YANAKIE AIRFIELD
WILSONS PROMONTORY, VIC
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

The Minister for Civil Aviation approved the extension and improvement to Yanakie Airfield, near Darby River Road at Wilsons Promontory in about September 1939, at an estimated cost of 2,000. The improvements were urgently required by the RAAF.

The RAAF had been using Yanakie as early as the 1920s. A photograph of an RAAF SE5a fighter A2-1 at Yanakie is available on the Australian War Memorial site. Yanakie was also used from about December 1930 when Australian Aerial Services proposed to use the airfield for an Air Service from Victoria to Tasmania using the "Cutty Sark" a twin-engined amphibian fitted with retractable landing gear piloted by Captain Frank Neale. The Department of Civil Aviation had prepared a First Class landing ground at Yanakie especially for this new service.

Pilots were warned on 20 January 1941, that extensions at Yanakie Airfield were about to commence, and care should be taken whilst landing as plant could be moving over the landing area. Unsafe areas were to be marked with red and white flags by day and red lamps at night time.

 

Yanakie Airfield also known as Wilson's Promontory Airfield

 

The Department of Air were advised by letter by the Director-General of Civil Aviation on 12 July 1940, that the improvements works at Yanakie Airfield were complete and that the contract had entered the maintenance period. They also advised that a small area in the south eastern corner was only suitable for dry weather use. It would be flagged off with white flags when it was unsafe to use.

Yanakie Airfield had a number of buildings on site including one for living quarters, and two other Wireless Huts. There was a bomb dump. a pyrotechnic store, General store, latrines and a Vacuum Oil Store. There were also a number of machine gun pits.

A Requisition was raised with A.1 priority by the Department of Interior on 13 July 1942, for the construction of 12 hideouts and natural surface taxiways for the dispersal of aircraft at Yanakie Airfield for an estimated cost of 5,000. The works were finally completed in about July 1944.

Pilot Officer Evans inspected Yanakie Airfield on 1 December 1942 accompanied by Pilot Officer Brown from Southern Area. P/O Evans inspected three grassed runways NE/SW, E/W and N/S all fenced to a width of 600 feet.

An instruction was issued for Yanakie Airfield on 9 November 1943:-

"Owing to hilly nature of the terrain in the vicinity of the aerodrome, night take-offs and landings are only to be made in cases of emergency."

"Normally, take-offs are only to be permitted by Flare Path when the aircraft is taking off towards the West or North. Such take-offs may be crosswind, or even down wind, depending on the strength of the wind. Take-offs to the East or South are not be made except in daylight."

"Flare path landings are only to be made in an emergency."

Flight Lieutenant Alan Yalden Montgomery (255938) inspected the Yanakie Landing Ground on 28 July 1944 accompanied by Flight Lieutenant Favel Thomas Satterthwaite (125098). F/Lt Montgomery reported Yanakie as an all over grass field with aircraft traffic of about three Avro Ansons per day. He indicated that due to the velocity of the prevailing winds, erosion of the runway was a factor. He said that the rainfall was "sufficient to maintain a strong sole of grass".

He also added "large clumps of Parramatta grass cause slight bumps which tend to accentuate the bumpiness caused by the somewhat irregular surface."

A Requisition to erect 6 ft x 4 ft I.F.F. warning boards at selected points near the ends of all runways was issued on 10 April 1945 to comply with Air Board instructions.

There were 6 only 1,000 gallon underground tanks dispersed around the field, with normal petrol stock of 22,000 gallons and oil stock of 675 gallons. There was accommodation for 50 men onsite and a local hotel on Foster was also used for accommodation. There was a 1,000 gallon water tank plus a water well onsite.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John Willis for his assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 18 March 2017

This page last updated 19 March 2017