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CV-2 Lexington
 1941 | 1942
Date Operation
/ Location
Squadron Aircraft
# of
AC Location Camouflage & Markings Notes
1941/12/5 Leaves to reinforce Midway with SB2U-3 Vindicators of Marine Scouting Squadron 231
  At Sea VB-2 SBD-2 18   2-B-# Cardiv 1 - White lettering
    VF-2 F2A-3 17   2-F-#  18 Originally, one lost leaving Pearl Harbor
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   2-S-#   
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   2-T-#   
    VMSB-231 SB2U-3 18   231-MB-#  White on solid Light Gray
1941/12/7 At Sea SBD crashes on launch, Squadron unknown. Radioman resued, pilot lost.
1941/12/13 Returns to Pearl Harbor
1941/12/10 VMSB-231 SB2U-3s departed and flew to Ewa Field, Oahu
1941/12/14 Departs for a diversionary raid on Jaluit island in the Marshall Islands
  At Sea VB-2 SBD-2 17   2-B-#  
    VF-2 F2A-3 21   2-F-# 17 airworthy
    VS-2 SBD-3 14   2-S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 15   2-T-#  
1941/12/20 Jaluit raid cancelled; Lexington ordered to head to Wake to aid the island's garrison.
1941/12/22 Wake Island defense mission cancelled; Lexington ordered to return to Pearl Harbor and arrives 12/27
1941/12/23 Markings ordered changed; Roundels to be as large as practical and carrier on both top and bottom of both wings. Thirteen red & white stripes to be painted on the rudders. Probably put into place upon Lexington's return from the cancelled Jaluit and Wake raids.
1941/12/29 Departs for patrol to Southwest of Hawaii
  At Sea VB-2 SBD-2 17   2-B-#  
    VF-2 F2A-3 16   2-F-# 17 fly to ship, one crashes on landing and is destroyed
    VS-2 SBD-3 14   2-S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 15   2-T-#  
1942/1/7 Departs Pearl Harbor for Patrol around Johnston Atoll.
1942/1/07 At Sea VB-2 SBD-2 17   2-B-#  
    VF-2 F2A-3 17   2-F-# 15 flyable
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   2-S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   2-T-#  
1942/1/10 Aircraft spot a Japanese submarine on the surface and attack, forcing it to dive. No submarine is reported lost by the Japanese at this time.
1942/1/16 Returns to Pearl
1942/1/19 Departs Pearl Harbor to patrol near Christmas Island. On January 21, Lexington is ordered to attack Wake Island, but the mission is cancelled on the 23rd when the oiler Neches AO-5 is torpedoed and sunk by I-72.
1942/1/19 At Sea VB-2 SBD-2 17   2-B-#  
    VF-2 F2A-3 16   2-F-#  
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   2-S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   2-T-#  
1942/1/25 Arrives at Pearl Harbor
1942/1/26 Pearl Harbor VB-2 SBD-2 17   2-B-# Cardiv 1 - White
    VF-2 F4F-3A 18   2-F-# Transition to F4F Wildcats
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   2-S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   2-T-#  
1942/1/30 VF-3 replaces VF-2, currently training on their new F4F Wildcats.
1942/1/31 Departs Pearl Harbor for patrol towards Marshall Islands, but is ordered after departure to change course for what becomes an attack on Rabaul.
1942/2/2 South Pacific VB-2 SBD-2 17   B-# Squadron # eliminated from sides for security
    VF-3 F4F 18   F-# Squadron # eliminated from sides for security
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   S-# Squadron # eliminated from sides for security
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   T-# Squadron # eliminated from sides for security

While cruising to attack the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, Lexington's radar picks up a Kawanishi Type 97 flying boat shadowing her task force. Two VF-3 Wildcats are scrambled and guided to the enemy aircraft by ship's radar. The commanding officer of VF-3, Lt. Commander Jimmy Thach and his wingman Ensign Edward Sellstrom intercept and shoot down the flying boat, getting Lexington's first "kill" of the war. Another Kawanishi is shot down later by pilots Lt. (JG) Stanley and Ensign Haynes.

Admiral Brown of Task Force 11 decides to cancel the raid on Rabaul, since they have been discovered and the element of surprise is lost, but to continue steaming towards the stronghold in a feint to draw attention away from the Dutch East Indies. By this time, 17 G4M "Betty" bombers are headed for Lexington. They meet up with VF-3's Wildcats at 1639 and a large battle ensues, cumulating in threee Bettys shot down in two minutes. Two more are shot down and one damaged enough to drop out of formation before they drop their bombs; all miss the ship.

As the Wildcats of VF-3 continue to hammer the retreating Japanese aircraft, a damaged Betty tries to crash into the ship but is shot down and crashes just short of the stern. One Wildcat is hit and damaged enough that the pilot has to break contact and bail out (later rescued); another spins into the ocean after a 20mm shell hits the windshield dead on; killing pilot Ens. John Wilson instantly. VF-3 had lost one pilot but had shot down or damanged eight of the nine Betty's of the 2nd Chutai of the Japanese 4th Air Group; one of the wounded bombers was shortly shot down by a VS-2 SBD piloted by the Executive officer, Lieutenant Edward Allen and the ninth, and final Betty was shot down by the executive Officer of VB-2, Lieut Walter Henry, in his SBD-2.

