Eagle Farm Airfield
USAAF Camp Eagle Farm/RAAF Relief Landing Ground
- Brisbane City
Lamington Avenue, Eagle Farm 4009
Even before the entry of the United States into the war, the water-logged Eagle Farm airfield was being considered for use as a 'Relief Landing Ground' for RAAF pilots training at Archerfield Aerodrome. After Pearl Harbour, and the diversion to Australia of the US convoys destined for the Philippines, Eagle Farm was earmarked as a major US aircraft assembly field from which crated aircraft would be assembled and flown elsewhere.
The US 5th Air Force took control of the site, and the 81st Air Depot Group consisting of Headquarters and the 81st Supply Squadron was established in Brisbane in May 1942.
The boggy nature of the ground led to considerable fill being trucked during early 1942 to allow construction of the much needed runways. Hangar construction and hardstands for aircraft were also built. Some work was undertaken by the Department of the Interior, then after the formation of the Allied Works Council the labour was undertaken by the Civil Construction Corps. Most of the timber arch hangar construction was undertaken by civilian contractors, most notably MR Hornibrook
A squadron of P39 Air Cobras flew into Eagle Farm in late March 1942, by which time US and Australian anti-aircraft batteries—most likely the 94 CA (AA)—and searchlight units were being distributed in areas surrounding the airfield. The Australian 56 AA Battalion Searchlight Unit were placed east of Schnieder Rd.
Work at Eagle Farm Repair Section of the 81st was initially undertaken by the 38 Bomb Squadron—moved from Amberley—until the 81st Repair Squadron arrived from Tocumwal in August 1942. One of the more important tasks undertaken by the 81 RP was by its ordnance section who were responsible for improving the bomb-rack, and designing and installing nose and side gun installations on the B-25Cs. These B25s were used successfully during the battle of the Bismark sea. The repair squadron worked on A-24, P-40, P39, B-26 and A-20As as well as the B25s. A small number of troop-carrying gliders were also erected at Eagle Farm. 81Repair Squadron grew to almost 900 personnel by 1944.
Headquarters Squadron of the 81ADG included many sections such as medical, transportation, photographic, chemical, operations and flights, finance, ordnance, statistical and historian department. By 1943 aircraft were being assembled for use in the New Guinea campaign, and pilots were test-flying a range of aircraft being assembled there including P38s, P39s, P40s and P47s. Allison test stands for aircraft engines were erected on the site in 1942. The first P-38 assembled on the field was flown in August 1942.
An air traffic control tower was not erected until early 1943 and runway lights were operational by March of that year. Captured enemy aircraft were also shipped to Eagle Farm, where in Hangar No 7 the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit began the long process of identifying and ultimately rebuilding and flying Japanese aircraft.
In April 1944 the 81st ADG was moved forward to New Guinea and Eagle Farm airfield as occupied by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The RAAF had a Services Canteen and a warehouse for storing radar equipment located along Links Avenue.
While much of the wartime construction undertaken for the USAAF has disappeared as Eagle Farm developed post-war into Brisbane’s domestic and international airport, three significant World War II structures remain. These are Aircraft Hangar No.1 at 104 Lamington Avenue, the Allison Testing Stands used for USAAF engines at 116 Lamington Avenue and the Aircraft Hangar No. 7 at 104 Lavarack Avenue.
Roger Marks, Queensland Airfields WW2, R & J Marks, Brisbane, 1994
Margaret Pullar, Prefabricated WWII Structures in Queensland, NTQ Report, Brisbane, 1997
81st ADG, 'There will always be an 81st', Smith & Paterson Pty Ltd, Brisbane, 1943
BCC Minutes July 1944 to June 1945