Nukufetau Airfield

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Nukufetau Airfield
Seventh Air Force - Emblem (World War II).svg
Part of Seventh Air Force
Nukufetau, Gilbert and Ellice Islands
Coordinates08°03′54″S 178°22′38″E / 8.06500°S 178.37722°E / -8.06500; 178.37722 (Approximate)
TypeMilitary airfield
Site information
Controlled byUnited States Army Air Forces
United States Marine Corps
Site history
In use1943

Nukufetau Airfield is a former World War II airfield on the south-eastern side of Nukufetau on Motulalo Island during the Pacific War.


Nukufetau Airfield was built by United States Navy Seabees on Motulalo island as an alternative strip to Nanumea and Funafuti airfields to allow for further dispersal of aircraft in the Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu).[1] Two intersecting runways formed an "X" shape. On 8 September 1943 the 16th Naval Construction Battalion commenced construction of a fighter strip (3500 feet by 200 feet) and a bomber strip (6100 feet by 220 feet). Nearly 50,000 coconut trees had to be cut down and about 2,000 feet of the runways were built on fill over swamp.[2] The airfield was made operational before November 1943 to aid in the Battle of Tarawa.

United States Marine Corps (USMC) units based at Nukufetau included:

United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) using the base included:


The debris from a crashed B-24 Liberator remained on the island.[6] 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 runways the land now provides poor ground for growing coconuts.[7]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Maurer, Maxwell, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
  • Pacific Wrecks index: Nukufetau Airfield


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ McKillop, Jack. "Ellice Islands". Funafuti, Naval Advance Base. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b Sherrod, Robert (1952). History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press. ISBN 0-89201-048-7.
  4. ^ a b "Marine Corps in WWII Vol IV - Western Pacific Operations" (PDF). Marine Aviation Western Pacific. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  5. ^ a b Maurer, Maxwell AFB (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  6. ^ Bartsch, Bill. "War Relics in Tuvalu and Kiribati" (PDF). South Pacific Bulletin (1975). Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  7. ^ 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.

External links[edit]