Northwest Thailand during World War II

Lampang Airport (Th: ลำปาง ลำพูน / Jp: ランパーン 滑走路 )
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Route 0001
Station 00c


Text Notes



Local Chiang Mai photographer / historian Boonserm Satrabhaya further recalled:

. . . the Royal Thai Air Force sent [Curtiss] Hawk IIIs to serve in every airport near the northern border, including Lampang . . . .[9д]

With regard to Curtiss Hawk IIIs:

RTAF history agreed that the 41st Fighter Squadron with ten Curtiss Hawk IIIs was relocated to Lampang on 22 December 1941, but five days later the unit with its Hawk IIIs moved on to Chiang Rai.

However, the 32nd Attack Squadron with nine US-sourced Curtiss Hawk IIs, also assigned there on 22 December continued at that location until 18 February 1942 when it moved to Chiang Mai.[9д1]

Both Hawk IIs and IIIs were vintage biplanes.

Boonserm further recalled:

The Japanese brought . . . more than fifty [Ki-21, Type 97 heavy twin-engine bombers, codenamed "Sally"] to their base in Lampang.[9ж ]

In early 1942, Lampang airfield was also heavily populated with Japanese-manufactured, light and heavy bombers. Young recorded that the 31st Sentai with 25 Ki-30 "Anne" Type 97 light single-engine bombers and RTAF Squadrons 11 and 12 with 11 Ki-30s light bombers each relocated to Lampang in late January-early February 1942. Thus IJAAF and RTAF Ki‑30s gathered at Lampang totalled 47. Nine Japanese Ki-21 "Sally" or "Gwen" Type 97 heavy bombers from RTAF Squadron 62 were located at Lampang during the same period.[9ц]

03 January 1942
: IJAAF 77th Sentai in its first operation from Lampang dispatched nine Ki-27s which took on fuel at Rahaeng (from where the unit had relocated), and then strafed the RAF Moulmein Airfield, destroying four aircraft of the Indian Air Force's 4 Coast Defence Flight. Many more flights originated from Lampang during the month.[9҂]

10 January 1942: In the two week period, 28 December 1941 - 10 January 1942, the Lampang-based IJAAF 77th Sentai lost ten Ki‑27s, almost one-third of its aircraft complement.[9]

20 January 1942: IJAAF 77th Sentai participated in the IJA's invasion of Burma from Mae Sot towards Moulmein, providing escort for light bombers which were, in turn, supporting ground troops, and strafed the RAF airstrip at Moulmein.[9a]

22 January 1942: By this date, the IJAAF 10th Hikodan (area air force) in Lampang had added the 70th Independent Chutai (squadron), composed of four Ki-15 "Bab" Type 97 command reconnaissance aircraft.[9a0]

The 77th Sentai was recorded as having 25 Ki-27s (11 short of its complement).[9a1]

Late January - early February 1942

RTAF's Kong Bin Yai Phasom Phak Phayap (Northwestern Combined Group) moved north from Don Muang near Bangkok. One of its combined wings, Kong Bin Noi Phasom 85, went to Lampang with Squadrons 11 and 12, each with 11 Japanese-made Ki-30 "Ann" Type 97 light bombers.

RTAF Squadron 16, with nine US-manufactured Curtiss Hawk 75Ns,[9a2] was reassigned from Don Muang to Wing 85 to provide escort for those RTAF Ki-30s; late in the month, Squadron 16 received twelve new Japanese Ki-27 "Nate" Type 97 fighters.

RTAF Squadron 62, with nine Japanese Ki-21 "Sally" Type 97 heavy bombers moved from Lopburi to Lampang.[9b0]

06 February 1942: RTAF light bomber Squadrons 11 and 12 (Ki-30s), escorted by Squadron 16 (Hawk 75Ns) attacked Chinese Nationalist positions near Loi Mwe. All three units were based at Lampang.[9b0a]

06-17 February 1942
: RTAF's Kong Bin Yai Phasom Phak Phayap (Northwestern Combined Group), at Lampang, in support of the advance of Thai Army ground troops, bombed a Nationalist Chinese 93th Division installation at Doi Moei where 11,000 troops were based. [9b1]

10-20 February 1942: IJAAF 31st Sentai with 25 Ki-30 "Anne" Type 97 light bombers moved from Phitsunalok to Lampang.[9b2]

19 February-15 March 1942: RTAF Squadron 16, flying out of Lampang, patrolled daily over Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.[9b3]

23 February 1942
: By this date, IJAAF 77th Sentai had lost 15 Ki-27s. Two days later, the 77th was reported as having 23 aircraft (13 short).[9c] A few days later, the number available had risen to 25 (11 short).[9c1]

