Basa Air Base
Basa Air Base is a Philippine Air Force
Philippine Air Force
The Philippine Air Force is the air force of the Republic of the Philippines, and one of the three main services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Its official name in Filipino is Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas....

 base located at Floridablanca, Pampanga
Floridablanca, Pampanga
Floridablanca is a 1st class municipality in the province of Pampanga, Philippines. According to the 2007 census, Floridablanca has a population of 103,388, with an area of 17,548 hectares or 175.48 square kilometers....

 in the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...


The base was built and used by the US Army Air Corps before the Second World War and was captured and used by the Japanese Imperial Army Air Force during the early stages of World War II. Combined American and Philippine Commonwealth
Commonwealth of the Philippines
The Commonwealth of the Philippines was a designation of the Philippines from 1935 to 1946 when the country was a commonwealth of the United States. The Commonwealth was created by the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1934. When Manuel L...

 military forces were eventually able to recapture it during the later stages of the war.

It is currently named after Philippine Air Force
Philippine Air Force
The Philippine Air Force is the air force of the Republic of the Philippines, and one of the three main services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Its official name in Filipino is Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas....

 hero, César Basa
César Basa
César Fernando Basa was a Filipino pilot and hero of World War II. Born in 1915, he was one of the pioneer fighter pilots in the Philippine Air Force and the first Filipino casualty during World War II.-Death:...



The base was established as Del Carmen Airfield, a dirt auxiliary strip, by the U.S. Far East Air Force prior to World War II in November 1941.

In December 1941, during the early stages of World War II, the facility was successfully captured and taken over by the Japanese Army. The base was used by the Japanese as an axillary airfield. It was in this aerodrome complex of Clark, Floridablanca, Porac and Mabalacat airfield where the scheme to employ "kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

" fighters was first conceived and launched.

In January 1945, the USAAF re-established a presence at the airfield when the United States Sixth Army cleared the area of Japanese forces. The 312th Bombardment Group (19 April-13 August 1945) based A-20 Havocs and the 348th Fighter Group (15 May-6 July 1945) based P-47 Thunderbolt
P-47 Thunderbolt
Republic Aviation's P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the "Jug", was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single reciprocating engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to...

s and P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts...

s at the airfield. In 1945, during the period of Philippine liberation to joint U.S. and Filipino troops, the US Air Force enlarged the airfield further to accommodate B-17s and B-24s, which were used for air strikes against Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...


The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government later turned over the installation to the Philippines. On August 22, 1947, three M35 2-1/2 ton cargo truck
M35 2-1/2 ton cargo truck
The M35 family of trucks is a long-lived vehicle initially deployed by the United States Army, and subsequently utilized by many nations around the world. A truck in the 2½ ton weight class, it was one of many vehicles in U.S...

s ferried in the 2nd Tactical Fighter Squadron to lay the groundwork for a fighter base.

On September 9, 1947, the Headquarters Composite Group, with a subordinate unit known as the Floridablanca Base Service Detachment, was organized to continue the pioneering venture.

On October 24, 1947, the 6th and 7th Fighter squadrons, armed with P-51D "Mustangs", were activated. From 1947 to 1955, these two squadrons extensively conducted pacification campaigns against the Huks in Central Luzon and the forces of Kamlon in Southern Mindanao.

The increasing awareness of the important role of air defense and the gradual expansion of the base led to the activation of other support units. Some of the units activated during the early days were the Basic Flying School Squadron and the Advance Flying School Squadron, which were later transferred to Fernando Air Base.

On August 1, 1951, the 8th Fighter Squadron was activated to complete the tactical set-up of three fighter squadrons that comprises the 5th Fighter Group.

On January 15, 1949, the 5th Fighter Group Headquarters was re-designated as Basa Air Base Headquarters.

Pursuant to General Orders No. 381, GHQ, AFP, dated September 30, 1952, and HPAF, dated October 7, 1952, Basa Air Base Headquarters was finally re-designated as the 5th Fighter Wing Headquarters. After being reorganized into an Air Wing set-up, the position of the Base Commander has been changed, since then, to Wing Commander.

