CAMCO airstrip on Google Earth


The CAMCO factory and airfield at Loiwing

CAMCO/AVG factory and airstrip at 
Thanks to Hak Hakanson in Chiang Mai, Thailand, here's a sketch of Bill Pawley's factory and airfield at Loiwing on the China-Burma border, which he unearthed in U.S.military archives. It's dated January 1942, when Rangoon was in danger and Loiwing became important for the future of the Flying Tigers. Bill Pawley moved his operation back to China shortly after the Christmas 1941 raids on Rangoon, and the AVG itself would retreat there in the spring.

The caption identifies Loiwing as "a town of Juili (Meng-Mao)." The field elevation is shown as 700 meters (2300 feet) and the dirt runway as 800 meters (2650 feet) long – roughly the length of the grass field where I once flew a Piper Cub, and which was bypassed by many Cessna 172 pilots because they thought it was too short! The wind direction is generally west-southwest; the earth is red; there's no grass; and there's "A river on the southwest, a plain on the southeast," a 60-meter hill to the east and a 400-meter hill to the west.

ONC chart of Loiwing

I once looked for Loiwing on my Operational Navigation Chart for North Burma. Here's a section from ONC J-10 with Loiwing penciled in. To judge by the 1942 drawing, it's actually a bit to the left (west), below and to the right of the blue 40 that marks 97° 40' east longitude. The latitude would be about 23° 57'north.

Namhkan in Burma, where Dr. Gordon Seagrave's missionary hospital was located, is easily found on Google Earth, but I don't recognize any of the town names across the river in China. Worse, Google has misplaced the frontier so that this piece of China appears much narrower than it really is. There's a Chinese town north-northeast of Namhkan named Handeng that might be the community shown on ONC J-10, and northwest of that are several villages that might be Loiwing itself. The likely candidate is Leiyun at 23°53'20"N, 97°38'14"E. I found a World War II database that says the factory was indeed located at Leiyun, and the names are vaguely similar.

Locator sketch for Loiwing

Hak Hakanson also found this U.S. military locator sketch, showing both Meng-Mao/Juli/Suili/Nanshan and Loiwing/Leiyun. The airfield, of course, wasn't located at the village itself but on a "plateau" nearby. Photoshopping Goolge Earth and an aerial photograph of the CAMCO strip, Hank then created the composite at the top of the page, showing the old runway still visible as a village street at 23°53.92'N / 97°37.40'E. Pretty much everything fits: the orientation of the runway, its length, the river, the "plain," and even the hills, though they don't seem to be as high as indicated in 1941, especially the one to the W. You can paste that lat/lon into Google Earth and "fly" your P-40 in and out.

For more about the CAMCO and AVG airfields, go here and here and here .

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