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".
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.
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
VMF-212 (F4U) Munda ? - ? Torokina
"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)
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
Still in use today for limited flights by Solomon Airlines. Airport code: VEV.
The Black Sheep page 225-226
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September 1, 2017