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USN April 2, 1942
13th AF Dec 15, 1942
13th AF Nov 4, 1943
13th AF c1944
13th AF Nov 11, 1944
Stephen Turner 1985
Justin Taylan 2003
Lat 5° 25' 20S Long 154° 40' 22E Buka Airfield is located to the north of Buka (Town) and Chinatown near the southern coast of Buka Island. Further to the south is Buka Passage and beyond Bonis on the northern coast of Bougainville. Today known as Buka Airport in the Northern Bougainville District, Autonomous Region of Bougainville (Bougainville Province) in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Built prewar by the Australian administration as a single runway roughly 700 meters x 60 meters was roughly northeast to southwest. Also, an emergency runway 500 x 60 meters off the end of the runway, forming an 'L' shape.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
During the middle of March 1942 occupied by the Japanese. On July 26, 1942, a Japanese Navy special detachment was sent to inspect Buka Airfield, but considered it unacceptable as a prospect for a speedily constructed major airfield.
On October 2, 1942 returning from a mission over Guadalcanal, A6M2 Zero piloted by PO3c Mogi suffered a landing gear collapse while landed at Buka Airfield.
By December 1942 the strip was further improved by the Japanese with bitumen surfacing, an electrical power plant, underground fuel tanks, and new pillboxes and trenches. From December onwards many hulks were at the strip. Coastwatchers reported nighttime patrol flights during full moon. Also, scouting by a Betty bomber flying down each coast of Bougainville and returning by afternoon as part of regular reconnaissance.
On May 13, 1943 Allied reconnaissance observed 36 fighters and 6 bombers at the airstrip. On October 1, 1943 Allied reconnaissance observed 35 aircraft at Buka, including 19 dive bombers.
On October 22, 1943 the runway was recorded at 4,200' x 420', with extensive revetment areas to the north and south of the runway, defended by anti-aircraft guns.
Japanese and American missions against Buka Airfield
Tom Blackburn in VF-17
The Jolly Rogers recalls:
During the 1990's "Bougainville Crisis" Buka Airfield was the only airport in Bougainville Province that remained open.
McDade adds in 1999:
Justin Taylan visited in September 2003:
25mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type 96 Twin Mount
October 22, 1943
View in Google Earth
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