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AirSols was a joint command for Allied air units in the Solomon Islands campaign of World War II, from April 1943 to June 1944. It was subordinate to the Allied Pacific Ocean Areas POA Command. AirSols superseded and absorbed Cactus Air Force, which controlled Allied air units in the Solomons during 1942–43. AirSols units came from elements of the United States Navy (USN), United States Marine Corps (USMC), the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and the Thirteenth Air Force, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF).

ActiveApril 1943 to June 1944
BranchNavy, Marines, Air Force
Part ofAllied Pacific Ocean Areas Command

The Allied fliers were opposed by the Japanese 11th Air Fleet and 4th Air Army, based at Rabaul, New Britain.

"Commander, Aircraft, Solomons" (ComAirSols) directed the combat operations of all land-based air in the Solomons during the major Allied offensive of 1943–44, Operation Cartwheel.[1] Discussing the initial command structure of AirSols, Marine Corps historians Henry I. Shaw & Douglas T. Kane, wrote:

Rear Admiral Charles P. Mason was the first officer to hold the title ComAirSols; he assumed command on 15 February 1943 at Guadalcanal.[2] Actually, Mason took over a going concern, as he relieved Brigadier General Francis P. Mulcahy, who had controlled all aircraft stationed at the island during the final phase of its defense. Mulcahy, who became Mason's chief of staff, was also Commanding General, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The fact that a general headed the staff of an admiral is perhaps the best indication of the multiservice nature of AirSols operations. Since Mason brought only a few officers with him to help run the new command with its enlarged scope of activity, he kept Mulcahy's veteran staff. Experience, not rank, seniority, or service, determined the assignments. Vice Admiral Aubrey W. Fitch, as Commander, Aircraft, South Pacific (ComAirSoPac), was Admiral Mason's immediate superior.

On 15 June 1944, AirSols was replaced by AirNorSols (Air North Solomons), which would have 40 squadrons (including 23 USMC squadrons). That same day, responsibility for Allied units west of 159° East Longitude and south of the Equator passed from POA to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). However, seven USAAF squadrons in AirNorSols were transferred, as part of the Thirteenth Air Force, to the U.S. Far East Air Forces (SWPA) and eight USN and RNZAF squadrons were moved to garrison duty in South Pacific.


Subordinate unitsEdit


(A full list of commanders can be seen at James A. Winnefeld, Joint Air Operations: Pursuit of Unity in Command and Control, 1942-1991, 34, drawing on Sherrod, 1952.)

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Shaw 1963, Isolation of Rabaul, Chapter 2: Approach March
  2. ^ Shaw 1963, ibid.
  3. ^ Shaw 1963, 455


  • McGee, William L. (2002). The Solomons Campaigns, 1942–1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville—Pacific War Turning Point, Volume 2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII). BMC Publications. ISBN 0-9701678-7-3.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-1307-1.
  • Sakaida, Henry (1996). The Siege of Rabaul. St. Paul, MN, USA: Phalanx. ISBN 1-883809-09-6.
  • Sherrod, Robert (1952). History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press.