Midway Airfield is located on Eastern Island in Midway Atoll part of NAS Midway Islands. Also known as "Eastern Island Airfield". After the Battle of Midway renamed "Henderson Field".
During 1939 the U. S. Navy (USN) contracted several construction firms, which formed Contractors Pacific Naval Air Base to build facilities for NAS Midway Islands on Eastern Island and Sand Island. On Eastern Island, Midway Airfield was built with three intersecting runways in an "A" shape with supporting facilities completed by 1941. During the Pacific War, Midway Airfield was further expanded and improved.
On September 5, 1941 B-17 Flying Fortresses departed Hickam Field and landed at Midway Airfield to refuel before proceeding across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines. The formation included: B-17C 40-3095 and B-17C 40-2072.
On December 7, 1941, USS Lexington (CV-2) was enroute to Midway with USMC SB2U-3 Vindicators from VMSB-231 aboard to deliver to Midway Airfield. After reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu were received, the carrier aborted the delivery. Between 9:31am to 9:54am, Japanese destroyers Ushio and Sazanami bombarded Midway Atoll shelling targets on Sand Island.
On December 17, 1941, seventeen USMC SB2U-3 Vindicators from VMSB-231, led by a PBY of
Patrol Wing 1 (Pat Wing 1) departed Oahu and landed at Midway Airfield a flight that lasted 9 hours, 45 minutes. At the time, this was the longest mass
flight by single-engine aircraft on record.
On May 17, 1942 the 7th Air Force was placed on alert
in anticipation of a possible attack on Midway. For the next ten days,
B-18 Bolos were used used on sea search missions to supplement B-17's. During this period, 7th
Bomber Command receives an influx of B-17 Flying Fortresses from the 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 72nd
Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).
Battle of Midway
During the Battle of Midway June 4-7, 1942, Midway Airfield was used by U. S. Navy (USN), U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) and U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft.
The USAAF at Midway Airfield included nearly every available B-17 Flying Fortress plus four B-26 Maruders: two from the 38th Bombardment Group, 69th Bombardment Squadron plus two from the 22nd Bombardment Group, 408th Bombardment Squadron.
USAAF aircraft at Midway Airfield during the Battle of Midway included: B-17E 41-2397, B-17E 41-2403, B-17E 41-2404, B-17E "Ole Sh'asta" 41-2428, B-17E 41-2437, B-17E 41-2463, B-17E 41-2524, B-17E 41-2525, B-17E 41-2635, B-17E 41-9212 and B-17E 41-9213.
Two B-17s were lost on June 5, 1942: B-17E 41-9212 (MIA) and B-17E 41-2524 (rescued, 1 missing). Written off due to battle damage was B-26 "Suzy-Q" 40-1391.
Japanese missions against Midway
December 7, 1941 - June 4, 1942
After the Battle of Midway, Midway Airfield was renamed "Henderson Field" in honor of Major Lofton R. Henderson pilot of SBD Dauntless 2129 Missing In Action (MIA) June 4, 1942. On Guadalcanal, Lunga Point Airfield (Henderson Field, Bomber 1) was also named in his honor.
American units at Midway
VT-8 (TBF-1 detachment)
VP-137 (PV-1 detachment) Kaneohe August 22, 1944 - October 15, 1944 Mokerang
VMF-221 (F2A Buffalo)
VMSB-241 (SBD) May 26, 1942
7th Air Force
318th FG, 73rd FS (P-40E) USS Saratoga Jun 42 - Jan 26, 43 Kaneohe
307th BG, 371st BS (B-24) Wheeler Jan 20 - Jan 26, 1943 Wheeler
15th FG, 78th FS (P-40K) Hawaii Jan 23 - April 23, 43
to Barking Sands
During 1945, Midway Airfield was abandoned in favor of Sand Island Airfield.
During middle 1960s reactivated as a Naval Air Station Midway and Midway Airfield (Eastern Island Airfield) was used as a transit airfield refueling for aircraft flying to or from Vietnam. Closed in 1970 and designated a wildlife sancuary and became overgrown. Since 1970, disused and designated as wildlife sancuary.
Part of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Visitors to Midway Islands can observe many wartime relics including the original
runways, buildings, bunkers and other wartime remnants remain on the islands.
Bomb craters and long strings of strafing bullet holes from Japanese
aircraft visible across runway aprons and buildings.
The Battle of Midway (1942) directed by John Ford includes combat footage during the Battle of Midway June 1942
Revenge of the Red Raiders pages 101-105
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October 23, 2019