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Battleships in action in the Coral Sea

Date: 1990 - 1991
Dimensions:
Overall: 397 x 387 mm, 100 g
Medium: Charcoal, paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Art
Object Name: Drawing
Object No: 00008932
Place Manufactured:Australia
Related Place:Coral Sea,

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    Description
    This drawing depicts two battleships firing at planes during the Battle of the Coral Sea. The ship in the foreground appears to be flying a British ensign.
    SignificanceThis drawing represents the joint American-Australian taskforce in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The battle marked at turning point in the war in the south-west Pacific, defending Port Moresby and slowing the series of rapid Japanese conquests in the region.
    HistoryThe Battle of the Coral Sea was a series of naval engagements in the waters southwest of the Solomon Islands and eastward from New Guinea between 3 and 8 May 1942. It was the first of a series of battles between Allied (United States and Australia) and Japanese aircraft carrier forces in the Pacific War.

    The Pacific War initially began as a conflict between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan, but by 1941 the conflict had become part of the greater World War II with the Allied powers joining China in the war against Japan. The Japanese achieved a series of swift victories, and by early 1942 most of south-east Asia and parts of the Pacific had been occupied. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in December 1941 saw America officially enter the conflict.

    The objective of the Japanese operation was to devastate the United States Pacific Fleet, and extend their defensive perimeter and establish new strategic positions in the south west pacific. By capturing Port Moresby in New Guinea and Tulagi in the southern Solomon Islands, Australia would be isolated from the west coast of the United States.

    In April 1942, Australian intelligence reported that the Japanese forces were moving south, and the United States Navy countered the Japanese forces with two aircraft carriers, cruisers (including heavy cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA and the light cruiser HMAS HOBART), destroyers, submarines, bombers and seaplanes.

    Although the Japanese succeeded in destroying more shipping, it was a strategic victory for the Allies. The Japanese forces were unable to capture Port Moresby by sea, slowing the series of rapid conquests in the Pacific region.

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