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    Girua Airport (Kenney Strip, Dobodura No. 7) Oro Province Papua New Guinea
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5th AF c1944

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Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2003

Location
Lat 8° 48' 16S Long 148° 18' 32E  Girua Airfield is located at an elevation of 286' at Girua to the east of the Girua River to the west. To the southwest is Mount Lamington. To the northeast is Horanda and northeast is Dobodura and to the southeast are the Embi Lakes. To the southeast is Inonda. To the east parallel to the runway is a road that heads southwestward toward Popondetta 16km away to the northwest.

Construction
Built by the U. S. Army as a fighter strip completed during 1943. During the Pacific War, this airfield had several names including Dobodura No. 7, West 7, Horanda No. 7 Airstrip or West 7.   It was also known as "Kenney Strip" or "Kenney Field" in honor of 5th Air Force Commanding Officer (C. O.) General George C. Kenney. This airfield was part of the Dobodura Airfield Complex.

By the middle of 1943, a taxi strip connected the northeastern end of the runway to the fighter strip at Dobodura No. 4 (Horanda 4, Dobodura 4, 4Y, 4W, 4E). When the 58th Fighter Group arrived in late 1943 or early 1944, horseshoe shaped revetments were build around the runway to protect their P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft. During early April 1944.

Wartime History
By the middle of 1943, a number of U. S. Army and U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) units were based to the south and east of Dobodura No. 7. At the southwestern end of the runway was "Air Force Supply" and further down the road was the "First Air Task Force Area".

To the south of the runway across the road bordering the Sambogo River from south to east was the 49th Fighter Group camp area, 440th Signal Company camp area, 7th Fighter Squadron camp area, 8th Fighter Squadron camp area and 9th Fighter Squadron camp area, 61st Service Squadron and 46th Service Squadron, Headquarters. To the east of the taxi strip connecting to the fighter strip at Dobodura No. 4 (Horanda 4, Dobodura 4, 4Y, 4W, 4E) was the 892nd Chemical Company and 480th Service Squadron.

During late December 1943 the 58th Fighter Group including the Headquarters plus 69th Fighter Squadron, 310th Fighter Squadron and 311th Fighter Squadron arrived from Brisbane and was based at Dobodura No. 7 until early April 1944 when the entire group moved to Saidor Airfield.

American units based at Girua (Kenney, Dobodura No. 7)
58th FG, HQ Brisbane Dec 28, 1943 - April 2, 1944 Saidor
58th FG, 310th FS (P-47) Brisbane Dec 28, 1943 - April 2, 1944 Saidor
58th FG, 311th FS (P-47) Brisbane Dec 28, 1943 - April 5, 1944 Saidor
58th FG, 69th FS (P-47) Brisbane Dec 29, 1943 - April 2, 1944 Saidor

Postwar
This airfield remained in use providing air service to Popondetta and Oro Province. In 1968, renamed "Girua Airport", for nearby Girua village and Girua River. A terminal building and parking area was built on the side of the main road. Several World War II aircraft wrecks found in the area were placed on displayed outside the terminal including a P-47, B-25.

Today
During 2014-2016 an Asia Development Bank funded the repair and expansion of the runway and construction of a new airport terminal building. The new terminal was officially opened during a visit by Prime Miniter Peter O'Neill in March 2018.

Girua Airport has a single runway orientated 03/21 and measures 1,675m x 30m. Airport codes: ICAO: AYGR and IATA: PNP.

References
Dobodura Special Air Corps Installations drawn by SSgt John E. Midkiff July 17, 1943 via 480th Service Squadron
National Airport Corporation (NAC) - Girua Airport

Aircraft Display
Several aircraft were setup on as a war memorial on the side of the Air Niugini terminal in the 1970's by the Oro Province Works Department. Today only the B-25 and the wing from an A-20 near the gate remains, the others have been removed by private restorers. Many earth horseshoe shaped fighter revetments for the 58th Fighter Group's P-47s are still visible from the air.

B-25D "Bar-Fly" 41-30593
Abandoned in the Dobodura area, transported to Girua Airport as a memorial, nose attached to B-25H Mitchell 43-4450 displayed with a B-24 Liberator landing gear leg and a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines from P-47 Thunderbolts.

P-47D Thunderbolt 42-27608
Between 1970s to 1999 display at the airport, removed by Robert Greinert during 1999.

Girua Aircraft Dump
On the west side of the strip is a dump area, including Beaufort parts and other aircraft pieces. Picked over by salvagers over recent years, there are occasionally new discoveries made in the ground, like buried wings or other parts. Bits of aircraft are still occasional found. In 2000, several pairs of wings were located by Robert Greinert and exported to Australia.

P-40N "Suzy" 42-105820
Abandoned in the kunai until 1991 when recovered

P-38G Lightning 42-12711
Pilot Hawthorne crashed January 22, 1944 roughly 700 yards off the northwest end of the runway

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Last Updated
April 3, 2018

 

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