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    Narewa Airfield (Guasopa, Woodlark) Milne Bay Province PNG
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5th AF 1943

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60th NCB July 23, 1943

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Warren Cabral 1943

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C.C. McFadden 1943

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C.C. McFadden 1943
Location
Lat ° 13' 33S Long 152° 56' 40E  Narewa Airfield is located at 10' above sea level parallel to Guasopa Bay on the southeast of Woodlark Island. Also known as "Guasopa Airfield" or "Woodlark Airfield". Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Construction
On June 30, 1943 U. S. forces landed on Woodlark Island and met little opposition. On July 2, 1943 the first echelon of the U. S. Navy (USN) 60th Naval Construction Battalion (60th NCB) "SeaBees" began clearing and grading the area. In only twelve days, they built a single 3,000' x 150' coral surfaced runway. Some Japanese air raids occurred during the construction but caused no casualties. By the middle of September the runway was expanded to 6,500' x 225'. A parallel runway of 6,000 x 60' was also built. By October 12th, 110 hardstands were completed, then moved to Finschafen.

Wartime History
Starting in late July 1943, Narewa Airfield was used by U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as a forward military airfield. On July 23, 1943 a detachment of Airacobras from the 67th Fighter Squadron (67th FS) arrived from the South Pacific (SOPAC) and flew patrol missions and in October 28, 1943 returned to New Georgia and the remainder departed on January 1944 to the Russells.

American units based at Woodlark
347th FG, 67th FS (P-39s) New Caledonia July 23, 1943 detachment to New Georgia Oct 28-Dec 16, 1943 remainder departs January 23, 1944 Russells.

Japanese missions against Woodlark
July 28, 1943 Japanese bomb Woodlark

Pat McFadden adds:
"My Dad, C. C. McFadden Chief Petty Officer USNR, was with the 20th US Naval Construction Battalion on Woodlark between July 30, 1943 to April 14, 1944. Dad recalled the first arrival of the P-39, he said also they were much happier with the arrival of the P-38. One photo does give some orientation as to location of wrecks as you can see the airfield through the coconut palms and the shoreline. By the way, there should be at least one wreck of a Japanese aircraft on the island, not far from the airfield, as we own a small piece of turbocharger cooler pipe from a downed Japanese aircraft on the Island. Dad told us that they were not allowed to shoot back for many weeks, and the Japanese had a field day with daylight bombing ( 27 bombers on one sortie) and after dark harassment raids. Possible explanations were lack of ammunition, disclosing AAA positions too early so as to be easy targets, also hitting friendly CAP air cover. When they ( the Army AAA Batteries) were finally given authority to shoot back with 90mm they with the combined aircraft consisting of P-38s, P-39 and P-400 and other types shot down 24 of the Japanese bombers on their return flight to Rabaul. Morale on the Island soared."

Today
Still in use today as Guasopa Airport. Airport code
IATA: GAZ.

Ray Fairfield adds:
"Only one brief visit, and the only photos that came out are the P-39 wrecks. Didn't have time for a proper exploration.

Narewa Airfield Boneyard Area
Narewa Airfield had a boneyard area where Aircraft were abandoned including intact and parts from P-39D Airacobras, P-39K Airacobras and P-400 Airacobras. In the middle 1970s, the boneyard area remained with wings, fuselages and intact aircraft, some still inside rotting wooden shipping crates. These parts were all painted olive drab on upper surfaces and sky blue lower surfaces with "U. S. Army" on the wings consistent with early U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) markings. Some had Royal Air Force (RAF) markings underneath as they were built for the British but instead requisitioned by the U. S. Army.

Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 72:
"Woodlark... ex Lend Lease P-39D Airacobras never accepted by the RAF but instead diverted to the Pacific, and some of the first P-39Ks with blue US ARMY markings under their wings. Stacked Airacobra wings still stand in the rotted remains of their shipping crates in a storage area. Some of them are from P-400s, once destined for the RAF and still have British roundels over dark green, dark earth and sky camouflage."

Charles Darby visited in the 1970s:
"There were some pix in Pacific Aircraft Wrecks (page 72). Only a very short time was available and I wanted to find as much as possible in that time, rather than spend time clearing undergrowth for photos. If we had missed our flight, the next scheduled service was four weeks later. A bit too long to spend dodging mosquitoes and eating coconuts, even if there were a lot of P-39s to look at!"

P-39K Airacobra Serial Number 42-4312
Abandoned at Narewa Airfield in 1982 recovered by Robert Jarrett to Australia.

P-39D Airacobra Serial Number 41-38485
Abandoned at Narewa Airfield.

Lockheed Hudson Mark IIIA A16-129
Pilot Rutherford crash landed August 17, 1943 and written off.

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Last Updated
April 7, 2020

 

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