The Dobodura Airfield complex is located to the west of Dobodura and fifteen miles south of Buna. The U. S. Army developed a total of fifteen (or more) runways and airfields in the Dobodura area. Many wartime references simply refer to these locations as "Dobodura". The Dobodura area was known by the U. S. Army as APO 503 in reports.
The Allies acknowledged the need for an airfield on the north coast of New Guinea near Buna, for use if Lae Airfield and Salamaua Airfield were attacked by the Japanese. Theater plan "Tulsa" called for an airfield to be established for military aircraft at Buna Airfield. On July 9, 1942 a reconnaissance was planned and over the next two days, a RAAF Catalina from Port Moresby was used to overfly the area. On board were six officers including Lt. Col. Bernard L. Robinson, ranking U.S. Army engineering officer at Port Moresby, Lt. Col. Boyd D. Wagner, USAA, 8th Fighter Group, C. O., Colonel Yoder and three Australian officers. Examining the terrain of the entire area, they determined that kunai plains area at Dobodura should developed instead of the Buna area. Before any Allied airfield could be constructed, the Japanese landed at Gona on July 21, 1942 and built Buna Airfield.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
Doboudra No. 4 (Horanda 4, Horanda 4Y) was first used by C-47 Dakota transport aircraft during late November 1942 until January 1943 in support of the Battle of the Beachheads including Buna, Gona and Sananada. Cargo flown to Dobodura was immediately put into battle. In addition to food, ammunition and troops, other cargo including liaison spotting planes, 105mm
howitzers and and five Bren Gun Carriers used in a failed assault against Cape Endaiadere were landed at Dobodura Airfield.
After the battle, the Dobodura Airfields were developed into
a major airbase area for American fighters, bombers and transports supporting the American advance.
Allied units based at Dobodura
There were a total of 15 airfields around Dobodura. It is unclear which specific airfield each unit was based.
Japanese missions against Dobodura
December 12, 1942 - October 9, 1943 (partial list)
Post War Scrapping
Disused as an airfield since the war. Postwar,
there were over a thousand aircraft wrecks abandoned in the Dobodura area. Most were scrapped in the late 1940s into the early 1950s during scrap metal drives.
Some of the airfield area is
bing replanted with oil palm since the mid-1990's. OPIC (Oil
Palm Industries Corporation) is lending money to individual developers
in the area. The land is mostly kunai, and there are no official
land claims so some portions of the base have been replanted
at various times. No plams grow on the old runways, since the highly compacted earth and bitumen are still present from
John Douglas adds:
main Dobodura complex had eleven strips, most interconnected
for taxiing purposes. One of these, Girua Airport, is still in use today as the Provincial Airstrip.
Another [ Horanda 4E ] is sealed but
overgrown while the rest have reverted to kunai. There are a lot of revetments in this area
and scraps of airplanes, concrete, etc."
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
September 24, 2018