World War II Airstrip Pell - NT



DEG: -13.142 131.107407
DMS: 13º 08' 31.2" S 131º 06' 26.66" E
UTM: 52 L 8546205mN 728446mE
Altitude: 64.43m


Place Type

Infrastructure - Airstrip


81.26kms South of Darwin - Driving 102 km (1 hour 9 mins)

Address & Contact

Adelaide River NT 0846
Phone: N/A
Email: N/A
Web: N/A


Pell airfield was named after Major Floyd Pell, who was initially part of General Douglas MacArthur's air staff. Pell, a member of Brigadier General Clagett's 5th Interceptor Command Headquarters, had been instrumental in selecting Darwin as a stopover airfield for US air operations in the region. He was the first US Army Air Corps person to come to Australia, when he surveyed the airfields at Port Moresby and Darwin for their suitability for the thirty five B-17 Flying Fortresses that were ferried to the Philippines by the 19th Bomb Group from September 1941
On 19 February 1942, the first Japanese air raid on Darwin was carried out by a large force of Japanese aircraft.
By 8:45am the force of 188 aircraft led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida had been launched from 4 aircraft carriers located about 350 kms north west of Darwin. The Japanese force comprised:-
36 A6M2 Type "O" fighter aircraft
71 D3A "Val" dive bombers
81 B5N "Kate" high level bombers
Nine Kittyhawks (Warhawks) were destroyed and four pilots, including Major Pell were killed by strafing Japanese aircraft.
Major Pell attempted to take off from the Darwin RAAF airfield but his aircraft was hit by a strafing Japanese fighter aircraft and was killed when he then parachuted out of the aircraft at about 24 metres.
Only the aircraft of Lieutenant Bob Oestricher survived the raid. He was credited with shooting down two Japanese aircraft. Eleven RAAF aircraft were also destroyed. Those killed were Pell, Peres, Perry, and Hughes.
The surviving elements of the RAAF Workshop and Main Camp are confined to concrete foundation slabs, earthen tent sites and a small number of gun positions formed of earth-filled 44-gallon drums. A number of the foundation slabs have been enhanced with features including the water fountain at the Officers’ Mess, decorative entry comprising 100lb practice bomb tails to the Sergeants’ Mess and decorative rock garden edgings to others. The flagpole stand at the parade ground is also extant.
At 0300 hours on 21 August 1943, the air raid alarm was initiated at Pell airfield in the Northern Territory. Japanese aircraft were sighted heading southwards at about 3:15am. They returned overhead at about 3:30am. One aircraft broke away from the formation and came down towards the airfield. It dropped three anti-personnel bombs and an incendiary. An empty sentry box received superficial damage. There were no casualties. Telephone communications were temporarily cut to the airfield. It was a close call for the men of 4 Repair and Salvage Unit RAAF who were based at Pell airfield at the time.

18 RSU also repaired B-25's from 79 Wing here at Pell during 1944 before moving to PNG in 1945.
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Closest Weather Station

TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts

Closest Climatic Station

Batchelor Aero
Distance from World War II Airstrip Pell 13.18km NW
Mean Max. °C32.732.232.833.732.731.231.833.336.036.835.333.8
Mean Min. °C24.023.823.421.618.816.516.317.020.623.023.924.1
Mean Rain mm306.7360.7258.9101.824.

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