 to 9
B. Preparatory maneuver for the royalist attack
C. MMarch of battalions under colonel Rubín de Celis
D. Maneuver and attack of Monet division
E. Attack of Valdés’ vanguard over the house occupied by the independentists
F. Charge of royalist cavalry
M. and dispersion of Gerona battalions by the royalist reserve
K. Battalion Ferdinand VII, last royalist reserve

The mechanism organized by Canterac foresaw that the vanguard division surrounded, alone, the enemy gathering, crossing Pampas river in order to secure the units to the left of Sucre. While the rest of the royalist army descended frontally from the hill Condorcunca, abandoning his defensive positions and charging against the main body of the enemy, which he expected to find disorganized, there was stay in reserve the battalions Gerona and Ferdinand VII disposed in second line to be sent wherever they were required.

Sucre immediately realized the risky maneuver, which became clear as the royalists found themselves in a slope, without chances of covering their movements. Córdova Division, supported by Miller’s Cavalry, stroked directly the disorganized bulk of royalist troops that were incapable of forming for battle and descended in lines from the mountains; it was right before starting this attack that general José María Córdova pronounced his famous phrase “Division, armas a discreción, de frente, paso de vencedores” (Division, discredit arms, on the pace of the victorious, Forward!) Colonel Joaquín Rubín de Celis, who commanded the first royalist regiment had to protect the artillery emplacement, which was still loaded in its mules, moved forward carelessly into the plain where his unit was smashed and he himself was killed during the attack of the Córdova’s division, whose effective fire on the lines formations pushed the scattered shooters of Villalobos’.

Seeing the misfortune suffered by his left, general Monet, without waiting for his cavalry to form in the plain, crossed the ravine and he led his division against Cordova’s, managing to form in battle two of his battalions but, suddenly attacked by the independents division, he was surrounded before the rest of his troops could also form in battle; during these events Monet was hurt and three of his chiefs killed; the scattered armies of his side dragged in retreat the masses of militia. The royalist cavalry under Ferraz charged upon the enemy squadrons that pursued Monet’s left but that. supported by the heavy fire of his infantry, caused a huge deal of casualties over Ferraz’s horsemen, whose survivors were forced to rashly leave the battlefield.

On the other end of the line, the Second Division of José de La Mar plus the Third Division of Jacinto Lara stopped together the assault made by the veterans of Valdés’ vanguard who had launched themselves to take a lonely house occupied by some independentist companies, which, although swapped at first, were soon reinforced and went back to the attack , eventually helped by the victorious Córdova’s division. Viceroy La Serna and the other officers tried to reestablish the battle and reorganize the scattered men who ran and general Canterac himself led the reserve division over the plain; however, Gerona battalions were not the same that won in the battles of Torata and Moquegua, because during Olañeta’s rebellion they had lost almost all their veterans and even their former commander Cayetano Ameller; this troop, composed by recruits forced to fight scattered before facing the enemy, and Ferdinand VII battalion followed, after a feeble resistance. At one o’clock the viceroy had been hurt and made prisoner along with a great number of his officers and even though Valdés’ division was still fighting to the right of his front, the battle was a victory for independentists. Casualties told by Sucre were 370 killed and 609 wounded, the royalists had about 1800 dead and 700 wounded.

With the remnants of his division, Valdés managed to retreat to the heights of his rearguard where he joined 200 riders that had gathered around general Canterac and some dispersed soldiers from royalist divisions whose fleeing demoralized men even shot and kill their own officers who intended to regroup them. With the main body of the royal army destroyed and the viceroy himself in the hands of his enemies, royalists leaders surrendered.

Capitulation of Ayacucho


Surrender at Ayacucho (Daniel Hernández).

Don José Canterac, Lieutenant general of the Royal Armies of HM the King, responsible commander of the Superior command of Peru due to the imprisonment and injurement in today’s battle of the great lord Viceroy don José de La Serna, having heard that senior generals and chiefs that gathered after the Spanish army, filling in every sense all that has been demanded their reputation in the bloody day of Ayacucho and in the whole war in Peru, have had to give up the battlefield to the independent troops; and having to conciliate at the same time these forces remnants’ honour, and the decrease of this country’s misforunes, I believed it convenient to propose and adjust with senior division general of the Republic of Colombia, Antonio José de Sucre, chief commander of the Peruvian United Army of Liberation“.

