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Henderson Field file photo [27646]

Henderson Field

Type   Airfield
Historical Name of Location   Guadalcanal, British Western Pacific Territories

Contributor:

ww2dbaseTo expand air cover in the Solomon Islands region, the Japanese military surveyed the Lunga Point site on the island of Guadalcanal in May 1942, only one month after the Japanese took control of the island. The site was situated between the Lunga River to the west and the Ilu River to the east. Two construction crews, one 1,379 men and the other 1,145 men, began work in early Jul 1942. The work was observed by Coastwatchers, who promptly reported to the US military. In mid-Jul 1942, an additional crew of 250 civilian workers arrived, followed by specialists of 14th Encampment Corps which was in charge of setting up radio communications equipment and a search radar. A small number of local civilians were employed in the construction as well. The Japanese plans called for a single runway, taxiway, a dispersal area, plus several structures. The construction for the to-be-named Lunga Point Airfield was ahead of schedule, and the construction crews were given extra rations of sake in celebration in the evening of 6 Aug 1942.

ww2dbaseIronically, at the very same time that the celebration was held, an American invasion force was sailing for the island; they would land on the following day. US Marines overwhelmed the Japanese defenders on Guadalcanal and captured the airfield with radio equipment, heavy construction equipment, and food stocks in tact by 1600 hours on 8 Aug 1942. The Americans resumed the construction within days of its capture, using Japanese heavy construction equipment. The first landing at Lunga Point Airfield took place on 12 Aug 1942 by a PBY Catalina flying boat piloted by William Sampson, personal aide to Admiral John McCain; he disembarked a survey team and embarked two wounded Americans. On 16 Aug 1942, the airfield was renamed Henderson Field in honor of US Marine Corps Major Lofton Henderson, who was killed during the Battle of Midway. Operations as a tactical airfield began in earnest before the end of the month, although it only served in a supplemental role as stocks of aviation fuel would not be delivered until mid-Oct 1942. Also in Oct 1942, the Americans demolished the tunnel originally used by the Japanese as the radio communications facility. The Japanese continuously attacked Henderson Field by air raids and naval bombardments to disrupt its operations. Meanwhile, several attempts were made between Aug and Nov 1942 to recapture it, including the 23-26 Oct 1942 Battle for Henderson Field / Battle of Lunga Point, which resulted in a Japanese defeat at the cost of about 2,000 to 3,000 killed. In Dec 1942, the efforts to retake Henderson Field were abandoned, and Japanese troops on the island were gradually evacuated over the course of the following three months. Henderson Field was later supported by two additional airfields in the general proximity. While in American possession, Henderson Field hosted US Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Army Air Forces squadrons; aircraft that had called Henderson home were of a wide range of types, including fighters, dive bombers, torpedo bombers, medium bombers, among others. In 1943, the original wooden control tower was replaced by one built with metal beams. American military presence at Henderson Field generally ceased by Aug 1944. Royal New Zealand Air Force squadron ceased operations at Henderson in Nov 1944.

ww2dbaseUntil the 1960s, the airfield was abandoned. After extensive work, it reopened in 1969 as a civilian airport. This airport would serve Honiara, the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate since 1952 and the sovereign country since 1978. In the 1970s, the asphalt runway was expanded to the current length of 2,200 meters (about 7,200 feet). In 2004, it was officially renamed Honiara International Airport.

