at Danip on the north coast of New Guinea to the northwest of Alexishafen, to the west of the the North Coast Road, roughly 21 km north of Madang. Parallel to the SSE is Alexishafen II (Alexishafen Airfield, Alexishafen No 2). Prewar, known as "Alexishafen Airfield". During the Pacific War known as Danip Airfield, Alexishafen Fighter Strip, Alexishafen II or Alexishafen No. 1 or Alexishafen Airdrome No. 1.
Built prewar by the Catholic church to provide air service to the nearby Alexishafen Catholic Mission. Used by Mandated Airlines for the Catholic Mission. Prewar as it was the only landing ground in the area, known as "Alexishafen Airfield".
During the July 1935, Klemm L25-D11 "St. Paulus" HB-XAL was reassembled at Alexishafen Airfield and on July 9, 1935 off from this location on a flight over Nake village, the
aircraft's first flight in New Guinea.
On August 6, 1939 Fokker Universal VH-UJT piloted by Willy Schafhause crashed on landing. The pilot was killed in the crash and the aircraft was a total loss.
During the middle of 1941, the runway was put out of action by placing tree trunks down the length to prevent landings.
By the middle of 1942 the runway was described as an emergency airfield, the runway measured 800 x 15 x 20 yards.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
During early January 1943, occupied by the Japanese Army and expanded with a single
runway with a single taxiway and revetments along
the Marrain River, running parallel to the larger Japanese built Alexishafen Airfield.
Surfaced with packed earth and crushed coral and granite top cover.
In October 30, 1943 the strip was 4,000' x (140) 310'. The strip
included 3 bomber and 12 fighter revetments (in October 30, 1943).
During 1943, used by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as a forward airfield for fighter aircraft and light bombers until bombed by Allied aircraft and bypassed by the US Army landing at Hollandia.
missions against Danip and Alexishafen
December 18, 1942 - April 15, 1944
Japanese units based at Danip (Alexishafen Fighter)
83rd Dokuritsu Chutai / 83rd Independent Air Chutai (Ki-51 Sonia)
13th Sentai (Ki-43) Boram October 1943
68th Sentai (Ki-61 detachment) Boram
October 15, 1943
77th Sentai (Ki-43 detachment)
248th Sentai (Ki-43) late 1943
On April 26, 1944 the Australian Army 30th Battalion advanced northward along the North Coast Road from
Madang to capture the Alexishafen area, including Danip Airfield (Alexishafen). Found at the airfield was a Pratt and Whitney Wasp engine in a wooden crate addressed to "The Catholic Mission via Madang". This engine was imported by the Catholic Mission prewar and was never installed prior to Japanese occupation in early 1943.
ATIU Survey of Wrecks
The strip was visited by Air Technical Intelligence
Unit (ATIU) on June 28 1944. They discovered a total of 18 wrecks
at the strip, most damaged by bombing and strafing including Sonias,
Tonys, Oscars and Lilys. They observed the surface of the strip
was in poor condition. Holes cut into the sides of the hills provided
protection for a fuel truck.
Disused since the war, the airstrip is overgrown but runway visible.
There are still traces of the revetments, crudely built around
metal drums and soil to build up the walls, and the scattered
remains of a trucks, aircraft bits. In the nearby low ridges,
there are some tunnels excavated by the Japanese to store things.
Today, there are a few huts of squatters living at the village
of Danip or in the vicinity. A concrete pad, (built after the
war, or by the Allies) was used by the Catholic Mission for storage.
Junker W33d "The Lady Letti" VH-UIW
Abandoned at Danip prior to the Japanese occupation recovered 1985
Abandoned in a revetment, mostly scrapped
Mostly scrapped, main spar
and section of tail only
Ki-43 Oscar Manufacture
Abandoned at the airfield until 1970s, fate unknown
Abandoned at Danip
Abandoned in a Danip
Notes about New Guinea airfields, recorded circa May - July, 1942 by Oliver C. Doan via Jean Doan research Edward Rogers
Australian Heritage "St. Paulus: A Plane of Many Missions" by Pat Studdy-Clift page 19-20
Thanks to Charles Darby, Ray Fairfield and Richard Dunn for additional information
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September 24, 2018