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    Faita Airfield Madang Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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Stuckey January 7, 1944

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Salternik March 12, 1944

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Richard Leahy 1999

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Justin Taylan 2003

Location
Faita Airfield is located at Faita, north of the Ramu River. Pronounced "Fai-Ta". Also known as "Faita Field".

Construction
Built by the Allies and used as an emergency airfield, and by light aircraft. During the war, at least two American aircraft force landed here after sustaining damage in combat.

World War II Pacific Theatre History
On December 23, 1943 B-24D "Bunny Hop/Flying Wolf" 42-41091 force landed at Faita Airfield and was written off.

During February 1944, the Australian Army 2/2 Australian Cavalry Commando Squadron was based at Faita, living in native huts and patrolling the area. During the middle of 1944, the Australian Army established a spotters station at Faita manned by Len Couchman, Cyril Beale and "Shorty" McPhail.

On March 12, 1944 survivors of the "Flack Incident" American Lt. Nelson Flack, MSgt Eugene A. Salternik and SSgt James D. Nichols and Australian commando Lt Hector Hestbridge were flown aboard a RAAF Walrus from Faita Airfield to Gusap Airfield.

During July 1944, seven P-38 Lightnings from the CRTC (Combat Replacement Training Center) landed at Faita Airfield due to bad weather and low on fuel. P-38H 42-66841 piloted by Lt. Wolgemuth force landed and was written off. Afterwards, a RAAF C-47 Dakota was flown to Faita with drums of fuel to refuel the Lightnings and the six other P-38s took off successfully, followed by the C-47.

Today
Disused since the war, the area is abandoned and overgrown. There are very few, if any traces of airstrip left today. The strip had two wrecks: one was salvaged in the early 1990s and the other had its wings and tail removed.

Justin Taylan adds:
"I walked to this strip at the end of August 2004, locals pointed out a camp area, but no relics seemed to remain. On a nearby hill, they described a 'Japanese' gun, but it was too far from the strip to investigate."

B-24D "Bunny Hop / Flying Wolf" 42-41091
Pilot Johnson force landed December 23, 1943. Wings and tail recovered late 1990s

P-38H Lightning 42-66841
Pilot Wolgemuth force landed June 10, 1944. Aircraft recovered 1992 to Lae and exported 1999

References
The Private War of the Spotters page 231-233
"In July 1944, seven American P-47's [P-38s] were forced to use the Faita airstrip as an emergency landing field. The pilots were lost and their aircraft almost out of fuel. Only one crash-landed, the others made precarious landings. At best the strip was for the use of light aircraft only. The fighter pilots were glad to be welcomed b the three spotters who had the enjoyable task of entertaining the Americans for a few days before rescue operations were arranged. The RAAF sent a Douglas transport plane laden with aviation fuel, and although the DC 3 ended up in the kunai grass at the end of the short air strip, no damage was sustained. The transferring of the fuel from drums to the fighters was quite a task. During the intervening time the spotters had assembled dozens of willing tribes people to clear kunai grass from the ends of the air strip in order to increase the length of the runway. After much trepidation, the fighter pilots managed a shaky take-off and the RAAF DC 3 pilot roared his motors till every rivet rattled, then let his brakes off. He too, became airborne."

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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