Banika Airfield was located on Banika Island northwest of Sunlight Channel in the Russell Islands Group (Russell Islands) in Central Province in the Solomon Islands. To the southeast across Renard Sound is Renard Field (South Field). Also known as Banika Field, North Field or Sunlight Field or simply Fighter Strip.
After the American landing on February 21, 1943, U. S. Navy Construction Battalion "Seabees" began constructing a single crushed coral runway 4,200' long and put into operation on June 30, 1943.
The runway was eventually expanded to 4,700' 150' with extensive revetment areas around it. Completed in June-July 1943, it was used by light bombers and fighters.
America units based at Banika (North Field, Sunlight)
MAG-21 HQ March 1943 - ?
VMF-124 (F4U) Guadalcanal ? - June 17, 1943
VMF-213 (F4U) Guadalcanal June 17 - December 9, 1943
VMF-214 (F4U) July 21, 1943 - September 17, 1943 Munda
VMF(N)-531 (PV-1) September 11, 1943
VMSB-144 (SBD) Henderson Field June 25 - July 30, 1943 Henderson Field
Special Task Air Group 1 STAG-1 (TDR Assault Drone) USA June - September 27, 1944 Stirling
Base LVT Repair Component E20 #1 Dec 7, 1944
42nd BG, HQ (B-25) Carney Oct 22, 43 - Aug 7, 44 Hollandia
42nd BG, 390th BS (B-25C) Carney 10-21-43 -
7-22-44 to Stirling
42nd BG, 75th BS (B-25) Carney Oct 21, 43 - Jan 20, 44 Stirling
42nd BG, 390th BS (B-25) Carney Oct 22, 43 - Aug 7, 44 Hollandia
42nd BG, 69th BS (B-25) Plaines Des Gaiacs 11-10-43 - 2-19-44 Stirling
STAG-1 Drone Project
During June to September 27, 1944 US Navy (USN) Special Task Air Group 1 (STAG-1) operated Naval Aircraft Factory TDN-1 Assault Drones and later
Assault 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. STAG-1 flew demonstrations and combat missions from Banika Field during July to October 1944 including:
July 30, 1944: Demonstration for USN Admiral Gunther: four TDR drones are tested against the shipwreck of Yamazuki Maru beached near Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. The point of aim was the deck with the attack commencing at 1:58pm and the drone impacting at 2:00pm.
September 27, 1944: VK-12 four drones ships off southern Bougainville
October 1, 1944: Eight drones to southern Bougainville area (two against Poporang)
By January 1945, Banika Field was closed, and available for emergency landings only.
Disused since the war, the runway and taxiways are still clearly visible from the air.
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September 24, 2018