Lat 8° 42' 28 N Long 171° 14' 23" E Taroa Airfield is located on Taroa Island in the eastern corner of Maloelap Atoll. Pronounced "Tar-a-wa", not to be confused with Tarawa (Betio). The runway spaned the length of the island.
During December 1939, a battalion of
Japanese prisoners were drafted for the construction of
Taroa Airfield. The island was developed into a military airfield contrary to the rules of the
League of Nations mandate for the Japanese administration of the Marshall Islands. Two runways were built spanning 4800' and 4100'. Also, two hangars and a service
apron were constructed.
During the war, Taroa Airfield based a number of fighter and
bomber units, including Zeros, Lillys and Bettys. During February 1942, A5M4 Cluades were based at Taroa Airfield.
Japanese units based at Taroa
1st Kokutai (G3M2 Nell) March 1942
252 Kokutai (A6M
Zero) March 1943 - February 1944
755 Kokutai (G3M2 Nell, G4M Betty)
There were two radar sets (range 50 miles) installed on the island,
providing the air wing approximately 10 minutes warning for incoming enemy aircraft.
American missions against Taroa
January 23, 1944 - May 18, 1944
At the beginning of the US bombing a third runway
had been begun. By end of 1943 there was a total of 380
buildings on Taroa (with >= 490,000 square feet floor space),
80 of which had a floor space greater than 50 feet square.
It had several power stations, a command center, an air
operations center, fuel farms (35,000 gals.), a pier for
larger ships, several ammunition bunkers, a large barracks
area, and an extensive workshop area.
The garrison had
an extensive road network serviced by over 70 vehicles. Between
Feb. 1942 - Aug. 1945, US aircraft dropped 3,543 tons
of bombs and US ships fired 453 tons of shells at Taroa.
While the first attacks were carrier-based and irregular,
daily attacks were started after Majuro and Kwajalein had fallen
to the US forces.
At the same time, all supply lines to Taroa were
cut off, and the Japanese garrison was left to starve.
Of the originally 3097 strong Japanese garrison (1772 Navy,
368 Army, 957 civilians) only 1041 (34%) survived. Several
Marshallese were also killed. The survivor rate for Maloelap
is the worst of all bases in the Marshalls. Death occurred
from air raids, diseases, accidents, and suicides, but
mainly from starvation. The Japanese evacuated on February
The former airfield is largely overgrown with scrub
and low but very dense bush. The runway is still in use today. Known as Maloelap Airport. The single runway is 3,500' (1,067m) surfaced with turf. Airport code MAV. FAA airport location identifier 3N1. An island style lunch will be
provided at the school house between noon and 1pm for airport passengers.
22 Zero Manufacture Number 3621 Tail Y2-128
Salvaged by Steve Atkin 1978 shipped to Saipan later to Japan
A6M2 Model 21 Zero Tail S-152
Tail salvaged by John Sterling during 1991, sold to Vintage Aircraft Ltd
A6M3 Model 32 Zero 3318 Tail S-112/Y2-128
by John Sterling during 1991, currently under restoration
A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture Number 3148
Salvaged by John Sterling during 1991
A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture Number 3685 Tail
Salvaged by John Sterling during 1991, later sold to Imperial War Museum
A6M2 Model 22 Zero Manufacture Number 31574
Salvaged by John Sterling, used in restoration
of A6M3 3318
from the island
AirNav.com - Maloelap Airport
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
September 24, 2018