Kahili Airfield was located near Kahili (Kihili) on the southern coast of Bougainville. To the east of Kagua and Buin. To the west is Tonolei Harbor. Prewar this area was a coconut plantation. The Japanese referred to this airfield as "Buin Airfield". The Allies referred to this airfield as "Kahili Airfield" or "Kahilli Airfield".
During the middle of 1942, this area was occupied by the Japanese. During late August 1982, they began construction of a 4,700' x 300' runway surfaced with crushed coral and tar. This airfield was known to the Japanese as "Buin Airfield". Allies called this airfield "Kahili Airfield". To add to the confusion, after the war, Kara (Toripoil) Airfield was and used until 1989 and was known as "Buin Airport", but was not this airfield.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
This airfield became the primary airfield supporting fighter operations over the Southern Solomons, and defense of Bougainville, until additional airfield were constructed. Japanese code named Buin "RXP".
On April 6, 1943 during "Operation I-Go" Allied
intelligence observed 114 aircraft at Kahili, when there
had only been 40 observed previously. On May 13, 1943 there
were 98 fighters and 32 bombers observed. On October 1, 1943 Allied reconnaissance spotted 27 Zero fighters at the airfield, including 7 Val dive bombers.
Japanese units based at Kahili (Buin)
Navy 11th Air Fleet
201 Kokutai (A6M Zero)
204 Kokutai (A6M Zeros detachment)
582 Kokutai (D3A Val, A6M Zero) late January 1943 disbanded August 1943
Hiyo (A6M2 Zero detachment) until December 15, 1942
Ryuhō (A6M2 Zero detachment) July-August 1943
American missions against Kahili (Buin)
February 4, 1943 - September 27, 1944
Targeted by American bombers and fighters, the airfield was left unservicable and bypassed but remained occupied by the Japanese until the end of the war.
On September 9, 1945 Australian Army, 2 Corps led by Major E. C. Taylor "Buin Liaison Group" landed at Kahili to meet with Japanese representatives to arrange the surrender of the Japanese forces in the area. On September 10, 1945 "storpedoes" filled with supplies were air dropped by a RAAF Beaufort over Kahili Airfield.
During the middle of September, the Australians supervised cleanup and dumping of war materials. Bombs and munitions were collected into a pile and dumped at sea. Two Type 95 Ha Go tanks captured at the airfield were demolished with explosives later in the month by the Australians.
Since the war, this airfield was abandoned. Several aircraft wrecks remained at the location until the late 1960s.
A memorial to Australian and Japanese servicemen located
at the overgrown airstrip.
G4M1 Betty Manufacture
Abandoned Kahili Airfield
A6M3 Model 22 Zero Manufacture
Number 3618 Tail -133
in 1969, AWM sold to Fantasy of Flight
A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture 5451 Tail W1-150
in 1969, several owners and used
A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture
Number 3274 Tail 115?
Osamu Tagaya adds:
"The Japanese sources during the war, when they spoke of 'Buin', they were referring to what the Allies called 'Kahili'. The Japanese report that their 'Buin' was next to a river and the end of the runway faced out to sea. Both Japanese and Allied sources indicate that there was only this one airstrip until Toripoil (Allied Kara, postwar Buin) was built later."
AWM "Account by Lin Leow" describing Prisoner Of War at Kahili during March 1943
AWM F07334 "Movement of Japanese to Fauro Island" Kahili wreckage September 1945
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July 12, 2017