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22nd BG August 1942
38th BG Dec 11, 1942
Justin Taylan 2003
World War II Pacific Theatre History
During July 21-22, 1942 Japanese landing at Buna and Gona and occupied this area. Immediately, the Japanese began building a single runway at this location. Aircraft revetments (Entai-Gou) and anti-aircraft gun emplacements. By early August 1942, Buna Airfield was ready for use as a forward airfield and was used by the Japanese until September 8, 1942.
On August 14, 1942 three A6M3 Model 32 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai, 2nd Shotai: Lt(jg) Takeyoshi Ono, FPO1c Sadao Yamashita, FPO3c Masami Arai landed at Buna Airfield. At 7:35 they intercepted B-17E "Chief Seattle" 41-2656. During the attack, Lt(jg) Takeyoshi Ono's Zero was damaged by defensive fire from the bomber.
On August 22, 1942 a detachment of A6M3 Zeros from the 2nd Kokutai and Tainan Kokutai from Lakunai Airfield arrived at Buna Airfield. On August 24, 1942 eight D3A2 Val dive bombers from the 2nd Kokutai (Bomber Buntaï) led by Lt Inoue arrived at Buna Airfield.
On September 3, 1942 a Japanese troop convoy en route from Rabaul to Buna was escorted by A6M Zeros from the 2nd Kokutai and Tainan Kokutai from Buna Airfield as it neared Buna.
Japanese units based at Buna Airfield
Immediately, Buna Airfield was strafed and bombed by Allied aircraft flying from Port Moresby, making the airfield too vulnerable for flight operations. Buna Airfield was used for roughly two weeks before being neutralized by Allied bombing and strafing and untenable. By August 28, 1942 the remaining D3A Val dive bombers in flying condition were withdrawn. During the afternoon of September 8, 1942 the remaining A6M Zeros from the 2nd Kokutai were withdrew.
against Buna Airfield
Although no aircraft remained, anti-aircraft guns continued to defend Buna Airfield against attacking aircraft. The wrecked aircraft on the ground were repeatedly strafed and bombed, in the incorrect belief they were active aircraft. Many abandoned Japanese aircraft were disabled by low level strafing and bombing attacks and were left abandoned along the runway.
As the Allies began to advance over the Owen Stanley Mountains, the Japanese Army constructed extensive fortifications around Buna Airfield, including trenches, bunkers and a battery of 75mm Type 88 anti-aircraft guns to the west of the runway.
Buna Airfield Battlefield
M3 Stuart tanks and infantry advanced steadily for half an hour until a concealed Japanese 75mm Type 88 anti-aircraft gun opened fire at short range and knocked out the four tanks in quick succession. The infantry came under heavy fire but at the end of the day only 500 to 700 yards had been gained. Little progress was made on the next two days. The Australian Army 2/10th companies attacking were no larger than platoon strength due to their losses and were frequently subjected to counter attacks.
Captured Japanese aircraft at Buna Airfield
Japanese aircraft captured at Buna Airfield
After the battle, the best Zeros, engines and parts were transported to the beach, loaded onto barges and shipped to Milne Bay then Brisbane for technical evaluation at Eagle Farm Airfield. From the wreckage recovered a A6M3 Hamp (Hybrid) was restored and test flown. The other wrecks were abandoned and souvineered by Allied troops in the area.
Afterwards, Buna Airfield was never used by the Allies as a military airfield and was abandoned.
Type 3 (1914) 76.2 mm Naval Gun
Type 3 (1914) 76.2 mm Naval Gun
Stuart M3 Tank Hull
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