LOWOOD AIRFIELD
DURING WW2

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visits since 29 September 2000

620 acres of land was acquired by the Commonwealth at an estimated cost of 4,000 Pounds to establish Lowood airfield. 

The Queensland Main Roads Commission commenced building the new airfield in September 1941 for a total approximate expenditure of 149,274. Clearing, grubbing, and grading provided a landing field with a 6,000 feet by 150 feet runway, taxiways, dispersal strips, and hardstanding areas. At the peak of the project, there were 181 Main Roads Commission staff employed to build Lowood airfield. Relief landing grounds were also established at nearby Wivenhoe and Coominya for training purposes.

The P-39 Airacobras of the 36th Fighter Squadron and 80th Squadron of the 8th Fighter Group, USAAF, moved to Lowood airfield on 13 March 1942.

The 101st Coastal Artillery (AA Separate) Battalion and the 94th Coastal Artillery (AA) Regiment, US Army arrived in Sydney on the "Queen Mary" on 28 March 1942, and travelled to Queensland by train.  The 101st Battalion deployed its 0.50" calibre machine guns around Amberley and Lowood airfields and the 94th Regiment deployed some of its searchlights at Lowood.

The 36th Fighter Squadron moved to Antill Plains airfield near Townsville in April 1942.

By 10 May 1942, the 80th Squadron had moved from Lowood airfield to Petrie air field, just north of Brisbane where they trained for combat for 2 months.

The American pilots were most unhappy with Lowood airfield. The RAAF moved back to Lowood in September 1942 with heavier aircraft. 

Lowood airfield was used as a motor sports race track after the war. Continued pressure from a local religious group lead to racing being discontinued on Sundays. Many race meetings were held between 1948 and 1952. The Air Ministry finally decided to close the ex-airfield for racing. However in late 1956 the area was purchased by the Queensland Racing Drivers' Club. The 25th Australian Grand Prix was hosted at Lowood on 12 June 1960. The race was won by Alec Mildren in a Cooper - Maserati T51 after 36 laps of the 4.545 kms circuit. The Queensland Racing Drivers' Club sold the race track in 1966 and moved all its races to Lakeside just north of Brisbane.

The area was then subdivided for small farms. Some of the concrete foundations for various airfield buildings are still visible today in the area. The main runway is now one of the local roads and some of the houses on either side of this road have bitumen for front lawns.

The partly underground bunker that was used as an Operations Building can still be seen on the northern slopes of nearby Mount Tarampa. The associated Lowood Transmitting Building which operated in conjunction with this Operations Building is another slightly smaller bunker located behind the Tarampa Baptist Cemetery on the way back towards Lowood.

A brass plaque on a monument near the site of the original Lowood airfield indicates the following Units were based at Lowood airfield. The monument was unveiled on the 50th Jubilee for Lowood airfield on 28 September 1991:-

RAAF

UNIT AIRCRAFT ARRIVED DEPARTED
12 Elementary Flying Training School Tiger Moths 12-1-42 18-4-42
23 Squadron P-39 then Vengeance 6-6-42 30-4-44
75 Squadron P-40 Kittyhawk 3-7-42 30-7-42
No. 10 Repair & Salvage Unit (in transit) - 1-9-42 26-11-42
No. 14 Operational Base Unit - 10-11-42 17-2-47
71 Squadron

- "A" Flight detached

Avro Anson 10-12-42

-

28-12-43

14-6-44

Survey Flight - 30-3-43 25-1-46
No. 21 Squadron Vengeance 30-11-43 15-2-44
No. 47 Operational Base Unit (in transit) - 9-12-43 16-1-44
No. 24 Squadron (Detachment) Vengeance 15-3-44 27-6-44
32 Squadron Beaufort 10-5-44 30-11-45
No. 3 Aircraft Depot (Detachment) - - -

 

US Air Corps Units

8 Pursuit Group
80th Pursuit Squadron
P-39 Aerocobra 6-5-42 unknown
683rd Ordnance Co. (Aviation) (1st Platoon)      

 

Units based at Lowood during WW2

 

RAAF

1 Squadron
21 Squadron
23 Squadron
24 Squadron
32 Squadron
71 Squadron
75 Squadron
10 Repair & Salvage Unit (10RSU)

USAAF

8th Fighter Group USAAF
36th Fighter Squadron
& 80th Fighter Squadron

 

MILITARY AIRCRAFT CRASHES AT LOWOOD DURING WW2

abt Jul 42, RAAF P-40E Kittyhawk, A29-13,
crashed at Lowood

 

27 December 1944, RAAF Beaufort, A9-642
missing on a mission out of Lowood

 

5 April 1945, RAAF Beaufort A9-563,
forced landed at Lowood

 

10 April 1945, RAAF Beaufort A9-670 based at Lowood,
crashed near the Gailes Gunnery Range, QLD

 

5 August 1945, RAAF Beaufort A9-492,
crashed 1 mile north east of Lowood airfield

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bob Rogers for his assistance with this web page.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"The History of the Queensland Main Roads Commission"
"during World War II, 1939 - 1945"

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 29 September 2000

This page last updated 17 June 2007