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Paul Eckley 2010
Singosari Airfield is located at an elevation of 1,726' above sea level near the center of eastern Java. Also known as Singosari Field or Singosari Drome. Roughly four miles to the northwest is Singosari (Singasari) and roughly six miles to the southwest is Malang. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in Netherlands East Indies (NEI). During World War II, many U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) reports call this location "Malang" meaning Singosari Airfield. Postwar known as Boegis Air Base (Boegis AB) or Bugis Air Base (Bugis AB). Today known as Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport (Bandar Udara Abdul Rachman Saleh) located in East Java Province (Propinsi Jawa Timur) in Indonesia.
Built prewar by the Dutch as a military airfield with two parallel runways that measured 4,000' that were camouflaged to avoid observation from the air disguised as an agricultural field with rail road tracks plus revetments for parked aircraft. Two hangers were built and painted in camouflage to match the surrounding vegetation.
In the early Pacific War, Singosari Airfield was used by the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) was used by heavy bombers. The revetments were not wide enough to accommodate the 105' wingspan of the B-17 Flying Fortress and required them to be dispersed without protection in the open.
American units based at Singosari (Malang)
19th BG, 28th BS (B-17 air echelon) Batchelor December 30, 194–March 4, 1942 Melbourne
19th BG, 93rd BS (B-17) Batchelor January 1, 1942–March 1, 1942 Melbourne
19th BG, 30th BS (B-17, B-24, LB-30 air echelon) January 1942–March 5, 1942 Melbourne
19th BG, Headquarters January 1942–March 2, 1942 Melbourne
5th Bomber Command (V BC), Headquarters Squadron Batchelor January 14, 1942–March 1, 1942 Broome
7th BG, 9th BS (B-17) Hickam January 13, 1942–January 19, 1942 Jogjakarta
7th BG, 11th BS (B-17) Hickam January 13, 1942–January 19, 1942 Jogjakarta
7th BG, 14th BS (B-17 air echelon) Batchelor December 31, 1941–March 1, 1942 Melbourne
7th BG, 22nd BS Hickam January 13, 1942–January 19, 1942 Jogjakarta
27th BG, 91st BS (A-24) Bangsal arrives February 18, 1942–March 10, 1942 departs Brisbane
On December 30, 1941 at 8:00am six B-17Ds led by Major Walsh plus B-17C 40-2062 took off from Batchelor Field on a flight south to Singosari Airfield. In early January 1942 joined by the rest of the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG) and 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG).
On January 2, 1942 at 7:00am seven B-17Ds led by Major Combs plus B-17C 40-2062 took off from Singosari Airfield on a flight bound for Samarinda Airfield for a mission. Due to bad weather, the mission was aborted and all returned to land at Singosari Airfield.
The first U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) bombing mission from Singosari Airfield began on January 3, 1942 at 8:00am when seven B-17D Flying Fortresses took off from Singosari Airfield led by B-17D 40-3097 pilot Combs with B-17D 40-3067 pilot Lt. Kurts on a flight to Samarinda Airfield on Borneo where they were armed and refueled. On January 4, 1942 the bombers took off from Samarinda Airfield to bomb Japanese in Davao Bay off Mindanao then returned to land at Samarinda at 2:30pm On January 5, 1942 by noon all the bombers returned to Singosari Airfield.
The second USAAF bombing mission from Singosari Airfield began on January 8, 1941 when nine B-17s led by B-17D 40-3097 pilot Major Combs on a flight to Kendari II Airfield where they were refueled and armed with bombs. On January 9, 1941 after midnight took off again on a bombing mission against Davao Gulf but experienced violent weather and B-17D 40-3078 and B-17D 40-3079 aborted the mission due to engine trouble and later B-17D 40-3061 pilot Captain Broadhurst co-pilot Kurtz aborted. The other five bombed and returned to Kendari II Airfield by noon. On January 10, 1942 the B-17s returned to Singosari Airfield.
The third USAAF bombing mission from Singosari Airfield began on January 11, 1942 at 5:55am when seven B-17s took off from Singosari Airfield led by B-17D 40-3097 pilot Combs with B-17C 40-2062 pilot Lt. Connally, B-17D 40-3064 pilot 1st Lt. Bohnaker and B-17D 40-3067 pilot Lt. Kurtz on a bombing mission against Japanese transports off Tarakan Island but due to bad weather only three reached the target but failed to cause any damage.
