Article from a recent AHSNZ Journal. . .
WHENUAPAI RUNWAY UPGRADE
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
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
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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