Midway Bases

Type   Airfield, Naval Port
Historical Name of Location   Midway, US Pacific Islands

Contributor:

ww2dbaseThe construction for naval aviation facilities on Sand Island and then Eastern Island of Midway Atoll began in 1939 by Contractors Pacific Naval Air Base, a consortium of several private firms. Elements of US Marine Corps 3rd Defense Battalion arrived to build defensive fortifications in Sep 1940, and in Sep 1941 they were replaced by 6th Defense Battalion. During the Battle of Midway, the facilities on both Sand and Eastern were targeted by the Japanese, who arrived in two waves; meanwhile, land-based aircraft from these airfields were also launched to attack the Japanese, though their contribution to the battle was small. To commemorate Major Lofton Henderson, who was killed during the Battle of Midway, Sand and Eastern airfields were collectively named Henderson Field (though not to be confused with the wider-known Henderson Field located on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands). In late 1942, they hosted bombers of US Seventh Air Force, which conducted periodic bombings of Japanese-held Wake Atoll beginning in Jul 1943.

ww2dbaseIn Jul 1942, the US Navy established an advanced base for submarines at Midway Atoll. By 1943, it had become a major base for fleet submarines operating in the Pacific Ocean. Many submarines either used Midway to top off their supplies after leaving Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii and before heading into enemy waters, or used Midway for temporary repairs after returning from a war patrol.

ww2dbaseBetween 1943 and 1944, the collective population of the US military bases at Midway Atoll reached 5,000, but by 1945 the demand waned. Air operations on Eastern Island ceased toward the end of the war, but Sand Island's airfield remained active. In 1957, Sand Island became the headquarters of an early warning network in the Pacific Ocean, which operated radar picket ships. In 1996, control of Midway Atoll was passed to the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior, and the airfield on Sand Island remained in use generally only for scientists and tourists visiting Midway Atoll.

