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USN August 7, 1942
USMC August 1942
USN August 12, 1942
USMC October 1942
USN October 14, 1942
USN April 11, 1943
USN October 1943
July 24, 1947
David Paulley 1982
Peter Flahavin 1999
Justin Taylan 2003
John Laird 2003
Peter Flahavin 1999
Justin Taylan 2003
Lat 9° 25' 41S 160° 3' 17E Henderson Field is located at 28' above sea level inland from the north coast of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Located between the Lunga River to the west and Ilu River to the east. To the south is Bloody Ridge (Edson's Ridge, Raider Ridge) and further inland is Mount Austen (Grassy Knoll). Known to the Japanese as "Lunga Point Airfield". Known to the Americans as "Henderson Field" and later "Bomber 1". Prewar and during the Pacific War part of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (BSIP). Today known as Honiara International Airport or Honiara Airport in Guadalcanal Province in the Solomon Islands. Further to the west is Honiara.
Known to the Japanese as as "Lunga Point Airfield", "Runga Point Airfield" with code named RXI. In May 1942 occupied by the Japanese and surveyed as an airfield. Once operation, this airfield would allow Japanese aircraft to patrol the southern Solomons, shipping lanes to Australia and the eastern flank of New Guinea.
There were two major construction units involved in building the airfield. The Hama Construction Unit command of Inouree Hama had 1,379 men plus 1,145 men from another unit arrived from Gavutu on July 6, 1942. This team was originally scheduled to work on Midway Airfield, but it failed to be captured due to the Japanese defeat during the Battle of Midway. After July 9, 1942 construction efforts commenced at this location. The Japanese used local laborers from Guadalcanal to provide additional manpower. The construction activity was observed and reported by coastwatcher to the Allies and the development spurred American plans to capture the airfield before it could become operational.
The Japanese construction proceeded rapidly building a single runway, taxiway and dispersal area and a wooden structure (later nicknamed "The Pagoda" by the Americans). Specialists from the 14th Encampment Corps established a radio stations on Guadalcanal and a search radar on the ridge behind the runway. Previously they had built radio stations at Gavutu and Guadalcanal. Emplaced were 75mm anti-aircraft guns to defend the airspace.
During the night of August 6, 1942 prior to the American landing at Beach Red, the construction personnel were given an extra sake ration for completing construction ahead of schedule. No Japanese aircraft are known to have ever landed on the runway. If used, this airfield would allow Japanese aircraft to patrol far to the south menacing the surrounding Pacific Ocean area.
American missions against Lunga Point Airfield
July 31, 1942 - August 7, 1942
On August 7, 1942 Lunga Point Airfield was the objective of the US Marine Corps (USMC) amphibious landing at Beach Red (Red Beach) on Guadalcanal. Caught by surprise, the Japanese did not demolish the radio station, food stocks or construction equipment before they fled westward. Advancing from Beach Read, the 5th Marines advanced along the north coast while the 1st Marines moved inland advancing to the edge of the Ilu River. By 4:00pm, the Marines captured the airfield area.
Over the next five days, American personnel worked to repair the runway and used captured construction equipment including a Japanese steam roller. On August 12, 1942 PBY Catalina piloted by William S. Sampson, USN, personal aide to Admiral John McCain was the first American aircraft to land at Lunga Point Airfield. Simpson had been instructed to land in the sea off shore, but feigned an engine failure to become the first American aircraft to land at the captured airfield. After landing a survey team, the Catalina took off with two wounded Americans aboard including Lt. James "Pug" Southerland.
During the middle of August 1942 Lunga Point Airfield was renamed "Henderson Field" in honor of Major Lofton Henderson pilot of SBD-2 Dauntless 2129 Missing In Action (MIA) June 4, 1942 during the Battle of Midway. Later, when the American built other airfields on Guadalcanal, it also became known as "Bomber 1".
During the Guadalcanal campaign, the Japanese failed to recapture the airfield during the Battle of the Tenaru (Alligator Creek) on August 21-22, 1942 and Battle of Bloody Ridge (Edson's Ridge) during September 12-14, 1942. During the Guadalcanal campaign, Japanese aircraft bombed from the air and Japanese Navy vessels bombarded from Iron Bottom Sound.
Japanese missions against Henderson Field
Expanded and completed by US Navy 6th Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees), the first aircraft, a PBY Catalina landed on the airfield on August 20, to evacuate two wounded soldiers. On August 22, 1942 after the Battle of the Tenaru, fighter aircraft operating from the new airfield strafed surviving Japanese on the east bank of the river.
Stocks of aviation fuel began arriving at Henderson Field by the middle of October 1942 by ship and aircraft. Later, a second strip, Fighter
2 (Kukum Field) was built to
the west. Later, other strips were built including Fighter 1 (Lunga Field) parallel to the the east and Crash Strip (The Grassy Strip) and Fighter 3 (Emergency Field).
In 2003, there
was rumors that the name "Henderson Field" would be changed
to "Honiara International Airport" and this resulted in
a petition to Keep
Guadalcanal's Henderson Field Name. During 2004, the name was officially changed to "Honiara International Airport / Henderson Field".
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