Chuuk Lagoon: The 'Gibraltar of the Pacific'

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This paper focuses on Japan's transformation of a group of remote and small Pacific Islands into a major Japanese World War II (WW II) naval base. Chuuk Lagoon (formerly Truk Lagoon), located in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), contains a wealth of WW II heritage. For instance, WW II relics can be found buried beneath the ground and hidden among Chuuk's lush tropical vegetation as well as stored within caves and underground tunnels. Japanese artillery guns, perched high on cliffs and strategically placed in caves, overlook the lagoon. The lagoon's foreshores contain Japanese coastal fortifications represented by pillboxes and anti-aircraft gun embankments, together with docking facilities and Japanese engineered sea-walls. Chuuk also possesses significant WW II aviation infrastructure, such as runways, communication towers and airbases. This paper focuses on the construction of Etten airfield which is located on the small island of Etten. Etten's airfield, like other pacific airfields that were constructed on remote Pacific islands and atolls, illustrates the central role that engineering and airfield construction played in the Pacific conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-143
Number of pages13
JournalBulletin of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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