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    Narewa Airfield (Guasopa, Woodlark) Milne Bay Province PNG

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5th AF 1943
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Warren Cabral 1943
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C.C. McFadden 1943
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C.C. McFadden 1943

Location
Lat 9° 13' 33S Long 152° 56' 40E  Narewa Airfield is located paralell to Guasopa Bay on Woodlark Island. Also known as "Guasopa Airfield" or "Woodlark Airfield".

Construction
Americans forces captured Woodlark Island on June 30, 1943  during a surprise landing by Army and Marine troops and the 60th Construction Battalion (Seabees). They met little opposition, and sporadic harassing air raids that did only minor damage.

On July 2, 1943 the first echelon of the 60th US Naval Construction Battalion (SeaBees) began clearing and grading the airstrip. In twelve days, they built a single 3,000' x 150' coral surfaced runway. Some Japanese air raids occurred during the construction but caused no casualties. By the middle of September the runway was expanded to 6,500' x 225'. A parallel runway of 6,000 x 60' was also built. By October 12th, 110 hardstands were completed, then moved to Finschafen.

American units based at Woodlark
347th FG, 67th FS (P-39s) New Caledonia July 23, 1943 det to New Georgia Oct 28 - Dec 16 43 returns, departs Jan 44 to Russells

Japanese missions against Woodlark
July 28, 1943 - Japanese bomb Woodlark

Pat McFadden adds:
"My Dad, C. C. McFadden Chief Petty Officer USNR, was with the 20th US Naval Construction Battalion on Woodlark between July 30, 1943 to April 14, 1944. Dad recalled the first arrival of the P-39, he said also they were much happier with the arrival of the P-38. One photo does give some orientation as to location of wrecks as you can see the airfield through the coconut palms and the shoreline. By the way, there should be at least one wreck of a Japanese aircraft on the island, not far from the airfield, as we own a small piece of turbocharger cooler pipe from a downed Japanese aircraft on the Island.

Dad told us that they were not allowed to shoot back for many weeks, and the Japanese had a field day with daylight bombing ( 27 bombers on one sortie) and after dark harassment raids. Possible explanations were lack of ammunition, disclosing AAA positions too early so as to be easy targets, also hitting friendly CAP air cover. When they ( the Army AAA Batteries) were finally given authority to shoot back with 90mm they with the combined aircraft consisting of P-38s, P-39 and P-400 and other types shot down 24 of the Japanese bombers on their return flight to Rabaul. Morale on the Island soared."

Today
Still in use today as Guasopa Airport. Airport code
IATA: GAZ.

Ray Fairfield adds:
"Only one brief visit, and the only photos that came out are the P-39 wrecks. Didn't have time for a proper exploration."

Robert Greinert adds:
"The only thing still visible of the old airstrip setup at Woodlark is the airstrip itself which is still in very good condition. There is a bad scrub typhus problem there and anyone thinking of going there should take the appropriate precautions."

Boneyard Area
A
irfield's boneyard area where Airacobras were abandoned, including P-39D and P-39K and P-400 wings and fuselages. In the mid 1970's, these remained, some still inside rotted shipping crates. These parts are green and sky blue with 'US ARMY' early war markings. Some have RAF roundels underneath, lend-lease assignments they were never delivered, but requisitioned by the US Army instead.

Pacific Aircraft Wrecks, Page 72:
"Woodlark... ex Lend Lease P-39D Airacobras never accepted by the RAF but instead diverted to the Pacific, and some of the first P-39Ks with blue US ARMY markings under their wings. Stacked Airacobra wings still stand in the rotted remains of their shipping crates in a storage area. Some of them are from P-400s, once destined for the RAF and still have British roundels over dark green, dark earth and sky camouflage."

Charles Darby visited in the 1970s:
"There were some pix in Pacific Aircraft Wrecks (page 72). Only a very short time was available and I wanted to find as much as possible in that time, rather than spend time clearing undergrowth for photos. If we had missed our flight, the next scheduled service was four weeks later. A bit too long to spend dodging mosquitoes and eating coconuts, even if there were a lot of P-39s to look at!"

Robert Greinert adds:
"Nothing was taken except photos. The dump is completely overgrown and bears no resemblance to what is there today. Essentially apart from the deterioration of the relics, the dump is still the same as per Darby's book. Although there is no sign of wooden crates."

P-39K Airacobra Serial Number 42-4312
Recovered in 1982 by Robert Jarrett to Australia.

P-39D Airacobra Serial Number 41-38485

Lockheed Hudson Mark IIIA A16-129
Recovered in 1982 to Australia

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

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