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    Vivigani Airfield Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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5th AF c1944

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Charles Page Nov 2004

Location
Vivigani Airfield is located at Vivigani on the northeastern corner of Goodenough Island.

Construction
Prewar, a small airstrip was built at this location. Another airstrip was located at Wataluma Mission.

World War II Pacific Theatre History
On October 27, 1942 the Australian Army 2/12th Battalion arrived at Vivigani with a US Army airfield engineer made a report saying that the airstrip one mile northwest of the mission could be prepared for emergency use by clearing rocks and vegetation, and advising 'Permanent strip 6,000 feet long can be constructed.'

Immediately, RAAF No 7 Mobile Works squadron worked to expand Vivigani Airfield. Days into the initial construction, on October 31, 1942 an RAAF Anson low on fuel, made an emergency landing at Vivigani. Fuel was shipped in and the plane departed on November 9. 1942 just missing the mangrove swamp at the end of the runway on take off.

During April 1943 an emergency strip was constructed and a road was also built from the docks to the airfield. During June to September 1943, the airfield was expanded and improved. When completed, it had two parallel runways measuring 6,600' x 150' plus taxiways and a revetment area.

On May 17, 1943 Vivigani Airfield was first used by six Beauforts from 100 Squadron, staging out of Gurney Field for a bombing mission against Gasmata. Afterwards, used by both American and Australian liaison, fighter and bomber aircraft.

RAAF units based at Vivigani
108 Communication Unit (PBYs)
22 Squadron (Boston)
79 Squadron (Spitfire) Laverton June 2 - August 18, 1943 Kiriwina
6 Squadron (Beaufort) ? - Dobodura 1944(?)
9th Group, 30th Squadron (Beaufighter) Wards Drome July 28, 1943 - ?
American units based at Vivigani
1st Marine Div (12 L-4s) Air Liaison Dec 43 Cape Gloucester

Marine Liaison Aviation
In mid-1943, 1st Marine Division General Rupertus assigned 1st Lt. R. F. Murry to organize liaison planes to support the Marines. The army provided a dozen Piper Cubs, 3 were used for parts. The remaining nine trained on the island in artillery spotting, radio communication and snagging messages from between two poles, and dropping supplies. They deployed on LSTs to the landing at Cape Gloucester.

Today
Still in use today as an airfield. Many Australian and American aircraft wrecks existed here until the middle 1970's when most airframes were recovered by MARC (formally Yesterday's Air Force), and c
ontemporary efforts of HARS to remove a container worth of parts from the island. The runway is still in use to this day for weekly flights only. Photo by Charles Page, 2004

Charles Page adds:
"The 6,000 feet bitumen runway is still in use, and only slightly weed strewn. The many aircraft revetments are clearly visible, especially from the air. Various aircraft components can still be found scattered around. Towards the mountains, a fast running creek gushes over a waterfall and into a rock pool, which was used by the WWII crews for recreation and washing.

The locals drove me out to Vivigani airfield to await the Airlines PNG Twin Otter. This weekly flight is invariably delayed due to weather or serviceability, and this day the plane was four hours late. The airfield has virtually no facilities, and the time was spent further exploring the area. Then with no warning, the Twin Otter swept in low from the north and we were soon on our way to Alotau."

Spitfire Mark Vc Serial Number A58-146
Recovered to Australia in 1974, restored to static display

BeaufortSerial Number A9-226
Cockpit and center section recovered from Vivigani in 1974

DB-7B "J is for Jessica" Serial Number A28-8
Recovered by the RAAF, displayed at RAAF Point Cook Museum

P-40K Serial Number A29-183
Recovered by Robert Greinert / HARS during 1999-2001 to Australia then on sold

P-40N Serial Number ?
Recovered by Robert Greinert / HARS during 1999-2001 to Australia then on sold

CA-19 Boomerang
Recovered by Robert Greinert / HARS during 1999-2001 to Australia then on sold

Beaufighter Mark VI

References
Thanks to Phil Bradley, Daniel Leahy, John Douglas for additional information.

Contribute Information
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Last Updated
October 6, 2016

 

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