View Full Version : What is the origin of the name Nadzab


A Squared
7th May 2012, 08:38
I've heard that it's an acronym for something like Northern Australian defense zone air base. I've also heard that it's a local place name. It doesn't sound much like other local place names, though. Haven't been able to google any info one way or another.

Anyone know?



catseye
7th May 2012, 08:55
Newish aerodrome up the valley from Lae in PNG. AYNZ

tail wheel
7th May 2012, 09:23
Not "newish" - Nadzab airstrip was built in the early 1940s due to the need for greater strip length and improved weather conditions.

The name Nadzab pre-dates the airstrip and was the original name of a Lutheran Mission Station established in the Nadzab area in 1910.

There are a number of non local names in the valley which probably date back to the German era pre 1918 e.g. Markham Valley, Leron Plains etc.

A Squared
7th May 2012, 09:26
Yeah, I fly out of Nadzab every day, so I know *what* it is.

Like I said in the first post, I'm curious about the origin of the name.

A Squared
7th May 2012, 09:32
Thanks Tailwheel. That was the sort of answer I was looking for.

Any idea if there was any air strip there before the US/Australian airborne landing? I've read accounts which suggest there was, and others that suggest there was nothing there before the initial landings.

tail wheel
7th May 2012, 09:39
As a matter of interest I think there were at least three or four airstrips at Nadzab and many miles of taxi ways. I remember driving along miles and miles of overgrown taxiways around 1970 when the Nadzab strip was disused. It was not unusual to find piles of .5 cal amunitionand other scraps and relics of the war.

Tom Leahy, who lived in the upper Markham from 1949 to 1979 (at Maralumi about ten miles west of Nadzab) recons there were 3,000 aircraft at Nadzab when he arrived in 1949.

I don't know if there was a pre war strip at Nadzab but will ask a couple of lapuns who should know. I suspect there was a strip there for two reasons:

1. It was a Luthern Mission Station from 1910 and the Lutherans and Catholics both operated aircraft (Junkers W33 and F13???) in New Guinea from the 1920s. The German administration had outposts in the upper Markham below the Kassam, but no explorers entered the Highlands until Mick, Jim and Dan Leahy with Jim Taylor travelled into the Highlands in 1932.

2. I'm sure there would have been at least an emergency airstrip in the Nadzab region for between war aircraft serving the route between Lae and the gold mining areas at Edie Creek and Bulolo. Junkers G31, Ford Trimotor and early de Havilland aircraft including the Fox Moth regularly operated out of Lae.

A Squared
7th May 2012, 09:43
As a matter of interest I think there were at least three or four airstrips at Nadzab and many miles of taxi ways.

Yeah you can still see an old runway and taxiways when on downwind north of the field

olderairhead
7th May 2012, 09:43
This might help:

Nadzab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadzab)

As it says there was a village called Nadzab in the Markam valley and the Lutherins built the first airstrip there in 1910, hence the name Nadzab.

A Squared
7th May 2012, 09:45
When you say "disused" do you mean "not used very frequently" , or completely unused?

chainsaw
7th May 2012, 09:57
You'll find Nadzab on this 1964 US Army Corps of Engineers 1:250,000 map of Markham, Trust Territory of New Guinea - Australia.

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/new_guinea/txu-oclc-6552576-sb55-10.jpg

See also:

http://malumnalu.********.com.au/2009/04/nadzab-airport.html

Type in bl0gsp0t with an o instead of a 0 for ******** in the above URL.

tail wheel
7th May 2012, 10:11
When you say "disused" do you mean "not used very frequently" , or completely unused?

Nadzab was totally disused from around 1945 to the mid 1970s, when the Australian Government constructed the current airstrip and taxi ways.

Rumour had it that the Australian Government wanted Nadzab as a forward defence airstrip and required the PNG Government to close Lae and use Nadzab for all commercial flights and move the PNG Defense Force Air Wing to Nadzab, to justify the expense.

Until the mid to late 1970s, all operators used Lae airport, including the DC6B and later Lockeed Electra (and possibly the B727 I don't remember) from Sydney and Brisbane landed at Port Moresby and Lae, before heading south again.

Nadzab was disused until Air Niugini was forced back there in the late 1970s. The regional air services and air charter survived at Lae a little longer but eventually all operators were forced to Nadzab and Lae airstrip closed.

Olderairhead may remember more details?

olderairhead
7th May 2012, 10:29
The Australian Government "reconstructed" Nadzab to take Mirages, including the taxiways. It indeed was there to provide a defense base if required.

Air Niugini was "forced" to use Nadzab as Tailwheel indicated. ATC moved out there in 1979 from memory and GA continued to use Lae until it's closure.

Made for some interesting departures and arrivals in Lae without the tower being there! Sometimes lighting - or the lack thereof made for some interesting darktime movements :E

A Squared
7th May 2012, 10:58
On a related note, did Nadzab ever have an ILS?

There's a structure there which looks suspiciously line a glidepath antenna on the south side of runway 09, just abeam the touchdown marker, right where a glidepath antenna would be located.

tail wheel
7th May 2012, 11:13
Can't answer that.

The Defense Force hadn't been at Nadzab very long when they "planted" a very low time C47/DC3 west of Nadzab. Is the airframe still there?

There were a number of station strips in the Markham, including on Jephcott's property at Dumpu and at Leron Plains.

A Squared
7th May 2012, 11:18
The Defense Force hadn't been at Nadzab very long when they "planted" a very low time C47/DC3 west of Nadzab. Is the airframe still there?

