On This Day…May 4th.
May 4th, 1943 – Staff Sergeant Frank T. Lusic with his hands full of ordinance beside famous B-17, ‘Meathound’.
Marine TBM-3 Avengers of VMTB-232 at Okinawa on May 4, 1945.
Finnish AIr Force Blenheim suffers a punctured tyre which caused this crash at Vartsila (now Tohmajärvi) on 4th May 1943.
SS 377 ‘Menhaden’ departing Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California, on 4th of May 1953.
The Battle of the Coral Sea started May 4th 1942. This was a historically significant conflict where, for the first time, aircraft carriers engaged each other with each opposing ship neither sighted by each other, nor fired directly upon one another.
By April 1942 the Japanese had formed an Imperial defensive perimeter stretching from the Kuriles in the South Pacific through the Marshall Islands to New Britain, then westwards to Java, through to Burma. Within that perimeter Japanese strength was nearing total, but the Doolittle raid on Tokyo provoked a Japanese reaction to extend their territorial defensive zone. They also wanted to sever links between Australia and the United States.
Operations were mounted to capture Tulagi in the Solomons and Port Moresby in New Guinea (see map). These operations were to be covered by a force built around the carriers ‘Shokaku’ and ‘Zuikaku’.
However, Japanese plans were uncovered by intelligence and the Allies and their strategy was countered with Task Force 17, Including the might of carriers Yorktown and Lexington.
At 06:30 on the morning of 4th May, Yorktown launched a strike comprising 12 TBD torpedo bombers and 28 SBD dive bombers. The attack landed their blows around 08.30, catching the Japanese by surprise. Yorktown’s dive bombers sank two minesweepers and damaged the destroyer Kikuzuki beyond repair. Minor damage was also inflicted on a minelayer and supplies on the beach.
(SBD Dauntless aircraft in flight back to USS Yorktown after an attack on Tulagi, Solomon Islands, 4th of May – 1942).
The torpedo bombers sank the minesweeper Tama Maru. A second strike destroyed five of the six aircraft based there, and a third sank four landing barges. Three aircraft from the second strike were lost, the others suffering no casualties. The strikes gave a Battle ready edge to the Yorktown’s Air Group’s efficiency, which until then was largely built up over nine weeks of intensive training.
Included in this Allied force were the Australian cruisers Australia (D-84, below) and Hobart. These ships were detached to stand guard against the Port Moresby invasion force and were attacked (unsuccessfully) by Japanese aircraft.
Photo of Focke Wulf Fw 190A7 (6.JG26) – Brown 4 – piloted by Waldemar Radener taken on May 4th, 1944.
The formation shown in flight shows Radener himself in the foreground; the only other aircraft identifiable in the photograph is ‘Brown 5 + -‘.
By May 1944, Radener had began to use an FW 190 A-8 ‘Brown 2 + -‘, and was wounded when he crashed it on 11 May 1944.
Waldemar Radener’s first victory was over a Spitfire on 3rd of May, 1943 and by the end of ‘43 he had seven kills – gathering 37 victories (including at least 17 four-engined bombers) by the end of the war. Radner was a recipient of the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross).
11th Armored Division Sherman tanks cross the Muhl River near Neufelden, Austria on May 4th, 1945.
HMS Indomitable was the target of the second kamikaze attack on 4th May, 1945 , when ‘Task Force 57’ detached its escorting cruisers and battleships for a shore bombardment on Manus.
A kamikaze was engaged at first by Indomitable’s bow 4.5in turrets, and then by the light guns from the carrier and her escorts. The Zero evaded by climbing back into the cover of the clouds some 3000ft above. It soon reappeared (see photos above) – this time in a 60 degree death-dive from the starboard beam.
SBD Dauntless and five TBD-1 Devastators prepare to take off from Enterprise, South Pacific, 4th May 1942.
2 additional images. Click to enlarge.