Nissan Airfield is located on Nissan Island (Green Island) in Green Island Atoll bordering the Pacific Ocean to the east and Green Island Lagoon to the west. Also known as "Green Island Airfield" or simply "Green". Today known as "Nissan Island Airport". Sometimes incorrectly spelled Nissian Airfield.
During the late 1890s, Germans planted two copra plantations including Tangalan Plantation on Nissan that operated until World War I. After 1918, the plantations were operated by Australians until the start of the Pacific War. Also, Marist missionaries from the Catholic Church built a church, school and dispensary on Nissan Island.
During January 1942, Green Island Lagoon was briefly used by the Japanese Navy as a forward seaplane operating area, prior to the occupation of Rabaul. early 1944, a small Japanese base force of roughly 500 troops were stationed on Nissan Island, the rest had withdrawn to Feni Island. During the Japanese occupation, no airfield was built at this location.
On February 15, 1944 Allied troops made an amphibious landing as part of "Operation Square Peg". About 500 Japanese base troops defended the island and fought to the death. After the island was declared secure on February 23, 1944, construction of an airfield began.
Nissan Airfield was built on Tangalan Plantation by the U. S. Navy Construction Battalion "Seabees". Two parallel runways were built: Lagoon Airfield (Fighter Strip) and Ocean Airfield (Bomber Strip).
Lagoon Airfield (Fighter Strip)
Lagoon Airfield was built on the lower part of a peninsula
jutting out from the Nissan Island bordering Green Island Lagoon to the west. Also known as "Lagoon Airdrome" or "Lagoon Field". The control tower was code named "Lagoon". This was the first runway built by U. S. Navy Construction Battalion "Seabees", surfaced with crushed coral (coronus) for use as a fighter strip. On March 3, 1944 the first plane to land
on the new runway was a disabled Corsair. During the first week of March 1944, the 5,000' in length surfaced with crushed coral was completed. This runway was abandoned by February 1945.
Ocean Airfield (Bomber Strip)
Ocean Airfield located on the seaward side of Nissan Island bordering the Pacific Ocean. Also known as "Ocean Airdrome". This was the second runway built by U. S. Navy Construction Battalion "Seabees", surfaced with crushed coral (coronus) for use as a bomber strip. The runway was completed March 29, 1944 and measured 7,300' long by 200' wide. The control tower was code named "Ocean". The same day used by a B-24 Liberator that crash landed on the new runway. A note to pilots was: "Not to approach the island less than 1,000 feet when possible, as the [Green Island] atoll is difficult to locate at low altitude."
Nissan Airfield was designated U. S. Army APO 717, Unit 1. The airfield was used by aircraft from the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF), U. S. Navy (USN), U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). During early March 1944 until the end of October 1944, Nissan Airfield was used for missions against Japanese targets including Rabaul on New Britain and New Ireland.
U. S. Navy (USN) units at Nissan Airfield (Green Island)
93rd NCB (Seabees) February 15 - Oct 25, 1944
15th NCB (Seabees) February 22 - April 3, 1944
33rd NCB (Seabees) March 44 - July / August 1944
VB-115 (15 x PB4Y-1) Munda April 10, 1944 - May 26, 1944 Mokmer/Wakde
U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) units at Nissan Airfield (Green Island)
VMSB-341 (SBD) April - May 1944, July 1 - ?
VMSB-223 (SBD) May 7, 1944 - ?
VMF-218 () October 1944 - December 1944
VMF-222 (F4U/FG Corsair) 1944 - December 1944
VMF-223 (F4U) March 1944
VMB-423 (ground echelon) May 1944 (air echelon PBJ) June - August 20, 1944
VMB-423 (PBJ) mid 1944 - June 45 Emirau
VMB-413 (PBJ) mid 1944
VPB-53 (PBY) ? - July 45 Guiuan (Samar)
Special Task Air Group 1 STAG-1 (TDR Assault Drone) Banika / Stirling October 1944
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) units at Nissan Airfield (Green Island)
18 Squadron (F4U) November 1944 - December 1944
20 Squadron (F4U) November 1944 - ?
14 Squadron (F4U) December 1944 - January 1945
16 Squadron (F4U) December 1944 - February 1945
17 Squadron (F4U) January 1945 - March 1945
15 Squadron (F4U) February 1945 - April 1945
24 Squadron (F4U) March 1945 - May 1945
21 Squadron (F4U) April 1945 - May 1945
Many famous Americans served or visited Nissan Island. U.S. Navy (USN) Lt. Richard M. Nixon, Officer in Charge of the Combat Air Transport Command (CATC) on Nissan (Green Island) who later became the 37th President of the United States (POTUS) during 1969-1974. Civilian Charles A. Lindbergh flew with U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) aviators based at Nissan (Green) and Emirau, flying combat missions as an "observer" with VMF-115, VMF-212, VMF-218 and VMF-222 during May to June 1944. On May 22, 1944 he flew on a strafing mission over Rabaul and afterwards noted in his diary, "The more I see of the Marines the more I like them." His last mission was on June 9, 1944 flying an escort mission over Rabaul. On June 10, 1944 Lindbergh departed for Espiritu Santo.
During May 22 - June 10, 1944, Charles Lindbergh flew 13 combat mission with a U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) F4U Corsair squadron based at Green (Nissan) and Emirau and participated in combat mission to escort TBF Avengers over Rabaul and strafing ground targets. Bob
Hope preformed on Nissan August 1-2, 1944 and Jack Benny
on August 15, 1944. Until early June 1944, New Zealand Army troops remained on Nissan before withdrawing to New Caledonia.
STAG-1 Drone Project
During October 1944, US Navy (USN) Special Task Air Group 1 (STAG-1) operated TDR
Drone radio controlled aircraft with a live television broadcast to a "mother" control aircraft. STAG-1 was part of a top secret project to test the United States first guided missile flying combat missions from Nissan Airfield (Green Island) including:
October 5, 1944 four drones launched against targets
October 9, 1944 (mission VK-11) four drones attack the causeway at Matupi, mission
October 15, 1944 (mission VK-12) four drones attack the causeway at Matupi, mission
October 26, 1944 four drones launched against targets
By February 1945, Lagoon Airfield was noted as abandoned and today is overgrown. Ocean Airfield remained in use.
By July 1945, the last Allied personnel departed the Nissan Island (Green Island). Everything left on the island was destroyed or abandoned and the island was returned to the native inhabitants.
Ocean Airfield is still in use today and known as "Nissan Island Airport". The single runway measures 3,937'. Airport code: IATA: IIS. Used by regional airlines including Airlink for local flights to Tokua Airport (New Rabaul Airport) near Rabaul or charter flights.
Airdromes Guide Southwest Pacific Area July 1945
Corsair page 67
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November 14, 2018