Henderson Field was located in a cleared area near the north coast of Guadalcanal, just east of the Lunga River and west of the Ilu River, nicknamed “Alligator Creek.” When the first planes arrived, the field was little more than a cow pasture cut out of the island’s jungle, mostly surrounded by coconut palms. The rolled dirt and gravel airstrip stretched 3,778 feet long and 150 feet wide. Only 1,000 feet of it was covered with Marston matting—joined perforated steel planks. The 3d Defense Battalion provided antiaircraft defense of the field with three automatic weapons and three 90-mm batteries, which succeede+d in keeping Japanese bombers at a reasonably high altitude. Henderson later would be lengthened and taxiways and plane revetments added.
The Cactus Air Force's Humble Home
By Colonel Richard Camp, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)