Latitude 01°04'33"S Longitude 146°52'47"E

   

ACQUISITION

Lodger facilities on a U.S. Navy airstrip for RN Forward Aircraft Pool and Air Train test flight.

 

OPENED

 May 1945

 

CLOSED

17 September 1945

 

   

C.O.

 Lt. Commander (A) D. A. HORTON RNVR (P)  16 June 1945 to 17 October 1945

   

FUNCTION

Forward area reserve aircraft pool holding combat ready front line aircraft. Fleet Air Train test flight

 

ADDRESS

R.N.F.A.P

U.S. Naval  Air Station

Pityilu Is.

Papua New Guinea

 

LOCALITY

The airfield lies on the western half of Pityilu Is, one of a chain of small islands extending W. from the N tip of Los Negros Island; directly N. of the eastern end of Manus Island in the Admiralty Group.

Pityilu is mostly covered with palm trees; there is a a Rest & recreation facility occupies the S. half of the island..

There are three other airfields in the Admiralty Group. PONAM (runway 1665 yds) on Ponam Is., 22 miles W., MOMOTE (runway 2600 yds) and MOCKARENG (2 runways both 2665 yds) on Los Negros Is. distant about 12 miles SE.

 

LANDMARKS

 

 

ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS

None access by air or sea only.

   
   

CONTROL

Control Tower inside perimeter track to S. of runway located at roughly the centre of the runway.

 

ELEVATION

 8' above M.S.L.

 

RUNWAYS

One, crushed coral.


13/31 QDM. 131°-311°.... 1835 x 50 yds. 

 

TRACKS

 

 

OBSTRUCTIONS

Navigation

None.

Circuit

Clear approach from both ends which are open to the sea. Coconut palm trees border runway on seaward side. 60 ft control tower with obstruction light on hardstand side of runway.

Approach

None.

 

APPROACH

No special approach recommended.

 

WIND INDICATOR

 
   
   

HOMING - VISUAL

By day

None.

By night

None.

 

HOMING--RADIO

D/F

None. Facilities on Los Negros Is.

Beacons

None. YG and YJ beacons.

 

APPROACH - VISUAL

By day

None.

By night

None.

 

APPROACH - RADIO

None.

 

COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT

M/F & H/F

Transmitters & receivers supplied by USN

VH/F

Transmitters & receivers supplied by USN

 

GROUND RADAR

None.

   
   

ACCOMMODATION

Living quarters in hutted camp at the NW. end of the island. American built Quonset Huts.


Capacity

Officers............................................?
Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings................... ?

 

ARMOURIES

Not known

 

COMPASS BASE

Not known

 

DISPERSAL

Not known

 

HANGARS

2 Hangars  on site, details not known.

RN Forward Aircraft Poll  is equipped with portable canvas hangars, dimensions not known.

 

Number /Type

Size

Door Height

Door Width

       
 

MEDICAL

Not known

 

METEOROLOGICAL

USN

 

FUEL AND OIL

Aviation -

Not known

M/T -

Not known

Oil -

Not known

   

TEST BASE

Not known

 

TEST BUTT

Not known

 

WORKSHOPS

Mobile workshops only.

 

EXPLOSIVES

 

 

BOMBING AND FIRING RANGES

None.

   
   

Information taken from CB 4368 B. Admiralty Handbook of Naval Air Stations Aug. 45 & Airdromes Guide Southwest Pacific Area Dec. 1944.

 

 

List of first and second line squadrons, station flight and other flying units based at this location

 
  No squadron use recorded at this station

 

Pityilu is one of a chain of small islands extending W from the Northern tip of Los Negros Island; directly North of the eastern end of Manus Island, itself a part of the Admiralty Islands.

 The U.S. Navy's 140th Naval Construction Battalion built an airstrip on Pityilu beginning in June 1944. It was to care for one patrol squadron, to service and repair all types of carrier-based planes, and to provide storage for 350 aircraft, with camp accommodations for 350 officers and 1,400 men. The coral-surfaced runway measured 4,500 by 300 feet, with taxiway and three parking areas. Prefabricated steel huts were erected for administration, operations, and shop use. Other facilities included a 7,000-barrel aviation gasoline tank farm with sea-loading line, one prefabricated nose hangar, and munitions dumps.

