Turtle Bay Airfield

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Turtle Bay Airfield
Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands
Type Military Airfield
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1942
Built by Seebees
In use 1942-5
Controlled by United States Army Air Forces
United States Navy

Turtle Bay Airfield or Fighter Field #1 is a former World War II airfield on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands.


World War II

The first bases on Espiritu Santo were established as defensive bases to guard the existing facility at Efate and to support the Solomon Islands Campaign, however its strategic location led to its expansion into one of the largest advance bases in the South Pacific.[1] A group of Seebees with a Marine anti-aircraft battery and a company of colored infantrymen arrived on Santo on 8 July 1942 to begin work on Turtle Bay airfield. The Seebees were given twenty days in which to construct the airfield, assisted by 295 infantrymen, 90 Marines, and 50 natives. A 6,000 feet (1,800 m) runway was cleared and surfaced with coral in time to meet the deadline. On 28 July the first fighter squadron came in and was followed the next day by B-17s of the 26th Bombardment Squadron. The planes were fueled from drums and carried out their first attack on Japanese forces on Guadalcanal on 30 July.[2]

USAAF units based at Turtle Bay included:

US Navy and USMC units based at Turtle Bay included:

  • VMF-214 operating F4Us
  • VMO-251 operating F4Fs from August–November 1942
  • VS-3 operating SBDs September–November 1942[3]
F4U of VMF-214 at Turtle Bay Airfield, Espiritu Santo.jpg
An F4U of VMF-214 at Turtle Bay Airfield in November 1943
TBF-1C 30 Sqn RNZAF on Espiritu Santo 1944.jpeg
A TBF-1C of No. 30 Squadron RNZAF at Turtle Bay Airfield in February 1944
VMF-214 on Turtle Bay fighter strip, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides HD-SN-99-02625.jpg
VMF-214 at Turtle Bay fighter strip, Espiritu Santo in September 1943

On 26 October 1944 PBJ-1D #35152 of VMB-611 crash-landed at Turtle Bay, the plane was written-off[4]


Fighter One was disestablished on 2 January 1945. NOB Espiritu Santo disestablished on 12 June 1946.[5] The airfield is largely overgrown with vegetation.

See also


  1. Stone, Peter (1997). The Lady and the President: The life and loss of the S.S. President Coolidge. Oceans Enterprises. p. 51. ISBN 9780958665728. 
  2. 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. 228. 
  3. Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons - Volume 2. Naval Historical Center. p. 90. 
  4. "Marine Bombing Squadron Six Eleven Loss of MB-13 at Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo". Marine Bombing Squadron Six-Eleven Association. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  5. Squadrons, p.757

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