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USAAF Sept 8, 1943
USAAF June 5, 1944
G. A. 2007
A. Judihardianto 2008
Lat 2° 31' 56S Long 133° 26' 20E Babo Airfield is located near Babo on the southern shore of Maccluer Gulf in an isolated low lying swamp area. Also known as "Babo Drome". Today known as "Babo Airport" or "Bandar Udara Babo". Prewar, during the Pacific War located in Dutch New Guinea (DNG) in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Between 1963–1972 part of West Irian (Irian Barat) and between 1973-2002 known as Irian Jaya. Today located in Teluk Bintuni Regency (Bintuni Bay Regency) in West Papua Province (Papua Barat, West Irian Jaya) in Indonesia.
Built prewar by the Dutch colonial administration as a single runway for use as a civilian airfield.
Babo Airfield was the final stop for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (KLM) Royal Dutch Airlines for flights in Dutch New Guinea.
Wartime usage by Allies
In November 1941, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) engineering party with the assistance of the Dutch personnel upgraded the airfield for military use. Known to the Australians as "Auxiliary Base at Babo".
During January 1942, three Hudsons from No. 13 Squadron were sent there to act as 'fighters', this temporary duty was regarded to be against enemy flying boats while the Dutch KNIL garrison of approximately 200 rushed to improve area defenses and build a clearing for use as a second runway.
Allied units at Babo
(RAAF) 13 Squadron (Hudson x 3) January 1942–January 25, 1942 Darwin
On December 30, 1941 bombed by Japanese H6K Emily flying boats, leaving three dead and 14 wounded, including a number of children. On January 25, 1942 RAAF 13 Squadron evacuated Babo departing aboard their Hudsons to Darwin with the airfield abandoned by the end of the month. Afterwards, the Dutch garrison withdrew with most escaping to Australia.
Japanese missions against Babo
December 30, 1941
Japanese occupation and use
On April 2, 1942 the Japanese Army 2nd Detachment landed at Babo and occupied the town and Babo Airfield. The Japanese built a second runway surfaced with concrete. Once expanded, the both divergent runways measured 4,530' and 2,660'. Naval troops constructed 15 bomber and 24 fighter revetments with more under construction.
By 1943, Babo Airfield was developed into a major base for ferrying aircraft eastward to New Guinea or southward to the Aru and Kai Islands. Used by both the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) 7th Air Division and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN).
Japanese units based at Babo Airfield
Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN)
202 Kokutai (A6M Zero) early 1943-March 1944 Truk returns June 44
153 Kokutai, 311th Hikotai (A6M3 Zero / A6M5 Zero)
732 Kokutai (G4M1 Betty)
753 Kokutai (G4M1 Betty)
Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) 7th Air Division
59th Sentai (Ki-43) May 1943
61st Sentai (Ki-49 Helen)
24th Sentai, 1st Chutai (Ki-43-II Oscar) Sumatra May 1943 Dagua
34th Sentai (Ki-48) 1943
59th Sentai (Ki-43-II Oscar detachment) Malang March 1943 - April 1943 But
70th Dokuritsu Chutai (Ki-46 Dinah)
73rd Dokuritsu Chutai (Ki-51 Sonia)
45th Sentai (Ki-45 Nick) 16 arrive February 19, 1944 to Wakde
75th Sentai (Ki-48 Lily)
25th Special Base Unit (G4M Betty and Ki-57 Topsy transports)
By early 1943, Babo Airfield was targeted by Allied aircraft. By
the middle of 1944, the base was in range of 5th Air Force medium bombers escorted by fighters and came under heavy aerial attack. In total, tons of Allied bombs hit the
airfield area with many aircraft disabled by bombing.
During 1991, Bruce Fenstermaker salvaged more aircraft including: G4M1 Betty 1208 and A6M3 Zero 3869, A6M2 Zero Tail 33, D4Y1 Judy 7483 and Ki-61 Tony 7?? plus other aircraft wreckage that were placed into shipping containers and exported to Los Angeles.
Bas Kereger reports:
Japanese aircraft wreckage at Babo Airfield
During late 2002 British Petroleum (BP) began upgrading the airfield and clearing WWII ordinance to build a gas drill rig just off the airstrip. This resulted in the discovery of a mixture of 1000, 500, 250 and 100 pound bombs. This new development and increased development in the Babo area will undoubtedly lead to more discoveries in the area.
Friar participated in the bomb cleanup:
A-20G Havoc 43-21430
Map June 3, 1944
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