 Later, the runway was extended 5500 feet and the parking areas were increased; the camp was enlarged to accommodate 2,500 men; and the dispensary was developed into a 100-bed hospital with all facilities. The eastern end of Pityilu Island was cleared, graded, and made into a fleet recreation centre to accommodate 10,000 men at one time.

  Pityilu Island is 22 Miles East of Ponam, another small coral Island with a US Navy airstrip. The US Navy installed Carrier Air Support Unit (CASU) 42 on Pityilu.


RN use of the airstrip

Unlike the USN airstrip on Ponam, which was transferred on loan to the Admiralty in March 1945, lodger facilities were granted for the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) at USN Airstrip Pityilu. The first use of this was made in late March, when the first operational strikes were carried out by the BPF; the Maintenance Carrier UNICORN put ashore a small test flight for maintenance test flying of airframes repaired onboard.

Since their arrival in the Pacific the BPF had been looking for a suitable site to establish a Forward Aircraft Pool (FAP) but no suitable suite was available. The USN airstrip at Samar in the Philippines was chosen but operational difficulties and a lack of facilities becoming available from the Americans led to these plans being changed; Pityilu in the Admiralty Islands was offered as a compromise solution but they were only able to grant lodger facilities for the RN at Pityilu as the airfield was still in use by the US Navy.

Prior to the granting of this facility a floating FAP had been maintained onboard several of the replenishment CVEs (escort carriers), ARBITER, CHASER, SPEAKER and STRIKER, and the Aircraft Maintenance Carrier UNICORN. A dedicated FAP, R.N. Forward Aircraft Pool (FAP) No.1, was assembled in Australia by early June. Under the command of Lt. Cdr D. A. Horton RNVR this unit had been assembled from elements of Mobile Naval Air Bases in Australia its core component Maintenance, Storage & Resave Unit No.1, tasked for the support of Avenger I & II, Corsair II & IV, Hellcat I & II aircraft types; this unit was detached from MONAB I (Nowra, New South Wales) on 7th June 1945. Additionally, one Mobile Maintenance component (MM number and original parent unit not known) and a small H.Q. staff were added. The elements of the R.N. Forward Aircraft Pool (FAP) sailed from Sydney on board the Maintenance Carrier PIONEER on the June 16th.

Arriving at Pityilu on June 21st it was put ashore to establish a forward reserve aircraft depot for the Air Train (the name given to the aircraft supply element of the Fleet Train, the logistic support arm of the BPF), feeding replacement airframes to the replenishment carriers and to MONAB 4. Maintenance test flying was undertaken on a daily basis. July appears to have been a busy time for the unit, there are four recorded flying accidents during this month; on the 20th Lt. Cdr. G.P.C. Williams' Avenger, FN821, swung sharply and heeled over while taxiing, striking its port wing tip, and on the same day Lt. E.B. Gray made a forced landing whilst test flying Seafire PR262. Avenger JZ274 also made a forced landing on Pityilu when a cylinder head blew out on a test flight, being flown by Lt. M.A.J.M. Hayward on the 22nd. Lt. Hayward was to make a second forced landing on the 25th in Corsair KD487 after an oil sump plug fell out in flight.


RN presence withdrawn

With the war over by mid-August, the RN FAP at Pityilu was no longer required and the unit was ordered to be closed by mid-September. UNICORN arrived at the island on September 17th to evacuate the equipment and the RN presence on Pityilu airstrip was officially withdrawn; all stocks of reserve Aircraft having been flown to Ponam.

 The facilities on Pityilu were closed by the US Navy on September 1st 1947.

 


 

Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources:

Airdromes Guide Southwest Pacific Area Second Edition Dec 1944

Published by Authority of the Commanding General, Army Air Forces Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, A-3 Headquarters Far East Air Forces

 

 

 

 

 

Image from Airdromes Guide Southwest Pacific Area Second Edition Dec 1944

 


View Larger Map

 

Pityilu Island seen looking east, the single coral runway is clearly visible
 

The men of the RN Forward Aircraft Pool on Pityilu.

 

 

 


Comments

No comments yet.

Add Comment

 

Click to refresh the page after posting your comment or to hide the form