CORUNNA DOWNS AIRFIELD, WA
DURING WW2

 

Corunna Downs was a secret airfield located in scrub and spinifex country, about 16 kms south west of Marble Bar in "The Pilbara" area of Western Australia.

Today there are very few reminders of the once busy airfield. One can see some crumbling foundations and half filled post holes. 

 

Plan of Corunna Downs Airfield

 

73 OBU operated the Corunna Downs airfield which comprised two intersecting bitumen runways. One ran approximately north-south, 5,000 feet in length while the other ran approximately east-west, 7,000 feet in length. Both runways were approximately 150 feet wide. A 50 foot wide taxiway linked the northern end of the north-south runway to the western end of the east-west runway. Approximately 20 camouflaged revetments to disperse aircraft to minimise bomb damage were constructed at Corunna Downs.

 


Photo: Derek Pont

Corunna Downs runway intersection  in 1988 looking southwards

 


Photo: Derek Pont

Remains of a windsock in 1988 at the runway intersection looking south east

 

American and Australian Air Force units operated out of Corunna Downs airfield during WW2. They included 25 Squadron (City of Perth) RAAF and the 380th Bomb Group of the American 5th Air Force. They carried out numerous bombing raids on Japanese bases and shipping.

Visitors who wish to look at the old Corunna Downs airfield no longer need to  contact Corunna Downs Homestead. The site has been excised from the leasehold Pastoral Lease and is freely available to all who wish to visit.

 

afield1.jpg (15205 bytes)

Click on map to enlarge

 

Robert Suttcliffe worked on Corunna Downs station for 7 years from 1974. While he was working there, he used to go out to the airfield quite a lot during that time. He was told a lot of stories about the wartime base there. He was told that there were 2,000 men and women stationed at the base. Robert told me in August 2000 about a plane that crashed there being rebuilt at the old base, during his years there. Robert and his mates also found 39 live bombs and Thompson sub machine guns that were buried in the area after the war finished. Robert told me that Corunna also had a prisoner of war camp located 6 miles north of the Corunna Downs station. Robert visited the airfield many times looking for mortar cases made of brass.

 

Crash landing of a Hudson at Corunna Downs on 29 May 1943

 

Military Units based at Corunna Downs during WW2

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"Corunna Downs - The Invisible WW2 Airfield"
By Antonio Caferella
Available for $8.50 US
PO. Box 24
Hawker
SA 5434

"The Story of Corunna Downs - W.A.'s Secret WW2 Air Base"
by Frank Purser

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Derek Pont, Robert Suttcliffe and Sue Verschuer for their assistance with this web page.

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 28 August 2000

This page last updated 12 Jun 2014