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    5 Mile Drome (Ward Drome) National Capital District Papua New Guinea
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US Army Nov 27, 1942

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8th PRS Dec 8, 1942

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USAAF August 1943
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US Army c1943

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US Army Nov 27, 1943

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Justin Taylan 2003

Location
Located at Waigani roughly 5 miles from Port Moresby. Also known as "Ward Drome", "5 Mile" or "5 Mile Drome" also known as "Wards". Code named "Maple".

Construction
During the middle of 1942, built by the Australian administration led by Australian Lt. Col. K. H. Ward, C. O. of the 53rd Battalion (Militia). Surfaced with bitumen by US Army engineers and further developed with two parallel runways measuring 6,000' x 100' runways, with extensive taxiways and revetment area to the east of the runways, interconnected to 7 Mile Drome (Jackson).

Naming Honors
Named "Ward Drome" in honor of Australian Lt. Col. K. H. Ward, who was involved with its construction and was killed on August 27, 1942, at Isurava on the Kokoda Trail. Also known as "Wards Drome" or "Ward's Drome".

World War II Pacific Theatre History
During 1943, Wards was the busiest airfield in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It was mainly used by cargo and larger aircraft. Designated U. S. Army APO 929.

American units based at 5-Mile Drome (Wards)
374th TCG, 22nd TCS (C-47) Garbutt Jan 24, 43 - Aug 29, 44 Finschafen
90th BG, 320th BS (B-24) Iron Range Feb 10 - Dec 1, 43 Dobodura
90th BG, 321st BS (B-24) Iron Range Feb 10 - Dec 1, 43 Dobodura
348th FG, 341st FS (P-47) USA June 23 - December 17, 1943 Finschafen
348th FG, 342nd FS (P-47) USA June 23 - December 17, 1943 Finschafen
RAAF units based at 5-Mile Drome (Wards)
9th Group, 22nd Squadron (Boston)
9th Group, 30th Squadron (Beaufighter) Bohl River September 12, 1942 - July 28, 1943 Vivigani

On April 12, 1943 during Operation I-Go, Wards Drome was attacked by nine Japanese bombers. Their bombs destroyed several aircraft including: Beaufighter A19-50 destroyed Beaufighter A19-11 converted to parts, Beaufighter A19-37 damaged, converted to parts, Beaufighter A19-5 damaged, repaired.

Postwar
5 Mile Drome (Ward) was disused since the war. Postwar, the former runways were used as a raceway for vehicles known as "Racecourse Road" and later developed into "Waigani Drive" that runs atop the main runway. Most of the revetments were bulldozed flat and an scrap metal detail meted down the remaining aluminium from aircraft and parts abandoned in the area. Well into the 1950s, locals would siphon fuel from aircraft fuel tanks abandoned in the area for their own use.

Today
The former airfield is located in the Waigani area of Port Moresby, where most of the Papua New Guinea Government buildings and foreign embassies are located.

5th Air Force Operations Headquarters
The U. S. Army Air Force 5th Air Force Operations Headquarters was ocated at Wards Drome. Reportedly, its cement slab foundations still remain today.

374th Troop Carrier Group Camp Area
Located in a small valley was the camp area for the 374th Troop Carrier Group. Today, the area is located straight ahead when the road bends towards the Port Moresby Golf Club.

27th Air Depot
Based between 5 Mile and 7 Mile, this group was responsible for assembling crated aircraft delivered by ship docked in Fairfax Harbor from the United States.  Brand new aircraft were delivered to Port Moresby assembled and then flown to other bases. Ships continued to dock at Port Moresby until mid-1945 when transports switched to Manila Bay. For pilots wishing to pick up a brand new plane, they would have to go all the way back to Port Moresby

5th Air Force Operations Headquarters (5th AF Ops HQ)
Located on a hill behind Wards Drome. A large 5th Air Force insignia and USAAF star, drawn into the concrete.   Concrete steps, a garden and path that went up the ridge towards the HQ. In the 1980's traces of the paint still remained.  Today, both the 5th AF logo and USSAF are partially broken, and the area is overgrown, but it still offers commanding views and an impressive remnant of the American era at Ward's Drome. This marking is still present to this day, on a small ridge off the main hill and this overlooks the Chinese Embassy. To visit the slab, drive down Sir John Guise Drive, cross the intersection with Independence Way and Godwit Street and keep going in the direction of the golf club.  When that road begins to make a left turn, there is a hill on your right.

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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