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Sample Article from a recent AHSNZ Journal. . .


The May 2012 issue of “AIR FORCE NEWS” #136, has an article on the completion of a $35m major upgrade to the Whenuapai main runways and taxiways.

Whenuapai’s main runway 21/03 had the base course of wartime hexagonal concrete blocks removed and a new runway constructed. The old runway has long suffered from movement of the hexagonal blocks and despite several ‘overlays’ of bitumen over the years, it was in a bad state before the reconstruction.

Construction of the original runway and was approved by the War Cabinet in January 1942 together with three for Ohakea. This was later altered to two runways and a taxi strip at Ohakea and three runways at Whenuapai.

This undertaking consumed all of New Zealand’s cement production for the period of the pours. The specifications called for 2,500lb concrete to take aircraft weighing 56,000lbs the loading being 26,000lbs on each front wheel and 4000lbs on the third wheel. The thickness of concrete varied from 8.5 inches to 12 inches, being cast in hexagonal slabs 10ft across.

A total of 84,000 cubic yards of concrete were placed at Whenuapai to form three miles of runways and one mile of taxi strip. Concrete pouring commenced in January 1942 and most of the work was completed by June.

One of the main difficulties was to obtain sufficient pipes for the under drainage of the runways. Six miles of pipes were required for Whenuapai and seven for Ohakea.

Then, apart from the difficulties of securing plant, equipment and men to do the work - at a time when practically every fit man was in the Armed Forces - the five hundred on each job had to be housed and services provided for them.

The total cost of concreting the runways at the two aerodromes was £1,400,000.

The photographs below provided by Jim Mungall show how the original main runway was constructed

Looking along the length of 21/03 runway from the Herald Island end. Construction commenced from both ends, leaving a grass runway in the centre, for emergency use.

Looking across the runway nearing completion. Ground works have started on the second runway (now disused). Construction of the two main hangars has been completed, but not the taxiways and parking areas outside the hangars

Hexagonal slabs being poured on runway 21/03

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