8th May 1943
The lull continues as the Japanese fleet seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet after the dud hit on the Hiryu. Yet there are still small pockets of action to remind us that there is a war going on.
Japanese destroyers and fast transports are making regular runs from Munda/Shortlands to Rabaul and have attracted the attention of both USN submarines and aircraft in the Santa Cruz islands. Shuttles of APD’s and DD’s led by CL’s have either been reinforcing the aforementioned places, redeploying troops or bringing in supplies. The SS Sailfish was able to sink the APD Tade just off Shortlands on the night of the 7th May and several unique photographs were taken through the periscope viewing port.
(The photos are of the real life Tade also sunk by submarine action)
Not only that an AO was also sunk by the SS Barb near Manus, could the Japanese carriers still be around. Enemy activity was also spotted at Gasmata. Heavy bombers had already targeted the airfield there and regular enemy presence had been recorded, mainly destroyers and light cruisers. VMSB-243 (Port Moresby) had been hoping to strike at enemy vessels in the Coral Sea since their redeployment to New Guinea and had been thwarted by the weather on several occasions, not today. 17 SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers took of early from Port Moresby and caught a small task force of a brace of destroyers led by a light cruiser on the hop at Gasmata. Surprise was total as the first plane to dive dropped a 1000lber right amidships on the Japanese destroyer Ushio. The bomb must have gone off in the main magazine as the ship virtually disappeared in a massive fireball. The rest of the squadron followed on down and the light cruiser was hit by three bombs while a second destroyer (Fubuki) was also hit. One plane was lost to flak as it came out of its dive but the remaining 16 planes returned home bombless but with squadron morale sky high. Allied planes could also sink enemy ships!