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5th AF c1943
5th AF Dec 24, 1943
17th PRS June 18, 1943
Justin Taylan 2000
World War II Pacific Theatre History
Japanese units based at Tobera Airfield (South Airfield)
Beginning on October 24, 1943 Tobera Airfield came under aerial attack from U. S. aircraft. During this period, 253 Kokutai Zeros from Tobera intercepted nearly every air raid. To patch the runway after Allied bombing, the Japanese built a 610mm narrow gauge rail road line, with a Kato tractor to pull carts full of dirt to fill the craters. By late January 1944 they had sustained heavy losses in both pilots and aircraft. By the middle of February 1944 less than 20 Zeros remained flyable and were withdrawn. Tobera continued to be bombed until the end of June 1944.
American missions against Tobera
On February 25, 1944 photographic reconnaissance revealed 33 aircraft at Tobera, although most of these were decoys or hulks. The few remaining fighters in flying condition or under repair were carefully hidden.
After the Japanese withdrawal from the Rabaul area, the 105th Naval Base Air Unit was instructed to keep Tobera Airfield serviceable and maintain the few remaining Zeros in flying condition. By March 1945, the 105th Naval Base Air Unit had 2,000 personnel and two construction units attached including the 28th Construction Unit (Civilian, convict labor with roughly 200 men).
Tobera mysterious USA in Kunai grass
By 1945, anti-aircraft shells and fuel stocks were very low and carefully dispersed. Most Japanese were involved with gardening to grow crops for subsistence. Personnel were quartered in tunnels with 50 men in each three miles north of Tobera Airfield.
During the early 1950s, Douglas Joycey purchased half of the former Tobera Plantation and renamed it Vimy Plantation and began replanting it with coconut palms harvesting copra.
Jim Joycey (son of Douglas Joycey) recalls:
During the early 1990s, Australian Rick Ray puchased a portion of Vimy Plantation and renamed it Vunatung Plantation and established the company "Golden Dolphin 3" with his wife. Ray built his home at roughly the center point of the old runway, on a hardstand area.
PBJ-1D Mitchell Bureau Number 35143
P-38G Lightning Serial
SBD-5 Dauntless Serial Number NZ5050
SBD-5 Dauntless Bureau Number 54383
B-25C Mitchell 42-32319
Aircraft Wreckage Pile
A6M3 Zero Manufacture Number 3650
January 9, 1944
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