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Iruma Air Base
Airport type Military
Location Sayama, Saitama, Japan
Elevation AMSL 295 ft / 90 m
Direction Length Surface
17/35 2,000 6,562 Asphalt concrete
Source: Japanese AIP at AIS Japan
Iruma Air Base (入間基地, Iruma-kichi?) (ICAO: RJTJ) is a Japan Air Self-Defense Force base located in the city of Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, north of western Tokyo, Japan.
Formerly the airfield for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force Academy, Iruma Air Base is currently home to the Air Defense Command Headquarters Flight Group. Aircraft located at the base include the U-4, YS-11EA, YS-11EB, T-4, and EC-1.
Iruma was established in 1937 by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and named Irumagawa Airfield. Opened in December 1938, it was the air academy for the Japanese Army Air Force, with its academy located at the nearby town. Mostly training aircraft operated from the base, including Kawasaki Ki-10 (Army Type 95 Fighter Model 1) biplanes painted orange. During World War II, the IJAAF 14th Sentai operated Mitsubishi Ki-67 medium bombers from Irumagawa. Attacked several times by USAAF B-29 Superfortress bombers, the last missions by the IJAAF were one-way missions using Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka purpose-built, rocket-powered, human-guided, anti-shipping kamikaze attack planes against American ships operating off the coast.
After the end of the war, the United States Army Air Forces Fifth Air Force headquarters on Okinawa was moved to Japan and was established at Irumagawa on 25 September 1945. The base was renamed Johnson Air Base in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Gerald R. Johnson, the former commander of the USAAF 49th Fighter Group. A little over a month after the war ended, Lt. Col. Johnson was piloting a B-25 Mitchell, which had been pressed into service as a transport aircraft. He flew into a typhoon and was hopelessly lost in the black skies. He ordered everyone to bail out, but one person neglected to bring a parachute. Johnson immediately gave his parachute away and tried to fly the B-25 back safely. Johnson's copilot also elected to stay behind to help Johnson, but both were killed when the B-25 crashed on approach to Irumagawa.
Johnson Air Base was a major United States Air Force base in Japan during the occupation years, then later during the Korean War and the 1950s. USAF Far East Air Force (Later Pacific Air Forces) command units based at Johnson were:
During the postwar years, the unit photographed areas of Japan and South Korea, which in 1950, provided much of the initial intelligence of the area when the Korean War broke out.
35th Fighter Group (later Wing), August 1948–April 1950; August–December 1950; May 1951–August 1954 (F-51 Mustang, F-61 Black Widow, F-82 Twin Mustang, F-80 Shooting Star, F-86 Sabre)
Initially flew air defense missions in Japan as part of the army of occupation. Engaged in combat operations in South Korea after the June 1950 invasion by North Korea. Reassigned back without personnel and equipment back to Johnson AB in May 1951, replacing 4th Fighter Wing where it was remanned and equipped with F-51s and F-80s; returned to the air defense mission for Japan. Moved to Yokota AB in October 1954 when 3d Bomb Wing moved back to Johnson from South Korea.
4th Fighter Wing, December 1950–March 1951 (F-86 Sabre)
Arrived in Japan in December 1950 with F-86 Sabres aboard aircraft carriers. The primary mission of the wing was air superiority, and the Sabre was capable of battling the North Korean Soviet-built MiG-15 on equal terms. From Johnson AB detachments deployed in mid-December to bases in South Korea, rotating between South Korea and Japan through February 1951. Then, the 4th FW moved in stages to South Korea, with all elements moved to South Korea by March.
3d Bombardment Wing, March 1950–August 1951; October 1954–November 1960 (B-26 Invader, B-57B Canberra)
Initially trained as a B-26 Invader bombardment and reconnaissance wing as part of the army of occupation. When the Korean War broke out in June 1950, the 3 BW began flying combat missions from Johnson, attacking North Korean forces as they invaded and moved southward. The first Americans to lose their lives during the Korean War, 1st Lt Remer L. Harding and SSgt William Goodwin, were assigned to the 13th Bombardment Squadron when they lost their lives 28 June 1950 returning from a sortie on the Korean Peninsula. Captain John S. Walmsley, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on 14 September 1951: flying a night mission in a B-26 from Johnson. Moved to Kunsan AB (K-8), South Korea in August 1951.
Transferred back to Johnson in October 1954 after the Korean armistice replacing 35th Fighter Wing. Main operational wing at Johnson AB throughout the 1950s, initially equipped with B-26s, later updated to jet B-57 Canberra tactical bombers in 1956. Moved to Yokota Air Base in November 1960 with the phasedown of USAF operations at Johnson AB.
In August 1958 the JASDF Central Air Defense Force headquarters was established at Johnson Air Base. In June 1961 Japan-US joint use agreement was established at Johnson, and active USAF use of the air base ended in June 1962 when the 41st Air Division headquarters moved to Yokota AB.
American facilities were re designated "Johnson Air Force Station" on 30 December 1960, later "Johnson Family Housing Annex" on 1 January 1963 for American family housing in Japan. The Provisional USAF 6102d Air Base Wing became the USAF support organization at Johnson, supporting the 6022d USAF Hospital and family housing civil engineering flights. In November 1963 the base transitioned from USAF management to the JASDF.
On 28 June 1973 the USAF support units were inactivated and most of its facilities were returned over to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and it was renamed Iruma Airbase. The last USAF facilities were closed in September 1978.
June 25, 1950
Headquarters received notification of the Korean incident and alerted all flights. Instructions were issued to arm each SB-17with one hundred (100) rounds of 50 caliber ammunition. All flights were immediately placed on a seven (7) day week, twenty-four (24) hour day.
A SB-17 from flight "C" located at Haneda Air Base, because of an evacuation from Misawa, was diverted to Johnson AB. The Fifth Air Force training Field Order testing the aerial defenses of Okinawa was still in progress with a Flight "D", SB-17 accomplishing a reconnaissance to Okinawa and return.