ww2dbaseSources:
US National Parks Service
Wikipedia



Midway Bases Timeline

27 Mar 1940 A dredge was towed to Midway Atoll to begin work to enlarge the basin and channels between the two main islands.
31 May 1940 The US Marine Corps 14th Naval District dispatched Captain Samuel G. Taxis to survey Midway Atoll with a small reconnaissance party for the planning of building a US Marine Corps presence there.
9 Jul 1940 US Marine Corps Captain Kenneth W. Benner was ordered to continue the survey of Midway Atoll with another officer, 8 enlisted Marines, and 2 US Navy corpsmen. He was to relieve Captain Samuel G. Taxis who had been been there since early Jun 1940 on the same mission.
1 Sep 1940 The US Marine Corps Midway Detachment of the Fleet Marine Force, consisting of 9 officers and 168 enlisted Marines and approximately one-third of the 3rd Defense Battalion's equipment, was established.
29 Sep 1940 The US Marine Corps Midway Detachment of the Fleet Marine Force, under the command of Major Harold C. Roberts, arrived on Midway and began making camp and installing defenses.
14 Feb 1941 The rear echelon of the US Marine Corps 3rd Defense Battalion arrived at Midway.
1 Aug 1941 The US Navy established the Naval Air Station at Midway under Commander Cyril T. Simard.
11 Aug 1941 Lieutenant Colonel Harold D. Shannon, executive officer of the US Marine Corps 6th Defense Battalion, arrived at Midway to prepare for his battalion to relieve the 3rd Defense Battalion.
11 Sep 1941 US Marine Corps 6th Defense Battalion relieved the 3rd Defense Battalion as the garrison force at Midway.
19 Nov 1941 A ground echelon from US Marine Aircraft Group 21 was dispatched to Midway Island to prepare the island to receive aircraft.
17 Dec 1941 A PBY Catalina flying boat led 17 SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bombers of Marine Scout-Bomber Squadron 231 from Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii Islands to Midway Atoll; at 9 hours and 45 minutes covering 1,137 miles, it was the longest mass over-water flight by single-engined aircraft to date.
24 Dec 1941 100 officers and men arrived at Midway Atoll as reinforcement from Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
24 Dec 1941 American seaplane tender Wright disembarked US Marine reinforcements at Midway.
25 Dec 1941 Carrier USS Saratoga launched F2A Buffalo aircraft of Marine Fighter Squadron 221, originally intended to relieve Wake Atoll, to Midway Atoll. They became the first fighters to be based in Midway, and they immediately began a daily patrol schedule.
26 Dec 1941 American seaplane tender Tangier disembarked men of Battery B of the US Marines 4th Defense Battalion, ground echelon of Marine Fighter Squadron 221, and additional equipment including radar at Midway Atoll. These men and equipment were originally intended for Wake Atoll.
25 Jan 1942 Japanese submarines I-24 and I-18 bombarded US Marine positions on Sand Island, Midway Atoll. The submarines were driven off by defensive coastal gunfire.
8 Feb 1942 Japanese submarine I-69 shelled Sand Island, Midway Atoll, causing minor damage to the radio towers. US Marine Buffalo aircraft of VMF 221 squadron counterattacked and damaged I-69.
10 Feb 1942 A Japanese submarine fired two rounds at American installations at Midway Atoll and then was chased away by aircraft of Marine Fighter Squadron 221.
1 Mar 1942 The United States Marine Corps established Marine Aircraft Group 22 at Midway Atoll, consisted of Marine Scout-Bomber Squadron 231 and Marine Fighter Squadron 221.
11 Mar 1942 Japanese H8K flying boats attacked Midway Atoll, causing minor damage; one aircraft was shot down in this attack.
2 May 1942 Chester Nimitz inspected defenses on Sand Island and Eastern Island of Midway Atoll.
25 May 1942 Companies C and D of the 2nd Raider Battalion and the 37mm battery of the 3rd Defense Battalion of the United States Marine Corps arrived at Midway via USS St. Louis.
26 May 1942 USS Kitty Hawk delivered to Midway Atoll the 3-inch anti-aircraft group of 3rd Defense Battalion, 5 light tanks of a light tank platoon for mobile reserve, 16 SBD-2 aircraft, and 7 F4F-3 aircraft, all of which were of the United States Marine Corps.
2 Jun 1942 I-168 observed Sand Island, Midway Atoll with her periscope, reporting heavy aircraft activity.
3 Jun 1942 I-168 circled Midway Atoll to provide weather data and other observations to the headquarters of the Combined Fleet.
4 Jun 1942 I-168 observed the first Japanese attack on Midway Atoll through the periscope.
4 Jun 1942 Japanese carriers launched 72 bombers and 36 fighters against the airfield at Midway Atoll at 0430 hours, hitting the atoll at 0620 hour and doing limited damage.
5 Jun 1942 I-168 surfaced 1,100 yards southwest of Midway at 1024 hours and fired 6 shots with her 10-centimeter deck gun, inflicting no damage. When she was caught by American searchlights, she submerged and evaded American return-fire. She survived two subsequent attacks, one by a patrol vessel and another by PBY Catalina aircraft, incurring no damage.
6 Jun 1942 Clarence Tinker led a flight of B-24 Liberator bombers from Midway Atoll.
