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December 6, 1943
D Letourneau 1999
During early July 1943, B5N Kates staged through Vila Airfield on a mission against Guadalcanal.
On August 13, 1943 Type 97 Kate carrier attack planes arrived from Kahili then took off on a torpedo mission against Guadalcanal that resulted in the sinking of the AP John Penn.
Vila Airfield was disused as of September 1943 when the Japanese withdrew from the area and were evacuated in early October 1943 from Kolombangara.
atest use I can confirm is 13 Aug 43 when Type 97 carrier attack planes staged into Vila from Kahili and then torpedoed AP John Penn in vicinity of Guadalcanal. Operation SE in early October involved the evacuation of Kolombangara so certainly no use after September 43.
Allied missions against Vila
On September 25, 1943 elements of the 27th Infantry landed on Kolombangara and established perimeter defense around Vila Airfield.
During late 1943, the Japanese aircraft abandoned at the airfield were surveyed by U.S. Army Technical Air Intelligence Unit (TAIU) by inspector W. W. Spinney. Surveyed was one G4M1 Betty, one D3A2 Val plus seven Zero fighters. The survey noted the aircraft manufacture numbers only.
On October 11, 1943 they were relieved by the 1st Battalion, Fiji Infantry. During January 1944, the U. S. Army dispatched a team of six soldiers with 16 Solomon Islanders to build a farm for fresh vegetables on the former runway.
Sabel, 350th Engineer Service Regiment recalls:
G4M1 Model 11 Betty Manufacture Number 2721
D3A2 Model 22 Val Manufacture Number 3066
A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 5359
A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 5452
A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture Number 3021
A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture Number 3271
A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture Number 3291
A6M3 Model 22 Zero Manufacture Number 3478
Abandoned at the airfield. Possibly T2-1163 surveyed by TAIU as "Zero Mark 2'.
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