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Horanda Airfield was located to the west of Dobodura and Horanda and to the north of the Samboga River in New Guinea. The three runways at this location were collectively known as "Horanda Drome". Also known as "Dobodura No. 4" or "No. 4" and specific runways as "East 4" and West 4". To the southwest is Dobodura No. 7 (Kenney Field, Girua Airport). Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Northern District of in the Territory of Papua. Postwar located in Northern Province. Today located in Oro Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The Allies acknowledged the need for an airfield on the north coast of New Guinea near Buna, for use if Lae Airfield and Salamaua Airfield were attacked by the Japanese. Theater plan "Tulsa" called for an airfield to be established for military aircraft at Buna Airfield. On July 9, 1942 a reconnaissance was planned and over the next two days, a RAAF Catalina from Port Moresby was used to overfly the area. On board were six officers including Lt. Col. Bernard L. Robinson, ranking U.S. Army engineering officer at Port Moresby, Lt. Col. Boyd D. Wagner, USAA, 8th Fighter Group, C. O., Colonel Yoder and three Australian officers. Examining the terrain of the entire area, they determined that kunai plains area at Dobodura should developed instead of the Buna area. Before any Allied airfield could be constructed, the Japanese landed at Gona on July 21, 1942 and built Buna Airfield.
On November 18, 1942 the U.S. Army 114th Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd platoon, company C landed at Embogo and walked inland arriving at Dobodura the next day. On November 20, 1942 they began clearing a single runway which was completed five days later. On November 25, 1942 the first C-47 Skytrain landed at Dobodura Airfield.
Later, this runway was expanded to a length of 6,000' surfaced with bitumen and a parallel runway was built alongside. The two runways were known as as West No. 4 (4W) and East No. 4 (4E). A "Y" shaped assembly and taxi area became known as No. 4Y (Hoanda Y, or Horanda 4Y). Revetments were built around both the northern and southern ends of the runway, with taxiways connecting to dispersal areas.
During 1943, a petroleum pipeline was constructed from Strip Point on the coast of New Guinea inland via Dobodura to the northwest of Horanda Drome.
The entire complex was known as simply Dobodura Airfield, or Dobodura No. 4 (Horanda 4). The complex was fully developed by the middle of 1943 and was the largest airfield on the north coast of New Guinea until Nadzab Airfield was developed in late 1943.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
Doboudra No. 4 was first used by C-47 Dakota transport aircraft during late November 1942 until January 1943 in support of the Battle of the Beachheads including Buna, Gona and Sananada. Cargo flown to Dobodura was immediately put into battle. In addition to food, ammunition and troops, other cargo including liaison spotting planes, 105mm howitzers and and five Bren Gun Carriers used in a failed assault against Cape Endaiadere.
Afterwards developed into a major airbase with storage and repair facilities. Dobodura No, 4 was used by medium bombers, attack aircraft and fighter planes and often used by heavy bombers as a staging base or emergency airfield.
American units based at Dobodura
3rd BG, 8th BS (A-20) from Port Moresby April 10, 1943 - ?
3rd BG, 89th BS (A-20) from Port Moresby May 9, 1943 - ?
3rd BG, HQ from Port Moresby May 20, 1943 - ?
3rd BG, 90th BS (B-25) from Port Moresby May 21, 1943 - ?
3rd BG, 13th BS (B-25) from Port Moresby May 23, 1943 - ?
49th FG, HQ 14 Mile Drome March 6, 1943 - Nov 20, 1943 Gusap
49th FG, 9th FS (P-38) 14 Mile Drome March 6, 1943–December 16, 1943 Gusap
49th FG, 7th FS, (P-40) Port Moresby April 15 - Nov 16, 1943 Gusap
49th FG, 8th FS (P-40) Port Moresby April 15 - Aug 30, 1943 Tsili-Tsili
Japanese missions against Dobodura
December 12, 1942 - October 9, 1943 (partial list)
By July 1945, both Horanda West No. 4 and East No. 4 were still operational airfield.
Disused as an airfield since the war. Postwar, there were over a thousand aircraft wrecks abandoned in the Dobodura area. Most were scrapped in the late 1940s into the early 1950s during scrap metal drives.
The former airfield area is covered by kunai grass. Much of the bitumen runway and taxiways are still present and remain in remarkable condition. In the vicinity are earthen "U" shaped revetments for aircraft remain, plus 55 gallon fuel drums and concrete pads for buildings.
Dobodura Special Air Corps Installations drawn by SSgt John E. Midkiff July 17, 1943 via 480th Service Squadron
P-38 Lightning Number 74
Pilot Wandrey crashed October 8, 1943 and burned, pilot unhurt.
B-24D "Career Girl" 42-41234
Abandoned at Dobodura
B-24D "Joltin Janie II" 42-40233
Force landed August 20, 1943 abandoned
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