Airfields of Shimushu




The Imperial Japanese Navy maintained the Kataoka Naval Base and Airfield on the southwest side of Shimushu Island.  The naval base, considered to be the most important airfield in the northern Kuriles, consisted of a 480 by 150 foot mote with a 320-foot breakwater extension, three 60-foot oil tanks, a barracks complex, light and heavy anti-aircraft positions and many scattered ammunition and supply stores. The naval airfield consisted two crossed runways measuring about 5,000 by 250 feet and 4,000 by 250 feet and bearing 040°-220° and 135°-315° respectively. The shorter of the two was paved.  The airfield consisted of one 130 by 165 foot hangar and thirteen covered blast shelters and twenty-four uncovered blast shelters and approximately 6,900 feet of taxiways. Before it became a base and airfield, it had been the site of an Ainu village.  It also had a large cannery. (Study, Advanced Intelligence Center, North Pacific Area, The Kurile Islands, Vol. I, p. 108.)


​The Eleventh Air Force had discovered the presence of the Kataoka Airfield during the 11 August 1943 raid. It was located a half a mile from the navy base. At the time, it consisted of a single, uncompleted strip with indications of a cross strip.  It served as the hub of aerial activity in the northern Kuriles with three nearby auxiliary fields, the Army field at Miyoshino, the Navy landing strip adjacent to the Bettobi Lake floatplane base to the northwest and the nearby emergency landing strip on Imai Cape.  A system of 39 heavy anti-aircraft guns and 50 automatic weapons provided interlocking protection. (Monthly Intelligence Summary, 1-31 Mar 1-45, HQs Eleventh Air Force, Task Force 90, North Pacific.) 


203rd Kokutai of IJNAF had withdrawn from Kuriles on 11 Aug 1944 leaving only a detachment of 19 Zero fighters (said to be A6M5) as "Shimushu Detachment" under Lt. Mutsuo Urushiyama. 


Kataoka Wan area, corrected to photos of 18 September 1944:

2 strip airfield

Fleet fueling point (6 fuel tanks)

1 large hangar

13 covered revetments

12 open revetments

18 heavy AA positions

19 AW batteries

7 searchlights

1 radio station

570 buildings (2 canneries)

8 piers

130 ammo buildings


























The Imperial Japanese Army maintained the Miyoshino Airfield, located in the low, marshy interior of Shimushu east of Kataoka four and a half miles east of Kataoka.  The single 3,800 by 180 foot runway with a 120 by 300 foot parking area had been constructed in 1944 capable of accommodating 40 fighters and 30 twin-engine bombers. It was first sighted visually on 4 May 1944 and after a number of attempts, first photographed on 10 June 1944. The airfield facilities consisted of eight buildings that included seven barracks.  A  six gun anti-aircraft battery was located 1,600 yards of the north end of the airfield and a four gun battery supported by four machine guns 1,000 yards northeast of the north end of the airfield. (Study, Advanced Intelligence Center, North Pacific Area, The Kurile Islands, Vol. I, p. 16.)


Myoshino airfield, corrected to photos of 18 September 1944:

Single strip airfield

3 blast shelters

8 heavy AA positions

9 automatic weapons

8 buildings

56 tents


Lake Bettobi


452nd Kokutai (formed 5 August 1942 as the No.5 Ku and redesignated No.452 Ku 1 November 1942) was transferred to Paramushiru Island from Kiska in April 1943 and placed under the command of the 27th Air Flotilla (Koku Sentai) in May. The 452nd Ku 1 was operating "Rufes" and "Jakes" from the base on Lake Bettobi (Shimushu).

The No.5/ No.452 Ku 1 markings changes by date:

[R-] August~November 1942
[M1- November/December 1942~April 1943 (Jim Landsdale,

No.27 Koku Sentai had three units in its command in May 1943; 

No.281 Ku ([V1-1..); A6M2 fighters

No.452 Ku ([V2-]; A6M2-N fighters and E13A patrol float planes 

No.801 Ku; H6K flying boats


Lake Bettobi area, corrected to photos of 18 September 1944:

Single fighter strip

Seaplane anchorage

5 automatic weapons




















January 1945 


Aerial photographs taken during January revealed that the airfields at Bettobi Lake, Shimushu Island, and Kakumabetsu, Paramushiru Island, were not being maintained and were covered with snow.  One of the two runways at Kataoka Airfield on Shimushu Island and one of two runways at Suribachi Airfield, Paramushiru Island, were inoperable. The airfields at the Kashiwabara Army Staging Area on Paramushiru Island and the Miyoshino Airfield on Shimushu Island appeared partially operational.  Intelligence did note, however, that the Japanese had made substantial progress since June 1944 on their airfield construction program. They had completed work on the Bettobi Lake installation on Shimushu Island and an additional runway had been constructed at Suribachi and the original runway had been enlarged at Kakumabetsu. (Monthly Intelligence Summary, 1-31 Jan 1945, HQs Eleventh Air Force, Task Force 90, North Pacific Area.)






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