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    Nichols Field (Manila Airport, Nino Aquino Airport) Manila | Luzon Philippines

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US Army prewar

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3rd Pursuit Sqad 1941

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USAAF c1945

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Justin Taylan 2004

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Justin Taylan 2005

Location
Located in southern Manila on Luzon, inland from Manila Bay.

Construction
Built by the US Army prewar. Two parallel runways run roughly northwest to southeast, with taxiways, hangers and buildings.

Wartime History
Prewar, used by the Far East Air Force (FEAF) pursuit aircraft including P-26s, P-35s and P-40s. On December 8, 1941 P-40 Warhawks took off from Nichols Field to intercept enemy aircraft spotted on radar, but fail to make contact. In the afternoon, P-40s again took off from Nichols Field to patrol over Bataan and Manila. On December 9, 1941 shortly after 03:00 hours, Japanese aircraft attack Nichols Field.

American units based at Nichols Field (Defense of Philippines)
24th PG, 3rd BS (P-40E) Iba December 9 - 25, 1941 Bataan
24th PG, 17th PS (P-26, P-35, P-40E) from USA late October 1940 - December 9, 1941 Clark
24th PG, 20th PS (P-35, P-40) Hamilton October 1940 - December 9, 1941 Clark
24th PG, 21st PS (P-40E) ? - December 12, 1941 Del Carmon

Japanese Occupation
Occupied by the Japanese when Manila was declared an open city.

On May 19, 1942 the Japanese had American prisoner of war (POW) pilots Crosland and Erickson fly two P-40 Warhawks and a Stearman biplane from Davao Airfield to Nichols Field. One of the P-40s was delayed due to landed at a small airstrip en route due to bad weather. This was the last flight of the FEAF during the defense of the Philippines.

Japanese units based at Nichols
1021 Kokutai (G4M) stationed at Nichols and Cebu

As the threat of American liberation approached, the Japanese anticipated an attack on Manila to come from south and defenses added to the airfield including anti-aircraft guns, pillboxes, gun positions and bunkers, manned by troops from the Japanese Navy, 3rd Naval Battalion.

American missions against Nichols Field
April 12, 1942 - February 13, 1945

J2M3 Jack Manufacture Number 3013
Captured largely intact on February 20, 1945

American Use
During February 1945, Nichols Field was liberated by US Army troops. At the airfield, many wrecked Japanese Navy and Army aircraft were captured, including several intact examples.

Repaired, Nichols was designated as US Army APO 75. Used by the Air Transport Command (ATC) and Naval Air Transport Service (NATS). During 1945-1946 a NATS detachment of six officers operated DC-3 transports was based at Nichols.

American units based at Nichols (Liberation)
5th BG, 31st BS (B-24) Guiuan Airfield circa 1945

Today
Nichols Field remained in use since the war. Still in use today as Manila International / Nino Aquino Airport.  Located at the airfield are Vilamor Philippine Military Air Base and the Philippine Air Force Museum (PAF Museum).

References
Doomed At The Start page 424-426

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Last Updated
January 24, 2014

 

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