We took a trip back to Saipan and then on to the nearby island of Tinian from which the US operated the busiest airfield of WWII and launched the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan.
Due to a much smaller population, fewer visitors and a still continuing military utilization, Tinian is even less rebuilt than Saipan.
Panorama from inside the cabin of the Piper Cheyenne 6 single engine aircraft that is required to access Tinian from Saipan. Ferry service to Tinian was stopped several years ago due to its losing over $1M a year in revenues.
Tinian and Saipan were both taken by the Japanese during the early 20th century and so had substantial Japanese populations. This pre-war Shinto Shrine still stands in the jungle and may be one of the most atmospheric and moody places I’ve ever stumbled upon.
Next Page: An Abandoned WWII Airplane Engine
Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engine
Near the beach in San Juan are the remains of this American WWII engine, which I’ve tentatively identified as a Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp. I wouldn’t know how to identify what kind of aircraft this one came from because it was used on many, including cargo aircraft like the DC-3, fighter aircraft like the P-36 Skyhawk and bombers such as the B-24 Liberator.
Next page: Atomic bomb loading pit and much more!
Atomic Bomb loading pit, Japanese Fuel and Ammo Storage, and UXO
A view driving my rental car down the WWII runway Able in the North Field. The runway is gargantuan and in order to support heavy bombers loaded down with bombs and fuel, it nearly bisects the entire island.
The nearby ammo bunker was identical to the fuel bunker as seen above, but as it took a direct hit from a bomb and detonated, there’s not much left. Here is my wife standing in the pile of rubble that USED to be this awesome bunker. What appear to be vines in this picture are actually thousands of twisted strands of re-bar from the bunker explosion which peeled the roof back like a sardine can. The whole area is littered with unexploded munitions from inside the bunker, as you will see later.
Some of the unexploded munitions from the bunker explosion. Exploring these islands I sometimes encounter unexploded munitions, which I have a strict policy of never messing with. Military EOD teams sometimes do sweeps in order to dispose of ordinance they find, but so much remains that it’s a regular occurrence.
Next page a Japanse build then American operated communications complex
Japanese Communications Complex commandeered by US forces
Next page (last) the remains of an Amtrac
American AMTRAC amphibious landing craft hulk
Found this rusting hulk on a concrete slab in the north field near where the initial landing occurred. The vines in the troop carrying area appear to be ready to make an invasion of their own. American forces used these lightly armoured amphibious vehicles during the invasions of Guam, Saipan and Tinian.
I had GPS coordinates to the remains of a Japanese RADAR installation that had been blasted off the cliff above it. My wife and I trekked through the jungle and found the elevation gimbal and remains of the azimuth gear quite easily.
Written by Devon Pike
Reproduced with permission on War History Online