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    Nichols Field (Manila Airport, Ninoy Aquino Airport) Manila | Luzon Philippines
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US Army c1930s

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Edsall Spring 1941

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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
Nichols Field was located in southern Manila on Luzon in the Philippines. Borders Manila Bay to the west.

Today known as Ninoy Aquino Airport (NAA) or Manila Airport in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Built by the U.S. Army with two parallel runways run oriented roughly northwest to southeast with taxiways, hangers and buildings. Used by the Far East Air Force (FEAF) pursuit aircraft (fighters) including P-26s, P-35s and later P-40 Warhawk fighter aircraft.

Wartime History
On December 8, 1941 P-40 Warhawks took off from Nichols Field to intercept enemy aircraft spotted on radar at Iba, but failed 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 3:00am Japanese aircraft attacked Nichols Field.

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

Japanese Occupation
After Manila was declared an "Open City" the Japanese occupied Nichols Field and used it as a military airfield during the occupation of the Philippines.

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

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

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

After being repaired, Nichols Field was designated as US Army APO 75. For the remainder of the Pacific War, used by several U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) squadrons, Air Transport Command (ATC) and Naval Air Transport Service (NATS). Between 1945-1946 a NATS detachment of six officers operated DC-3 transports was based at Nichols Field.

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

Nichols Field remained active as a military airfield known as Nichols Air Base. and airport. After Philippine independence, renamed Vilamor Philippine Military Air Base.

On August 21, 1983, when politician Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. returned to the Philippines from his self-imposed exile in the United States was assassinated at the airport. In 1988, the airport was renamed by Republic Act No. 6639 as Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in his honor. Unofficially, the airport is still known as Manila International Airport or Manila Airport.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport or Ninoy Aquino Airport is the primary airport serving the Manila area and used as a civilian port of entry and military airport with two runways. The first oriented 24/06 measures 12,261' x 197' surfaced with concrete. The second oriented 31/13 measures 7,408' x 148' surfaced with concrete. Airport codes: ICAO: RPLL IATA: MNL. The airport is also shared by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for use by military aircraft. Adjacent is the Vilamor Philippine Military Air Base with the Philippine Air Force Museum (PAF Museum).

Manila Nonoy Aquino Interational Airport - NAIA official webpage
PAF Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base - official webpage
Doomed At The Start
page 424-426

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Last Updated
April 7, 2020




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