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    Wau Airfield Morobe Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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Guinea Airways
April 23, 1931

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Guinea Airways 1931

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Stephens c1935-1937

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RAAF February 6, 1943

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AWM August 8, 1943

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Australian Army
February 25, 1944

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RAAF October 25, 1960

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Justin Taylan 2003
Wau Airfield is located at Wau in New Guinea. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

During 1927, a single runway was built by Australian Cecil Levien with the assistance of native labors at this location. The runway required aircraft to land uphill at a 5% - 10% grade. On April 19, 1927 a De Havilland DH-37 piloted by Lt. Ernest "Pard" Mustar owned by Guinea Gold took off from Lae Airfield and made the first landing at Wau Airfield.

During the late 1920s and 1930s, Wau Airfield was used by a variety of de Havilland, Ford and Junkers aircraft that transported personnel and cargo primarily for gold mining in the area.

On August 3, 1940 DH.60M "Eros" VH-UQY ran off the runway during take off and crashed into the during take off and crashed into the government store building, wrecking it and the aircraft. Afterwards, the wreckage of this aircraft was stored at Wau Airfield and was destroyed during the first air raid.

World War II Pacific Theatre History

On January 23, 1942 Japanese aircraft attacked Wau Airfield.

In early March 1942 Australian Army Captain Allan Cameron and his men withdraw from Salamua Airfield via Wau and noted Wau was "a terrible mess after bombing, water on drome, town completely deserted" then walked the Bulldog Track to the south coast.

By the middle of 1942 the airstrip was 1,500 x 100 x 4,000 yards, land uphill, 5-10% grade. Surfaced with sod, dry, smooth, hard, poorly temporary barricade. Good approach (ENE x WSW), Allied troops, well equipped hospital (doctor) food & water, some servicing (80-90 octane).

In early January 1943 the Japanese sent 3,000 troops from Salamaua and Mubo along a winding jungle tracks to caputure Wau and Wau Airfield.

The Victorian 17th Brigade (2/5th, 2/6th and 2/7th Battalions) were flown to Wau Airfield, which became the headquarters of the "Kanga Force", completely dependent on air supply and reinforcement. At the height of the crisis on January 30, 1943, Japanese fire could reach Wau Airfield. This final Japanese offensive in New Guinea was stopped by the Australians but they did not have the strength to go on the offensive.

Afterwards, Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) bombers escorted by fighters attacked Wau Airfield.

Japanese missions against Wau Airfield
February 6, 1943–June 13, 1943

C-47 Skytrain Serial Number 41-38667
Crashed January 18, 1943

CA-9 Wirraway Serial Number A20-447
Destroyed February 6, 1943 at Wau Airfield after a Japanese air raid

CA-9 Wirraway Serial Number A20-504
Destroyed February 6, 1943 at Wau Airfield after a Japanese air raid

P-38G Lightning Serial Number 43-2195
Pilot Vaught force landed March 5, 1943

P-39 Airacobra Nose Number 4
Pilot Dannacher force landed July 14, 1943

P-39D Airacobra Serial Number 41-38511
Destroyed on the ground at Wau Airfield

C-47B Dakota Serial Number A65-92
Crashed October 22, 1960

Into the 1980s there was some wartime aircraft wreckage at the strip, P-39 fuselages and other aircraft parts behind the strip. These relics have since been scrapped or otherwise disappeared. The airport is still in use today, but only by light aircraft.

Wau War Memorial
A memorial is located at edge of the airfield. The plaque reads: "Wau - Around this airfield and to the south and east in the Wau valley Australian soldiers fought a desperate defensive battle against a Japanese force which advanced from Salamaua through Wanduni."

Notes about New Guinea airfields, recorded circa May - July, 1942 by Oliver C. Doan via Jean Doan / research Edward Rogers
Gold Dust and Ashes (1933) pages 200-209
The Battle For Wau (2008) pages 1-2
Hell's Battlefield (2012) by Phil Bradley page 25

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Last Updated
February 9, 2021


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