Can't say for sure, I haven't seen it. If it's there, it's not obvious.

olderairhead
7th May 2012, 11:57
An ILS was installed but not by the Australians. Never commissioned tho'
Not sure who did the installation but knowing PNG it was probably "foreign aid" from....?

sixtiesrelic
7th May 2012, 12:42
A Guinea Airways Junkers G31 landed at Nadzab after the lid came off the roof and tangled in the tailplane after take off at Wau in about 1934.

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g32/sixtiesrelic/nadzab.jpg

Page 145 Wings of Gold

sixtiesrelic
7th May 2012, 13:17
Don't think this was it, but I have not yet found out the story behind this damage.

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g32/sixtiesrelic/damageju34246.jpg

A frame taken from pre war movie 16mm film

greybeard
7th May 2012, 13:21
I was on TT in PNG on the F-28 in 1978, used Nadzab, tower in Lae I seem to recall.

Early days of Jets in PNG, night over the mountains Madang to Moresby, loads of fun.

:ok:

tail wheel
7th May 2012, 13:30
I thought Nadzab would be an emergency strip for the flights into the gold fields.

Further reference to Bertie Heath here (http://www.pprune.org/dg-p-general-aviation-questions/152566-png-ples-bilong-tok-tok-47.html).

Notice Jim's error on that page: "Bertie Heath was at the controls with Heath in the co pilot seat." Should be Turner in the co pilot seat.

Wiki:
Nadzab Airfield was built by the United States Army during World War II and was developed into a massive airbase complex. It was home to many United States Army Air Forces and Royal Australian Air Force units during the war when it was a forward base of operations against Japanese positions, and was vital afterwards as a staging area.

Two parallel runways were built, running roughly east to west. Number 1 Strip was located to the north. Parallel and to the south was Number 2 Strip, closest to the Markham River. Towards the end of the war, the 21st Air Depot Unit at Nadzab began to manage a storage and reclamation area for excess Allied aircraft and salvage area for repairs. The CRTC (Combat Replacement Training Center) flew out of the base into 1945 until it was turned over to the New Guinea government.

The airfield was underutilized after the war until the mid-to-late 1970s. Until that time, live ammunition could still be found at the airfield. Today, the former 'East Base' or No. 1 & No. 2 runways are still in use by Air Niugini and for civil aviation, mainly servicing Lae which is 45 km away. Nearly every road in the area was built by American forces, and one can still see World War II era taxiways in the overgrown areas outside the modern landing area.

No mention of the earlier pre War Mission strip, although I know it existed.

On 18 November 1987, Douglas C-47B Skytrain P2-006 of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force was damaged beyond repair in an emergency landing shortly after take-off. An engine had lost power and a wing was ripped of in the subsequent belly landing.

Thought it was earlier than 1987? The remains of the aircraft sat at Nadzab for some years.

A Squared
7th May 2012, 21:24
An ILS was installed but not by the Australians. Never commissioned tho'
Not sure who did the installation but knowing PNG it was probably "foreign aid" from....?

Interesting, odd that they'd install it but never get it up and running. Do you recall when that happened?

olderairhead
8th May 2012, 00:40
Not sure but either late 90's or early 2000's

A Squared
8th May 2012, 01:16
Makes sense, the GS antenna doesn't look to be terribly old. There's no localize r antenna array, though. WOnder if that was removed, or they never built it.

Animalclub
8th May 2012, 02:20
tail wheel

Nadzab was totally disused from around 1945 to the mid 1970s, when the Australian Government constructed the current airstrip and taxi ways.

Not quite correct... in the 60s the Lae town strip collapsed at one end (I believe a buried aircraft rotted) making it too short for the DC6B thus both TAA and Ansett had to operate the DC6B out of Nadzab for some time whilst the Lae strip was fixed. We (the staff) used to fly from Lae to Nadzab in DC3s... the pilots reckoned that it was the only flight that they had ever done where the taxiing time was longer than the flight time!!

Ndegi
10th May 2012, 02:24
Lae town strip closed around 87 or 88. Charles Perry will remember as he was Talair at that time and made the move to Nadzab. The C47 that went down in the Kuni had been extensively refurbished at Australian taxpayer expense and was taking part in a three ship formation (Aravo and Nomad) over Igham Barracks where, from memory, the Airwing was being formally handed over to PNGDF control. EFATO and closed the wrong throttle! The fuselage, less wings was towed backwards down the highway to Lae where the ADF still operated the maintenance hangar at Lae airport. Again, from memory, the Government got heavy with the operators, Richard Leahy built a hangar at Nadzab and Talair also moved up into one end of the terminal building. Pacific helicopters remained at the Lae city airport. The area surrounding Nadzab was a great source of WWII artifacts from marsden matting to .50 cal machine guns albeit very rusted.

tail wheel
10th May 2012, 02:45
Animal. Yes, I was not totally correct in what I said. Nadzab remained an active airstrip but had only used infrequently whilst Lae town strip was operational.

At some point prior to 1985 Air Niugini was directed to move to Nadzab but all other operators could remain at Lae but only operate inter provincial capital flights (e.g. LAE/POM; LAE/GKA etc) via an intermediate airport not serviced by PX.

Of course Talair (and others) immediately captured virtually all the traffic ex LAE to POM, GKA and HGU with flights operating via wau, Bulolo or Kainantu.

Bryan Grey, who actively promoted open competition with PX whilst employed by Talair, was by then General Manager of PX and complained bitterly to the Somare Government about the damage being done by Talair to PX.