Skip links and keyboard navigation

Archerfield Aerodrome

Archerfield Airfield

  • Airfield
  • Brisbane City

381 Beatty Road, Archerfield 4013

Archerfield replaced Eagle Farm as Brisbane's domestic airport in 1931. During the war's early years (1939–41), Archerfield was used as an RAAF training facility. On 20 July 1942, US General Douglas MacArthur transferred his headquarters from Melbourne to Brisbane. Archerfield developed into a major United States Army Air Force (USAAF) repair and maintenance base. Planes serviced included: B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators, P-40 Kittyhawks, DC-3 Dakotas, B-26 Marauders. In May 1944 with the major US base completed at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, the USAAF gradually left Archerfield, returning it to RAAF control.

Archerfield also served the Dutch and British forces. In July 1944, the Dutch established a Netherlands East Indies (NEI) Government-in-Exile at Camp Columbia, Wacol. As Dutch transport planes serviced Camp Columbia, a NEI Transport and Maintenance Section was established nearby at Archerfield.

From February 1945, the British Pacific Fleet used some of Archerfield's facilities. The Fleet Air Arm occupied two igloos until 1946. A total of 35 wartime buildings including ancillaries such as lavatories and guardhouses were constructed during the war. The pre-war Hangars 3, 4 and 5 were extended. The Allied Works Council directed all construction.

The RAAF remained at Archerfield until 1955.

History

Three days prior to war's declaration (3 September 1939), No. 23 Squadron (RAAF) flew into Archerfield. No. 3 Flying Training School (later renamed No. 2 FTS) operated from November 1939 to April 1942 with planes commandeered from the Airwork Company.

The pre-war QANTAS hangar was extended by 1,072 square metres. Airwork's hangar received a saw-tooth roof addition. A building complex was erected near the Mortimer and Beatty Roads corner for the RAAF. Two Bellman hangars were built in the southeast corner. In July 1941, anti-aircraft (AA) gun emplacements were proposed but AA guns were unavailable.

At the Pacific War's outbreak (8 December 1941), Archerfield was placed on 'War Alert'. Slit trench and air raid shelter construction, building camouflage, decoy aircraft usage and a 24-hour standby flight of Wirraway CA-1 trainers and Hudson bombers were implemented. An aircraft dispersal area was established in the bushland south of Mortimer Road. By March 1942, AA guns were installed; extending the grass airfield's northeast corner was approved, severing Boundary Road and relocating the Queensland Aero Club buildings; and the USAAF 68th Pursuit Squadron arrived. Full camouflage work was underway by April.

In July 1942, Archerfield became a major USAAF aircraft servicing base occupied by the 81st Air Depot Group, a component of General Kenney's 5th Air Force. "Camp Buckley" was erected nearby to house USAAF personnel. US film stars transitting there during the war included: Bob Hope, John Wayne, Gary Cooper.

MacArthur visited Archerfield in March 1943 to present Kenney with the Distinguished Service Medal. In 1943–44, the Commonwealth Department of Aircraft built five timber-framed, single span igloos along Kerry Road. Four igloos were hangars. The fifth was a store. The igloos were connected to the airfield by a taxiway across Beatty Road. QANTAS and ANA initially occupied two of these igloos, conducting repair and maintenance work for the Department of Aircraft.

From May 1944, the USAAF began to hand-over to the RAAF. A Lockheed Ventura, with future Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in its crew, operated from Archerfield.

The Dutch transferred personnel from Melbourne and Canberra to Camp Columbia. They came on Lockheed Lodestars and Dakotas. By June 1944, 16 Dutch Dakotas were concentrated at Archerfield, where a NEI Transport and Maintenance Section under Captain P. Schelling was established.

The British Pacific Fleet was formed on 22 November 1944 with Brisbane designated as an Advanced Fleet Base. The Royal Navy occupied two Kerry Road igloos from February 1945. On 15–16 February 1945, the Duke of Gloucester visited Archerfield. No.23 Squadron returned in 1948.

At Archerfield RAAF Station were the following RAAF units:
No 3 Elementary Flying Training School (various small planes) - formed at Archerfield 6 November 1939 - renamed No 2 Elementary Flying Training School on 2 January 1940 - disbanded 31 March 1942 Fl Lt T.C. Curnow to 10/6/40; Fl Lt J.H. Wright to 21/11/41; Wing Com G.C. Mathews
No.4 Communications Flight - 'Archerfield's Own'
formed at Archerfield 7 September 1942 - 1 Avro Anson, 1 Lockheed Hudson, 2 Wirraways
disbanded there 16 April 1946. flew mail, supplies, VIPs (Blamey)
also flew Avro Ansons, Tiger Moths, Moth Minors, Dragon Rapides, Beauforts, Douglas Dolphins, Vultee Vengences, Norseman, Lodestars, Gannets, Venturas
Sqd Ldr J. MacDonald to 21/10/43 and replaced by Sqd Ldr V.H. Byrnes, 1 November 1943 renamed No.4 Communications Unit. 30 October 1945- Sqd Ldr. G.T. Newstead became CO
No.38 Squadron (Dakota DC-3 transports) - 27 December 1944 Sqd Ldr R.G. Cornfoot
No.323 Radar Station 7 February 1945 to 16 April 1945 Flying Officer F.R. Dennis
No.324 Radar Station 27 February 1945 to 10 June 1945 Fl LtW.D. Neal
No.325 Radar Station 28 February 1945 to 2 May 1945 Pilot Officer A.E. Irvine
No.342 Radar Station 2 March 1945 to 2 May 1945 Fl Lt V.B. Aldrich
No.2 Air Ambulance Unit established in March 1942 at Canberra
transferred to Archerfield from Kingaroy on 7 September 1944 Sqd Ldr. A.N. Pentland
replaced by Sqd Ldr J.G. Hitchcock on 16 September 1945
disbanded 8 December 1945
Flew 5 Hudsons, 3 Fox Moths, 6 Dragon Rapides DH-84, 2 Gannetts, 1 Moth Minor 6 Dakotas replaced the Hudsons in July 1945.
to Madang, Tadji, Lae, Hollandia, Morotai, Jacquinot Bay, Nazab
55 patients, 18,762 lbs of medical supplies carried 2–27 June 1945

USAAF units at Archerfield:
8th Fighter Squadron
16th Bombardment Group
17th Bombardment Group
91st Bombardment Group
368th Bombardment Group
21st Troop Carrier Squadron
374th Troop Carrier Squadron
22nd Air Base unit
8th Material Unit,
30th Material Unit
15th Weather Unit,
565th Air Warning Battalion
2nd Field Hospital

Source/comments

BCC Heritage Unit citation, NAA digital plan; Units of the Royal Australian Air Force Vol.2.

Last updated
30 June 2014