United States Army Air Forces in the South West Pacific Theatre

During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces engaged in combat against the air, ground and naval forces of the Empire of Japan in the South West Pacific Theatre.

As defined by the United States Department of War, the South West Pacific theatre included the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies (excluding Sumatra), Borneo, Australia, the Australian Territory of New Guinea (including the Bismarck Archipelago), the western part of the Solomon Islands and some neighbouring territories. The theatre took its name from the major Allied command, which was known simply as the "South West Pacific Area".

The major USAAF combat organizations in the region was Fifth Air Force, based in Australia after the Battle of the Philippines (1941–42). From Australia, the Allied forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur, first moved north into New Guinea in 1942, then into the Netherlands East Indies in 1943, and returning to the Philippines in 1944 and 1945. Moving with the Allied ground forces, the USAAF Fifth Air Force established a series of airfields, some at existing facilities, but most were carved out of the jungle to provide tactical air support of the ground forces.

In addition to the Fifth Air Force units, elements of Seventh and Thirteenth Air Force advanced into the theatre as Japanese land and naval forces were driven out of the Central and South Pacific Areas.

Airfields of the United States Army Air Force
in the South West Pacific Theatre
Fifth Air Force - Emblem (World War II)
Part of World War II
Southwest Pacific Area
Result Allied victory over the Empire of Japan (1945)

Airfields and major unit assignments

These airfields, and the headquarters of major units assigned (less Australia) were:


05°27′33″S 148°25′57″E / 5.45917°S 148.43250°E
8th Fighter Group, (20 February-13 March 1944)
35th Fighter Squadron, 20 February-13 March 1944
80th Fighter Squadron, 28 February-24 March 1944
05°39′03″S 151°30′25″E / 5.65083°S 151.50694°E
02°03′42.80″S 147°25′26.94″E / 2.0618889°S 147.4241500°E
HQ, Thirteenth Air Force, (15 June–12 September 1944)
HQ, XIII Bomber Command, (1 June-3 September 1944)
5th Bombardment Group, (Heavy) (13th AF) (7 April–16 August 1944)
23d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), (16 April-29 August 1947)
31st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), (20 April-19 August 1944)
72d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), (15 April-18 August 1944)
394th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 13 April-24 August 1944
307th Bombardment Group (Heavy), (13th AF) (29 April–23 August 1944)
370th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), (13 May-21 August 1944)
371st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), (13 May-21 August 1944)
372d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), (13 May-21 August 1944)
424th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), (13 May-21 August 1944)
403d Troop Carrier Group, (13th AF) (30 August–3 October 1944)
63d Troop Carrier Squadron, (13 August-30 September 1944)
419th Night Fighter Squadron, (18th Fighter Group detachment), (13th AF) (27 June–18 August 1944)

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
  • www.pacificwrecks.com (For names and geographic locations of airfields)

External links

Article XV squadrons

Article XV squadrons were Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand air force squadrons formed from graduates of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (1939) during World War II.

These units complemented another feature of the BCATP, under which personnel from the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) were placed in a common pool, and assigned to Article XV and RAF squadrons – in Europe, the Mediterranean Theatre, Africa and South-East Asia – according to operational needs.

The RAAF, RCAF and RNZAF also formed non-Article XV squadrons, which performed home defence duties and saw active service in various parts of the Pacific Theatre.

Bataan Airfield

Bataan Airfield was a former wartime United States Army Air Forces airfield on Luzon in the Philippines. It was overrun by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of the Philippines (1942). The airfield was located near the village of Lucanin, south Lamao in Bataan Province.

Cape Opmarai Airfield

Cape Opmarai Airfield is a disused airfield located near Sansapor, in Irian Jaya province, Indonesia. It is abandoned and overgrown, disused since 1944.

Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base

Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, or simply Villamor Air Base (IATA: MNL, ICAO: RPLL), named for Filipino WWII pilot Jesús A. Villamor is the home of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and shares runways with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). It is also known as Nichols Field or Nichols Air Base possible known as Nichols Freeport Zone. Chiefly used as a PAF transport/helicopter airbase, it is also the military installation that the Philippine president uses when departing for foreign or domestic trips, though foreign departures are mostly done at the Philippine Airlines-operated NAIA Terminal 2 (as PAL is the official charter airline for the Philippine president). Also, foreign dignitaries visiting Manila would usually arrive at the air base.

Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport

Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport (Waray: Luparan Daniel Z. Romualdez, Tagalog: Paliparang Daniel Z. Romualdez) (IATA: TAC, ICAO: RPVA), also known as Tacloban City Airport, is an airport serving the general area of Tacloban, a highly urbanized city in Leyte island in the Philippines. It is the main gateway from Manila and Cebu to the Eastern Visayas Region in central east Philippines. It is classified as a Class 1 principal (major domestic) airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the agency responsible for the operations of all the airports in the Philippines excluding the major international airports. As of 2017, Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport is ranked as the eighth-busiest and the third-fastest growing airport by passenger volume out of the 45 commercial airports in the Philippines.

