Motoyama No. 1 Airfield (Airfield No. 1) was located on the Motoyama plateau in the southern corner of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands (Kazen Rettō) in the Bonin Islands (Ogasawara Islands) of the Ogasawara Subprefecture in Japan. Also known to the Japanese as Airfield No. 1, Chidori Airfield or Central Field.
When occupied by the Americans, known as South Field or Southern Airfield. To the southwest is Mount Surabachi. To the southeast is the invasion beach where the U. S. Marines landed on February 19, 1945. To the northeast is Motoyama No. 2 (Central Field, Iwo Jima Airfield).
Motoyama No. 1 Airfield was built by the Japanese and expanded to include three intersecting runways in a triangular layout with turnaround aprons on the edges of the two north oriented runways. One runway was oriented northeast to southwest. The second runway was oriented roughly north to south with a circular turnarounds at the each end. The third runway was oriented roughly northwest to southeast with circular turnaround areas at each end.
Motoyama No. 1 Airfield was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for fighters and as a transit point for aircraft flying southward or northward to Japan.
Japanese units based at Motoyama No. 1 Airfield
301 Kokutai (A6M Zero) June - July 1944
Starting in early July 1944 attack by American carrier aircraft and later heavy bombers to neutralized the airfield until February 19, 1945.
American missions against Iwo Jima
July 4, 1944 - February 27, 1945
On February 19, 1945 U. S. Marines made an amphibious landing on the invasion beach to the southeast of Motoyama No. 1 Airfield (Airfield No. 1). During the Battle of Iwo Jima, the airfield became a battlefield. Several Japanese aircraft were captured in the airfield area including a Ki-46-III Dinah.
While fighting still raged to the west and north, the Americans began repairing the northeast to southwest runway. During the week of repairs, C-47 Skytrains air dropped supplies over the airfield while the Marines were still engaged in combat in the vicinity.
On February 26, 1945 the first American aircraft to land on the repaired runway was a Stinson OY-1 Sentinel piloted by Lt. Harvey Olson from Marine Observation Squadron 4 (VMO-4). By March 2, 1945 the runway was graded to a length of 4,000'. On March 4, 1945 damaged and low on fuel B-29 "Dinah Might" 42-65280 was the first of 2,400 U. S. aircraft to make an emergency landing on Iwo Jima.
Once operational, known to the Americans as "South Filed" or "Southern Airfield", or simply as Iwo Jima Airfield as it was the only operative airfield, until the others were repaired on Iwo Jima. A large apron area with revetments encompassed the other two runways. When completed, the northeast to southwest runway measured 6,000' x 200'. The control tower was code named "Maple". Later, a taxiway at the northern end of the runway connected to Central Field and another taxiway connected to North Field.
American units based at South Field
NFS (P-61) ground echelon Hawaii March 14, 1945, flight echelon Saipan March 20, 1945
21st FG, HQ Mokuleia March 26, 1945
21st FG, 72nd FS (P-51) Mokuleia March 26, 1945
21st FG, 531st FS (P-51) Mokuleia March 26, 1945
7th FC HQ Hawaii March 1, 1945
15th FG, 78th FS (P-51) March 1, 1945 - ?
15th FG HQ Hawaii March 6, 1945 - ?
548th NFS (P-61) Saipan March 6, 1945 - ?
433d TCG, 67th TCS (C-46) Clark Field Aug 27, 1945 - ?
548th NFS (P-61) Saipan Mar 6 - June 8, 1945 Ie Shima
After the Pacific War, South Field was abandoned.
The southwest end of the runway is still visible.
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March 14, 2020