Basa Air Base was closed in 1955 to pave the way for the gradual transition to jet aircraft operations, which was a move towards modernization and expansion. It was then developed into a modern fighter base complex, equipped with a sprawling multi-million peso jet runway, aircraft movement areas, lighting and refueling facilities, workshops, and other vital installations for the 5th Fighter Wing jet operations.

On December 14, 1962, the 5th Fighter Wing formed the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron ("Limbas") as the PAF contingent to Congo, Africa.


The 5th Fighter Group originally had nine L-5s, one C-47 aircraft and eighteen F-51 Mustangs. By 1950, fifty more F-51 Mustangs, and twenty-two North American T-6 Texan
North American T-6 Texan
The North American Aviation T-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1950s...

 trainer planes were added to bolster the training of fighter pilots.

In 1957, the propeller-driven Mustangs gave way to the T-33
T-33 may refer to:*T-33 Shooting Star a U.S. jet trainer*T-33 Light Amphibious Tank a Soviet light tankSimilar designations:*Alfa Romeo Tipo 33*London Buses route T33*Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T33...

 jet trainer aircraft and the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

-tested North American F-86 Sabre jets.

In 1960, the Philippine Air Force added the F-86D all-weather interceptors to its fighter aircraft arsenal.

When the Philippine Air Force finally entered into the supersonic jet age, the 5th Fighter Wing acquired the jet-powered twin-engined, F-5A/B "Freedom Fighter" supersonic aircraft. This positioned the 5th Fighter Wing as the spearhead of defense, responsible for air reconnaissance, interdiction and ground support.

The rapid depletion of the Philippine Air Force reserves in the 80's saw the decline of the 5th Fighter Wing as a potent force in the Asian region. The fleet of F-8H Crusaders, acquired in 1978 from the US Navy, was decommissioned in 1988 from the Philippine Air Force inventory because of high maintenance costs. At the same time the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron was temporarily unmanned. By then, only a handful of F-5 jets were left on operational status.

Aerobatic Teams

The elite Blue Diamonds Aerobatics Team was formed in 1953 during the advent of the supersonic jet era. The team quickly gained nationwide recognition. It showcased the Philippine Air Force pilot's skill and proficiency in flying.

In 1971 another aerobatics team, the Red Aces, was formed. But due to economic setbacks, brought by the increase in oil prices and inflation, and the Philippine Air Force's heavy losses in its Mindanao campaigns, the Red Aces Team was forced to retire in 1974.


Mount Pinatubo Eruption

Basa Air Base suffered heavy infrastructural damage when Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. It is located in the Tri-Cabusilan Mountain range separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains, and is west of the dormant and...

 erupted in 1991. This left most buildings buried in thick layers of ash and forced the evacuation of its residents to other Philippine military facilities, such as Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga and Villamor Air Base (VAB) in Pasay City
Pasay City
The City of Pasay is one of the cities and municipalities that make up Metro Manila in the Philippines. It is bordered on the north by the country's capital, Manila, to the northeast by Makati City, to the east by Taguig City, and Parañaque City to the south.Pasay City was one of the original four...


New Aircraft Acquisition

By 1994, with the acquisition of the S-211 jet, the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron was manned and reorganized. The aircraft mainstay then on was the warrior version of the S-211 also known as the AS-211 fitted with hard points and weapons systems.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 15 April 1971, Douglas C-47A 293246 of the Philippine Navy
    Philippine Navy
    The Philippine Navy is the naval arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines . Its official name in Filipino is Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas, literally, "Sea Force of the Philippines"....

     crashed shortly after take-off from Floridablanca Airfield following the failure of the starboard engine. All 40 people on board were killed. The aircraft was operating a military flight to Manila Airport. The accident was the 2nd worst involving the DC-3 at the time, and is the 3rd worst as of 2010.

See also

  • Philippine Air Force
    Philippine Air Force
    The Philippine Air Force is the air force of the Republic of the Philippines, and one of the three main services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Its official name in Filipino is Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas....

  • USAAF in the Southwest Pacific
    United States Army Air Forces in the South West Pacific Theatre
    During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces engaged in combat against the air, ground and naval forces of the Empire of Japan in the South West Pacific Theatre....

External links

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