The airport is named after Daniel Z. Romualdez, a former speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives. It is one of two airports in the Philippines named after a member of the Romualdez family, the other being Imelda R. Marcos Airport in Mati after Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, the wife of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

On 8 November 2013, the airport was largely destroyed due to the onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan. On 17 January 2015, the airport apron was the site of a large open-air mass held by Pope Francis that attracted nearly half a million pilgrims coming from all over the country to remember the effects of Typhoon Haiyan.

Del Carmen Airfield

Del Carmen Airfield is a former United States Army Air Forces airfield on Luzon in the Philippines. It was overrun by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of the Philippines (1942).

Del Monte Airfield

Del Monte Field was a heavy bomber airfield of the Far East Air Force (FEAF) located on Mindanao in the Philippines. The airfield was located in a meadow of a Del Monte Corporation pineapple plantation.

Frans Kaisiepo International Airport

Frans Kaisiepo International Airport (Indonesian: Bandara Frans Kaisiepo) (IATA: BIK, ICAO: WABB), is an airport in Biak, Papua, Indonesia. It is also known as Mokmer Airport. The airport is named after Frans Kaisiepo, the fourth Governor of Papua. The airport has seven aircraft parking slots, of which two are capable of handling wide-body aircraft, and a small terminal without jet bridges. The airport's only runway is 3,571m long, designated as 11/29.

Iba Airfield

Iba Airfield is a former United States Army Air Forces airfield on Luzon in the Philippines. It was overrun by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of the Philippines (1942).

Kornasoren Airport

Kornasoren (Noemfoor) Airport is a civil airport in Noemfoor, Schouten Islands, Indonesia. (IATA: FOO). Commercial service is provided by Susi Air to Manokwari and Biak from this Airport.

Lae Nadzab Airport

Lae Nadzab Airport is a regional airport located at Nadzab 42 kilometres (26 mi) outside Lae, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea along the Highlands Highway. It is served by both private and regional aircraft with domestic flights. The airport replaced the Lae Airfield in 1977.

Nadzab is located on the Erap River, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) North of the Markham River. The settlements of Gabmatsung/Gabmatzung and Gabsonkek are located on the East side of the airport.

Leo Wattimena Airport

Leo Wattimena Airport, formerly known as Pitu Airport (IATA: OTI, ICAO: WAMR (formerly WAEW)) is a private airport located on the southern coast of Morotai Island, North Maluku, Indonesia.

Middleburg Airfield

Middleburg Airfield (also known as Klenso Airfield or Toem Airfield) is a World War II airfield located on Middleburg Island, to the north of Sansapor in West Irian Jaya Province, Indonesia. The airfield was abandoned after the war and today is almost totally returned to its natural state.

Momote Airport

Momote Airport (IATA: MAS, ICAO: AYMO) is an airport on Los Negros Island in the Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea. It also serves Manus Island, which is connected to Los Negros by a bridge.

Owi Airfield

Owi Airfield is a former World War II airfield located on Pulau Owi island in the Schouten Islands, Indonesia.

The airfield was ordered built by General MacArthur on 6 June 1944. It was constructed by the 864th Engineer Aviation Battalion with B Company initiating the construction on 8 June 1944. The rest of the battalion was on the island by 11 June and the field was completed and operational on 22 June, a total construction time of three weeks. Improvements were made until the end of the war. The island and the airfield were used as a major command and control, as well as an operational fighter and bomber base from the summer of 1944 until the end of the war in September 1945. The airfield was abandoned after the war and today is almost totally returned to its natural state.

The construction proved to be a fairly simple concept; scrape off soil and expose the white coral - then level out the coral for a good, sound runway surface. Because the base was natural coral it was somewhat easy to maintain after the initial construction. Initially, Japanese pilots caused regular damage to the runway as they attacked the field and the air assets placed on the island. As the United States gained air superiority in the area the need for maintenance decreased and it became safe enough for support units to be placed on the island.

On the linked satellite image the airfield is still clearly visible over 60 years after being abandoned.

Sansapor Airfield

Sansapor Airfield (also known as Mar Airfield) is a former World War II airfield located in the village of Mar, in Tambrauw Regency, West Irian Jaya Province, Indonesia. The airfield was abandoned after the war and today is almost totally returned to its natural state.

Sentani International Airport

Sentani International Airport (Indonesian: Bandar Udara Internasional Sentani) (IATA: DJJ, ICAO: WAJJ) is an airport serving Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. It is located in the town of Sentani District, approximately 40 km from downtown Jayapura; the name 'Sentani' is taken from a Lake

Sentani nearby. It is the easternmost airport in Indonesia, the largest airport in Papua and the main hub to outside the island of Papua, Since April 2019 the management of the airport is taken over by PT Angkasa Pura I (Persero).

Torokina Airfield

Torokina Airfield, also known as Cape Torokina Airfield, is a former World War II airfield located at Cape Torokina, Bougainville.

Wakde Airfield

Wakde Airfield is a World War II airfield located on Wakde Island, off the northern coast of New Guinea in West Papua Province, Indonesia. The airfield was abandoned after the war and today is almost totally returned to its natural state.


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