9 Jun 1942 USS Flying Fish arrived at Midway Atoll for refitting.
11 Jun 1942 USS Flying Fish completed refitting at Midway Atoll and departed for Japanese waters.
25 Jun 1942 Saratoga delivered 25 P-40 Warhawk fighters and 18 SBD Dauntless dive bombers to Midway Atoll.
4 Jul 1942 The US Navy Pacific Fleet established an advance base for submarines at Midway Atoll.
17 Jul 1942 A detachment consisted of 225 men and 4 officers of the US Navy 5th Construction Battalion arrived at Midway Atoll. The remainder of the battalion would arrive during the following month. They were to build an airfield and an underground hospital on Sand Island.
25 Jul 1942 USS Flying Fish arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
15 Aug 1942 USS Flying Fish departed Midway Atoll for her second war patrol.
23 Oct 1942 USS Pollack arrived at Midway Atoll, refueled, and departed for her fourth war patrol in the Truk, Caroline Islands area.
14 Jan 1943 USS Sunfish arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
2 Feb 1943 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her second war patrol.
16 Feb 1943 USS Whale completed her refitting at Midway Atoll.
20 Feb 1943 USS Tunny arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
27 Feb 1943 USS Wahoo arrived at Midway Atoll, refueled, and then departed for her fourth war patrol.
28 Feb 1943 USS Whale departed Midway Atoll for her third war patrol.
24 Mar 1943 USS Tunny departed Midway Atoll after a brief stay to replace her periscope.
4 Apr 1943 US Navy 50th Construction Battalion arrived at Midway Atoll to relieve the 5th Construction Battalion. It was to continue the work to lengthen the airstrips and to build oil storage tanks on Sand Island.
6 Apr 1943 USS Permit departed Midway Atoll, starting her eighth war patrol.
6 Apr 1943 USS Wahoo arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her fourth war patrol.
6 Apr 1943 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her third war patrol.
7 Apr 1943 USS Wahoo began a period of refitting at Midway Atoll.
7 Apr 1943 USS Whale departed Midway Atoll.
18 Apr 1943 USS Pollack arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her sixth war patrol.
23 Apr 1943 USS Tunny arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her second war patrol.
25 Apr 1943 USS Wahoo declared her readiness for a war patrol while at Midway Atoll.
25 Apr 1943 USS Wahoo departed Midway Atoll for her fifth war patrol.
27 Apr 1943 USS Tunny departed Midway Atoll for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
6 May 1943 USS Runner arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her second war patrol.
9 May 1943 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll and received repairs to her hydraulic system and her air search radar.
10 May 1943 USS Whale departed Midway Atoll for her fourth war patrol.
11 May 1943 USS Flying Fish arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her fifth war patrol.
23 May 1943 USS Snook arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
27 May 1943 USS Runner departed Midway Atoll for her third war patrol.
2 Jun 1943 USS Scorpion refueled at Midway Atoll.
9 Jun 1943 USS Snook departed from Midway Atoll for her second war patrol.
17 Jun 1943 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her fourth war patrol.
7 Jul 1943 USS Harder arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
8 Jul 1943 Eight US Army B-24 bombers from Midway made the first land-based air strike against Wake Atoll.
6 Aug 1943 USS Wahoo arrived at Midway Atoll, refueled, and then departed for her sixth war patrol.
9 Aug 1943 USS Tunny arrived at Midway Atoll.
10 Aug 1943 USS Tunny departed Midway Atoll.
25 Aug 1943 USS Wahoo arrived at Midway Atoll.
2 Sep 1943 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her fifth war patrol.
3 Sep 1943 USS Whale departed Midway Atoll.
13 Sep 1943 USS Wahoo departed Midway Atoll, starting her seventh war patrol.
27 Sep 1943 USS Seahorse arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
4 Oct 1943 USS Harder arrived at Midway Atoll.
17 Oct 1943 USS Scorpion refueld at Midway Atoll.
20 Oct 1943 USS Seahorse departed Midway Atoll for her second war patrol.
6 Nov 1943 USS Flying Fish arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her seventh war patrol.
10 Nov 1943 USS Grayback arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her eighth war patrol.
16 Nov 1943 USS Cero arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
7 Dec 1943 USS Snook arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her fourth war patrol.
13 Dec 1943 USS Cero departed Midway Atoll for her second war patrol.
25 Dec 1943 USS Whale departed Midway Atoll for her sixth war patrol.
3 Jan 1944 USS Scorpion refueled at Midway Atoll.
16 Jan 1944 USS Flier ran aground near Midway Atoll. USS Macaw attempted to pull Flier free, but Macaw would also run aground in the process, causing her to sink. She was eventually pulled free and put into Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for repairs.
3 Feb 1944 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her sixth war patrol.
5 Feb 1944 USS Gunnel departed Midway Atoll for her fourth war patrol.
