Fanning Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Landing Ground
Virginia Park Station, Flinders Highway, Macrossan 4816
Japan’s entry into World War II led to considerable effort in aerodrome construction for the defence of Townsville from early 1942.
Garbutt aerodrome was extended, duplicated, sealed and developed on a massive scale to serve as a terminus and operational base for combat aircraft on the Pacific ferry route from America. Development of Garbutt led to the need for nearby dispersal aerodromes and fighter interceptor strips.
During March and April 1942 the US 46 Engineer General Service Regiment and the Queensland Main Roads Commission began clearing and building a string of gravel dispersal runways and fighter strips westward along the railway from Townsville to Charters Towers. Two runways were constructed near the Fanning River as part of this program. The main strip has been maintained for use on Virginia Park station. Fanning is the name of the closest railway siding.
Work on clearing and levelling the runways at Fanning was commenced by the Main Roads Commission early in April 1942. At the outset Fanning was assigned the role of a fighter repair strip for Garbutt and Antil Plains aerodromes, in contrast to being developed for dispersal or combat purposes.
By May it was apparent that during the urgent rush to establish airstrips between Townsville and Charters Towers, there had been considerable duplication of effort and overlap in instructions to surveyors and clearing and grubbing teams. As an outcome work on the northern (70°) runway at Fanning was abandoned before its completion. By August 1942 the main runway (95°) had been completed with a gravel surface. When RAAF 6 Aircraft Repair Depot was formed at Breddan Airfield during October, it was decided to transfer 12 Repair and Salvage Unit (RSU) from there to Fanning and a contract was issued for the construction of facilities. However, by February 1943 the RAAF had decided to transfer 12 Repair and Salvage Unit (RSU) to the nearby Macrossan aerodrome and work at Fanning was halted.
Completed facilities at the airfield included tent floors, latrines and mess huts and a water supply reticulation system. On reaching standard operational base category, Fanning was relegated to an emergency landing ground role. For a period in 1944 the landing ground was occupied by RAAF 1 Signals Task Unit. By mid-1944 the Department of Civil Aviation had decided there was no post-war need for retaining Fanning and the RAAF eventually decided not to acquire the land.
Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Roger Marks, Queensland Airfields WW2: 50 years on, Brisbane, 1994.
Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.