That’s the treaty signed by the royalist major Canterac, and general Sucre at the end of the Ayacucho battle, on December 9, 1824. Its main consequences were:

  • The royalist army under command of viceroy La Serna refused to keep on the fight.
  • The staying of the last royalist soldiers in the Callao fortresses.
  • The Peru Republic should have paid the economic and politic debt to the countries that gave military contributions to its independence.

Bolívar summoned from Lima the Panama Congress, on December 7, for the unión of the new independent countries. The project was only ratified by Great Colombia. Four years later, due to personal ambitions of many of its generals and the absence of a united visión that foresaw South America as a single nation, Great Colombia would end up splitting in the countries that exist today in the South American continent, frustrating the dream of union hoped by The Liberator of America.

Conspiratorial theories about the Battle of Ayacucho

The capitulation has been called by Spanish historian Juan Carlos Losada as “Ayacucho betrayal” and in his piece of work Batallas Decisivas de la Historia de España (Decisive Battles in the History of Spain) (Ed. Aguilar, 2004), he states that the result of the battle was already pactated. The historian points out Juan Antonio Monet as responsible of the agreement: “the main characters kept a deep silence pact and, therefore, we can only speculate, although with little risk of being wrong” (Page 254). A capitulation without battle would have been undoubtedly judged as treason. Spanish leader, of liberal ideas, and accused of belonging to masonry just like other independentist leaders, didn’t share king Ferdinand VII’s ideas all the time, a monarch considered tyrannical, besides absolutism supporter. On the contrary, Spanish commander Andrés García Camba tells in his memories how Spanish officials, latter known as “ayacuchos”, were unjustly accused upon their arrival to Spain: “misters, with that thing we had a Masonic defeat” they were told in an accusatory manner, -“That thing was lost, my general, in the way battles are lost”, the battle veterans.

Upper Peru after the Battle of Ayacucho and the birth of Bolivia


Palacio de CongresosBolivia.

After the victory at Ayacucho, following precise orders from Bolívar, general Sucre entered Upper Peru (today’s Bolivia) territory on February 25, 1825. Besides having orders of installing an immediately independent administration, his role was limited to giving an appearance of legality to the process that Upper Peruvians themselves had started already. Royalist generalPedro Antonio Olañeta stayed in Potosí, where he received by January the “Union” Inf. Battalion coming from Puno under the command of colonel José María Valdez. Olañeta then summoned a War Council, which agreed to continue the resistance in the name of Ferdinand VII. Next, Olañeta distributed his troops between Cotagaita fortress with the “Chichas” Btn. in charge of colonel Medinacelli, while Valdez was sent to Chuquisaca with the “Union” Btn. and Olañeta himself marched toward Vitichi, with 60,000 pieces of gold from the Coin House in Potosí.

However, in Cochabamba the First Battalion “Ferdinand VII,” led by colonel José Martínez, rioted, followed by the Second Battalion “Ferdinand VII” in Vallegrande, removing brigadier Francisco Aguilera on February 12. Royalist colonel José Manuel Mercado occupied Santa Cruz de la Sierra on February 14, as Chayantastayed in the hands of lieutenant colonel Pedro Arraya, with squadrons “Santa Victoria” (Holy Victory) and “Dragones Americanos” (American Dragoons), and in Chuquisaca the battalion “Dragones de la Frontera”(Frontier Dragoons) under colonel Francisco López claimed victory for the independentists on February 22. At this point, the majority of royalist troops of Upper Peru refused to continue fighting against the powerful army of Sucre. Colonel Medinacelli with 300 soldiers also revolted against Olañeta, and on April 2 of 1825 they faced each other in the Battle of Tumusla, which ended with the death of Olañeta. A few days later, on April 7, general José María Valdez surrendered inChequelte to general Urdininea, putting an end to the war in Upper Peru.