2 Mar 1944 USS Tunny arrived at Midway Atoll.
3 Mar 1944 USS Tunny departed Midway Atoll.
13 Mar 1944 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll.
14 Mar 1944 USS Whale departed Midway Atoll for her seventh war patrol.
16 Mar 1944 USS Tang departed Midway, starting her second war patrol in the waters near Palau Islands, Caroline Islands, and south of the Philippine Islands.
11 Apr 1944 USS Pollack arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her ninth war patrol.
3 May 1944 USS Golet arrived at Midway Atoll.
6 May 1944 USS Pollack departed Midway Atoll for her tenth war patrol.
20 May 1944 USS Pintado arrived at Midway Atoll.
21 May 1944 USS Pintado departed Midway Atoll.
23 May 1944 USS Parche arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
28 May 1944 USS Golet departed Midway Atoll with Lieutenant James S. Clark as her new commanding officer.
25 Jun 1944 USS Pompon arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her fifth war patrol.
29 Jun 1944 USS Tunny arrived at Midway Atoll.
11 Jul 1944 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her eighth war patrol.
12 Jul 1944 USS Whale departed Midway Atoll.
1 Aug 1944 USS Sunfish arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her seventh war patrol.
14 Aug 1944 USS Snook arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her sixth war patrol.
19 Aug 1944 USS Sunfish completed her refit at Midway Atoll.
22 Aug 1944 USS Sunfish departed Midway Atoll for her eighth war patrol.
26 Aug 1944 USS Sterlet arrived at Midway, ending her first war patrol.
31 Aug 1944 USS Croaker arrived at Midway for refitting, ending her first war patrol.
18 Sep 1944 USS Sterlet departed Midway for her second war patrol.
23 Sep 1944 USS Croaker completed her refitting at Midway and began her second war patrol.
27 Sep 1944 USS Tang departed Midway, where she stopped to refuel.
18 Oct 1944 USS Flying Fish arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her eleventh war patrol.
18 Oct 1944 USS Seahorse arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her sixth war patrol.
29 Oct 1944 USS Whale arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her ninth war patrol.
4 Nov 1944 USS Kete refueled at Midway.
11 Dec 1944 USS Skipjack arrived at Midway Atoll.
20 Dec 1944 USS Dragonet arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
24 Dec 1944 USS Finback arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her eleventh war patrol.
30 Jan 1945 USS Spot arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
11 Feb 1945 USS Pompon arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her seventh war patrol.
16 Feb 1945 USS Parche received fuel at Midway Atoll.
24 Mar 1945 USS Sea Cat arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her second war patrol.
30 Mar 1945 USS Pompon departed Midway Atoll for her eighth war patrol.
4 Apr 1945 USS Sterlet arrived at Midway, ending her third war patrol.
26 Apr 1945 USS Hackleback arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her first war patrol.
26 Apr 1945 USS Tirante arrived at Midway, ending her first war patrol.
29 Apr 1945 USS Sterlet departed Midway for her fourth war patrol.
30 Apr 1945 USS Parche arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her fifth war patrol.
20 May 1945 USS Puffer departed Midway Atoll for her eighth war patrol.
20 May 1945 USS Tirante departed Midway for her second war patrol.
21 May 1945 USS Hackleback departed Midway Atoll for her second war patrol.
10 Jun 1945 USS Sterlet arrived at Midway, ending her fourth war patrol.
16 Jun 1945 USS Ray arrived at Midway Atoll, ending her seventh war patrol.
27 Jun 1945 USS Tunny set sail for Midway Atoll.
5 Jul 1945 USS Sterlet departed Midway for her fifth war patrol.
23 Jul 1945 USS Parche arrived at Midway Atoll.
10 Aug 1945 USS Segundo departed Midway Atoll for her fifth war patrol in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kurile Islands. She was tasked to monitor Soviet activity in northern Japan.
16 Aug 1945 USS Hackleback set sail for Midway Atoll.
23 Aug 1945 USS Sterlet arrived at Midway, ending her fifth war patrol.
23 Aug 1945 USS Tirante arrived at Midway Atoll.
6 Sep 1945 USS Sterlet departed Midway.
31 Oct 1996 US President Bill Clinton signed an executive order which passed the jurisdiction and control of Midway Atoll to the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior.

Photographs

Aerial view of the under-construction Naval Air Station Midway, Eastern Island, Midway Atoll, 1941Aerial view of the under-construction seaplane base at Sand Island, Midway Atoll, 1941Aerial photograph of Midway Atoll, 24 Nov 1941A US Navy PT Boat underway immediately off Midway Atoll, circa 1942
See all 50 photographs of Midway Bases



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Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Midway, US Pacific Islands
Lat/Long 28.2014, -177.3814
Midway Bases Photo Gallery
Aerial view of the under-construction Naval Air Station Midway, Eastern Island, Midway Atoll, 1941
See all 50 photographs of Midway Bases




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