Lat 9° 26' 36S Long 147° 13' 12E 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) is located to the northeast of Port Moresby in present day National Capital District (NCD) of Papua New Guinea (PNG). During World War II, also known as "7 Mile" or "7 Mile Drone" because it was roughly seven miles north of north of Port Moresby. Also known as "Jackson Drome" or "Jackson Airport". Today, known as "Jackson Airport" or
"Jacksons International Airport".
A prewar airstrip with two parallel runways. American B-17 Flying Fortresses used the airfield en route to Clark Field on September 9, 1941. During the war, it was further expanded and improved by the Australians and Americans.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
This airfield was one of the primary airfields at Port Moresby at the start of the Japanese bombing campaign, and one of their principal targets. It based the first fighters that flew in defense of Port Moresby, RAAF 75 Squadron from March - May 1942.
When American forces arrived in April 1942, the airfield was
further developed. Revetment were constructed to protect parked aircraft and defenses. A network of taxiways
between 7-Mile Drome (Jackson) and 5 Mile Drome (Wards) made it possible to taxi between the two airfields.
On October 21, 1942 torrential rains, ahead of the "wet season" washed out the shale base of 7 Mile Drome and several nearby roads and bridges. The rain damaged was not repaired until late in October, forcing B-17s to temporarily divert to nearby 17 Mile Drome.
The airfield then consisted of three parallel runways, running roughly north-west to south-east. In the middle was the original runway, a fighter strip 3,000' x 100' surfaced with martson matting (as of December 9, 1942). To the north-east side was a new bomber strip 3,000' x 150' surfaced with marston matting (as of December 9, 1942) later expanded to 3,750'. On the south-west side was a crash strip 7,500' x 100' (as of December 9, 1942).
air raids and missions against Port Moresby
February 2, 1942 - September 20, 1943
Australian RAAF units
based at 7 Mile (Jackson)
75 Squadron (P-40s) March 21 - May 1942
American USAAF units
based at 7 Mile (Jackson)
43rd BG, HQ Mareeba January 43 - December 10, 1943 Dobodura
43rd BG, 63rd BS (B-17) Mareeba January 20, 1943 - October 29, 1943 Dobodura
43rd BG, 64th BS (B-17) Mareeba January 20, 1943 - October 29, 1943 Dobodura
43rd BG, 65th BS (B-17) Mareeba January 20, 1943 - December 11, 1943 Dobodura
43rd BG, 403rd BS (B-24) Mareeba May 11, 1943 - December 13,1943 Dobodura
35th FG, 40th FS (P-39 / P-400) Antil Plains June 1, 1942 - late July 1942 Antil Plains
35th FG, 41st FS (P-39 / P-400) Bankstown July 20 - August 16, 1943 Tsili Tsili
8th Service Group July 30, 1942 - 1944
348th FG, HQ USA June 23 December 16, 1943 Finschafen
348th FG, 340th FS (P-47) USA June 23 - December 13, 1943 Finschafen
The strip was renamed 'Jackson' on November 10, 1942 in honor of RAAF pilot John Jackson shot
down and killed in action April 28, 1942 flying P-40E
A29-8. To Americans, the airfield was known as "7 Mile" or "7 Mile Drome". The Japanese code named this airfield "RZR".
Still in use today, known as "Jackson Airport" or "Port Moresby Jacksons International Airport" or "Port Moresby International (Jacksons)". This is Papua New Guinea's international airport, and the air hub for all flights in and
out of the country and used by smaller regional airlines and helicopter companies. The airport has two runways at an elevation above sea level of 146'. The first runway is oriented 32R / 14L measures 9,022' x 148' surfaced with asphalt. The second runway is oriented 32L / 14R measures 6,777' x 148' surfaced with asphalt. Airport codes: ICAO: AYPY and IATA: POM.
Jackson Wing Memorial
In front of the old control tower and old terminal building on the southwestern end of the airport was a wing shaped memorial with a bronze plaque dedicated to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Squadron Leader John F. Jackson Killed In Action (KIA) on April 28, 1942 piloting P-40E
A29-8. The bronze plaque reads: "Erected
in the memory of Squadron Leader John Francis Jackson, D.F.C.
75 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, killed in action 28th
April, 1942 aged 34 for whom this airfield is named." During 2015 when the old control tower and terminal were demolished, the wing memorial was relocated to the employee parking lot at the eastern end of the airport.
PNG Defense Force Memorial
Located on the northeastern side of the airport outside the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF)
memorial made from the tail rudder of a C-47 Dakota. Nearby is a single .50
caliber machine gun on a metal mount.
After the Japanese air raid on August 17, 1942 the U. S. Army began constructing revetments around 7 Mile Drome to protect parked aircraft. At
the northwestern end of the airport are several revetments for B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberators remained. During 2014-2016, airport extension bulldozed several, leaving only a few revetments that remain in situ.
Air Depot Hangers
Two hangers built by the American forces near 7-Mile Drome. These had concrete bases, and Quonset hut type coverings, near the bomber revetment area. In 1980, the undercarriage of Ford Trimotor and G4M1 Betty wing wreckage were recovered to PNG Museum from this location by Bruce Hoy. Today, all that remains is the concrete base inside the Moitaka Wildlife Preserve.
on a pole near the Air Niugini building
C-47A Dakota Serial
in PNG Defense Force area.
C-47B Dakota Serial
at the Airways Hotel as "Balus Bar".
P-400 Airacobra Serial
Number AP 347
Since 1984 displayed at South Pacific Aero Club during 2016 moved to National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG).
On the SE of Jackson is exactly as it was
during the war, and is littered with wartime debris, of 55 gallon
drums and rusted drop tanks. This area was abandoned in 1944,
and today is covered by bush and shrubs. This area was known
as 'tent city' were troops were billeted, huts and mess halls
constructed for the pilots and ground crews. When the kunai grass
is burned off, there are some bits of aluminum and other
wartime relics visible, including metal and drums.
Enlisted Men's Club
Behind Jackson, on top of a small hill, is the slab
for the 65th Enlisted Men's Club. Portion of concrete engraved
with this has been up-turned. In the valley below, away
from the strip is the slab for the 64th Enlisted Men's club. Thanks to Bruce Hoy for this information.
65th Enlisted Men's Club Concrete Slab
A concrete slab for the 65th Enlisted Men's Club is reported
to still remains,
in pieces, behind Jackson. Thanks to Bruce Hoy for this information.
Fort Nub (John's Gully)
Located to the north-west of 7-Mile Drome. In or near a feature know as John's Gully. The wartime road from 7-Mile northward, towards Sogeri, Owen's Corner and the start of the Kokoda Trail ran past this location. A wartime quarry was present to the west.
Fort Nub was a base that was the nerve center for forward spotters, before they moved to Rouna. Warnings would be received at Fort Nub and relayed around the Port Moresby area to alert gun crews and sound alarms. The base was manned by Americans, and Australian were camped across the road. Ft Nub was the HQ for the 101st Light Anti-Aircraft unit from Georgia. The was a Australian Battalion there also that was responsible for coastal patrols around Port Moresby shoreline on a 24 hour basis.
NAC - Port Moresby International Airport (Jacksons)
Engineer Aviation Units in the Southwest Pacific Theater during WWII by Natalie M. Pearson, 2005 [PDF] pp 45-46
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October 23, 2018