The foundation of Bolivia

Through a decree it was determined that the new state in Upper Peru would carry the name of República Bolívar, in honor of the liberator, who was designated as “Father of the Republic and Supreme Chief of State”. Bolívar thanked them for these honors, but declined the presidency of the Republic, a duty he gave instead to Ayacucho’s Marshall Antonio José de Sucre. After some time, the subject of the name of the Young nation arose again, and a Potosian deputy named Manuel Martín Cruz offered a solution, suggesting that in the same manner which from Romulus comes Rome, from Bolívar ought to come Bolivia.

If from Romulo, Rome; from Bolívar, Bolivia“.

By the time Bolívar got the news, he felt flattered by the young nation, but until then he hadn’t accepted willingly Upper Peru’s because he was worried about its future, due to Bolivia’s location in the very center of South America; this, according to Bolivar, would create a nation that would face many future wars, which curiously did happen. Bolivar wished that Bolivia would become part of another nation, preferably Peru (given the fact that it had been part of Viceroyalty del Perú for centuries), or Argentina (since during the last decades of colonial domain it had been part of Viceroyalty del Río de la Plata), but what deeply convinced him otherwise was the attitude of the people. On August 18, upon his arrival to La Paz, there was a manifestation of popular rejoicing. The same scene repeated when the Liberator arrived to Oruro, then to Potosí and finally to Chuquisaca. Such a fervent demonstration by the people touched Bolívar, who called the new nation his “Predilect Daughter”, and by the peoples of the new republic as their “Favorite Son”.

Bolivian Declaration of Independence


Bolivian Independence Act at Casa de la LibertadSucre.

After being summoned once again the Deliberant Assembly in Chuquisaca by Marshall Sucre, on July 8 of 1825, and then concluded, it was determined the complete independence of Upper Peru under the republican form. Finally, the Assembly president José Mariano Serrano, together with a commission, wrote down the “Independence Act of the Upper Peruvian Departments” which carries the date of August 6, 1825, in honor of the Battle of Junín won by Bolivar. Independence was declared by 7 representatives from Charcas, 14 from Potosí, 12 from La Paz, 13 from Cochabamba and 2 from Santa Cruz. The act of Independence, wrote by the president of the Congress, Serrano, states in its expositive part:

The world knows that the land of Upper Peru has been, in the American continent, the altar where the free people shed the first blood, and the land where the last of the tyrants’ tombs finally lays. Today, the Upper Peruvian departments protest in the face of the whole Earth its irrevocable resolution to be governed by themselves.

Bolívar’s acknowledgement of Sucre


National Heroes Memorial at Paseo Los Próceres, (CaracasVenezuela.

In 1825, Bolívar had published Su resumen sucinto de la vida del general Sucre, the only work of its kind by Bolívar. In it, he spared no praise to the crowning achievement of his faithful lieutenant:

The Battle of Ayacucho is the Summit of American glory, and General Sucre’s work. Its disposition has been perfect, and its fulfillment divine. Upcoming generations expect victory of Ayacucho so they can bless it and stare at it sitting in the throne of freedom, dictating Americans the wielding of their rights, and the sacred empire of nature.
You are called upon the greatest destinies, and I foresee that you are the rival of my Glory” (Bolivar, Letter to Sucre, Nazca, April 26, 1825).
Then the Congress of Colombia made Sucre Chief General of the Colombian Army and its Commanding General, and the Congress of Peru gave him the Degree and Military Rank of Great Marshal of Ayacucho due to his actions.

As Japan shutdowns drag on, auto crisis worsens

As Japan shutdowns drag on, auto crisis worsens

By SHARON SILKE CARTY and ELAINE KURTENBACH, AP Business Writers Sun Mar 27, 11:05 pm ET

TOKYO – The auto industry disruptions triggered by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are about to get worse.

In the weeks ahead, car buyers will have difficulty finding the model they want in certain colors, thousands of auto plant workers will likely be told to stay home, and companies such as Toyota, Honda and others will lose billions of dollars in revenue. More than two weeks since the natural disaster, inventories of crucial car supplies — from computer chips to paint pigments — are dwindling fast as Japanese factories that make them struggle to restart.

