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27th BS December 1943
Nanumea Airfield is located on Nanumea Island in Tuvalu (Ellice Islands). Also spelled Nanomea or Nanomeo.
Built by U.S. Navy (USN) 16th Naval Construction Battalion (16th NCB) "Seabees". By September 7, 1943 a single runway measuring 5,000' was completed that spanned one sixth of the island. Nanumea Airfield was fully completed by October 1943 and spanned one sixth of the island.
Nanumea Airfield was used by U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) heavy bombers and fighters supported by 2,300 personnel. Nanumea Airfield was used to stage reconnaissance and early bombing missions into the Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands and supported the Battle for Tarawa.
American units based at Nanumea
30th BG, 27th BS (B-24) Mokuleia Nov 10, 1943 - Feb 26, 1944 departs Abemama
30th BG HQ (B-24) Hickam arrives November 11, 1943–Jan 4, 1944 departs Abemama
30th BG, 38th BS (B-24) Kahuku arrives November 12, 1943–March 13, 1944 departs Kwajalein
15th FG, 45th FS (P-40N) Baker arrives November 28, 1943 - ?
Japanese missions against Nanumea
During November 1943, Japanese planes targeted Nanumea Airfield. On November 11, 1943 a Japanese air raid hit the airfield and destroying or damaging several airplanes, including one B-24 Liberator. A later raid destroyed several landing craft.
At the end of the Pacific War, Nanumea Airfield was abandoned. Many unexploded bombs and shells were abandoned at this location and were being used by local people until rendered safe by a New Zealand bomb disposal team.
Robert Stitt reported in 1975:
"Nanumea boasted a variety of interesting aviation artifacts including B-24 and C-47 fuselage sections used as kitchens and as shelters for dried pandanas leaves which are used for roofing thatch. The most conspicuous still had their USAAF star-and-bar markings on the side."
B-24D "Raunchy" Serial Number 42-72980
Pilot Orr crashed November 19, 1943
SBD-5 Dauntless Bureau Number 36035
Crashed November 27, 1943
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