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    Wama Airfield (Guama, Morotai) Morotai Indonesia

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US Army September 1944

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Robert Laessig 1944

Location
Wama Airfield is located on the southern coast of Morotai, parallel to the southern coast. Located parallel to Pitu Airfield (Pitoe, Moratai) further inland to the north. Also known as Wama Field, Guama, Moratai or Morotai.

Construction
Built by US Army engineers on the southern coast of Morotai, the first airfield built on the Morotai, construction began in mid September 1944. Also, Australians from NO. 14 Airfield Construction Squadron arrived September 18, 1944. Primarily, this aifield was used for fighter operations. This airfield was interconnected by taxiways to nearby Pitu Airfield.

American Usage
Pilots remembered the base for its strong winds, which took their toll of aircraft that approached too slowly. Quickly, it was crammed with both American 5th and 13th Air Force fighters and bombers, and RAAF aircraft as it became the most forward base in the area.  It became one of the largest (RAAF) spitfire fighter bases in the world. At the later stage of the war, the Allied had more planes than they needed, so damaged ones were abandoned due to lack of repair facilities or motivation to repair them were abandoned at Morotai.

Japanese Air Raids Against Morotai
The Japanese made a total of 82 air raids against the strips at Morotai, from September 15, 1944 to February 1, 1945. reaching a peak in November 1944 with a raid every day. Tokyo radio dubbed Morotai "graveyard of the 13th Air Force". In reality, most were nuance raids, but some had disastrous effects. November 22/23, 1944 - 9 Japanese planes destroyed 15 parked planes and damage 8.

American units based at Wama
35th FG HQ (September 27, 1944 - ?
35th FG, 41st FS (P-47) Owi Oct 17, 1944 - Jan 21, 45 to Mangaldan
18th FG, 12th FS (P-38 detachment) Sansapor Nov 8, 1944 - January 10, 1945
4th PRG, 17th PRS (F-5) ? - May 7 1945 Puerto Princesa

Dena "Thumper" Huitt, 41st FS adds:
"We lost several planes by Japanese bombing raids at Morotai. There were only about two nights during November that we didn't have a red alert. Lots of foxhole time! One night a bomb landed in a foxhole in the enlisted men's are and killed four of our men."

Richard Debaugh, 41st FS adds:
"We took off many times configured with three external fuel tanks, a 150 gallon tank under each  wing and a belly tank of 100 gallons."

Robert Brewer, 41st FS adds:
"There were times when we had 3 external tanks for a long mission when we used the bomber strip and used water injection to get airborne."

Peter Flahavin adds:
"My Dad was stationed there in Australian Army signals from March to September 1945 and vividly remembers all the air activity. To amuse themselves they used to cut up fighter belly tanks and turn them into fishing boats or yachts of the Morotai Yacht club. The Japanese were 25 miles away on Halmahera so you had to watch the currents."

A6M5 Model 52 Zero
Surrendered at the end of the war

Today
The only aircraft now at Morotai is a wrecked Harvard at the airport (which is off limits to tourists).

Robert Dunn visited in 1997:
"I visited Moratai: Wama Strip and Pitue Strip. The locals showed us around we found a pile of Australian broken beer bottles next to Wama . The hot mix is still ok on Pitue."

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Last Updated
November 1, 2017

 

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