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South Pacific Air War – Volume 3 (Coral Sea and Aftermath)


This large format paperback by Michael Claringbould and Peter Ingman is packed with photos, maps and diagrams – both in colour, and black and white.  It also includes a large number of beautifully illustrated ‘Aircraft Profiles’.

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This third volume chronicles aerial warfare in the South Pacific during the critical months of May and June 1942.  It can read alone or as part of a trilogy that spans the first six months of the Pacific War and culminates in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

In early May 1942 the Japanese launched operation MO, a complex plan that involved the seizure of Tulagi and Port Moresby.  Within the context of an ongoing regional war waged by land-based air forces, opposing fleet carriers were drawn into conflict for the first time in history.  The result was the Battle of the Coral Sea, which in turn resulted in the loss of the USS Lexington and the withdrawal of the remaining American carrier.

The orthodox view of the Coral Sea is of an Allied victory whereby the Japanese were forced to abandon their plan to capture Port Moresby.  However, the authors make a compelling argument that the Japanese capacity to mount the invasion was largely intact and it was a serious error by the rigid and hierarchical command structure to postpone the invasion at this critical time.

Following the Coral Sea battle, the bloody aerial campaign continued in earnest between the land-based air forces.  This resembled something of a slugfest between the opposing bases of Lae and Port Moresby – just one hour’s flying time apart.

Never before has this campaign been chronicled in such detail, with Allied accounts matched against Japanese records, and supported by the most accurate artwork ever produced of this era.

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