|Part of Seventh Air Force|
United States Army Air Forces|
United States Marine Corps
World War II
Nanumea Airfield was built by United States Navy Seabees during the Pacific War as an alternative strip to Nukufetau and Funafuti airfields to allow for further dispersal of aircraft in the Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu).
On 5 September 1943 elements of the 16th Naval Construction Battalion arrived on Nanumea and on 11 September they started work on a 7,000 feet (2,100 m) by 200 feet (61 m) bomber strip. On 7 September 1943 ten Betty bombers of the 755th Kōkūtai (air group) from Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, drop 20 bombs on Nanumea. The next day Betty bombers again bombed Nanumea.
On 19 September F4F-4s of VMF-441 landed on the strip and continued to use the runway during the remainder of the construction period. The first bombers landed on 12 November. The Seabees also built the camp and operation facilities for the airfield, including an 8,000-barrel tank farm for aviation gasoline.
- 30th Bombardment Group headquarters from 11 November 1943 – 4 January 1944
- 27th Bombardment Squadron operating B-24s from 10 November 1943 – 26 February 1944
- 28th Bombardment Squadron operating B-24s from 12 November 1943 – 13 March 1944
- 45th Fighter Squadron operating P-40Ns from 28 November 1943 – 4 January 1944
United States Marine Corps (USMC) units based at Nanumea included:
- Marine Fighting Squadron 441 (VMF-441), flying the F4F Wildcat, operated from Nanumea from 28 September – December 1943.
- Marine Attack Squadron 331 (VMA-331) flew Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers from Nanumea from 15 November 1943.
On 11 November 1943 a Japanese air raid on Nanumea resulted in the destruction of one B-24.
On 19 November 1943 B-24 No. 42~72980 of the 27th Bombardment Squadron crashed on landing.
After the Pacific War the airfield was dismantled and the land returned to its owners, however as the coral base was compacted to make the runway the land now provides poor ground for growing coconuts.
- Building the Navy's Bases in World War II History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940–1946. US Government Printing Office. 1947. p. 236.
- McKillop, Jack. "Ellice Islands". Funafuti, Naval Advance Base. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Maurer, Maxwell AFB (1983). Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Sherrod, Robert (1952). History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press. OCLC 1261876.
- Crowder, Michael J. (2000). United States Marine Corps Aviation Squadron Lineage, Insignia & History – Volume One – The Fighter Squadrons. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1-56311-926-9.
- "Marine Corps in WWII Vol IV – Western Pacific Operations" (PDF). Marine Aviation Western Pacific. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Bartsch, Bill. "War Relics in Tuvalu and Kiribati" (PDF). South Pacific Bulletin (1975). Retrieved 7 April 2014.
- Melei Telavi, Hugh Laracy (ed.) (1983). "Chapter 18 – War". Tuvalu: A History. Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific and Government of Tuvalu. p. 143.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force website http://www.af.mil.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.