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    Ponam Airfield (HMS Nabaron) Manus Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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USN VC-20 c1944

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RN c1945

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Ponam Airfield was located on Ponam Island in the in the Admiralty Island Group (Admiralty Islands). Also known as US Naval Air Station on Ponam Island. Prewar and during the Pacific War part of the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in Manus Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Between June 1944 to August 1944, the U. S. Navy (USN) 78th Naval Construction Battalion (78th NCB) "Seabees" built the Ponam Airfield with a single runway surfaced with crushed coral. By early August 1944 the runway was operational. Facilities included an open air movie theater and a chapel built using bush materials. A shower and latrine was built on the southern side at roughly the center of the island.

By August 1944, the Seabees were relieved by the 140th Battalion, A Company that completed construction and undertook maintenance and improvement of the airfield until April 14, 1945 when replaced by Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 587 (CBMU 587).

Wartime History
Starting in August 1944, used by the U. S. Navy (USN) aircraft including PV-1 Venturas for training and anti-submarine and shipping patrols. In late 1944, entertainer Bob Hope made an unscheduled visit to Ponam and a show was organized for personnel form the surrounding bases.

American units based on Ponam
78th Naval Construction Battalion "Seabees" June-August 1944
140th Battalion, A Company August 1944 - April 14, 1945
CASU 42 (also at Pityilu)
CASU 13 (also at Pityilu)
VMF-312 (24 x FG Corsair) August-December 1944
VP-130 (15 x PV-1 Ventura) Pityilu October-November 1944 Owi
VC-75 (Wildcat) November - December 1944
CBMU 587 April 1945

During March-April 1945, Ponam was turned over to the Royal Navy (RN). On March 13, 1945 the MSR No. 4 arrived at Ponam aboard HMS Speaker and began unloading their supplies from SS Clan Macauley. The bulk of the MONAB IV (Mobile Naval Air Base No. 4) arrived aboard SS Empire Arquebus on March 25 under the command of Captain A. N .C. Bingley. Several Dorland transportable hangers were installed at the airfield to provide shade while servicing aircraft.

On April 2, 1945 Ponam Airfield was commissioned as Royal Naval Air Station Ponam and renamed HMS Nabaron. Six Corsairs were unloaded from HMS Unicorn. By the end of the month, the base undertook Avenger crew training. By the end of May 1945, forty reserve aircraft at Ponam. During April to June aircraft were delivered by HMS Fencer, HMS Begum, HMS Implacable, HMS Arbiter and HMS Ruler. These aircraft remained while the carriers were outfitted, or to make practice landings on the island.

Royal Navy units based on Ponam
MONAB IV Mobile Naval Air Base No. 4 (Stinson Reliant) March 25 - October 1945
MSR 4 March 13, 1945 - October 1945
MSR 6 June 1, 1945 - October 1945
721 Naval Air Squadron (6 x Vengeance TT.IV) May 1945 - October 1945
1701 ASR Air Sea Rescue Squadron, B Flight (3 x Sea Otters) May 1945 - October 1945

On November 9, 1945, the base was returned to US Navy control, but was never used again and became overgrown.

Since 1945, erosion and wave action have caused the southern side of the island to change, with portions of island now submerged underwater. Disused as an airfield since the war.

VC-20 Ponam Island Yesterday and Today
MONAB IV (Mobile Naval Air Base No. 4) - Page 1
MONAB IV (Mobile Naval Air Base No. 4) - Page 2
MONAB IV (Mobile Naval Air Base No. 4) - Page 3
MONAB IV (Mobile Naval Air Base No. 4) - Page 4
MONAB Ponam & Pityilu Admiralty Islands
HMS Nabaron | MONAB 4 | MSR 6 (1945)
Aeroplane Monthly Letter to the editor by H.R. Langeishe, June 2005
"I served on the Fleet Air Arm on Naval Air Stations in Australia from 1944 - 1946. The task [of dumping aircraft] was huge and involved the clearance of of reserve aircraft held at Ponam and Pityilu, the two forward Royal Navy airstrips of Manus Base.  The two airstrips were cleared using lighters to ships anchored offshore and the aircraft were dumped into the ocean there. This went on through March or April 1946. Not only were complete aircraft consigned to the deep, but engines and spares too."

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Last Updated
April 7, 2020



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