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According to the organizational history of the Air Base Detachment,  APO 959 "History of Haleiwa from Nov 41 to Jun 44" quoted on 1 June 1944,  "This post found it's origin as a gunnery range in 1928."  The actual 18th Pursuit Group  records of December 1928 state further:  "The major portion of the flying training for December 1928 was confined to aerial gunnery on tow targets at ranges Number 1 and 2 at Haleiwa"

Further quoted from the ABD APO 959 Organization History of Haleiwa of 1 June 1944: 

"On the 3rd of December 1941 the 47th Pursuit Squadron was assigned to this base.  It is of great interest that this was the only base and organization that was able to put planes in the air on December the seventh.  This was not a regular runway, just something comparable to an old country road rather than an airstrip.  From an old history of Wheeler Field compiled by Capt. KISTLER RHOAD the following information was extracted.  2D Lieut GEORGE S WELCH and KENNETH M TAYLOR left the officer's Club the morning of December 7th at 0800 and traveled 100 MPH to the airstrip at Haleiwa where the ships of their squadron had been assigned only four (4) days before for aerial gunnery practice.  In P-40B's Lieut WELCH was credited with shooting down four (4) Japanese planes.  Both Lieutenants were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Lieut. HARRY BROWN in a P-36A shot down one plane.  Each of these officers were members of the 47th Pursuit Squadron.  The 47th left the base on February 22, 1942"

Text Dave Trojan below:

Haleiwa Fighter Strip, Haleiwa HI is located at 21.6 North / 158.1 West, Northwest of Honolulu, HI.  The site of the Haleiwa Fighter Strip is located north of the intersection of Route 83 & Kahalewai Place.  The date of construction of the Haleiwa airfield has not been determined. The earliest depiction of the field that has been located was an April 27, 1933 aerial photo that depicted a group of B-6A biplanes on a modest grass field at Haleiwa (Hawaiian, 2000).  This obscure former military strip became famous during the Pearl Harbor Attack, December 7th 1941.

            Originally used as an emergency landing field, in 1941 Haleiwa Field had only an unpaved landing strip and very austere conditions.  Haleiwa Field was mainly used to simulate real battle conditions for gunnery training. Little did they know that they would soon be put to the test under real battle conditions?  Those on temporary duty there had to bring their own tents & equipment. During the war, the runway was paved and it became a busy reliever base for fighter aircraft patrolling the islands. A World War II era photo depicted a Bell P-39 taxiing past a temporary wooden control tower and another wooden building at Haleiwa (Hawaiian, 2000).

On December 7th the Japanese heavily strafed the aircraft at Wheeler Field and few aircraft were able to get airborne to fend them off.  Haleiwa was an auxiliary field to Wheeler and contained a collection of aircraft temporarily assigned to the field including aircraft from the 47th Pursuit Squadron.  A total of eight Curtiss P-40 Kitty Hawk and 2 Curtiss P-36 Mohawk pursuit planes were at the field on the morning of 7 December 1941 (Bauer, 2004). 

Lt. George S. Welch and 2nd Lt. Kenneth M. Taylor, both P-40 pilots, were at Wheeler when the attack began.  They had previously flown their P-40B fighters over to the small airfield at Haleiwa as part of a plan to disperse the squadron’s planes away from Wheeler.  Not waiting for instructions the pilots called ahead to Haleiwa and had both their fighters fueled, armed and warmed up. Both men raced in their cars to Haleiwa Field completing the 16-mile trip in about 15 minutes.  With their P-40s, now warmed up and ready, they jumped into their cockpits.  The crew chiefs informed them that they should disperse their planes.  "The hell with that", said Welch.  Ignoring the usual pre-takeoff checklists the aircraft took off down the narrow airstrip.

Once in the air they spotted a large number of aircraft in the direction of Ewa and Pearl Harbor. Only then did they realize what they were up against. “There were between 200 and 300 Japanese aircraft," said Taylor; "there were just two of us!" The two P-40's engaged the aircraft attacking Ewa Mooring Mast and shot down five Japanese planes.  They then returned to Wheeler to replenish their ammunition.  While there, another wave of dive bombers appeared and Lt. Taylor raced back into the air.  His P-40's cockpit was damaged as a Japanese plane chased him.  Lt. Welch was able to down the plane following him and they both returned back to Wheeler. Lt. Welch was credited with a total of four Japanese planes shot down and Lt. Taylor downed two.  Just as suddenly as it began, the sky was empty of enemy aircraft (Jordon, 2000).  Both are credited with being the first "Aces" of World War II. Taylor & Welch were both awarded the Distinguished Service Cross." Walsh & Taylor's dramatic ride & takeoff was shown in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora.

After the war Haleiwa Fighter Strip was apparently reused as a civilian airport for some period of time.  Haleiwa was depicted as a civilian airport on the 1947 Hawaiian Islands Sectional Chart.  It was described as having a 4,800' hard-surface runway. The Haleiwa Airport was apparently abandoned at some point between 1947-61, as it was not depicted at all on the 1961 Honolulu Sectional Chart, and was not depicted at all on recent USGS topo maps.

Little of Haleiwa Field remains today, although the area is not completely abandoned.  The remains of the single runway that was paved during World War II can still be seen today but the tarmac is severely compromised by weed growth.  The area is currently being used as a motion picture location for various TV shows and movies.  Homeless squatters have occupied camps in the heavily overgrown areas.  On the north end of the runway still stands the foundation of the control tower and evidence of concrete slabs from building foundations.  The land remains undeveloped and is owned by Kamehameha Schools.  Hawaiian Historical Aviation Foundation members are interested in restoring part of Haleiwa Field to its original condition, given its national historical importance. The idea is also to create a large open space that can be used for North Shore events (Burlingame, 2005).

The photo gallery below depicts Haleiwa through the years

Aerial Oblique of Haleiwa in 1933, Courtesy 15th AW

Overhead aerial 4 Sept 41, Courtesy 15th AW

2nd Lt's Taylor (left) and Welch posing after Dec 7th action, USAF Archives

Overhead aerial circa 1942, Courtesy 15th AW

Hi Alt Overhead Aerial 1942, Courtesy 15th AW

Aerial Oblique looking East 20 Aug 42, Courtesy 15th AW

Aerial Oblique looking Northwest with P-40s parked. 1942-43, Courtesy 15th AW

Haleiwa Gate during WWII, Courtesy US Army Museum

Haleiwa Tower during WWII, Courtesy US Army Museum

Haleiwa North Aerial Oblique. July 1946

Genne Collection

Haleiwa Overhead July 1946. Genne Collection

Building Foundation in 2005, Photo By D. Trojan

1991 Aerial looking north, Courtesy, Photo by D. Larsen

Haleiwa Runway in 2005, Photo by D. Trojan

2000 Overhead Aerial of Haleiwa Harbor and old runway to the North, By AirPhotoUSA



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