ww2dbaseSources:
Pacific Wrecks
Wikipedia



Henderson Field Interactive Map

Henderson Field Timeline

6 Jul 1942 Japanese construction crews arrived at Lunga Point, Guadalcanal.
9 Jul 1942 The construction of the Japanese airfield at Lunga Point, Guadalcanal began.
6 Aug 1942 In the evening, construction crews at the Japanese airfield at Lunga Point, Guadalcanal were given extra rations of sake for being ahead of schedule.
8 Aug 1942 US Marines captured the unfinished Japanese Lunga Point Airfield at Guadalcanal at 1600 hours, which would later renamed Henderson Field by the Americans. The US Marines also captured Tulagi (307 Japanese killed, 3 Japanese captured, 45 Americans killed), Gavutu, and Tanambogo (476 Japanese killed, 20 Japanese and Koreans captured, 70 Americans killed) islands in the afternoon.
11 Aug 1942 US Marines, using captured Japanese bulldozer and various equipment, continued the construction of Lunga Point Airfield on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
12 Aug 1942 William Sampson, flying a PBY Catalina aircraft, became the first pilot to have landed at Lunga Point Airfield (later Henderson Field) on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
16 Aug 1942 The captured Japanese Lunga Point Airfield at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands was renamed Henderson Field by the Americans.
18 Aug 1942 The Americans declared that the construction of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands completed.
19 Aug 1942 At Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, the forward echelon of Marine Aircraft Group 23 (19 F4F fighters and 12 SBD-3 dive bombers) arrived.
20 Aug 1942 770 Japanese troops under Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki reached within a few miles of Henderson Field at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands by 0430 hours. During the day, Henderson Field received 31 US Marine fighter aircraft (19 Wildcat fighters and 12 Dauntless dive bombers) from USS Long Island, allowing air supply and evacuation of wounded to begin between Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal; the small air fleet at Henderson Field was dubbed "Cactus Air Force". In the evening, Ichiki gave the order to move foward, running into the US Marines defensive perimeter at Tenaru River by surprise around midnight.
22 Aug 1942 5 P-400 aircraft of the USAAF 67th Fighter Squadron joined the Cactus Air Force at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.
22 Aug 1942 US Army Air Forces 67th Fighter Squadron of 347th Fighter Group, equipped with P-39 fighters, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
23 Aug 1942 After dark, Japanese destroyer Kagero bombarded Henderson Field from nearby Savo Sound, causing little damage.
24 Aug 1942 US Marine Corps Major John L. Smith's VMF-223 Squadron based on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands accompanied by five USAAF P-39 fighters intercepted twenty-seven Japanese aircraft, shooting down ten bombers and fighters. Captain Marion E. Carl, who was to become the first USMC ace of the war, scored three of the kills. His Commanding Officer Major Smith would become the third Wildcat pilot to be awarded the Medal of Honour. Three Wildcat fighters were lost in the engagement. On the same day, 11 US Navy dive bombers arrived at Henderson Field as reinforcements.
25 Aug 1942 Before dawn, Japanese destroyers Kagero, Isokaze, Kawakaze, Mutsuki, and Yayoi bombarded Henderson Field, Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, causing little damage. At 0600 hours, six SBD dive bombers from Henderson Field attacked a Japanese convoy 64 miles northeast of Santa Isabel Island, sinking troop transport Kinryu Maru and damaging cruiser Jintsu (24 were killed). Four US Army B-17 bombers arrived shortly after, sinking Japanese destroyer Mutsuki (41 were killed, 11 were injured) as Mutsuki rescued survivors from the Kinryu Maru sinking.
27 Aug 1942 9 USAAF P-40 fighters arrived at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
28 Aug 1942 General Harukichi Hyakutake attempted to reinforce Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands with 3,500 men, but the convoy was detected, attacked by Henderson Field-based US aircraft at 1805 hours, and turned back. Japanese destroyer Asagiri was sunk (122 were killed, 270 survived), and destroyers Shirakumo (2 were wounded) and Yugiri (32 were killed) were damaged; US Marine Corps lost only one aircraft in the engagement. As another Japanese fleet successfully landed troops at Taivu Point at night, it would convince the Japanese to shift strategy to reinforce only at night; these night time supply runs would later be nicknamed "Tokyo Express" by the Americans.
30 Aug 1942 The rear echelon of US Marine Aircraft Group 23 arrived at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
31 Aug 1942 Before dawn, the newly arrived 1,000 fresh troops (delivered by 8 destroyers before the previous midnight) began organizing an attack toward Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. During the day, the USMC 1st Raider Battalion and the USMC 1st Parachute Battalion arrived at Guadalcanal from Tulagi as reinforcements.
1 Sep 1942 US 6th Naval Construction Battalion arrived at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands aboard USS Betelgeuse; the unit was tasked to improve and expand Henderson Field.
4 Sep 1942 Japanese barges attempting to bring artillery and heavy equipment to Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands were sunk off Santa Isabel Island by US aircraft based in Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.
5 Sep 1942 Japanese destroyers Yudachi, Hatsuyuki, and Murakumo, having just disembarked 1,000 troops at Taivu, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands before midnight on the previous day, shelled Henderson Field. As a US Navy PBY Catalina aircraft dropped flares to illuminate the battlefield, Yudachi took advantage of the lighting, spotting destroyer-transports USS Gregory and USS Little in Savo Sound. Yudachi promptly sank both of them with gunfire off Lunga Point; 22 were killed aboard USS Gregory, 62 were killed aboard USS Little. After dawn, US aircraft based in Henderson Field sank Japanese barges attempting to bring heavy equipment onto Guadalcanal.
11 Sep 1942 During the day, USS Saratoga delivered aircraft to Henderson Field at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Japanese destroyers landed troops at Guadalcanal; in the past two weeks, 6,000 men were successfully delivered to the island. Meanwhile, Japanese aircraft attacked Henderson Field.
12 Sep 1942 During the day, USS Wasp delivered aircraft to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. After dark, the three-day Battle of Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal began as 6,200 Japanese troops attacked positions held by 12,500 Americans; faulty Japanese intelligence reported that the American strength was only about 2,000. The Japanese attack was supported in the air by aircraft and from the sea by cruiser Sentai and three destroyers.
