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Plaine Des Gaiacs Airfield
is a former World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
airfield on New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...
in the South Pacific
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...
. It is located at Plaine Des Gaiacs near the village of Pouembout
Pouembout is a commune in the North Province of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean....
. The airfield was also known as De Gaiacs and was named for the Gaiac tree that grow in the area.
After being used as a wartime airfield, it was abandoned and today is almost totally returned to its natural state.
Plaine Des Gaiacs Airfield was built in the 1930s by the French colonists. After the fall of France in 1940, the Free French took control of the field. The airfield was expanded into two massive sealed runways by the US Army. It was initially used as a command and control base, then later becoming a staging and training base for aircraft bound for Australia or north to the New Hebridies (Vanuatu) combat zones. USAAF units assigned were:
- Headquarters, Thirteenth Air Force, 13-21 January 1943
- Headquarters, XIII Fighter Command, 13-22 January 1943
- 11th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
The 11th Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force District of Washington. It is stationed at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility, Maryland. It is the host unit at Joint Base Andrews....
, 22 July 1942 - 23 November 1942
- 42d Bombardment Group (Medium)
The 42nd Air Base Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Education and Training Command Air University. It is stationed at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama...
, 20 October 1943 - 20 January 1944
- 347th Fighter Group
The United States Air Force's 347th Rescue Group is an active combat search and rescue unit assigned to the 23d Wing at Moody AFB, Georgia.-Mission:...
, 3 October 1943 - 29 December 1943
- 4th Reconnaissance Group
The 4th Reconnaissance Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to Thirteenth Air Force and was stationed at Clark Field, Philippines. It was inactivated on 15 January 1946....
, 22 November 1942 - 23 January 1943
The airfield was closed after the war and fell into disuse. Today it is overgrown with vegetation; the runways are still visible from the air and many small traces of the American occupation remain, such as fuel drums, metal, etc.
- USAAF in the South Pacific
During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces engaged in combat against the Empire of Japan in the South Pacific Area. As defined by the War Department, this consisted of the Pacific Ocean areas which lay south of the Equator between longitude 159° East and 110° West...