On January 14, 1942 at 10:00am seven B-17Ds led by B-17D 40-3061 Major Combs took off from Singosari Airfield on a flight to Palembang Airfield on Sumatra where they were refueled and armed with bombs. On January 15, 1942 at 8:00am took off on a bombing mission against Sungei Patani Airfield on Malaya but faced severe weather causing B-17D 40-3078 pilot Lt. Teats and B-17D 40-3071 pilot Lt. Vandevanter to aborted. The other five bombed and returned to Lhoknga Airfield then back to Palembang Airfield. On January 16, 1942 by 2:00pm all returned to Singosari Airfield.
On January 27, 1942 General Lewis H. Brereton was relieved as commanding general of USAFIA and reverted to his prior position as commander of Far East Air Force (FEAF) and the same day left Singosari Airfield. On January 28, 1942 his former deputy, Major General Barnes arrived at Singosari Airfield to take command.
During February 1942, 5th Bomber Command (V Bomber Command) was based at Malang with aircraft and operations at Singosari Airfield. On February 12, 1942 and February 13, 1942 P-40E Warhawks from the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) flew patrols against over Singosari Airfield to protect against Japanese planes but none were encountered.
On February 18, 1942 at midday P-40E Warhawk Tail 22 pilot Lt. 2nd Lt. Frank E. Adkins had become lost after intercepting G4M1 Bettys from the Takao Kokutai over Surabaja then chased by escorting A6M2 Zeros that hit his fuel tank and disabled his guns. Over eastern Java, he followed a B-17 Flying Fortress to land the highly camouflaged runway at on Singosari Airfield. After parking near a hanger, Adkins realizes he was hit and later returns to Ngoro Airfield.
On February 19, 1942 individual B-17s and LB-30s from Singosari Airfield and Madioen Airfield took off on bombing missions against the Japanese invasion force off Bali with little result. Between 7:05am to 7:20am A-24 Dive Bombers from the 27th Bombardment Group (27th BG), 91st Bombardment Squadron (91st BS) landed at Singosari Airfield to have Dutch bombs loaded but there were issues adapting the Dutch 300 kg and 50kg bombs to their bomb racks and when escorting P-40E Warhawks were delayed their dive bombing mission was canceled. Later in the day only two A-24s took off to attack Japanese ships off Bali.
On February 20, 1942 in the morning, P-40E Warhawk piloted by Paul Gambonini aborted the mission to Bali due to a propeller malfunction and landed safely for repairs then departed for Ngoro Airfield. Soon afterwards, nine A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai arrived and strafed three parked bombers destroying B-17E 41-2455, B-17E 41-2484 and B-17E 41-2488 they also damaged two others beyond repair B-17E 41-2478 and B-17E 41-2498.
On February 22, 1942 in the morning, P-40E Warhawks flew patrols over Singosari Airfield in two flights and patrolled above an overcast. Below, a single Zero strafed the runway and Hanger No. 3 but caused no damage.
On February 23, 1942 twelve P-40E Warhawks from the 17th PS intercepted 9 G4M1 Bettys from Takao Kokutai escorted by A6M2 Zeros bound for Singosari Airfield. During a dog fight, the P-40s managed to break up the bomber with P-40 pilot James B. Morehead damaging two Bettys. The fighter attack caused the Bettys to release their bombs wide and exploded harmlessly in an open area. Afterwards, P-40E pilot Jim Morehead landed at Singosari Airfield where 19th BG personnel refueled and rearmed his fighter then took off again but the combat had ended.
On February 27, 1942 three A-24s from the 91st the last three serviceable took off from Singosari Airfield and joined escorted by P-40 Warhawks and Dutch Buffalos flying northward to Bawean Island and spotted warships and transports in the Java Sea. Targeting the transports, the A-24s dive bombed and returned.
On February 28, 1942 the two damaged bombers B-17E 41-2478 and B-17E 41-2498 and B-17D 40-3061 were burned to prevent capture as the Allies abandon Singosari Airfield at the conclusion of the Java campaign. Afterwards, Col. Eugene Eubanks informed Dutch headquarters that his orders were operate only as long as long as he could maintain an effective force with the option to terminate operations left to his discretion and that he planned to withdraw all remaining aircraft and personnel to Broome Airfield. The Dutch objected and insisted the Americans continue operating from Singosari Airfield.