26 February 1942: Some (most?) Ki-27s of IJAAF 77th Sentai were relocated from Lampang to Mudon, Burma. The sentai had arrived in Lampang from Rahaeng on 29 December 1941[9d]

28 February 1942: IJAAF 10th Hikodan headquarters, which had been assigned to Lampang from Bangkok on 29 December 1941, moved from Lampang to Mudon, Burma.[9e]

The 77th Sentai reported 14 Ki-27 fighter aircraft available (ie, 16 short). The number just in Lampang was not published.[9e1]

March 1942: Thailand's airmail service had begun in 1922, provided by the RTAF.[9e1a] Thailand's commercial air service, The Aerial Transport Company, had taken over responsibility for scheduled mail and transport service in 1931.[9e1b] Coverage had expanded by the end of 1941 as shown on this map. By March 1942, however, that service had been sufficiently compromised by shortages that the RTAF began its own mail service with Fairchild 24Js and Rearwin 8500 Sportsters aircraft. The commercial service had never included Lampang in its airmail network, possibly because it had been classified as a "military landing ground"; hence airmail service for that location would have always been a responsibility of the RTAF. [9e1c]

07-08 March 1942: IJAAF 77th Sentai Ki-27 fighter aircraft still located at Lampang were grounded due to fog and unable to provide support in the final IJA attacks on Rangoon.[9f]

18 March 1942: Four Ki-15s IJAAF from 70th Independent Squadron had arrived in Lampang on 22 January 1942; two Ki-15s were lost before the unit's relocation to Moulmein on this date: one more was subsequently destroyed on the ground. The last aircraft eventually moved to Bangkok.[9g]

20 March 1942: The IJAAF Order of Battle, Burma Theater of Operations, for this date located only two units in Lampang:

12th Sentai:
      31 Ki-21-II "Sally" Type 97 heavy bombers

51st Independent Chutai with two different command reconnaissance designated aircraft:
       5 Ki-46 "Dinah" Type 100
       5 Ki-15  "Babs" Type 97.[09h]

22 March 1942: British intelligence reported that Lampang was being improved for use as a military airbase.[09i] The comment suggests a lack of sharing of information among the Allies at this early date in the South East Asian Theatre: the US had classified the Lampang airstrip as a "military landing ground" in a US War Department publication dated 15 March 1941.

24 March 1942: On 24 March 1942, Flying Tiger Squadron Leader Jack Newkirk on a flight to attack enemy facilities in Lampang, apparently confused Lampang with Lamphun and never reached Lampang. He fatally crashed near Lamphun.[10]

13-26 April 1942: RTAF light bomber Squadrons 11 and 12, based at Lampang, bombed Nationalist Chinese 93rd Division elements at Doi Moei and Mong Hpayak.[10a]

05-09 May 1942: RTAF Squadron 62, with nine Japanese Ki-21 "Sally" Type 97 heavy bombers hit Kengtung and Mongyawng in support of Thai ground forces.[11]

17-27 May 1942: RTAF Squadrons 11 and 12 and six Ki-21 "Sally" heavy bombers from Squadron 62, based at Lampang, again bombed Nationalist Chinese 93rd Division elements at Doi Moei. This effort finally allowed the Thai Army to occupy Kengtung.[11a]

31 May 1942: The Royal Thai Army (RTA) headquarters relocated from Lampang to a tobacco factory along the Kok River in Chiang Rai.[11b]

June 1942

Those portions of IJAAF 77th Sentai still at Lampang returned to Lungchen, Manchuria, from which the unit had arrived on 29 December 1941.[12]

22 June 1942: RTAF light bomber Squadrons 11 and 12 bombed Chieng Bung, a supply point in China.[12a]

24-28 June 1942
: RTAF light bomber Squadrons 11 and 12 flew out of Lampang to bomb Mong Ma.[12b]

July-December 1942

RTAF light bomber Squadrons 11 and 12 made reconnaissance flights along the border and into China's Yunnan Province. Border patrol work was shared with heavy bomber (Ki-21) Squadron 62.[12c]

October-November 1942

RTAF heavy bomber Squadron 61 with nine Ki-21 bombers transported food from the north of Thailand and dropped it over Don Muang Airport which, along with Bangkok and Tonburi, were reeling under flooding up to one meter deep.[13]

December 1942

Mail routes included, connecting to the south, Bangkok-Phitsanulok-Phrae-Lampang, and to the north, Lampang-Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai-Kengtung.

