CRAIGIEBURN AIRFIELD, VIC
PLANNED BUT PROBABLY NOT BUILT
Christine Keitel contacted me in November 2008 and indicated she had carried out some research on this proposed airfield and downloaded all the documents from the Australian Archives quite a while ago. Christine believes the airfield was never built and they seemed to abandon the plans for the airfield at Craigieburn in favour of an airfield at Glenroy in Victoria. Apparently the Broadmeadows Historical Society has a picture of the old airfield Glenroy on their wall at Broadmeadows.
Christine Keitel told me that there a few old residents who are still alive and know the Craigieburn area quite well. The place the airfield was supposed to have been, was farming land along Craigieburn Road East.
Christine said that most of the old residents in the Craigieburn area will tell you that farming was a protected occupation and they grew flax for the war effort in Craigieburn. Christine believes they made belts and water bags with the flax for the troops overseas.
My friend Dennis Whiley told me that Craigieburn was probably never built. He offered the following explanation:-
2 July 2005
I noticed on your web site that you asked what anyone knew about an airfield by the name of Craigieburn,
Well the answer may be nothing.
I must find time to fully explain but briefly in regards to airfield construction in Australia can be divided into several areas
1. pre 1939 Airfields for the use of the RAAF
There was a government review in 1928-1929
A further review in 1934-1935
2. Post 1939 mainly to do with the EATS
3. Post 1941 for mainland defence and to accommodate the air forces of others eg USN, USAAC, USMC, and FAA
Which brings us to the 1939 time scale when the RAAF had a major expansion?
By 1939 when Australia agreed to participle in the Empire Air Training Scheme.
So pre 1939 airfields were needed for the RAAF operational element and after 1939 additional airfields for the EATS commitment.
That is there was a great need for training airfields and up to three satellite airfields for each main airfield which did not relate to the operational capacity of the RAAF.
Types of Airfields for EATS were Elementary Flying School, Service Flying School. Observer/Navigation School, Bombing/Air gunnery School, & Wireless Air Gunners School.
Other airfields were built as Advanced Operational Bases around the Australian coast these were defensive type, shipping protection some twenty eight in all.
Construction of the these Airfields was under taken by the Commonwealth Deportment of Works with the assistance of the various State Government works Department, such as the Vic, NSW. & Qld Main Roads Departments
Going back to the design - a standard design was agreed by the RAAF very early in the piece that is the general layout, hanger type (Bellman) and huts (Cotton).
So if you look at the plans of Bairnsdale and Craigieburn and compare the lay out of both, you will note that they are very similar.
So my conclusion is that at some stage Craigieburn was considered for use as an O.T.U but was never proceeded with beyond the planning stage.
After December 1941 some 1000 airfield were considered for construction in Australia, some construction started but by 1944 all work stopped, as there was no longer a need.
At one time some six airfields were started around Perth WA for use of the RN FAA
In NSW work on some twenty for the US Navy was started, some of which were finished. These airfields were to be used by the squadrons on the aircraft carriers when they were in harbour.
It seems fantastic now sixty years on, but I have the plans for B-29 operations to be conducted from Adelaide against the Japs in the north.
Airfield plans were drawn up and the land was obtained from the land holders.
The aircraft were to be based here and staged through Darwin, if you have ever wondered, that is why Darwin had a 10,000 ft x 150 ft main runway.
Of course these airfields were never needed.
A few years ago I flew over one of the fields and from the air you could still see the outline of the main strip were it had been cleared and levelled.
Regards Dennis Whiley
Can anyone help me with any more info on this airfield?
I'd like to thank Christine Keitel for he assistance with this web page.
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© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 3 January 2005
This page last updated 27 December 2014