On March 1, 1942 the remaining LB-30 and five B-17s took off from Singosari Airfield flying a total of ten mission in support of the Dutch. By 2:00pm, Dutch headquarters ordered all remaining U. S. aircraft to Singosari Airfield and the destruction of Madioen Airfield and Jogjakarta Airfield. Unable to reach Dutch headquarters and after a maximum effort with his bomber force, Col. Eubanks ordered all remaining aircraft and personnel to Broome Airfield despite the fact the Dutch believed operations from Singosari Airfield were still tenable if bombers were widely dispersed.
In early March 1942 occupied by the Japanese forces. During 1943 until the end of the Pacific War, used by Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) aircraft. Occupied by the Japanese until the end of the Pacific War and the official surrender of Japan in September 1945.
Japanese units based at Malang
59th Hiko Sentai (Ki-43-II Oscars) ? - March 1943 Babo
Starting in late December 1943 targeted by Allied aircraft including a bombing mission on December 20, 1943 by B-24 Liberators. On May 17, 1944 an U. S. aircraft photographed Singosari Airfield.
American missions against Malang
December 20, 1943–May 17, 1944
Singosari Airfield was occupied by the Japanese until the official surrender of Japan until early September 1945.
Immediately after the surrender of Japanese forces, Singosari was occupied by Indonesians and used as an early military base during the Indonesian national revolution for independence. By September 18, 1945 the early Indonesian Air Force used surrendered Japanese aircraft including the Yokosuka K5Y1 Willow and other types for flight training and early operations at Singosari.
Still in use today Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport (Bandar Udara Abdul Rachman Saleh) as a dual civilian and military airport used by the Akngkatan Udara Republik Indonesia (AURI). The airport has two runways. The first is oriented 35/17 measures 6,464' x 131' surfaced with asphalt. The second is oriented 35R/17L measures 4,921' x 98' surfaced with asphalt. Airport codes: ICAO: WARA IATA: MLG.
Today, the civilian side of the airport was named Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport (Bandar Udara Abdul Rachman Saleh) named after Abdul Rachman Saleh, an early Indonesian aviator and physiologist whose plane was shot down landing in Maguwo Airfield (Adisutjipto International Airport, Yogyakarta Airfield).
Index to Air Bases - Research Report No. 85, I.G. No 9185 - July 30, 1944 (Malang)
William H. Bartsch adds: "USAAF Combat Chronology refers to it as Malang, as does the 5th Bomber Command (V BC) operations journal. The 5th BC Headquarters was at Malang, but operations were out of Singosari."
Artwork "Singosari Savior" by Paul Eckley depicts P-40E pilot Lt. 2nd Lt. Frank E. Adkins over Singosari on February 18, 1942
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 85, 86 (map NEI airfields), 92-94 (January 2-3, 1942 mission), 96-97 (January 8-9, 1942 mission), 99 (January 10, 1942 return), 99-100, January 11, 1942 mission), 101 (January 11, 1942 LB-30 arrival), 102 (Africa Route ferry route to Singosari) 102-103 (January 14, 1942 mission)
Every Day A Nightmare (2010) cover artwork "Singosari Savior" (depicts P-40E pilot Lt. 2nd Lt. Frank E. Adkins over Singosari on February 18, 1942) pages 55 (January 11, 1942 seven B-17D take off), 58 (Brereton departure, Barnes arrival), 93, 95 (map Java), 100, 116-117, 131-132, 133, 141, 142, 160, 178, 179, 180, 196, 220 (P-40E pilot 2nd Lt. Frank E. Adkins lands Singosari), 240 (February 19, 1942 missions against Bali), 256 (February 20, 1942 Gambonini landing), 259-261 (February 21-22, 1942) 262-264 (February 23, 1942 P-40 Morehead lands Singosari) 286 (March 1, 1942 transfer all planes to Singosari, Eubank orders to Broome), 288-289 (Singosari withdrawal), 295-296 (February 27, 1942 A-24 mission), 336, 366 (victory claims), 388 (footnote 59), 391 (footnote 33), 392 (footnote 41), 409 (footnote 66 Adkins), 414 (footnote 9), 416 (footnote 37), 417 (footnote 6), 418 (footnote 14), 419 (footnote 32), 460 (index Adkins), 497 (index Singosari)
Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport official website via Wayback Machine December 24, 2017
Thanks to William H. Bartsch for additional information
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