Frans Kaisiepo Airport


Mokmer Airfield was part of a complex of airfields built on Biak Island by the Japanese (Mokmer, Borokoe and Sorido), of which Mokmer was the main USAAF facility after the island was taken by the United States after fierce fighting in late May and June 1944.

The Battle of Biak Island
Battle of Biak
The Battle of Biak was part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II. It was fought between the United States Army and the Japanese Army from May 27 to June 22, 1944. It was the first major tactical use of an ambush by the Japanese during the war....

 came about after a succession of Japanese defeats in 1943 and 1944 along the northern coast of New Guinea. Biak became a Japanese stronghold, which they were determined to hold to the last man. Unknown to the advancing Allies, the Japanese began fortifying the island and when the Allies invaded on 27 May 1944, the Japanese put up a fierce defense. The only tank vs. tank battle in New Guinea occurred on Biak, where Japanese Ha-Go light tanks
Type 95 Ha-Go
The was a light tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army in combat operations of the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and in the Second World War. It proved sufficient against infantry, however, like the American M3 Stuart, it was not designed to fight other tanks...

 were knocked out by American Sherman tanks
M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. Thousands were also distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealth and Soviet armies, via lend-lease...

. Japanese soldiers were well entrenched in the interior of the island in limestone caves and fortifications, a trend that would be seen again in islands like Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

. These entrenched troops fought an excellent defense and the casualties at Biak were high - for the American Army, 435 KIA and 2,360 WIA. The Japanese lost an estimated 6,125 KIA, with 460 POWs, and 360 Formosan POWs.

After the battle, the United States repaired the Japanese airfields and developed the island into a large airbase. Mokmer Airfield is located to the west of Mokmer village on Biak, parallel to the coastline and the Japen Straight and is the only one of the three currently used as an airport.

Sorido Airfield has been disused since 1962 and is located to the northwest of Mokmer, and is clearly visible on aerial photography. After the war the airfield was used by the Dutch who had kept it as a military airfield, flying P2V Neptunes from the base, and later Hawker Hunters until Indonesian Independence.

Borokoe Airfield is due west of Mokmer, along the beach. Not used as an airfield after the American liberation, it became a Fifth Air Force Air Depot area; however, the old runways are evident in aerial photography

Post war, the airfield complex became a major reclamation site for all types of surplus Allied aircraft. Mokmer Airfield also became a major refueling point for airline flights from the United States to destinations in Indonesia, prior to non-stop cross Pacific flights.

Major Allied units stationed on Biak Island

  • 38th Bombardment Group
    38th Combat Support Wing
    The 38th Combat Support Wing is an inactive wing of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with Third Air Force , being inactivated on 1 May 2007 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany....

    (1-15 October 1944)
  • 90th Bombardment Group (10 August 1944-26 January 1945)
  • 345th Bombardment Group (July-12 November 1944)

  • 49th Fighter Group
    49th Fighter Wing
    The 49th Wing is an air combat unit of the United States Air Force and the host unit at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The 49 WG is part of the Air Combat Command Twelfth Air Force....

    (5 June-24 October 1944)
  • 475th Fighter Group
    475th Air Base Wing
    The 475th Air Base Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last duty station was at Yokota Air Base, Japan, where it was inactivated on 1 April 1992....

      (14 July-28 October 1944)

  • 6th Reconnaissance Group
    6th Reconnaissance Group
    The 6th Reconnaissance Group is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with Fifth Air Force, stationed at Irumagawa Air Base, Japan...

      (August-3 November 1944)
  • 71st Reconnaissance Group
    71st Flying Training Wing
    The 71st Flying Training Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Education and Training Command Nineteenth Air Force. It is stationed at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma where it also is the host unit....

    (8 August-5 November 1944)
  • 91st Reconnaissance Wing  (10 August-12 November 1944)

  • 2d Combat Cargo Group
    2d Combat Cargo Group
    The 2d Combat Cargo Group is an inactive United States Army Air Force unit. Its last duty station was at Yokota Air Base, Japan, where it was inactivated on 15 January 1946.-Lineage:...

      (November 1944-May 1945)
  • 54th Troop Carrier Wing
    54th Tactical Fighter Wing
    The 54th Tactical Fighter Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the Pacific Air Forces Fifth Air Force, being stationed at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea...

    (5 October 1944-14 February 1945)
  • 374th Troop Carrier Group
    374th Airlift Wing
    The 374th Airlift Wing is a unit of the United States Air Force assigned to Fifth Air Force. It is stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan. It is part of Pacific Air Forces ....

    (14 October 1944-28 May 1945)
  • 375th Troop Carrier Group
    375th Airlift Wing
    The 375th Air Mobility Wing is a unit of the United States Air Force assigned to Eighteenth Air Force. It is stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. It is part of Air Mobility Command ....

    (14 October 1944-28 May 1945)
  • 60th Air Depot Group

See also

  • 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

Frans Kaisiepo Airport @ Angkasa Pura II Frans Kaisiepo Airport @ Directorate General of Civil Aviation

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