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    Ie Shima Airfield (Ie Shima Auxiliary Air Base, Ie Jima Airport) Okinawa Prefecture Japan
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Bill Wallisch c1945

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USAAF c1945

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80th FS Aug 20, 1945
Location
Lat 26° 43' 44N Long 127° 45' 42E  Ie Shima Airfield is located on Ie Shima in Okinawa Prefecture in Japan. To the east is Iegusugu (Mount Gusuku, The Pinnacle) and Ie (Ie Town). Today, the westernmost runway is Ie Shima Auxiliary Air Base (Ie Shima Aux AB) with the center runway used as a road. The easternmost runway remains in use as Ie Jima Airport.

Construction
During the Pacific War, Ie Shima Airfield was built by the Japanese as a military airfield with three runways oriented in the shape of Roman numeral XI and each runway measuring over a mile in length with clear approaches over the sea in any direction.

Wartime History
By November 1944, the only Japanese military unit stationed on Ie Shima was the 50th Airfield Battalion. By the end of the year, they were reinforced by the Japanese Army 44th Independent Mixed Brigade, 2nd Infantry Unit, 1st Battalion "Igawa Unit" under the command of Major Igawa. The airfield personnel were designated as infantry and redesignated as the 50th Specially Established Infantry Battalion to augment the defense.

Starting in early October 1944, attacked by U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft. Attacking American aircraft targeted Japanese shipping in the area and isolated Ie Shima.

American missions against Ie Shima
1944–1945

During February 1945, a labor unit of 580 Okinawan men arrived to help build defenses with the help of roughly 2,000 civilians still on the island built defenses, pillboxes, trenches, tunnels and emplacements.

In early March 1945, the Japanese command believed Ie Shima could not be defended for more than a few days ordered the 50th Battalion to destroy Ie Shima Airfield by the end of the month. To destroy the runways, trenches were dug and holes blasted and land mines and buried aerial bombs with pressure detonators or wired for remote detonation in anticipation of a paratrooper attack.

On April 16, 1945 the U. S. Army, 77th Infantry Division lands on southern Ie Shima. occupied the airfield and it was immediately repaired and expanded into a major base with three parallel runways. The first runway measured 7,000' x 100'. The second runway measured 7,000' x 150'. The third runway measured 6,000' x 150'.

By May 13, 1945 the first flights by American aircraft commenced with U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) fighters arriving and U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) Marine Air Group 22 (MAG-22) fighter aircraft. Developed into a major American base and used until the end of the Pacific War.

American units based at Ie Shima
United States Marine Corps (USMC)
Marine Air Group 22 (MAG-22)
United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
7th Air Force (7th AF)
318th FG HQ (P-38) Saipan April 30, 45 - ?
318th FG, 19th, 73rd, 333rd FS (P-38) Saipan May 13, 45 - ?
413th FG HQ, 1st, 21st, 34th FS (P-47) USA May 19, 1945 - ?
7th FC, 548th NFS (P-61) Iwo Jima June 8, 1945 -
28th PRS (F-5E detachment) ? - June 21, 1945 Okinawa
20th Air Force (20th AF)
507th FG, HQ 463d FS (P-47) USA June 24, 1945 - ?
507th FG, 464th and 465th FS (P-47) USA June 24, 1945 - ?
FEAF (Far East Air Force)
348th FG HQ, 340th FS (P-51) Floridablanca July 9, 1945 - ?
348th FG, 341st, 342d FS (P-51) Floridablanca July 12, 1945 - ?
348th FG, 460th FS (P-51) Floridablanca July 12, 1945 - ?
345th BG, 498th BS (B-25) Clark Field July 20, 1945 - ?
43rd BG, 403rd BS (B-24) Clark Field July 22, 1945 - ?
43rd BG, 65th BS (B-24) Clark Field July 22, 1945 - ?
5th FC, 421st NFS (P-61) Clark Field July 24, 1945 - ?
345th BG HQ Clark Field July 25, 1945 - ?
71st Reconnaissance Group, HQ Binmaley August 1, 1945 - September 1945 Chofu
8th FG, 80th FS (P-38) San Jose August 5, 1945 - April 1, 1946 Mushiroda
8th FG, 35th FS (P-38) San Jose August 9, 1945 - April 1, 1946 Mushiroda
90th BG, 319th BS (B-24) San Jose August 12, 1945 - ?

Japanese surrender delegation arrives in Betty bombers
On August 19, 1945, two B-25J Mitchells from the 345th Bombardment Group with P-38 Lightnings from the 80th Fighter Squadron escorted G6M1-L Betty "Bataan 1" and G4M1 Betty "Bataan 2" flying from Tokyo with a Japanese surrender delegation. After landing at Ie Shima Airfield, the Japanese delegation was transported aboard a C-54 to Manila to meet General MacArthur's staff to establish details for the surrender and returned to Ie Shima Airfield on August 20, 1945.

Today
Ie Shima Auxiliary Air Base (Ie Shima Aux AB) is the westernmost runway, also known as Ie Shima Auxiliary Air Base (Ie Shima Aux AB) located at 26° 43' 44N 127° 45' 42E. Designated a small airport. Airport code: ICAO: RODE or FAC 6005. The airport has two runways: the first oriented 22/04 measures 4,780' x 150' surfaced with concrete. The second oriented 23/05 measures 1,200' x 180' surfaced with PSP. This airfield is used by the U. S. military as a training base and range with a simulated LHA deck Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 Marine Aircraft Group 36 and a drop zone for parachute training operated by the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Also used for touch and go practice. There is a detachment of usually less than 20 Marines which operates the range. The center runway is now a road connecting the north and south sides of the island.

Ie Jima Airport is the the easternmost runway is still in use today as a small airport located at 26° 43' 19N 127° 47' 5E. Airport code: ICAO: RORE / IATA: IEJ. The airport has two runways. The first oriented 22/04 measures 4920' x 150' surfaced with asphalt. The second oriented 23/05 measures 4,961' x 92' and is unsurfaced.

References
U. S. In World War II - Okinawa: The Last Battle Chapter VII The Capture of Ie Shima pages 149-150, 152

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Last Updated
June 24, 2020

 

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April 16, 1945

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Ie Shima Aux AB

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