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Located at Munda Point on the southern coast of New Georgia. The high ground above the area is Kokenggololo Hill. Since 1902 the land at Munda Point was Methodist mission, planted with coconut palms. Overlooking the airfield is Kokengola Hill (Kokenggolol).
Construction began in mid-November with a great emphasis on keeping the forward airfield secret. The majority of airfield work done before clearing the main runway and surfacing it with crushed coral. By wiring the tops of palm trees to keep them in place, allowing work to initially escape detection. Finally the trunks were cut away, and runway completed.
Despite these efforts, reports of the runway being constructed were relayed by coastwatcher Danny Kennedy to American forces on Guadalcanal. Afterwards, aerial reconnaissance spotted increased barge traffic and evidence of crushed coral being prepared at the strip, but the Japanese succeeded in buying enough time to complete a single all weather runway that measured 1,094 x 44 yards completed by December 17, 1942. Once completed, a 1,500' extension for bombers was begun with a a satellite field constructed at Vila Airfield on Kolombangara Island.
First to arrive at Munda Airfield between December 22-25, 1942 were A6M Zeros from the 252 Kokutai. The remaining pilots were picked up by nine Zeros escorting four Bettys and transported back to Rabaul departing by December 29, 1942.
Japanese units based at Munda
No other units were permanently based there, but other JAAF and IJN units transited through Munda as a forward airfield including the Japanese Navy 204 Kokutai and 582 Kokutai plus Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) 45th Sentai flying Ki-48 Lilys and 11th Sentai flying Ki-43 Oscars.
Immediately targeted by American aircraft, the airfield was quickly neutralized and untenable as a forward airfield. Still the Japanese managed to use the airfield for limited flight operations (probably limited to liaison and transport) until at least March 1943. Natives loyal to the coastwatcher heard engines warming up during March 1943 and reconnaissance aircraft observed aircraft parked on the ground.
Damaged Japanese aircraft returning from combat missions in the Solomons continued to make emergency landings at Munda until it fell to the Americans, including a Ki-21 Sally that crash landed after bombing nearby American forces.
American missions against Munda
Munda Airfield Battlefield
Japanese aircraft captured at Munda
American forces immediately began repairing and expanded the airfield. On August 13, P-40s from the 44th Fighter Squadron were patrolling over Munda and ran short on fuel and were the first Allied planes to land at Munda at 9:00am to refuel and afterwards flew a fighter sweep over Kolombangara, the first American combat mission flown from Munda Airfield.
On August 14, 1944 the control tower atop Kokengola Hill (Kokenggolol) went into operation. Three American aircraft known to have landed at Munda that day included VMF-215 F4U Corsair piloted by Robert Owen, a P-40 Warhawk from the 44th Fighter Squadron and J2F Duck with Brig General J. P. Mulcahy aboard as a passenger. The control tower went into operation that same day atop Kokengola Hill (Kokenggolol).
Maudie's Mansion was a large barn shaped structure that was the mess hall for the airfield, used by both US Navy and US Army personnel.
American units based at Munda
Japanese missions against Munda
By July 1945, the airstrip was 8,000' x 300'. the airfield was still in use, with limited accommodations for transient and emergency landings, and minor repairs. The field offered fuel and oil by truck delivery.
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