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Japanese Fighter Airstrip, Ponape, E. Caroline Islands
The Japanese military established two airfields on the island of Ponape during WWII one of which was a fighter strip known as Nan Pohn Mal. It was located just behind (south) the community known as Kolonia...a name left over from the German Administration from the early 1900's. The only thing remaining at the time of my visit (1964) were the skeletons of two large hangers that are pictured below. The hanger structures have now been removed as seen in the attached Jan 2010 g.e. image. At the time I inquired among the locals as to the existance on any aircraft in the area of which the answer was an emphatic NO. I should have taken that answer as a reason to do some exploring as I found later (after my return the ot USA) that there was a Japanese A6M laying in a nearby ravine as well as the wreck a USMC PBJ Mitchell.
Thanks for the info and pics. I must admit it is an area of the war that I have little knowledge of. It seems to be an area where relics are more common, even now. Something a European enthusiast can only dream of!
As with your other post, I am surprised that the framework of the hangars has survived the aggressive environment of jungle islands.
PNK & Peter:
The Paciifc Islands STILL hold a lot of WWII treasures...guns, aircraft, ships, fortifications. On Ponape I did run across a number of Japaneses tanks that were simply left behind and I'm sure they are still there. The jungles of New Guinea hide over 400 missing Allied aircraft! The eastern Marshall Islands had several large Japanese airbases that were never invaded just bypassed and bombed. Lots of treasures still there and dangerous to boot!
Some of my future postings will reveal more interesting photos.
Yes, I have read a number of articles and seen film of Pacific relics. One of my techs was a keen scuba diver and he made vacation trips with a group to dive on aircraft wreck sites in the Solomons.
The British publication 'After The Battle', in Edition No 18 (1977!) has a great illustrated article by a Wiliam H Bartsch entitled 'The Wartime Solomons - thirty years after'
I ran across this website (AiX) while looking for some information about Ponape Island and the level of activity there during WWII. The reference to the wreckage of a PBJ Mitchell struck home. My wife's father was the co-pilot of that PBJ-1H during a bombing mission on airfield number two on Febuary 6, 1945. All six crew members aboard the aircraft were killed when the aircraft was brought down by ground fire. More information can be found at the following web site. http://www.vmb613.com/
There are photos of the wreckage and a description of the results of the bombing raid on the airfield.
Thanks for the link Larry, and welcome to the forum :-)
Welcome to AiX Larry; excellent site link. That website is clear, easy to navigate and has some great photographs. The list of 'tropicalisation' modifications is interesting as is the 75mm 'cannon' (M4 tank gun).
I was in Ponape from 1968-1973 & the old hangers were still in place. The airplane (Zero) in the ravine was upside down but largely intact, although the souvenier hunters had started to whittle away at it. It looked like it had been straifed as there were numerous bullet holes in it. I sure wish I had taken photos of it. Back then there was much war reckage. Perhaps the largest was a huge multi story sugar cane refinery that made alcohol, largely for the Long Lance torpedoes used by the IJN Navy. Old narrow guage railcars were stacked up in a row to provide a path through the mud to view the refinery. When I returned for a visit in 2005 all was gone. There remain a few items, the refurbished tank, the Sokehs Anti Air gun, the old Langer sea plane ramp & hanger, etc. I do have some photos of the gun & the refinery but I'm not familir with how to upload (post) photos
Hi ponapeman, welcome to AiX and thanks for sharing your memories on here. Instructions on image posting are here:
If you have any problems send me a message.
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