Photograph of Nadzab airstrip

U.S. Air Force. Via

Nadzab (146.72E 6.57S) is located on the Markham River inland of Lae in northeastern New Guinea. There was an abandoned miners' airstrip here when war broke out in the Pacific.

On 5 September 1943, the U.S. 503rd Parachute Regiment landed at Nadzab and secured the airstrip. There was virtually no opposition. The paratroops were dropped precisely on their drop zones, but 33 casualties were incurred in drop accidents, and another two casualties were inflicted by disoriented paratroop companies firing on each other in the tall kunai grass. The paratroopers were joined by 34 Australian gunners and their 25-pounder guns, who had been added to the assault force a week before and had had time for only a single practice jump. The morning after the drop, two C-47s made the hazardous landing on the rough strip to bring in two bulldozers and a dozen flamethrowers with which to burn down the kunai grass and finish clearing the strip. By noon the airstrip was sufficiently cleared to permit the Australian 7 Division to be flown in to drive the Japanese garrison out of Lae.

Construction began at once on two 6000' (1830 meter) runways. Eventually the airfield complex had eight runways.


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