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IJN February 1942
Hajime Yoshida c1942
IJN Feb 8, 1943
IJN April 1943
345th BG Nov 2, 1943
3rd BG c1943
8th PRS c1943
Nippon News Jan 16, 1944
Ray Fairfield 1966
David Paulley 1982
John Douglas 1991
Justin Taylan 2000
Lakunai Airfield is located to the south of Rabaul, further to the south is Matupi Island. To the east is Matupi Harbor and and Mt. Tavurvur. To the west is Simpson Harbor. Known as "Lakunai Airfield", "Lakunai Drome", "East Airfield", "Rabinjikku" (Rabaul Lower) or "Rabaul No. 1".
By the end of January 1942 two groups of A5M4 Claude fighters arrived to provide combat air patrols. Lakunai was expanded with revetments to the north and south of the strip, and taxiways with Tetsuban (landing mat). Volcanic ash from Tavurvur often coated the area with a layer of ash. This airfield was the primary Japanese fighter airstrip at Rabaul until Rapopo Airfield and Tobera Airfield were constructed.
The base had a large compliment of anti-aircraft guns around the strip, and supported by guns emplaced around the airfield and at nearby Matupi Island to the south, and the ridge line at Sulphur Creek to the north.
The aerodrome was primarily used by the Japanese Navy. During early 1943, Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) aircraft were also based at this location until August 1943 when most were transferred to Wewak.
Japanese Naval (IJN) units based at Lakunai
Starting in early 1942, Lakunai was bombed by Allied bombers. Used by the Japanese as an airfield until the remaining aircraft were withdrawn to Truk during February 1944. Afterwards, anti-aircraft defenses remained active at Lakunai until the end of the war. By the end of the war, hundreds of bombing missions were flown against the airfield. At the end of the war, Lakunai Airfield was littered with wrecked aircraft.
American missions against Lakunai
On November 1, 1945, USMC PBJ Mitchell 35214 took off from Manus and landed at Lakunai Airfield, the first Allied aircraft to land at on the runway since the start of the Pacific War. On October 30, 1945 a RAAF Dakota landed on with a mail for Australian servicemen. Lakunai Airfield was fully returned to service by late 1945, and briefly based RAAF 8 Squadron Beauforts.
During 1945 until 1994, Lakunai Airfield was used as the main airport for Rabaul. During 1994, the volcanic eruption covered the airport and runway with ash, covering the buildings and rendering the airport unservicable. In anticipation of this, Tokua Airport (New Rabaul Airport) at Tokua was placed into service as the new airport servicing the Rabaul area.
Ki-21 Sally Manufacture Number 12??
TDR-1 Attack Drone
March 18, 1943
View in Google Earth
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