Lat 6° 44' 0" Long 155° 42' 0" Kara Airfield is located near Kara roughly five kilometers from Buin in southern Bougainville. This airfield was known to the Japanese as "Kara" or "Toripoil" after the names of two nearby villages. The Allies called it 'Kara Airfield". Today located in Buin Rural, South Bougainville District in Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The land around Kara was owned by the Catholic mission.
During 1943, the Japanese began construction of an airfield at this location, as a satellite strip for nearby Kahili Airfield (Buin) and their last airfield construction project in southern Bougainville. A single runway was completed during September 1943, measuring 4,000' x 280' running roughly northwest to southeast. On the eastern side of the runway were "U' shaped revetments and a control tower measuring 30' to 40' was located at the northwest end of the runway. At the center of the runway and north and south ends were emplaced anti-aircraft guns.
The Japanese used this airfield primarily for fighter operations. Detected by the Allies, this airfield was first bombed on September 15, 1943. On October 1, 1943 Allied reconnaissance aircraft observed no aircraft parked on the ground. Fighters and bombers continued to strike the airfield during the remainder of 1943 and as a secondary target during 1944.
American missions against Kara
September 15, 1943 - June 3, 1944
Following the November 1, 1943 landing at Torokina, Kara Airfield was cut off from resupply and no flyable aircraft remained. As a morale boosting exercise
for the 60-70 maintenance personnel at the airfield, a disabled Zero was repaired to flying condition.
Using spare parts from many aircraft, A6M3 Zero 3844 Tail 2-152 was restored to flying condition by July 1945. Petty Officer Sekizen Shibayama, was flown aboard a E13A Jake from Rabaul to Buin and was instructed to test fly the Zero and ferry it back to Rabaul.
The war ended before he was able to test it.
After the Japanese surrender, rumors of the intact Zero at Kara reached the Australians. Two flights by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft from Piva Yoke Airfield landed at Kara to investigate. On September 14, 1945 Auster A11-3 landed at Kara Airfield. The next day, a RAAF Wirraway from No. 5 Squadron landed at Kara with Wing Commander Bill Kofoed and Engineering Officer C. D. Kingsford, to inspect A6M3 Zero 3844 and fly it back to Piva Yoke Airfield.
In postwar usage, this airfield was known as "Buin Airport" and used by Air Niugini and other local carriers for air service to the Buin area. Starting in 1989, this airfield ceased operations during the 'Bougainville Crisis" due to rebel activity in the area. Rapidly, it became overgrown and was abandoned as a landing ground.
75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type
at Kara Airfield, overgrown near the former runway
AWM F07335 "Fauro Island natives, discovery of a complete Japanese aircraft & evacuation of sick patient from Kara airstrip Bougainville" cine footage September 15, 1945
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida page 89 (footnote 1, Toropoli/Kara)
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September 13, 2020