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    Midway Airfield (NAS Midway Islands, Henderson Field) Midway Atoll USA
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USN November 24, 1941

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USN June 1942

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The Battle of Midway
June 4, 1942

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78th FS c1943

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Google Earth 2016
Midway Airfield is located on Eastern Island in Midway Atoll part of NAS Midway Islands. Also known as Midway Field or Eastern Island Airfield. After the Battle of Midway renamed Henderson Field. Disused since the Pacific War.

During 1939 the U.S. Navy (USN) contracted several construction firms, which formed Contractors Pacific Naval Air Base to build facilities for NAS Midway Islands on Eastern Island and Sand Island. On Eastern Island, Midway Airfield was built with three intersecting runways in an "A" shape with supporting facilities completed by 1941. During the Pacific War, Midway Airfield was further expanded and improved.

On September 5, 1941 B-17 Flying Fortresses departed Hickam Field and landed at Midway Airfield to refuel before proceeding across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines. The formation included: B-17C 40-3095 and B-17C 40-2072.

Wartime History
On December 7, 1941 enroute to Midway was USS Lexington (CV-2) with SB2U-3 Vindicators from Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231) for delivery to Midway Airfield. After reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu were received, the carrier aborted the delivery. Between 9:31am to 9:54am, Japanese destroyers Ushio and Sazanami bombarded Midway Atoll shelling targets on Sand Island.

Japanese missions against Midway Atoll
December 7, 1941–June 4, 1942

On December 17, 1941 seventeen SB2U-3 Vindicators from VMSB-231 led by a PBY of Patrol Wing 1 (Pat Wing 1) departed Oahu and landed at Midway Airfield a flight that lasted 9 hours, 45 minutes. At the time, this was the longest mass flight by single-engine aircraft on record.

On May 17, 1942 the 7th Air Force was placed on alert in anticipation of a possible attack on Midway. For the next ten days, B-18 Bolos were used used on sea search missions to supplement B-17's. During this period, 7th Bomber Command receives an influx of B-17E Flying Fortresses from the 5th Bombardment Group (5th BG), 72nd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy). U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) 7th Air Force B-17E Flying Fortress flown from Hickam Field on Oahu with an extra bomb bay fuel tank include B-17E 41-2397, B-17E 41-2403, B-17E 41-2404, B-17E "Ole Sh'asta" 41-2428, B-17E 41-2437, B-17E 41-2463, B-17E 41-2524, B-17E 41-2525, B-17E 41-2635, B-17E 41-9212 and B-17E 41-9213.

During early June 1942, U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) bombers were flown from Hickam Field on Oahu to Midway Airfield ahead of the Battle of Midway. The bombers included four B-26 Marauders including two from the 38th Bombardment Group (38th BG), 69th Bombardment Squadron (69th BS) B-26 piloted by Captain James F. Collins and B-26B 41-17570 pilot 1st Lt William S. Watson plus two from the 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG), 408th Bombardment Squadron (408th BS) including B-26 "Satan's Playmate" 40-1424 pilot 1st Lt Herbert C. Mayes and B-26 "Suzy-Q" 40-1391 pilot 1st Lt. James P. Muri.

Battle of Midway
During the Battle of Midway used by U.S. Navy (USN), U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft and was the target of air strikes by Japanese carrier aircraft.

On June 4, 1942 early that morning, the four B-26 took off on a torpedo attack against the Japanese warships. Lost was B-26 "Satan's Playmate" 40-1424 (MIA) and B-26 "Suzy-Q" 40-1391 returned but was written off due to battle damage. Between 6:34am to 6:40am Japanese carrier planes from Sōryū strike Midway Airfield and Eastern Island with Sōryū B5N1 Kates followed by Akagi D3A Vals bombing Midway Airfield and Eastern Island hitting the power plant, command post and gas tanks but only cause minor damage to the runways.

On June 5, 1942 two B-17s were lost B-17E 41-9212 (MIA) and B-17E 41-25242524 (rescued, 1 missing).

After the Battle of Midway, Midway Airfield was renamed "Henderson Field" in honor of Major Lofton R. Henderson pilot of SBD Dauntless 2129 Missing In Action (MIA) June 4, 1942. On Guadalcanal, Lunga Point Airfield (Henderson Field, Bomber 1) was also named in his honor.

American units at Midway
VT-8 (TBF-1 detachment)
VP-137 (PV-1 detachment) Kaneohe August 22, 1944 - October 15, 1944 Mokerang
VMF-221 (F2A Buffalo)
VMSB-241 (SBD) May 26, 1942
7th Air Force
318th FG, 73rd FS (P-40E) USS Saratoga (CV-3) June 25, 1942–January 26, 1943 departs Kaneohe
307th BG, 371st BS (B-24) Wheeler Jan 20 - Jan 26, 1943 Wheeler
15th FG, 78th FS (P-40K) Hawaii Jan 23 - April 23, 43 to Barking Sands

During 1945, Midway Airfield was abandoned in favor of Sand Island Airfield.

During middle 1960s reactivated as a Naval Air Station Midway and Midway Airfield (Eastern Island Airfield) was used as a transit airfield refueling for aircraft flying to or from Vietnam. Closed in 1970 and designated a wildlife sanctuary and became overgrown. Since 1970, disused and designated as wildlife sanctuary.

Part of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Visitors to Midway Islands can observe many wartime relics including the original runways, buildings, bunkers and other wartime remnants remain on the islands. Bomb craters and long strings of strafing bullet holes from Japanese aircraft visible across runway aprons and buildings.

The Battle of Midway (1942) directed by John Ford includes combat footage during the Battle of Midway June 1942
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) pages 101-105

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Last Updated
December 18, 2023


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