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    Nadzab Airfield (Nadzab No. 1 Strip, East Base) Morobe Province PNG

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US Army Sept 9, 1943

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USAAF c1944

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Roberts 1947

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Phil Bradley 1995

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Justin Taylan 2004

Location
Lat 6° 34' 11S Long 146° 43' 34E Nazab Airfield is located at Nadzab in the Markam Valley. To the southeast is Lae. Also known as Nadzab Drome, Nadzab No. 1, No. 1 Strip or East Base. Still in use today as "Nadzab Airport" or "Nadzab Lae Airport".

World War II Pacific Theatre History
Occupied by the Japanese with only occasional Japanese Army patrols through the area. Some references incorrectly show a Japanese emergency strip at this location. In fact, there was no airfield here.

Site of the only Allied paratrooper assault in New Guinea  mainland on September 5, 1943 by the US Army's 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment and Australian AIF 2/4th Field Gun Volunteers landing with short barrel 25 pounders. The operation was successful and met little resistance.

Construction
Built by the US Army and surfaced with marston Matt (PSP) running east to west. Developed into a massive airbase complex. Home to many air units during the war when it was a forward base of operations against Japanese positions, and was vital afterwards as a staging area. Designated APO 713 (Nadzab).

Two parallel runways were built, running roughly east to west. No. 1 Strip was located to the north. Parallel and to the south was No. 2 Strip, closest to the Markham River.

American and Japanese missions against Nadzab
March 23 - November 9, 1943

American units based at Nadzab
Based at Nadzab Airfield No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4

Veteran John Farrell recalls:
"As a pilot in the 319th Squadron of the 90th Bomb Group I remember well my time at Nadzab. Many early morning take offs were in foggy conditions and on the return trip from a mission we often encountered stormy conditions. It rained every day and was hotter than the hinges of hell. Mountains loomed very close at takeoff and landing. Altogether a scary place."

Veteran Jack Heyn recalls:
"The one event that sticks very prominently in my mind was not a pleasant one. The 90th Bomb Group was also stationed at Nadzab with their B-24's. There was about a six day stretch when you could almost set your watch at 7:00 A.M. by an explosion. It would be a B-24 fully loaded with bombs and fuel, exploding on take-off. Never did hear what the problem was, but they made a hell of a racket and a hell of a crater in the runway. And that was a hell of a way for those poor guys to go -- but then there ain't no easy way."

Joe Potts, 40th Fighter Squadron recalls:
"It was at Nadzab that I saw the Ki-61 Tony for the first time, that was a sweet looking plane. They came down and strafed us. We all dived into the nearest trench, all falling on top of each other. We could hear the bullets whistling by as they strafed, they really did whistles, just like in the movies! They were sleek looking planes with that in line engine. They looked like our P-51s! Also at Nadzab, I remember getting a 'speeding ticket' in a jeep, doing 35 mph in a 30 mile an hour zone! The MPs followed me and matched my speed. There was no one else on the whole road! But, you know how cops are! "

During late 1944 until the end of the war, the 21st Air Depot Unit at Nadzab was a bone yard for scrapped planes and salvage area for repairs. The FEAF - CRTC (Far East Air Force - Combat Replacement Training Center) operated at Nadzab during 1944 until June 1945 to train new air crews. The CRTC flew combat missions over isolated or bypassed Japanese targets on the north coast of New Guinea and New Britain until June 30, 1945 the relocated to Clark Field.

Post War Scrapping
Most of the wrecks at Nadzab were scraped immediately after the war, permits being awarded to private contractors who were given rights to scrap aircraft, sell aviation fuel and oil. As early as September of 1945, hundreds of wrecks were scrapped by a private Australian smelting company. Two expatriates involved with the scrapping were Eric Snook(s) and Arthur Scott.

Although most wartime wreckage was scrapped or otherwise disappeared According to Charles Darby, in the mid 1970's other wreckage remained, including a Stinson L-1 and 11 Hadrian gliders.

Postwar
Nadzab No. 1 and Nadzab No. 2 known collectively as "East Base" remained in use since the war. Nearly every road in the area was built by American forces. From the air, even disused taxiways and roads are visible from the air.

Today
Still in use today as "Nadzab Airport" or "Nadzab Lae Airport". Used by Air Niugini and other aviation companies. The runway measures 2438m x 30m at an orientation of 09/27 at an elevation of 231'. Airport codes: ICAO: AYNZ and IATA: LAE.

References
Engineers in Theater Operations [Pacific] "Advance Area Aerodromes 31 January 1944", Map No. 24
NAC - Nadzab Airport (Lae)

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Last Updated
July 25, 2017

 

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