Fitch was Commander of Task Force II at the Battle of Coral Sea. His Force was built round the Lexington, the heavy cruisers Minneapolis and New Orleans and five destroyers. They met FLETCHER’s Yorktown Group on 1 May 1942 in the Coral Sea and the first carrier battle of the war began. Fitch had tactical command of the air battle on the last day, 8 May, and launched the attacks which damaged the Shokaku and Zuikaku but he kept too few fighters for his own protection and the Lexington was badly bombed and sank after the battle. After the battle Fitch was made Commander of land-based aircraft in the South Pacific.