Wakde Airfield is located on Wakde Island, off the northern coast of New Guinea. To the southwest is the smaller Insoemanai Island (Insoemar, Nsoemanai). Possibly, also known as Toem Drome for nearby Toem.
Built by the Japanese for use by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF). This airfield was first noted by Americans in February 1943 and by
June, a single coral surfaced 5,400' x 390' runway, with dispersal
areas off the northern side, and barracks area on the south side
was visible. By September, the Japanese had expanded the base
further with a radio station and quarters for 1,000 personnel.
Used by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) medium and light bombers as a forward airfield.
Japanese units based at Wakde
61st Sentai (Ki-49) November 1943
101st Sentai (Ki-21 Air Transport Unit) November 1943
1st Air Route Department
20th Airfield Battalion
6th Navigational Aid Unit
6th Mobile Air Repair Squadron
60th Sentai (Ki-21) January 1944
45th Sentai (Ki-45) Babo February 1944
208th Sentai (Ki-48) Wewak then returned to Wewak
Between early April 1944 until the U. S. landing, attacked by American bombers and fighters.
American and Japanese missions against Wakde
April 7 - June 8, 1944
On May 15, 1944 during "Operation
Straight Line" the US Army 41st Infantry Division, 163rd Regimental
Combat Team (RCT) with the 3rd Engineer Special Brigade, 593d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment (EBSR) landed on the island. After two days of bitter fighting and moping up, the US Army prevailed at the cost of 40 KIA and 107 WIA. Nearly the entire Japanese force died in the battle: 759 KIA and only 4 POWs were taken
May 18, 1944 Wakde was declared secured and construction work began to repair the airfield. Repaired, the airfield was put into use by
5th Air Force fighters and bombers as a forward operating base. Departing from Wakde, the first American reconnaissance mission
where flown over Mindanao since the U. S. withdrawal in early 1942. Wakde Airfield was known to the U. S. Army as APO 719.
American units based at Wakde
HQ 348th FG, 341st FS, 342nd FS (P-47) Saidor May 22, 1944 - ?
71st TRG, 17th TRS (B-25) Finshafen May 25, 1944
- July 1944 Biak
348th FG, 340th FS (P-47) Saidor May 26 - Aug 24, 1944 Noemfoor
FG, 341th FS (P-47) Saidor May 26 - Aug
24, 1944 Noemfoor
5th Fighter Command (P-38, P-70, P-61) Nadzab May
28 - Sept 21, 1944
5th BG HQ (B-24) Momote August 17 - Sept 22, 1944 Noemfoor
5th BG, 72nd BS (B-24)
Momote August 19, 1944 - ? Noemfoor
5th BG, 394th BS (B-24) Momote August 25, 1944 - ?
403d TCG, 64th TCS (C-47) Biak Oct 2, 1944 - Oct 29,
403d TCG, 13th TCS (C-47) Los Negros Oct 4, -
Oct 19, 1944 Biak
403d TCG, 63th TCS (C-47) Biak Oct 4, 1944 - Oct 29,
13th Bomber Command HQ Los Negros Sept 3 - Oct
17, 1944 Morotai
307th BG, 424th BS (B-24) Los Negros Aug 22 - Nov
10, 1944 Morotai
307th BG, 371st BS (B-24) Los Negros Aug 22 - Nov 10, 1944 Morotai
307th BG, 372st BS (B-24) Los Negros Aug 22 - Nov 10,
307th BG, 370th BS (B-24) Los Negros Aug 22 - Nov 15, 1944 Morotai
307th BG HQ (B-24) Los Negros Aug 24 - October 18,
1094th Signal Company Aitape May 24 - November 1, 1944 Leyte
303rd Airdrome Squadron Tami May 8 - November 5,
air raids against Wakde
During early June 1944, Japanese bombers attacked Wakde on many occuasions.
Japanese missions against Wakde
June 1-10, 1944
The most successful Japanese air raid was on June 6, 1944 when three G4M Betty bombers of the 732 Kokutai bombed Wakde which was crammed with parked aircraft. The raid destroyed six planes and damaged eighty others. Destroyed were B-24J "Turtle Money" 42-109968, P-38J 43-28839, P-38J 43-28486, P-38J 43-28838, P-47D Thunderbolt, L-4B. Also damaged or lost were PB4Y-1 "Baby Shirley" 32150 from VPB-115, PB4Y-1 32177 from VPB-115, PB4Y-1 32255 from VPB-115, PB4Y-1 38789 from VPB-104 and PB4Y-1 32275 from VPB-104.
Disused since the Pacific War.
Operations at Wakde by Richard Dunn
Thanks to Eugene Salternik, Richard Dunn and Bob Livingstone for additional information.
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January 9, 2018