3 Mile Drome was located near Kila Kila inland from the southern coast of New Guinea, roughly three miles from Port
Moresby to the northwest. Also known as "Kila Drome" or "Kila Kila Drome". Borders Joyce Bay to the south. During the colonial era, Pacific War, and today, this area was referred to as "3 Mile" because it was roughly three miles from Port
Moresby. Today located in the National Capital District (NCD) of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
During 1933, built by the Australian administration as a single runway that served as the first civilian airfield to provide air service for Port
Moresby. Connected to Port Moresby by the Pari Road spanning southwest from Port Moresby and terminated at the runway.
After the start of the Pacific War, expaned and improved by the U. S. Army during 1942–1943 for use by military aircraft including for
fighters, light bombers and service aircraft. As of October 8, 1943 the single runway was 5,000' x 100' surfaced with black loam with steel mat (marston matting / PSP) with a parallel taxiway. A dispersal area with revetments and taxiways were located on the northern side of the runway. Several buildings were located at the center of the runway including a wind cone and control tower. To the northwest was Kila Dump. A large hill
at on the approach to the field limited its usefulness for larger aircraft.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
By April 1942, occupied by the U. S. Army and expanded into a military airfield. One of the first units based at 3 Mile Drome was the 3rd Bombmardment Group (3rd BG) operating A-24 Dive Bombers and A-20 Havocs.
On January 26, 1943 after take off A-20A 'Spook' Serial Number 40-109 piloted by 1st Lt. Turner Williamson crashed after take off. The pilot was trapped inside and burned
Later in 1942, based the 8th Fighter Group (8th FG) operating P-39 Airacobrs and later P-38 Lightnings. Plus the 49th FIghter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron operating the P-40 Warhawk. During the middle of 1943, the 347th Fighter Group, 67th Figher Squadron operated P-39 Airacobras from this airfield.
American units based at 3 Mile Drome (Kila Drome, Kila Kila Drome)
3rd BG, 89th BS (A-20) Charters Towers September 1, 1942 - May 9, 1943 Dobodura
3rd BG, 8th BS (A-24s, A-20) Charters Towers January 28, 1943
49th FG, 8th FS (P-40) Darwin September 25, 1942 - April 15, 1943 Dobodura
8th FG, 80th FS (P-39, P-38) Turnbull April 1943–October 1943 Dobodura No. 15
8th FG, 35th FS (P-40)
Mareeba May 10 - December 25, 1943 Finschafen
347th FG, 67th FS (P-39) New Caledonia May 30, 1943 - June 28,
1943 Milne Bay
By the middle of 1943, other airfield were developed around Port
Moresby and elsewhere including Dobodura and Milne Bay, this airfield was less used in favor of other bases.
Disused since the war, the airfield is now part of
the Kila Police Barracks, a golf course and a technical school. Some
of the wartime revetments remain on the police property and
portions of the wartime taxiways and runway are visible.
Edward Rogers adds:
"The 8th BS: one history has them setting up at Koki quarters late on April 6, 1942. They were supposed to fly a mission to Lae on April 6 but a Japanese raid against PM interrupted their plans and it had to be delayed until April 7. All subsequent A-24 operations (April 7 - end of battle of Coral Sea) were based at 3 Mile. A-24s were sent back and forth between 7-Mile and 3-Mile depending on repairs, overhauls as well as transit flights from Charters Towers."
Thanks to John Douglas, Michael Claringbould and Edward Rogers for additional information.
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April 7, 2020