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    Barakoma Airfield (Fighter Strip) Western Province Solomon Islands

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USN c1943

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USAAF October 7, 1943

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USAAF October 19, 1943

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USMC December 1943

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USN December 27, 1943

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Location
Barakoma Airfield is located at the southeast corner of Vella Lavella Island, bordering Barakoma Bay to the east and southeast of Barakoma. This airfield was located 349 miles from Rabaul the nearest American airfield available at the time it was constructed. Also known as simply "Fighter Strip".

Construction
After the American landing at Barakoma on August 15, 1943 U. S. Navy (USN) 58th Construction Battalion (SeaBees) immediately began clearing a swampy area of jungle for a fighter strip along the coast. During the construction, nighttime harassment raids by Japanese interfered with, but did not stop the construction.

By October 25, 1943 the single runway was 3,600 x 150', with taxiways and revetments along the inland side of the runway. Also a road was constructed from the airfield north passing Gill's Plantation and up to Lambu Lambu Cove and Horoniu.

Wartime History
The first official landing at the newly built US airstrip on this island was September 24, 1943 by VMF-214 pilots Greg "Pappy" Boyington and Mo Fisher. Many Marine F4U aces flew from Barakoma during its height.

During August 19-28, 1943 Japanese aircraft attacked Allied forces in the Barakoma area losing a considerable number of aircraft and Allied fighters and anti-aircraft claimed about 50 attackers. None of the raids did considerable damage. The last recorded Japanese raid was January 16, 1944 when four bombs were dropped three miles wide of the airfield.

American units based at Barakoma Airfield
VMF-221 operated there at that time
VMF-212 (F4U) Munda ? - ? Torokina
VMF-214 "Black Sheep" (F4U)
VMF-215 (F4U) ? - ? Torokina
VMF-321 "Hell's Angels" ? December 24, 1943 - ? Piva South (Piva Uncle)
VMF(N)-531 (PV-1 Ventura)
VF-40 (F6F)

F4U-1A Corsair Bureau Number 55828
Pilot Alexander crashed September 23, 1943

P-38H "Jan II" Serial Number 42-66893
Pilot Livsey force landed October 7, 1943

Japanese missions against Barakoma
August 19, 1943 - January 16, 1944

Today
Still in use today for limited flights by Solomon Airlines. Airport code: VEV.

References
The Black Sheep page 225-226

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Last Updated
September 1, 2017

 

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Sept 1943

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Oct 1943

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