Fighter 1 is located to the west of the Ilu River near the north coast of Guadalcanal. Located about 500 yards inland to the east and parallel to Henderson Field. Also known as Fighter 1, Fighter One, Lunga Field or "The Cow Pasture".
Built by the Americans, the single grass surfaced runway oriented roughly north-east to south-west completed during September 1942. By February 9, 1943 the runway was expanded to 4,000' in length and 150' wide. Although plagued with drainage
problems, it allowed Allied aircraft to operate even when
was disabled by bombardment or aerial bombing.
Revetments and taxiways spread to the north and south of the runway, and a taxiway connected it to nearby Henderson Field. At its peak, this airfield had 110 hardstands for light planes and 36 revetments.
Fighter 1 became the primary base for U. S. Navy (USN) and U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) fighters and bombers.
based at Fighter 1
VMF-124 (F4U) July 23, 1943 - September 7, 1943 3rd tour.
67th Fighter Squadron (P-39, P-400) October 17, 1942 - ?
VMF-123 (F4F) May 10 - July 1943 Banika
VMF-124 (F4U) May 10, 1943 - June 6, 1943 had during
its 2nd tour
VF-33 (F6F-3) Espiritu Santo August 27, 1943-September 21, 1943 Espiritu Santo
VMF-212 (F4U) September 5, 1943 - December 9, 1943
VF-38 (F6F) September 1943 - ?
VMTB-233 (TBF) 1943
Bob Fish adds:
"VMF-124 placed in tents in the main "campsite" among
the palm and rubber trees in the plantation between Henderson
and the beach. However, there was a major bombardment that night that raised hell with
the pilots and ground crew so they relocated their camp right next to Fighter
1. Major Bob Weissenberger. Now Bob went back in 1981 and looked
over the "old field" as best he could by driving along
the main Henderson Field. With his background knowledge of what
the camp looked like, he found several key "mounds" in
the grass. One of these was the bore sighting revetment still
there, still semi-circular, but overgrown. When he left in 1943,
there were thousands of 50 caliber gun casings in and around
this revetment and more than a few live rounds from misfeeds,
Not far from it was another mound which surprised him that
is was still there - it was the main ammunition dump for the
Corsairs! He couldn't get close enough to see if anything was
left in or around it in 1981 but when he left the island in 1943,
it was packed with enough bombs, and ammunition to "blow
the island off the map.
In the main camp work area, and also in the overnight tent area,
the Seabees had built some bomb shelters. The one in the sleeping
area was dug out of earth with a palm logs and sandbags on the
roof and he couldn't spot this in 1981. However, he did see the
mound which corresponds to the concrete shelter in the work area,
right at the intersection of the taxiway and the Fighter 1 strip.
He said its highly likely there are lots of things lying around
and inside it from spare plane parts to personal items (guys
would clean rifles, sharpen bayonets, play cards, etc during
an air raid)."
On August 27, 1943 U. S. Navy (USN) VF-33 arrived equipped with the F6F Hellcat for their first tour of duty and took over alert duty and began flying combat missions over the central and northern Solomons.
Their first tour of duty was three weeks until September 21, 1943 and undertook escort missions and strikes on enemy targets and Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions over Vella LaVella and attacks on airfields on Bougainville.
By December 16, 1944 Fighter One was closed except for emergency landings. By January 1945 noted as being closed except for emergency landings.
Disused since the war, it is overgrown. The outline can still be seen from the air.
NARA History of Fighting Squadron 33 page 2
(Page 2) "Fighting Squadron 33, took over the alert duty for Fighter One on the afternoon of 27 August 1943."
Thanks to John Innes, Peter Flahavin and Stan Jersey for additional information.
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April 7, 2020