to reduce the distance their aircraft wou- I came around on another Jap and made
a big hairy climbing turn, taking a long
ld have to return.
shot at him, and fell out for lack of airShôkaku and Zuikaku were four miles speed just as I saw him starting to burn.
apart, with Zuikaku hidden beneath a rain It was just such an incredibly confusing,
squall when the Yorktown strike arrived mixed-up situation, poor visibility and peat 1032 hours; they were hampered by ople yelling on the radio.” Gayler managed
the poor weather and the 16 Zero fighters to flame a Zero that flew in front of him.
Lexington and Yorktown launched 18 of the Japanese CAP. VF-42 shot down However, the other two of his division
Dauntlesses at 0635 hours to search for two Zeros while losing two Dauntlesses, were lost in the melee.
the enemy. At 0820 hours, Lt(jg) Joseph though the Yorktown SBDs hit Shôkaku
G. Smith looked down through a hole in with two 1,000-lb bombs that caused ma- One Lexington SBD hit Shôkaku with
the thick clouds and spotted Shôkaku and jor damage to the flight and hangar decks. a third bomb, causing more damage, while two SBDs unsuccessfully attacked ZuiZuikaku. Two minutes later, Shôkaku’s Lt
Kenzo Kanno looked down from the coc- Lexington’s strike arrived and hour late, kaku. Had the rest of the Lexington forkpit of his B5N2 and sighted the American the formations broken up by the towering ce managed to stay together in the bad
carriers. The opposing forces were 210 cumulus clouds they had been forced to weather, it is likely they would have sunk
miles apart. Both now raced to launch fly through preventing them from making Shôkaku.
a coordinated attack. Vorse’s three Wildtheir strikes.
cats had been forced to abort. Noel Gay- At almost the same time the Americans
Shôkaku and Zuikaku launched a com- ler’s division was flying low with the tor- attacked the Japanese fleet, Lexington’s
bined strike of 18 A6M2s, 33 D3As and pedo bombers when four Zeros attacked, radar detected the inbound enemy strike
18 B5N2s led by Shôkaku Air Group exploding Gayler’s wingman on the first 68 miles away and vectored nine Wildcats
commander Lt Cdr Kakuichi Takahashi pass. Gayler was immediately involved to intercept. Paul Ramsey’s three-plane
at 0915 hours. At the same time, York- with a Zero. He later recalled, “I think the division was at 10,000 feet when wingtown launched six F4F-3s, 15 SBDs and guy I tangled with was a much better pilot man Ensign Ed Sellstrom spotted the 63
nine TBDs, followed ten minutes later by than I. He got on my tail pretty promptly, aircraft. Due to the heavy losses suffered
Lexington’s seven F4F-3s; Noel Gayler’s and he was a very good shot. His wing- the previous night, the Japanese could
four escorting 12 TBDs, and Lt Albert O. men went by on both sides. As soon as not execute a full attack on both carriVorse’s three Wildcats escorting 15 SBDs. I saw them, I took the stick with both ers. Zuikaku’s air group commander sent
All four carriers increased speed as they hands and pushed into a dive but the- 14 B5Ns to attack Lexington and four to
headed directly for each other’s location re wasn’t enough altitude to gain speed. attack Yorktown. Ensign Sellstrom dived
The opposing fleets were now 100 miles
apart. During the night, the warm frontal
zone with low-hanging clouds that hid
the American carriers so well the first
day moved north and at dawn, the front
covered the Japanese fleet; visibility was
between 2-15 miles in heavy cloud.