Banika Airfield was located on Banika Island in the Russell Islands Group (Russell Islands) in Central Province in the Solomon Islands. To the northwest is the Sunlight Channel. To the southeast across Renard Sound is Field (South Field). Also known as Banika Field, North Field or Sunlight Field or simply Fighter Strip.
After the American landing on February 21, 1943, U. S. Navy Construction Battalion "Seabees" began constructing a single crushed coral runway 4,200' long and put into operation on June 30, 1943.
The runway was eventually expanded to 4,700' 150' with extensive revetment areas around it. Completed in June-July 1943, it was used by light bombers and fighters.
America units based at Banika (North Field, Sunlight)
U. S. Marine Corps (USMC)
MAG-21 HQ March 1943 - ?
VMF-124 (F4U) Guadalcanal ? - June 17, 1943
VMF-213 (F4U) Guadalcanal June 17 - December 9, 1943
VMF-214 (F4U) July 21, 1943 - September 17, 1943 Munda
VMF(N)-531 (PV-1) September 11, 1943
VMSB-144 (SBD) Henderson Field June 25 - July 30, 1943 Henderson Field
U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF)
42nd BG, HQ (B-25) Carney Oct 22, 43 - Aug 7, 44 Hollandia
42nd BG, 390th BS (B-25C) Carney 10-21-43 -
7-22-44 to Stirling
42nd BG, 75th BS (B-25) Carney Oct 21, 43 - Jan 20, 44 Stirling
42nd BG, 390th BS (B-25) Carney Oct 22, 43 - Aug 7, 44 Hollandia
42nd BG, 69th BS (B-25) Plaines Des Gaiacs 11-10-43 - 2-19-44 Stirling
U. S. Navy (USN)
Special Task Air Group One (STAG-1) (TDR Attack Drone) USA June 12, 1944 - September 27, 1944 Stirling
Base LVT Repair Component E20 #1 Dec 7, 1944
STAG-1 Drone Project
On June 12, 1944 elements of Special Task Air Group One (STAG-1) arrived at Banika, the first deployment of a guided missile unit into a combat theater to conduct combat test in the South Pacific (SOPAC). The unit conducted top secret tests of the radio controlled drones with a live television broadcast to "mother" control aircraft between June 1944 until the end of September 1944 using the Interstate TDR
July 30, 1944: Demonstration for USN Admiral Gunther: four TDR drones are tested against the shipwreck of Yamazuki Maru beached near Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. The point of aim was the deck with the attack commencing at 1:58pm and the drone impacting at 2:00pm.
September 27, 1944: VK-12 four drones attack ships off southern Bougainville.
October 1, 1944: Eight drones to southern Bougainville area with two drones against Poporang.
By January 1945, Banika Field was closed, and available for emergency landings only.
Disused since the war, the runway and taxiways are still visible from the air.
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June 11, 2019