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CAMCO airstrip on Google Earth

The CAMCO factory and airfield at Loiwing

Thanks to Hak Hakanson in Chiang Mai, Thailand, below is 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.

CAMCO/AVG factory and airstrip at 
Loiwing

The caption describers Loiwing as "a town of Juili (Meng-Mao)." The field elevation is 700 meters (2300 feet), and the dirt runway as 800 meters (2650 feet) long – roughly the length of the grass field from which I used to fly a Piper Cub, and which was bypassed by many Cessna 172 pilots because it was so short! The wind direction at the airfield is generally west-southwest; the earth is red; there's no grass; and it's surrounded by "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.

I had earlier located Loiwing on my Operational Navigation Chart for North Burma. Below is 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.

ONC chart of Loiwing

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 similar.

Hak Hakanson also found the U.S. military locator sketch below, showing both Meng-Mao / Juli / Suili / Nanshan and Loiwing / Leiyun.

Locator sketch for Loiwing

The airfield, of course, wasn't located at the village itself but on a "plateau" nearby. Photoshopping Google 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. (But mind the children! This is, after all, now a presumably busy main street.)

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

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