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    Barakoma Airfield (Fighter Strip) Western Province Solomon Islands
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USN c1943

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USAAF October 7, 1943

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USAAF October 19, 1943

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USMC December 1943

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USN December 27, 1943
1990 via Fellows
7° 54' 46S 156° 42' 22E  Barakoma Airfield is located at sea level on the southeast of Vella Lavella Island, bordering Barakoma Bay to the east and to the south was Sanaparo and further to the southeast is Barakoma. Also known as simply "Fighter Strip". When built,, this was the most forward Allied airfield to Rabaul which was 349 miles away. Today located in Western Province in the Solomon Islands. Still in use today as Barakoma Airport.

On August 15, 1943 U.S. forces landed at Barakoma. Immediately, U.S. Navy (USN) 58th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) "Seabees" began clearing a swampy area of jungle for development into single runway parallel to the southeast coast of Vella Lavella Island. By September 23, 1943 Barakoma Airfield became operational.

Between August 19-28, 1943 Japanese aircraft attacked Allied forces in the Barakoma area losing a considerable number of aircraft and Allied fighters and anti-aircraft claimed about 50 attackers. None of the raids did considerable damage. The last recorded Japanese raid was January 16, 1944 when four bombs were dropped three miles wide of the airfield. At night, harassment raids by Japanese interfered with, but did not stop the construction.

By October 25, 1943 the single runway measured 3,600 x 150' and was oriented 322°  x 142°  with taxiways and revetments along the inland southwest edge of the runway. Also a road was constructed from the airfield northward passing Gill's Plantation up to Lambu Lambu Cove and Horoniu.

Wartime History
On September 24, 1943 the first offical landing on the newly built runway was by a pair of F4U Corsairs piloted by Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington and Mo Fisher from Marine Fighting Squadron 214 (VMF-214) "Black Sheep". During late 1943 until early 1944, Barakoma Airfield was used by U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) fighter aircraft and bombers. Afterwards, squadrons moved northward to Bougainville and Nissan Airfield (Green Island).

American units based at Barakoma Airfield
VMF-221 (F4U)
VMF-212 (F4U) Munda arrives October 20, 1943–November 27, 1943 departs Torokina
VMF-214 "Black Sheep" (F4U)
VMF-223 (F4U) 1943
VMF-215 (F4U flight echelon) arrives January 6, 1944 with flights via Torokina
VMF-321 (F4U) arrives December 24, 1943–January 1944 Torokina Airfield / Piva South (Piva Uncle)
VMF(N)-531 (PV-1 Ventura) ? - April 1944 Nissan
VF-40 (F6F)

F4U-1A Corsair Bureau Number 55828
Pilot Alexander crashed September 23, 1943

P-38H "Jan II" Serial Number 42-66893
Pilot Livsey force landed October 7, 1943

Japanese missions against Barakoma
August 19, 1943–January 16, 1944

Still in use today as Barakoma Airport as a small airport with limited domestic flight offered by Solomon Airlines. Airport codes: ICAO: AGBA IATA: VEV.

The Black Sheep (2000) pages 225-226

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Last Updated
March 28, 2023


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