Nanumea Airfield is located on Nanumea Island.
Built by U. S. Navy (USN) Seabees, completed during October
1943. The airfield took up one sixth of the land area, and included
a mile long runway for heavy bomber operations with a service force of
2,300 personnel. Nanumea Airfield
was used to stage reconnaissance and early bombing missions
into the Gilberts and Marshalls and was operational in time to aid in the Battle for Tarawa.
American units based at Nanumea
30th BG, 27th BS (B-24) Mokuleia Nov 10, 1943 - Feb 26, 1944 Abemama
30th BG HQ (B-24) Hickam November 11, 1943 - Jan 4, 1944 Abemama
30th BG, 38th BS (B-24) Kahuku November 12, 1943 - March 13, 1944 Kwajalein
15th FG, 45th FS (P-40N) Baker November 28, 1943 - ?
Japanese missions against Nanumea
During November 1943, Japanese attacked Nanumea Airfield. On November 11, 1943 they hit the airfield and destroying or damaging
several airplanes, including one B-24 Liberator. A later raid destroys several landing craft.
Postwar, there were many unexploded bombs
and shells that were abandoned and used by local people. They
later rendered safe by a New Zealand bomb disposal team, and
the airfield is abandoned.
Robert Stitt reported in 1975:
"Nanumea boasted a variety of interesting aviation artifacts
including B-24 and C-47 fuselage sections used as kitchens and
as shelters for dried pandanas leaves which are used for roofing
thatch. The most conspicuous still had their USAAF star-and-bar
markings on the side."
B-24D "Raunchy" Serial Number 42-72980
Pilot Orr crashed November 19, 1943
SBD-5 Dauntless Bureau Number 38035
Crashed November 27, 1943
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May 22, 2017