Located at Torokina (Cape Torokina) on Bougainville, parallel to the Torokina
Road along the western coast of Bougainville at Empress Augusta Bay. Further inland to the north is Piva. Also known as Cape Torokina Airfield. Rabaul is roughly 200 miles to the northwest.
Allied Missions Against Torokina
November 8, 1943 - March 29, 1944
Built by US Navy
Seabees in forty days, and surfaced with Marson Matting.
It officially opened on December 10, 1943 when VMF 216
four or five SBD Dauntless dive bombers. After January 1, 1944 Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) aircraft also began operating from Torokina Airfield.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
Used as a fighter airfield, Torokina based aircraft from the United States Navy (USN), United States Marine Corps (USMC) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
Allied Units Based at Torokina
VC 40 (TBF)
VF(N)-75 (F4U night fighter) Munda December 1943
VMTB-233 (TBF) 6 MIA on
Feb 14 1944
VMF-216 (F4U) December 10, 1943
VMF-212 (F4U) September 1943
VMF(N)-531 (PV-1 night fighter) Munda December 1943
19 Squadron (F4U) March 1944
18 Squadron (P-40) February 1944
A Marine-manned New Zealand ground control radar unit was set up, and reached
operation about the time the airfield was completed.
On March 8, 1944 in conjunction with the Japanese counterattack against the American beachhead area around Torokina, Japanese Army artillery bombarded Piva Airfield. During the early morning of March 9, 1944 Torokina Airfield was shelled, forcing aircraft to immediately depart to avoid being damaged on the ground.
John Williams of ACORN 13 adds:
"Our unit operated the tower we fed and quartered the American
pilots, we armed and fueled the planes and any other
duties necessary to operate an airbase. Sorties of
F4Us, TBF torpedo bombers and SBD dive bombers were
flown off the strip. Our main target was Rabaul. Also
the Aussies flew the old P40s from there. Boyington
took off from that field the day he was shot down
A swimming beach was located on the beach parallel to the runway.
Bougainville and Torokina was one of nine Pacific Island bases recommended by the US Navy to be retained as bases. The recommendation was made to the Navy Affairs Committee to both houses of Congress on September 5, 1945.
The airfield is disused since
the war. Most of the length is overgrown. The edge nearest to Cape Torokina is still clear, used as a playing field with the church and school nearby. The top photograph shows Torokina in 1944 from the
swimming beach side, and strip in upper right. The bottom
photograph shows looking south to Motufena Point from the
strip this time the beach is on the right and the strip on
Thanks also to Bob Marshall
for assistance with this profile.
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
October 13, 2013