Located at Waigani roughly 5 miles from Port Moresby. Also known as "Ward Drome", "5 Mile" or "5 Mile Drome" also known as "Wards". Code named "Maple".
During the middle of 1942, built by the
Australian administration led by Australian Lt. Col. K. H. Ward, C. O. of the 53rd Battalion (Militia). Surfaced with bitumen by US Army engineers and further developed with two parallel runways measuring 6,000' x 100' runways, with extensive taxiways and revetment area to the east of the runways, interconnected to 7 Mile Drome (Jackson).
Named "Ward Drome" in honor of Australian Lt. Col. K. H. Ward, who was involved with its construction and was killed on August 27, 1942, at Isurava on the Kokoda Trail. Also known as "Wards Drome" or "Ward's Drome".
World War II Pacific Theatre History
During 1943, Wards was
the busiest airfield in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It was mainly
used by cargo and larger aircraft. Designated U. S. Army APO 929.
based at 5-Mile Drome (Wards)
374th TCG, 22nd TCS (C-47) Garbutt Jan 24, 43 - Aug 29, 44 Finschafen
90th BG, 320th BS (B-24) Iron Range Feb 10 - Dec 1, 43 Dobodura
90th BG, 321st BS (B-24) Iron Range Feb 10 - Dec 1, 43 Dobodura
348th FG, 341st FS (P-47) USA June 23 - December 17, 1943 Finschafen
348th FG, 342nd FS (P-47) USA June 23 - December 17, 1943 Finschafen
RAAF units based at 5-Mile Drome (Wards)
9th Group, 22nd Squadron (Boston)
9th Group, 30th Squadron (Beaufighter) Bohl River September 12, 1942 - July 28, 1943 Vivigani
On April 12, 1943 during Operation I-Go, Wards Drome was attacked by nine Japanese bombers. Their bombs destroyed several aircraft including: Beaufighter A19-50 destroyed Beaufighter A19-11 converted to parts, Beaufighter A19-37 damaged, converted to parts, Beaufighter A19-5 damaged, repaired.
5 Mile Drome (Ward) was disused since the war. Postwar, the former runways were used as a raceway for vehicles known as "Racecourse Road" and later developed into "Waigani Drive" that runs atop the main runway. Most of the revetments were bulldozed flat and an scrap metal detail meted down the remaining aluminium from aircraft and parts abandoned in the area. Well into the 1950s, locals would siphon fuel from aircraft fuel tanks abandoned in the area for their own use.
The former airfield is located in the Waigani area
of Port Moresby, where most of the Papua New Guinea Government buildings
and foreign embassies are located.
5th Air Force Operations Headquarters
The U. S. Army Air Force 5th Air Force Operations Headquarters was ocated at Wards Drome. Reportedly, its
cement slab foundations still remain today.
374th Troop Carrier Group Camp Area
Located in a small valley was the camp area for the 374th Troop Carrier Group. Today, the area is located straight ahead when the road bends
towards the Port Moresby Golf Club.
27th Air Depot
Based between 5 Mile and 7 Mile, this group was responsible for
assembling crated aircraft delivered by ship docked in Fairfax
Harbor from the United States. Brand new aircraft were
delivered to Port Moresby assembled and then flown to other
bases. Ships continued to dock at Port Moresby until mid-1945
when transports switched to Manila
pilots wishing to pick up a brand new plane, they would
have to go all the way back to Port Moresby
5th Air Force Operations Headquarters (5th AF Ops HQ)
on a hill behind Wards Drome. A large 5th Air Force insignia
and USAAF star, drawn into the concrete. Concrete steps,
a garden and path that went up the ridge towards the HQ.
In the 1980's traces of the paint still remained. Today,
both the 5th AF logo and USSAF are partially broken, and
the area is overgrown, but it still offers commanding
an impressive remnant of the American era at Ward's
Drome. This marking is still present
to this day, on a small ridge off the main
visit the slab, drive down Sir John Guise Drive, cross the intersection
with Independence Way and Godwit
Street and keep going in the direction of the golf
that road begins to make a left turn, there is a hill
on your right.
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October 31, 2018