13 Sep 1942 Failing to break lines held by the US Marines near Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands overnight, the Japanese attack was called off at 0550 hours. The Japanese attack resumed after sundown, penetrating the American lines before being driven back by artillery fire coming from nearby Hill 123; 500 Japanese were killed in the night's attack while the US suffered 80 killed.
14 Sep 1942 The Japanese continued to attack the defensive line held by the US Marines near Henderson Field at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands without success.
24 Sep 1942 Dauntless dive bombers of US Marine Corps VMSB-231 squadron and US Navy VS-3 squadron from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands attacked Japanese destroyers Umikaze and Kawakaze in the western Solomon Islands; they heavily damaged Umikaze (8 were killed) and forced the convoy to turn back. On the same day, US Army B-17 bombers attacked the Japanese Navy base on Shortland island, damaging seaplane carrier Sanuki Maru.
3 Oct 1942 American SBD and TBF aircraft from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands attacked and damaged seaplane carrier Nisshin.
13 Oct 1942 Japanese battleships Haruna and Kongo bombarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, destroying more than 40 American aircraft on the ground; they retired up New Georgia Sound at 29 knots.
15 Oct 1942 After a naval bombardment, 3,000 to 4,000 men of Japanese 230th and 16th Infantry Regiments landed at Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Despite interference from US Marine Corps SBD aircraft, 80% of the men and supplies successfully made to shore. With the arrival of these reinforcements, General Hyakutake ordered a new offensive against Henderson Field to take place on 18 Oct.
16 Oct 1942 Japanese cruisers bombarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. During the day, US Marine Aircraft Group 14 under Lieutenant Colonel Albert Cooley relieved Marine Aircraft Group 23 as the unit in charge of maintaining Henderson Field.
17 Oct 1942 Japanese cruisers bombarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
18 Oct 1942 During the night, Japanese warships again shelled Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
20 Oct 1942 Japanese Lieutenant General Masao Maruyama delayed the planned assault on Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands until 22 Oct 1942.
25 Oct 1942 Before dawn, the Japanese launched an offensive on the southern flank of the American defensive line at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, aiming to capture Henderson Field; US Marines repeatedly drove back the waves of attacks.
30 Oct 1942 US Marine Corps squadron VMTB-132, equipped with SBD dive bombers, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
31 Oct 1942 US Marine Scout-Bomber Squadron 132 and US Marine Fighter Squadron 211 began to arrive in sections at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
8 Nov 1942 William Halsey inspected Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Staying overnight, he personally experienced a Japanese naval bombardment which he later admitted filled him with fright.
12 Nov 1942 US Marine Corps squadron VMSB-143, equipped with TBF torpedo bombers, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
13 Nov 1942 After dark, Japanese cruisers challenged the US naval forces again by coming close to shore and bombarding Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
15 Nov 1942 Henderson Field a Marine Corps Air Base and was placed under the command of Colonel William Fox.
24 Dec 1942 US Marine Corps squadron VMTB-132, equipped with SBD dive bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
1 Feb 1943 US Marine Corps squadron MABS-1 was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
4 Feb 1943 US Army Air Forces 70th Bombardment Squadron of 38th Bombardment Group, equipped with B-26 medium bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
10 Mar 1943 US Navy squadrons VF-26, VF-27, and VF-28, all equipped with F4F fighters, were assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
25 Mar 1943 A Japanese reconnaissance flight over Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands discovered about 300 Allied aircraft at the base.
4 Apr 1943 US Marine Corps squadron VMF-124, equipped with F4U fighters, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
25 Apr 1943 US Navy squadrons VF-26, VF-27, and VF-28, all equipped with F4F fighters, were transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
11 May 1943 US Army Air Forces 390th Bombardment Squadron of 42nd Bombardment Group, equipped with B-25 medium bombers, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
11 Jun 1943 US Navy squadron VS-54, equipped with SBD dive bombers and OS2U floatplanes, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
13 Jun 1943 US Marine Corps squadron VMSB-144, equipped with SBD-3 dive bombers, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
23 Jun 1943 US Marine Corps squadron VMSB-132, equipped with SBD dive bombers, was assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
26 Jun 1943 US Navy squadrons VF-26, VF-27, and VF-28, all equipped with F4F fighters, were assigned to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. US Marine Corps squadron VMSB-144, equipped with SBD-3 dive bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
28 Jul 1943 US Marine Corps squadron VMF-122, equipped with F4U fighters, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
2 Aug 1943 US Marine Corps squadron VMSB-132, equipped with SBD dive bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
3 Aug 1943 US Navy squadron VS-54, equipped with SBD dive bombers and OS2U floatplanes, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
5 Aug 1943 US Navy squadrons VF-26, VF-27, and VF-28, all equipped with F4F fighters, were transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
21 Oct 1943 US Army Air Forces 75th Bombardment Squadron of 42nd Bombardment Group, equipped with B-25 medium bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
22 Oct 1943 US Army Air Forces 70th Bombardment Squadron of 38th Bombardment Group, equipped with B-25 medium bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
29 Oct 1943 US Marine Corps squadron VMTB-233, equipped with SBD dive bombers and TBF torpedo bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
25 Nov 1943 US Marine Corps squadron VMSB-236, equipped with SBD dive bombers, was transferred out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

Photographs

Lunga Point Airfield while under construction, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Jul 1942Lunga Point Airfield/Henderson Field, seen from USS Saratoga aircraft, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Aug 1942
See all 24 photographs of Henderson Field



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Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Guadalcanal, British Western Pacific Territories
Lat/Long -9.4280, 160.0548
Henderson Field Photo Gallery
Lunga Point Airfield while under construction, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Jul 1942Lunga Point Airfield/Henderson Field, seen from USS Saratoga aircraft, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Aug 1942
See all 24 photographs of Henderson Field


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