Japan in 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]

RTAF history recorded that the 41st Fighter Squadron with ten Curtiss Hawk IIIs was briefly located in Lampang (22-27 December 1941), but 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]

Boonserm further recalled:

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

Young recorded:

The 31st Sentai with 25 Ki-30 "Anne" Type 97 light bombers and RTAF Squadrons 11 and 12 with 11 Ki-30s light bombers each relocated to Lampang in late January-early February 1942. The Ki‑30s gathered at Lampang totalled 47. RTAF Squadron 61 was located at Kohka, south of Lampang City, with nine Japanese Ki-21 "Sally" or "Gwen" Type 97 heavy bombers during the same period (Young, pp 184-187)] . . . .[9ц]

03 January 1942

The 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 77th Sentai lost ten Ki-27s, almost one-third of its aircraft complement.[9]

20 January 1942

The 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 4 Ki-15 "Bab" Type 97 command reconnaissance aircraft.

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 Foong Bin (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]

06-17 February 1942

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

10-20 February 1942

The 31st Sentai with 25 Ki-30 "Anne" Type 97 light bombers moved from Phitsunalok to Lampang.[9b2]

23 February 1942

By this date, the 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 Ki-27s of the 77th Sentai were relocated from Lampang to Mudon, Burma.[9d]

28 February 1942

The 10th Hikodan headquarters 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 began in 1922, provided by the RTAF.[9e1a] Thailand's commercial air service, The Aerial Transport Company, took 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.[9e1c] Note however that the commercial service had never included Lampang in its airmail network, probably because it had been classified as a "military landing ground"; whatever, airmail service for that location would have always been a responsibility of the RTAF.

07-08 March 1942

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

At least two Ki-15 reconnaissance aircraft from the 70th Independent Squadron at Lampang had relocated to Moulmein: one was destroyed on the ground there.[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]

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 crashed near Lamphun.[10]

13-26 April 1942

RTAF Squadrons 11 and 12, based at Lampang, bombed Nationalist Chinese 93 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

The remains of the 77th Sentai relocated from Lampang to Lungchen, Manchuria, from which it had been called for Japan's Southeast Asia military actions that began 08 December 1941.[12]

October-November 1942

RTAF 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

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]


Continued on next page








9д.^ Boonserm, p 56.



9д1.^ RTAF 1913-1983, pp 279. 309.



9ж .^ Boonserm, p 69.




9ц.^ Young, pp 184-187.




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'.



9a1.^ Shores, Bloody Shambles 1, p 260. Ki-30 count from

Wikipedia: "Imperial Japanese Army Air Service: Operational Organization"


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).

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.

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.







9h.^ Bloody Shambles II, p 347.



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.


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).

Info needs verification.

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



13.^ RTAF 1913-1983, p 325.




13a.^ Young, ibid, p 216.


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