Lat 3° 11' 23S Long 142° 25' 47E Tadji Airfield is located near Tadji in a sago swamp area inland from the north coast of New Guinea. To the west is Aitape. To the northeast is Korako village and Lemieng village and due north on the coast was a mission station. Immediately to the west is the Waitanan Creek. Also known as "Tadji Drome". Sometimes referred to as "Aitape" or "Korako" for the nearby town and village of the same names. Today locted in West Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
During early 1943 occupied by the Japanese Army. At this location, they constructed two parallel
runways surfaced with crushed coral using native labor from the immediate area and inland villages including Dreikikir. Farthest to the north nearest to the coast was a fighter strip. Further inland to the south was a bomber strip.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
During 1943 until early 1944, used by Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) fighter and bomber aircraft. This airfield was built primarily to as satellite field,
staging and dispersal areas for Japanese aircraft from Hollandia and Wewak airfields.
Japanese units based at Tadji
248th Sentai (Ki-43) Wewak February 15 - April 1944
During August 17, 1943 until April 21, 1944 attacked from the air by Allied fighters and bombers and neutralized as part of the campaign against Wewak in preparation for the American landings at Hollandia and Aitape on April 22, 1944.
August 17, 1943 - April 21, 1944
On April 22, 1944 the U. S. Army 32nd Infantry Division, 163rd Infantry Regiment landed on the north coast and advanced eastward and westward along the beach then inland to occupy Tadji Airfield. Afterwards, it was repaired and expanded for Allied by both American and Australian aircraft.
After the liberation of Tadji Airfield, Australian Army engineers from the 5th RAAF Mobile Works Squadron began
repairs to the north runway (fighter strip). Two days later on April 24, 1944 this runway was operational and several
P-40 Kittyhawks from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 76 Squadron began using the airfield for patrols
the Hollandia area.
Keith W. Bryant, VX 85794 AIF 7th Mechanical Equipment Co. A.I.F:
"At Aitape, and I graded roads and the Tadji Airfield whilst there. I was also on the beach pulling LCT's into the sand so that they could be unloaded. Afterwards, we had to drag them in as the Tide came higher, and of course let them out again as the tide receded, I became friendly with some of the native boys in the crews there also."
U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) units based at
433d TCG, 65th TCS (C-47 det) Nadzab May 3,
- June 1944
433d TCG, 66th TCS (C-47 det) Nadzab May 12, - June
433d TCG, 68th TCS (C-47 det) Nadzab May 12 -
June 4, 1944 Nadzab
71st TRG, 110th TRS (P-40, P-39) Gusap May 25 -
Sept 11, 1944 Biak
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) units based at Tadji
78 Squadron (P-40) Cape Gloucester April 25, 1944 - ?
100 Squadron (Beaufort) 1945
12 RSU 1944 - 1945
5th Mobile Works Squadron
airfield was used by American and Australian aircraft. The northern runway was used as a crash strip, and the southern used as the main runway. RAAF
12 RSU was
in the center of the airfield, between the two runways to salvage and repair crashed aircraft.
As American units moved onwards, several squadrons of RAAF
Beauforts remained at Tadji, using the
base to stage bombing missions against Japanese positions in
the Wewak area until the end of the war. The last bombing
mission of the war in New Guinea was flown by
Beauforts of the
RAAF No 100 Squadron in early September 1945, an hour before
the announcement of the Japanese official surrender.
Aircraft abandoned at Tadji
List of Allied aircraft abandoned and salvaged from Tadji Airfield
Many aircraft remained there
the early 1970's when a six-week recovery operation funded
by American David Tallichet / Yesterday's
Air Force (MARC), and salvaged by Charles Darby and
Armstrong. This salvage recovered the best aircraft, including six P-40's, frames
of Anson, Beauforts, and Tiger
Still in use today as Tadji Airport. Airport code: IATA: ATP. The runway is still surfaced with U. S. Army marston matting (Pierced Steel Planking, PSP), one of only two airfields in Papua New Guinea still surfaced with marston matting.
The northern runway (crash strip) is overgrown
since the war, but taxiways and the runway are still clearly
visible. Reportedly, a few Japanese wrecks that remain
in the vicinity, but have not been photographed.
The Journal of Pacific History "A Bomb Or A Bullet Or The Bloody Flux?: Population Change in the Aitape Inland Papua New Guinea, 1941-1945" by Bryant Allen February 1983 Vol. 18, No. 4 (October 1983) pages 218-235
"The Japanese were building an airstrip there [Tadji Airfield] and appear to have employed mainly people from inland villages nearest to Tadji. Inland people from around Dreikikir worked mostly on coastal airstrips east of Tadji. I When dysentery appeared among those workers the Japanese ordered them home, so it is probable that when a more severe form appeared at Tadji, workers were also ordered to disperse and in doing so carried the disease directly into their home villages from where it spread east and west along the ranges."
248th Hiko Sentai, page 3 by Richard Dunn
PNG Attitude "The story how Aitape War Museum lost aircraft worth millions"
by Rob Parer June 24, 2016
Thanks to Charles Darby, Monty Armstrong and Neville Mines for additional information
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October 23, 2019