Because parts and supplies are shipped by slow-moving boats, the real drop-off has yet to be felt by factories in the U.S., Europe and Asia. That will come by the middle of April.

“This is the biggest impact ever in the history of the automobile industry,” said Koji Endo, managing director at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo.

Much of Japan’s auto industry — the second largest supplier of cars in the world — remains idle. Few plants were seriously damaged by the quake, but with supplies of water and electricity fleeting, no one can say when factories will crank up. Some auto analysts said it could be as late as this summer.

Hitachi Automotive Systems, which makes parts such as airflow sensors and drive control systems, is waiting for its suppliers to restart while dealing with its own problems. Its plants are without water and gas, and have rolling electricity blackouts. Workers are repairing crumpled ceilings, fallen walls and cleaning up shattered glass. A spokesman said he doesn’t know when its plants will reopen.

The uncertainly has suppliers, automakers and dealers scrambling. And it exposes the vulnerability of the world’s most complex supply chain, where 3,000 parts go into single car or truck. Each one of those parts is made up of hundreds of other pieces supplied by multiple companies. All it takes is for one part to go missing or arrive late, and a vehicle can’t be built.

When General Motors briefly shut a pickup plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, due to a lack of parts, it caused the partial closing of a New York factory that supplies engines for those trucks. Sweden’s Volvo has warned that its production could be disrupted because it is down to a week’s worth of some parts.

FILE - This 2003 aerial file photo shows General ...

General Motors Corp

FILE – This 2003 aerial file photo shows General Motors Corp.’s Shreveport assembly plant and the surrounding area. The auto industry disruptions triggered by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are about to get worse. When General Motors briefly shut the pickup plant in Shreveport, La., due to a lack of parts, it caused the partial closing of a New York factory that supplies engines for those trucks. (AP Photo/The Shreveport Times, file)

Car buyers will soon see higher prices and fewer choices. Some car colors will be harder to get because a paint pigment factory in Japan was damaged and shut production. As a result, Ford is telling dealers to stop ordering “tuxedo black” models of its F-150 pickup and Expedition and Navigator SUVs. It’s also shifting away from some reds. The moves are precautionary, Ford said. Chrysler told dealers it was temporarily restricting orders of vehicles in 10 colors.

That worries some dealers, especially when popular colors like black could be in short supply

“It’s hard enough to sell a $60,000 Navigator in this economy,” said Fortunes O’Neal, general manager at Park Cities Ford in Dallas. “We don’t want to have to tell customers, `You’ve got to pick another color.'”

Customers also face rising prices for models like Toyota’s Prius, which is made only in Japan. Fears of falling supply have some dealers driving a hard bargain with customers who want the fuel-efficient hybrid as gasoline prices rise. Recent discounts of 5 to 10 percent on that car are disappearing.

Japanese carmakers, who have shut most of their domestic plants, are warning that some of their overseas factories will stop running, too, in an effort to conserve supplies. Toyota and Honda expect shutdowns at North American plants. Honda said production could be interrupted after April 1. Even though most of its parts are sourced in the region, a few critical ones still come from Japan.

Goldman Sachs estimates the shutdowns are costing the Japan automakers $200 million a day, which adds up to $2.8 billion for just the past two weeks. Each week of continued shutdowns costs $1.4 billion. By comparison, Toyota made $2.3 billion in all of 2010, and its sudden acceleration recalls cost $2 billion. The cost of damage from Japan’s natural disaster could dwarf that recall, which was considered Toyota’s biggest crisis ever.

Much depends on how many spare components automakers have in stock — which is probably very few. Japan’s automakers spearheaded lean manufacturing, under which parts are delivered to plants the same day they are used. Automakers are still receiving parts that were put on ships weeks ago, but those supplies will dwindle.

After the earthquake hit, car companies began the long process of figuring out which parts are in danger of running out. That means figuring out where every piece in every part comes from.

