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Ray Fairfield - Ballale Island Visits
Pilot & Survey Photographer in New Guinea

We dropped into Buin one time for our "day off", I had heard stories about Ballalae and also the rumour of a carrier sunk off Buin.  One of the schoolies in Buin had been to Ballalae, and ran us over in a 12ft tinnie on August 2, 1967.  Interesting trip, we were overloaded, and only had sufficient fuel if we could keep the boat planing!  Anyway, it was a very interesting place, Bettys still up on drums where they were under repair, more Bettys in various states of disrepair, the Val, several Zeros, and an Irving of all things.  That took a bit of identification.  The whole place is littered with unexploded 1000 - pounders, the Americans bombed it heavily but never occupied it on the ground.

It was my report on Ballalae that sent Robert Diemert there.  I still have photos of the material Robert Diemert took home, also a phot of the D3A2 Val 3178 in situ before he collected it. For political reasons it may have been reported that he collected from Kahili, they actually came from Ballalae, in the Shortlands. I don't know if it was ever cleaned out, it was the best collection of Japanese types in the whole area. My photos show the Val, which he got flying. There are at least three Zero fuselages, in various stages of completeness, at least enough wings for them, but none in one piece, then a pile of odds & ends, fuel tanks etc.

I went back there in 1971, after the British had cleared the strip, and camped one night.  No-one had done any salvage since Diemert was there.  Both these trips were without benefit of any border formalities, I eventually got a letter from the Civil Aviation in PNG, noting this more in sorrow than anger and asking me not to do it again!

 

Betty Wrecks (Can't ID - Yet) 1971

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A6M Zero Wreckage - August 2, 1967

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G4M1 Betty 1651 - 1971

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G4M1 Betty 1800 - 1971

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D3A2 Val 3178 'In Situ' - August 2, 1967

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D3A2 Val 3178 Salvaged to Port Moresby, 1969

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J1N1 Irving 251-16 'In Situ' - 1971 Visit?

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