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    Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base (Tuha Channel) Western Province Solomon Islands
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USN Dec 17, 1942

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USN January 5, 1943

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USAAF October 11, 1943

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Iain Williams 1998

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Justin Taylan 2003

Location
The Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base was located in the Tuha Channel (Tuha Bay) bordering Shortland Harbor in the Shortland Islands. The base bordered Shortland Island and Korovou (Korouvo) to the north, northwest and west. Poporang is located to the east and south. Magusaiai is to the west-southwest. To the northeast is Shortland Harbor and Faisi Island. Inside Tuha Channel is Kerunepua Island.

Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base was located in the Tuha Channel between Shortland, Poporang and Faisi bordering Shortland Harbor. Known to the Japanese as "Shi-you-to-ran-do Hakuchi". The Allied referred to this location as "Shortlands Seaplane Base" or "Faisi Seaplane Base". Both names refer to the same location. 

Construction
On March 30, 1942 around 2:00am Japanese vessels entered Shortland Harbor and landed two Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) platoons in the early morning and met no resistance. At 10:00am, an Allied aircraft was observed overhead. The other platoon returned to the ships around 4pm and departed for Kieta. One platoon remained at Shortland to begin establishing Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base.

The seaplane takeoff and landing area was located at the mouth of Tuha Channel and Shortland Harbor, with the direction varying depending on the direction of the wind. Moorings for seaplanes were establshed off Shortland Island, Poporang Island and Faisi Island with additional moorings in nearby Kulitunai Bay.

During 1942-1943, supporting shore facilities were established at Nila on Poporang Island including a rectangular seaplane ramp and prewar pier. Another seaplane ramp was located at Lofang (Lofung) on the northern shore of Kulitunai Bay. The area was defended by anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, naval guns, search lights and radar on Poporang Island, Shortland Island and Faisi Island.

Wartime History
The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Eighth Fleet Headquarters at Bougainville established the "R-Area Air Force" (Homen Koku Butai) on August 28, 1942 the with seaplane bases at Shortland Harbor (Tuha Channel) and a forward base at Rekata Seaplane Base. Commanded by RAdm. Jojima Takatsuga, C. O. of the Eleventh Seaplane Tender Division, formed the squadrons of four seaplane tenders into two hikokitai (ad hoc air groups). These two hikokitai aircraft, which would eventually be expanded and combined to become the IJN Eleventh Ku, were equipped with three types of aircraft: Aichi E13A1 Type 0 (Jake), Mitsubishi F1M2 Type 0 (Pete) and Nakajima A6M2-N Type 2 (Rufe). During September 4 - November 7, 1942 the unit flew 360 sorties in 211 separate missions claiming 14 victories and one probable for the loss of nine pilots.

Japanese units based at Shortland Seaplane Base
R-Area Air Force (Homen Koku Butai) August 28, 1942 - April 1, 1943
851 Kokutai (H6K5 Mavis) September 42 - March 43
802 Ku (A6M2-N Rufe) January - March 1943 to Marshals
Kamikawa Maru (A6M2-N, C. O. Lt. Ono Jiro) September 4 - Nov 7, 1942, March 1, 1943 becomes 938 Kokutai
Kunikawa Maru (F1M2 Pete) Aug-March 1, 1943 becomes 938 Kokutai then to Rabaul/Kavieng
958 Kokutai (F1M2 Pete, E13A1 Jake) Rabaul Nov 42 - Aug 43 Rabaul

Allied Attacks
During late 1942, Shortland Harbor was attacked by American bombers and fighters. Photographic reconnaissance flights detected the presence of seaplanes at this location as early as January 1943. The seaplane base was detected by photographic reconnaissance on March 17, 1943.

Allied missions against Shortland Harbor (Tuha Channel)
October 16, 1942 - December 1943 - May 15, 1944

Bypassed Base
In the months prior to the American landing at Torokina on Bougainville on November 1, 1943 the Shortland area was targeted to supress the Japanese and give them the false impression the Shortlands would be the landing location. After November 1, 1943 the Shortland area was bypassed with the garrison cut off from resupply, reinforcement or retreat. Some Japanese attempted to use improvised rafts to join the Japanese garrison on southern Bougainville.

Allied bombers and fighters contined flying bombing and strafing missions until May 1944. Japanese forces occupied the Shortland area until the formal surrender of Japan om September 2, 1945. Afterwards, the Shortland area fell under the juristiction of the Australian Army. The surviving Japanese garrison was transported to Fauro Island where they were detained as Prisoners Of War (POW) until repatriated to Japan.


Following the November 1, 1943 After the American landing at Torokina on Bougainville, Shortland was bypassed.

Today
Since the war, disused as a seaplane base.

H6K2 Mavis
Sunk off Poporang Island, broken wreckage

H6K2 Mavis
Sunk off Shortland Island, broken wreckage

E13A1 Jake
Sunk in shallow water off Shortland Island

E13A1 Jake
Sunk in deep water at the center of the channel

References
Japanese army operations in the South Pacific area: New Britain and Papua campaigns, 1942–43 page 42

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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April 11, 1943

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