“Everyone is putting on the brakes a little bit and taking a look to see where they are affected,” said Paul Newton, an analyst with IHS Automotive.

Companies will shut down plants as soon as some parts start running out, which could start happening in the next four to six weeks, he said. “You will see it happen almost daily.”

IHS Automotive predicts that one-third of daily global automotive production will be cut because of supply chain disruptions. That means about 5 million vehicles worldwide won’t be built, out of the 72 million vehicles planned for production in 2011.

To get a feel for the supply chain, consider a car radio. It’s made up of hundreds of pieces from all over the world. The display may come from a supplier in Japan, while the wiring and circuitry originate in Korea. The plastic knobs could come from a company in China, and the metal structure that holds it all together is shipped from India.

All those parts come together at different times: The wiring and electronic components are installed into the metal frame. Then that piece is shipped to another supplier, who snaps on the plastic face and knobs. The radio could pass through three or four suppliers before being put on a ship, where it will spend weeks at sea heading to its final destination: The assembly plant.

“This isn’t just as straightforward as assembling the iPad 2,” said Brian Johnson, an autos analyst with Barclays Capital.

An example of Japan’s importance in auto parts: its suppliers make many of the electronic components that control music systems and the sensors that monitor fuel levels and airbags.

Although most Japanese auto parts makers are not located in the areas that were inundated by the tsunami, between quake damage, electricity outages and water cutoffs, many factories in the region have remained paralyzed ever since.

Suppliers could be up and running again in April, but it could take until May or June for the entire supply base to be back.

Some car manufacturers, meanwhile, are considering shifting operations to deal with the crisis. Nissan, for example, is thinking of moving some of its engine production to Tennessee from Japan.

But those shifts won’t be easy. First, lean inventories make it hard for automakers to suddenly change sources of supply. And plants that build car electronics, for example, have stringent safety requirements and exacting high-tech specifications that limit a company’s flexibility, said Christopher Richter, an industry analyst at CLSA Asia Capital Markets. A supplier for the computer chip that triggers an air bag, for example, can’t be switched quickly.

But car executives can keep this from becoming a total disaster: They can allocate scarce parts to their more popular or profitable vehicles, keeping those assembly lines running while slowing down the less profitable ones.

That’s what many people believe GM did when it decided to close the Shreveport plant, because dealers have ample inventory of both trucks made there, more than two months’ worth.

Newton said car companies will do their best to keep producing the cars people want.

“It’s quite a lot to prioritize, but they’ll do it,” he said.


Kurtenbach reported from Tokyo and Carty reported from Detroit. David Koenig in Dallas and Malcolm Foster in Tokyo contributed to this report.


Radiation in Mass. rainwater likely from Japan

Radiation in Mass. rainwater likely from Japan


– Sun Mar 27, 6:27 pm ET

BOSTON – Health officials said Sunday that one sample of Massachusetts rainwater has registered very low concentrations of radiation, most likely from the Japanese nuclear power plant damaged earlier this month by an earthquake and tsunami.

John Auerbach, the Massachusetts commissioner of public health, said that radioiodine-131 found in the sample — one of more than 100 that have been taken around the country — is short lived. He said the drinking water supply in the state was unaffected and officials do not expect any health concerns.

Nevada and other Western states also have reported minuscule amounts of radiation, but scientists say those presented no health risks.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said the in-state sample was taken in the past week, but they did not say where. The testing is part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency network that monitors for radioactivity.

State officials said similar testing was done in California, Pennsylvania, Washington and other states, and showed comparable levels of I-131 in rain.

Massachusetts testing last week of samples from the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs showed no detectable levels of I-131, health officials said.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. directed the Department of Environmental Protection to collect additional samples for testing from several water bodies across Massachusetts. Results will be available over the next several days.

In Japan, mounting problems, including miscalculated radiation figures and inadequate storage tanks for huge amounts of contaminated water, stymied emergency workers Sunday as they struggled to bring the country’s nuclear complex back from the edge of disaster. Workers were trying to remove radioactive water from the nuclear compound and restart the regular cooling systems for the dangerously hot fuel.