ORIGINAL: Andrew Brown
OK - explain Kona then: dozens of miles of lava flats that could be relatively quickly converted to airfield... shoot, they could have a 25000 foot runway there now if they had the need, and expand over thousands of barren acres for a base. In 1941 - 1945, there was pretty much nothing to prevent an expansion (now there are some resorts and a state park and light industry nearby). The town of Kailua-Kona is ~10 miles or so from the airport.
Similarly, there is currently an Army airfield up on Mauna Kea in the middle of several thousand acres that could be vastly expanded - if there was ever a need (there wasn't afaik).
Looking at Kona specifically, the factors used in calculating the airfield SPS were (from my SPS script):
Hex 182,111 contains US Navy base Kona
Terrain type: Jungle + rough (17): -2
Island size: Huge/Not an island (0): 5
Best road type: Primary Road (3)
Best railway type: No railway (0)
SPS value according to terrain: 3
Transport modifier: +2
* Proposed new airfield SPS value: 5
So, the base value is 5, which is increased by 2 due to the presence of a primary road, then decreased by 2 due to the terrain type being jungle+rough, giving a final value of 5.
There are a few considerations here:
- Terrain values are averages over the whole hex. In this case I chose to represent the Kona hex as jungle+rough. That terrain type imposes a penalty on SPS values to represent difficulty of construction.
- SPS values do not only represent the maximum size of airfields in a hex, then also represent another thing: how hard it is to construct airfields in a location due to terrain and the availability of overland transport (for moving workers, equipment and material around). As there is one value (SPS) representing two different things, the final value chosen is inevitably a compromise which has to take both factors into consideration.
- These are automatically calculated values that do not take into consideration particular circumstances of each
individual location (I was not going to spend the time to individually assess every base hex in the game).
Fortunately the editor allows others to change SPS values as they see fit, which is perfectly OK with me.
Kona is/was within a several miles of 3 ports (Kailua-Kona, Hilo, and Kawaihae)... the Saddle Road (from Hilo to Kona) was put in (quickly, and according to some, laid out by drunken surveyors ) during the war, but there is/was another road running around the island, allowing transport by truck in a few hours (not days), so no RR was needed... no jungle near Kona (although i suppose the other (wet) side of the island MIGHT be called jungle, depending on one's definition). Kona is considered desert, iirc, average rain something like 10"/year.
The terrain around the airport is flat, and could be called rough, i suppose, although the lava is/was easily crushed to cinders running something with either big heavy tires or better a track over it. From what i know about WW2 technology, i am guessing they could have set up a sizable airfield (i.e. 2500+ foot runway) in a few weeks even early in the war. As i've mentioned, the COULD have made the airfield much, much larger had it been desired... (i.e. - if it had been needed. As it turns out, it was not needed, and therefore not developed). But, if history had not gone as it did (and it generally does not in the game), the player MIGHT need to develop some weird spots into bases that never were built up in the course of the war. For instance, had the US lost Hilo to the Japanese, but still held the west side of the Big Island, Kona probably would have had a huge airbase.
i doubt they bothered to do so: not much to primarily defend on that side of the island except a few rather small beaches, and the bays/ports. Most of the old defenses (fortifications) i've found on the Big Island tend to be at South Point, the southern most tip of the island where there are large beaches... several old bunkers still found out there. Apparently they considered that the prime area for landing sites. BTW, Maui seems to have had a lot more in the way of bunkers and beach defenses than the Big Island.
As i have mentioned, there is an Army airfield inland on the slopes of Mauna Kea, far enough inland (and high enough in elevation) to have made it very difficult for any naval gunfire to disrupt. This is also just off the Saddle Road, and would have been more difficult to build than Kona, i think (more isolated, though within an hour or so of Hilo by truck, and it pretty good elevation). If a hexes are arranged by terrain, this should probably been in the Kona hex (desert, as opposed to Hilo which is WET).
i have looked into a few other instances of some airfields in the game that seemed off: Norfolk Island comes to mind. It had a 5000' airfield that was a major trans-shipment center in flights to Oz during the war (from what me readings told me), but is quite small in the game (iirc).