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    Dagua Airfield (But East) East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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38th BG Aug 17, 1943

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38th BG August 21, 1943

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5th AF Nov 2, 1943

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90th BG c1944

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AWM March 21, 1945

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Justin Taylan 2005

Location
Dagua Airfield was located at Dagua on the north coast of New Guinea in East Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea. To the east is Dugau and further east is Wewak. Prewar this area was a Catholic mission. Known to the Japanese as "But East" and known to the Allies as "Dagua Airfield" for the nearby village of the same name.

Construction
The Japanese Army began constructing an airfield at this location during January 1943. By the end of February a single runway was built 1,400 x 80 meters, considered suitable for heavy bombers. By September 9, 1943, it was expanded to 6,700' in length.

Earthen revetments were built for 33 fighters were built on the northern side of the runway along the sea. The southern side had bomber and fighter dispersal areas with an additional 32 revetments. Along the center of the strip were 14 more bomber and fighter revetments.

World War II Pacific Theatre History
Used by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as a base for bombers and fighter aircraft, along with But Airfield (Dagua West). Dagua Airfield was an important Japanese airfield for missions against Allied targets in New Guinea and was resupplied from Hollandia with replacement aircraft.

Japanese units based at Dagua Airfield
24th Sentai (Ki-43) May - November 1943
68st Sentai (Ki-61) June - November 1943
78th Sentai (Ki-61) June - November 1943
7th Sentai (Ki-49) November 1943
208th Sentai (Ki-48) mid-1943
59th Sentai (Ki-43) November 1943
24th Sentai (Ki-43-III) Sumatra / Babo May to Nov 1943 Japan

Dagua Airfield was targeted by Allied bombers and fighters that left the runway unservicable by early 1944. By late April 1944, Dagua Airfield was bypassed by the US Army landings at Aitape and Hollandia.

American missions against Dagua
May 1943 - August 13, 1944

On March 21, 1945 Dagua was occupied by the Australian Army 2/2nd Infantry Battalion, which established their bivouac at the airfield, before advancing eastward towards Wewak.

Allied intelligence examined wrecked Japanese aircraft at Dagua Airfield, noting 6 x Ki-46 Dinah, 25 (26) x Ki-49 Helen, 24 x Ki-48 Lily, 55 (48) Ki-43 Oscar, 3 x Ki-21 Sally, 2 x Ki-51 Sonia and 18 (16) Ki-61 Tony wrecks.

Another survey noted slightly different numbers: 6 x Ki-46 Dinah, 26 x Ki-49 Helen, 24 x Ki-48 Lily, 48 Ki-43 Oscar, 3 x Ki-21 Sally, 2 x Ki-51 Sonia and 16 Ki-61 Tony wrecks.

Repaired by the Australians, a RAAF C-47 Dakota was the first Allied aircraft to land at Dagua Airfield. Used to transport cargo and supplies to the Australian forces advancing eastward.

Post War
In 1974, an Australian Army weapons disposal team did a clean up of weapons and wreckage, but wreck hunters and locals have since found aircraft machine guns and munitions. The Dagua Catholic mission has built its church and school on the former runway, about halfway down the strip.

Today
Since the war, disused as an airfield. Today, overgrown with kunai grass, but the runway still visible to this day. The Dagua mission has built a school at the center of the strip, and a few houses line the shoreline. There are few bits of wrecks on the strip, due to scrapping and the passage of time.  Many smaller bits of aluminum, wreckage, landing gear, vehicle and roller are there.

Ki-21 Sally
Wreckage remained until 1970s scrapped or otherwise removed.

Ki-49 Helen Manufacture Number 3140

Ki-48 Lily Manufacture Number 2214

Ammann Steam Roller
Remains in situ at the airfield

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Last Updated
November 26, 2017

 

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