Air Force Bases

Misawa Air Base, Japan

Location: Located adjacent to the city of Misawa, 3 miles west of the Pacific Ocean on northern Honshu Island, 10 miles southwest of Towada, 18 miles northwest of Hachinohe City, and 425 miles north of Tokyo, Japan.

Origin of current name: Named after the city of Misawa, Aomori-ken Prefecture, Honshu, Japan.

Date current name was assigned to base: November 12, 1949

Previous Names: Unk, 1870-1939; Misawa Imperial Japanese Naval AB, 10 Feb 1942; Misawa AAB, Sep 1945.

Date Established: September 1, 1945

Date Occupied: September 1, 1945

Construction Began: September 1, 1945

Base Units: Unk, 1870-1945; 32d Army Engrg Const Gp, Sep 1945; 49th AB Wg, 18 Aug 1948; 6163d AB Wg, 1 Dec 1950; 116th Ftr-Bmbr Wg, 2 Nov 1951; 6016th AB Wg, 10 Jul 1952; 49th Ftr-Bmbr Wg, 18 Nov 1953; 49th AB Gp, 15 Apr 1957; 6139th AB Gp, 15 Oct 1957; 439th Cmbt Spt Gp, 8 Jan 1964; 475th AB (475th Cmbt Spt) Gp, 15 Jan 1968; 6122d AB Gp, 15 Mar 1971; 6920th AB Sq (6920th AB Gp), 1 Jul 1972; 6112th AB Wg, 1 Oct 1978-.

Changes in Capability: In 1870 the Japanese Emperor established a stud farm for the household cavalry in the area that later became Misawa AB, and kept his own (Tenno Heika) cavalry there until 1931, when the Sino-Japanese conflict required their use in China; Misawa remained a training center for Japanese Cavalry until the Japanese Army constructed the first runway at Misawa for military aircraft in 1938; the Imperial Japanese Navy began construction of a base for long-range bombers in 1939; by early 1941 the Gensan Flying Corps trained at Misawa, and the 22d Imperial Naval Air Wg assumed control of the base on 10 Feb 1942; the Misawa area was heavily damaged (base 90 percent destroyed) in the latter part of World War II, and Misawa had to be almost completely reconstructed by occupying U.S. forces; the USA commenced work in Feb 1945; E-W concrete runway added 1948; operational use of the base began on 31 Mar 1948; a number of fighter, fighter-interceptor, fighter-bomber, reconnaissance and support units operated from Misawa AB between 1950 and 1971; parallel taxiways finished, 1954; the first Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) unit arrived at Misawa in Oct 1954, and the Japanese Northern Air Defense Force began operations from Misawa in 1957; as early as 1953 units of the USAF Security Service (USAFSS) were stationed at Misawa; 1,500-ft extension added to E-W runway in 1958; the USN controlled all U.S. flight line facilities, and the JASDF controlled its own flight lines and the airspace over Misawa after 1 Oct 1978; base hosted various Allied exercises in the region and provided support for 13 AF Associate units, 14 Department of Defense agencies, and the JASDF units stationed in the Misawa area between 1 Oct 1978 and Sep 1982.


Construction of Misawa Air Base (AB) began in May 1939 under the direction of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force. In September, construction began on a triangular runway network that included two 3,500 foot runways. However, plans to use Misawa as a long-range bomber base never materialized. It was used as a training and aeronautical research and development base. They used Lake Ogawara to train seaplane pilots and had a Kamikaze Corps stationed here, planning to land aircraft at American bases in the Pacific and conduct sabotage and demolition attacks. Carrier-based American F4Us attacked Misawa AB in July and August 1945 and destroyed more than 90 percent of the base. After the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, the base demobilized and the workers and military personnel dispersed across the region.

Just one month later the first American troops arrived at Misawa under the command of Captain Davis K. Stark, commander of the 32nd Army Engineering Construction Group. These troops secured the base and prepared it for the arrival of the 49th Fighter Group and its F-51 aircraft in 1948. The newly designated 49th Fighter Wing moved to Korea during the Korean War and returned to Misawa in 1953. The United States Air Force (USAF) Security Service assigned the 1st Radio Squadron (Mobile) to Misawa in January 1953, the first of several communications units on the base.

Over the next 21 years, eight different units acted as host unit on Misawa AB. A fire destroyed 434 buildings in Misawa City in 1966 and a major earthquake damaged both the city and the base in 1968. These events brought both communities closer together and led to increased cooperation.

Downsizing caused PACAF to leave Misawa in 1972 and the USAF Security Service’s 6920th Air Base Squadron (later Group) assumed host responsibilities. The U.S. Navy activated the Naval Security Group Misawa, here in July 1971 making it the oldest continuous American unit on Misawa (currently designated the Navy Information Operations Command Misawa). In 1978, the 6112th Air Base Group’s activation marked the return of PACAF units to Misawa.

In July 1984, the 432d Tactical Fighter Wing became the host unit and remained as host until the 35th Fighter Wing activated on October 1, 1994.

Current tenant units include the Naval Air Facility Mi- sawa; elements of the US Navy’s Commander, Task Force 72/57, U.S. Navy Information Operations Command Misawa; the 373d Intelligence Group, the U.S. Army’s 403d Military Intelligence Detachment, and the US Army’s Joint Tactical Ground Station.