By this time the eight flyable aircraft of the 1st Chutai had drawn near to Lexington. Most of VF-3's wildcats were critically low on fuel and trying to land or off chasing the remnants of the 2nd Chutai; only two fighters are nearby, piloted by Liet. Edward "Butch" O'Hare and Lieut (JG) Marion Dufilho. Starting their attack run at high speed, O'Hare cripples one plane quickly (It does not attack Lexington and later ditches) and shoots down a second on his first pass.

Dufilho's guns jam on his first pass and he pulls clear to give O'Hare unrestricted airspace. On the second pass, his first victim is damaged and falls back, but is later able to rejoin the formation in time to attack Lexington. The second aircraft on his second pass dives out of control after the left engine is shot up and seizes. On his third pass, O'Hare focses on the lead bomber of the Chutai, hoping to destroy their attack on Lexington. His fire destroys the left engine of the Betty, which seizes so violently it rips the entire left nacelle free from the wing.

O'Hare fires on his sixth target, but runs out of ammunition after a few rounds from each gun. By this time the four remaining bombers in formation were over Lexington and had released their bombs. All miss, but strike close by, the nearest only 100 feet away from Lexington's stern. The lead bomber O'Hare had tore the engine from managed to control it's death sprial enough eo come near Lexington in an attempt to crash into her, but misses and crashes off the bow, close enough in that the ship has to quickly change course to avoid running over the wreckage.

Only two Betty's from the 1st Chutai return to base. Four had made it through O'Hare's attack and of these, one was shot down by another VF-3 Wildcat forty miles away from the ship and another had to ditch off Nugava Island after being damaged by Edward Allen of VS-2 in his busy SBD-2. Lexington's air group cost the Japanese Navy fifteen "Betty" bombers and two Mavis flying boats (over 100 pilots and air crew) for the loss of two aircraft and one pilot.

1942/2/25 Near New Caledonia VB-2 SBD-2 17   B-#  
    VF-3 F4F 16   F-#  
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   T-#  
1942/3/6 Rendevous with Yorktown CV-5's Task Force 17 and the ANZAC squadron Northwest of Efate for a planned attack on Rabaul on March 10.
1942/3/8 Coral Sea VB-2 SBD-2 17   B-#  
    VF-3 F4F 16   F-#  
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   T#  
1942/3/8 While steaming to attack Rabaul; it is learned that the harbor is now empty and an invasion of Papuan coastal towns of Lae and Salamaua by the Japanese has begun, with many ships present. It is decided to raid these two targets instead, with the hope of catching the ships unloading supplies or nearby.
  March 10 raid on Salamaua and Lae, Papua New Guinea with Yorktown CV-5. Three ships; the Kongo Maru, Tenyo Maru, and Yokohama Maru are sunk by bombs or torpedo, two are heavily damaged, and four lightly damaged. One VS-2 SBD shot down. Future Admiral Noel Gayler of VF-3 gets one kill, a Type 95 "Dave" biplane that was one of two aircraft the Japanese are able to get aloft that day. This raid delayed the planned Japanese invasion of Port Morseby and Tulagi for a month and set up the battle of the Coral Sea.
1942/3/12 Lexington ordered to return to Pearl Harbor. Some aircraft shifted to Yorktown before departure.
1942/3/14 Coral Sea VB-2 SBD-2 14?   B-# Five SBDs shifted to CV-5; it is unclear if they were VB-2 or VS-2
    VF-3 F4F 16   F-# Two traded with CV-5
    VS-2 SBD-3 16?   S-# conjecture
    VT-2 TBD-1 11   T# One moved to CV-5
1942/3/26 Arrives, Pearl Harbor for yard work. 8" gun turrets removed and additional 1.1" and 20mm guns added.
1942/4/1 Pearl Harbor CAG SBD-2/3 1   ?   Markings unknown
VB-2 SBD-2/3 18   B-# Black lettering
    VF-2 F4F-3/3A 21   F-# VF-2 rejoins air group.
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   S-#
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   T# T1 - T + AC number only
1942/4/15 Departs Pearl Harbor with VMF-211 on board for transportation to Palmyra and then to patrol Coral Sea with Task Force One's battleships.
1942/4/15 At Sea CAG SBD-2/3 1   ?   Markings unknown
1942/4/1   VB-2 SBD-2/3 18   B-#  
    VF-2 F4F-3/3A 21   F-#  
    VS-2 SBD-3 19   S-#  
    VT-2 TBD-1 12   T#  
    VMF-211 F2A-3 14   MF-# Transport to Palmyra
1942/4/18 VMF-211's F2A-3's launched for Palmyra; orders then changed to head to a position north of the Fiji Islands.
  May 7, Battle of the Coral Sea; air group sinks Shoho fights off counter-attack, downing 9
  May 8, Battle of the Coral Sea, Air group damages Shokaku, but Lexington is hit by 2 torpedos and three bombs. Sunk by Destroyer USS Phelps after gasoline vapors exploded
1942/4/7 Pearl Harbor VB-2 SBD-2 17     Black numbers?
    VF-3 F4F-3 18   F-#  
    VS-2 SBD-3 19     Black numbers?
    VT-2 TBD-1 13   T# No "-" in side number


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* USN Weekly reports of aircraft locations, 1942
* "The First Team" John Lundstrom