Sunday History Photo / NT

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 01:29
ThreadID: 96457 Views:4721 Replies:5 FollowUps:2
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Fenton Airfield is a World War II military airfield located at Tipperary Station, Hayes Creek, Northern Territory, Australia.
Abandoned since 1945, the site is an outstanding example of a World War II heavy bomber airfield construction and layout, and is one of three surviving examples of heavy bomber airfields in the Katherine to Darwin region. The other 2 are Long closer to Hayes Creek and Manbulloo just West of Katherine.
The airfield is open to the public; the main runway, taxiways and hardstands are accessible. Remnants of the control tower remain and items of aircraft wreckage can be found in the area.
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The airfield was built by C Company and HQ Detachment of the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion between 27 April 1942 and 16 July 1942. The airfield was named after Flight Lieutenant Clyde Fenton. The single runway was 6,000 ft long and 100 ft wide.
It was mainly utilised by Liberator bombers mounting long range raids against Japanese forces in the Netherlands East Indies North Western Area of Operations and the South West Pacific Area.
Further development of the airfield was undertaken by No. 1 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF, No 14 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF and New South Wales Department of Main Roads under the Allied Works Council. The runway was enlarged to approximately 7,218 ft long and 164 ft wide and about sixty aircraft dispersal bays, some with earthen revetments.

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During its operational use Fenton Airfield was a major airfield, being headquarters for many Royal Australian Air Force Squadrons, and United States Army and Air Force units. Reconnaissance flights were flown over Timor Island, New Guinea and Celebres Islands, and attacks and armed reconnaissance missions were carried out against Japanese airfields, ground installations and shipping. On 29 February 1944 the USAAF 380th Bombardment Group flew a 16-hour mission from Fenton to Borneo, flying over 2,500 nautical miles.

With the end of the war in late 1945, the airfield was abandoned. Over the years, it has reverted in large part to the natural terrain from which it was built. All of the base infrastructure is gone, with concrete and various foundations, piles of rubble and the occasional aircraft part remaining. In aerial photographs, the remains of some roads that probably led to dispersed parts of the base away from the operations area such as the bomb dump and the administrative containment area are faintly visible, but no structures exist. At the Base Camp site there are many concrete slabs remaining.

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Units based at Fenton Airfield
No. 1 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF
No. 6 Repair and Salvage Unit RAAF
No. 11 Signals Unit RAAF
No. 14 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF
No. 21 Squadron RAAF (B-24)
No. 23 Squadron RAAF (B-24)
No. 24 Squadron RAAF (B-24)
82nd Wing RAAF (No.'s 21, 23 & 24 Squadrons RAAF)
United States Army Air Force Fifth Air Force
64th Bombardment Squadron (43d Bombardment Group), B-17 Flying Fortress 2 August-25 September 1942 43d Materiel Squadron 319th Bombardment Squadron (90th Bombardment Group), B-24 Liberator, 5 February-23 June 1943 Deployed from: RAAF Base Darwin, NT 380th Bombardment Group, B-24 Liberator, May 1943-9 August 1944 528th Bombardment Squadron, 28 April 1943 – 20 August 1944 529th Bombardment Squadron Assigned to: Manbulloo Airfield, NT, 28 April-7 November 1943 Assigned to: Long Airfield, NT, 7 November-10 July 1944 Assigned to: RAAF Base Darwin, NT, 10 July-February 1945 530th Bombardment Squadron 531st Bombardment Squadron Assigned to: Manbulloo Airfield, NT, 28 April-5 December 1943 Assigned to: Long Airfield, NT, 5 December-21 July 1944 Assigned to: RAAF Base Darwin, NT, 25 July-1 March 1945 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion, United States Army
404th Quartermaster Air Depot Platoon, United States Army

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Japanese Bombing Raids on Fenton Airfield
30 June 1943 (12:30pm)
6 July 1943 (12:02pm)
13 August 1943 (9:45pm)
13 August 1943 (11:12 pm)
21 August 1943 (03:07 am)
15 September 1943 (00:25 am)
18 September 1943 (03:50 am)

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F/lt John Richard Parkinson and F/o John McPherson Pitt were burnt alive in this crash, They rest in peace side by side in the Adelaide River War Cemetery.

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Williams Father was a member of the crew on Queer Dear/Deer that was involved in a mid air accident that took the life of RAAF 452 Sq pilot A.K Kelly.

Heavenly Body Ditched, due to Engine Failure and is still in the South China Sea, DiDomenico’s Crew was not in the aircraft at the time.

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The whole crew of 10 were killed, 1 photographer aboard survived, It is a very moving experience to visit the crash site.

I have flown over Fenton Airstrip and Base Camp and landed on the strip in a Jabiru 120 , the owner / Pilot lives in Darwin.


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Reply By: happytravelers - Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 07:38

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 07:38
Thanks Doug, very interesting, I was fascinated by the old airfields alongside the Stuart Hwy. when I was in the NT 20yrs ago. You bring them to life, I'll have to go back up and have another look. Appreciate you taking the time to bring us these posts every Sunday.

Jon
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Follow Up By: On Patrol & TONI - Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 09:19

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 09:19
If you go up that way Jon, stop at Mount Bundy Station at Adelaide River & Doug can "bombard" you with thousands of hours info on the war in that area. His Research into military involvement in the area is very very extensive. If you ask him nicely he may even show you things in Mount Bundy that other historians just dont know about. Get ya bum up there Jon.
Cheers Colin.
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Reply By: Member - blackbird1937 - Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 11:30

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 11:30
Hello Doug, I most certainly enjoy your historical posts, I hope to be up that way again next year with the 4x4 and if I am will drop in to see you to get more info on the area as I will not be on a schedule. When I rode through Adelaide River on the m/bike in 05 and 06 I did not have enough time to have a look at a thing. In 05 I had less than 8 days to sightsee and ride to Bunbury WA. I spent Sunday at Broome Tuesday at Pt Hedland waiting for tyres , Wed back to see Marble Bar then go. In 06 5 days to see Uluru and get to Broken Hill, I did not have much time to sightsee let alone smell the roses. I had enjoyable trips but not enough time to see too much. But quick trips are better than no trips. Vern
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Reply By: passionfruit - Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 12:50

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 12:50
Sorry Doug,but did Dimenico survive the war? Is that picture of his grave in America? I am just curious.
AnswerID: 489285

Follow Up By: Life Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 13:03

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 13:03
Yes, John made it home OK as did all his crew, he got married and had children. in his later years he was interviewed about the accident but his memory must have been faint and he did give the wrong B-24 information to a researcher, and he didn't double check so there's info out there in cyberspace that is wrong.. you can see the amount of reseach I have done in link below.
All the photo's have come come from Kelly's Nephews in Vic .
at the bottom of the link is a link to the Court of Inquiry, check witness No 3.

A.K.Kelly


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Reply By: Witi Repartee - Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 13:37

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 13:37
Hi Doug,
I enjoy the NT airfield histories. We visited Fenton in 2009. Spent several hours browsing around it. I was amazed at the good state of the runway for an old WW2 vstrip, but have since learnt it is still used by the Flying Doctor service occasionally?

If I had realised that I wouldn't have so casually got a couple of marvelous shots of my Patrol and Caravan approaching take off speed thundering down the runway.

Cheers
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 15:31

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 15:31
Thanks Doug. We shared the runway with station cattle for one night, and spent the next morning walking around the old tracks and the 'graveyard'. It has the most interest of all the airstrips we visited.

Motherhen
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