The RTAF specified an airmail route which (finally) formally connected Lampang with points south: it ran from Bangkok through Phitsanulok and Phrae and was serviced by Fairchild 24Js.[13a]

In addition, Lampang was the southern terminus for air service linking Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Kengtung (Burma), which was flown by Vought Corsairs.[13b]


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9д.^ Boonserm, ibid, p 56.





9д1.^ RTAF 1913-1983, pp 279, 309.




9ж .^ Boonserm, ibid p 69.





9ц.^ Young, ibid, pp 183



9҂.^ Dan Ford's The January Air Battle for Rangoon. See this reference plus Richard Dunn for fairly detailed descriptions of air activities during this period.

9.^ Dan Ford's The January Air Battle for Rangoon and following webpages; also Bloody Shambles I, p 253 ff.


9a.^ Dan Ford's 'Numbers are not important'.

9a0.^ Alford, Bob, Lampang Thailand, WWII, unpublished manuscript. [added 15 Sep 2014]


9a1.^ Shores, Bloody Shambles 1, p 260.




9a2.^ Curtiss Hawk 75N: Simplified version for Siam (Thailand) with non-retractable landing gear and wheel pants (per Wikipedia Curtiss Hawk 75). Young also describes their acquisition in detail: ibid, pp 130-131.

9b0.^ Young, Edward M, Aerial Nationalism (Washington: Smithsonian, 1995), pp 184‑187.

Clarification: in Jan 1942, the RTAF had a Squadron (Foong Bin) 62 with nine Ki-21 heavy bombers in Lampang (ibid);
and the IJAAF had a Wing (Sentai) 62 with fifteen Ki-21 heavy bombers in Bangkok. (Ford, ibid). The potential for confusion went further: the RTAF designation for the Ki-21 was Type 61. RTAF Squadron 62 had a sister squadron, 61, but it flew Martin bombers out of Phrae in this period.

9b0a.^ Young, p 185.

9b1.^ RTAF 1913-1983, p 308. Doi Moei, ดอยเหมย: a few km southeast of Kengtung on Burma Route 4 per map p 302 (exact location not determined).

9b2.^. Shores, Bloody Shambles II, p 268.

9b3.^. Young, p 188.

9c.^ Dan Ford's 'Numbers are not important'.

9c1.^ Dan Ford's Putting the squeeze on Rangoon.

9d.^ Dan Ford's Putting the squeeze on Rangoon.

9e.^ Dan Ford's Putting the squeeze on Rangoon.

9e1.^ "A new base at Magwe", Ford, ibid.

9e1a.^ Young, ibid, p 32.

9e1b.^ "commercial": nominally so: it was 51% government-owned. ibid, p 76.

Formal title: The Aerial Transport Co of Siam, Ltd, ibid, p 76.

1931: ibid, p 82.

9e1c.^ ibid, pp 215-216.

Aircraft identification: ibid, pp 134, 262.

9f.^ "A new base at Magwe", Ford, ibid.

9g.^ Dan Ford's Burma falls to the Japanese.

Alford, ibid, p 2: one aircraft and crew lost near Chaing Mai 21 Jan 1942; another lost near Sittang River 23 Feb 1942. [added 15 Sep 2014]



9h.^ Bloody Shambles II, p 347. Neither dates of arrival at Lampang (and origin) nor dates for departure (and destination) for these units are available.

9i.^ Dan Ford, Flying Tigers ((Washington: Smithsonian, 2007), p 241.



10.^ See discussion and references at Wat Phra Yuen.

10a.^ RTAF 1913-1983, p 316.
Mong Hpayak: N20°42.4 E100°05.8.

Young lists only 13 Apr for this action, but includes Squadron 16 as escort, p 189.

11.^ Kengtung (principal town for Shan State (East)): N21°17.5 E100°36.5
Mongyawng (easterly-most township of Burma): N21°30 E100°55. Young named Mongyawng, not the phonetically similar and nearby Mongyang (Young, ibid, p 190).

11a.^ RTAF 1913-1983, p 322.

11b.^ Across the Lwoi River in Klykoom's Thailand and the Second World War (website discontinued when Geocities disbanded, but archived as linked). Where it had been located in Lampang is not clear.

Info needs verification.

12.^ Richard Dunn: Double Lucky? (part 5).

12a.^ Young, p 193.

12b.^ ibid, p 194.




12c.^ ibid.



13.^ Young, ibid,p 195; RTAF 1913-1983, p 325, recorded only Squadron 62 stationed at Phrae as having participated in the emergency airlift.




13a.^ Young, ibid, p 216.


13b.^ ibid. See photo of RTAF Vought Corsair V-93S here, and description here.