Pai Bridge

The Pai River bridge is often cited as the most visible evidence of the presence of Japan's Army in Northern Thailand during WWII.
But the bridge was actually built after the war. This website attempts to correct both that misconception and others about the period.


Japan in Northwest Thailand during World War II

N18°34.06 E99°02.48[1] Lamphun[2] Airstrip (Th: ทางวิ่ง ลำพูน / Jp: ランプーン 滑走路 )
page 1 of 6

Route 0011
Sta 00z[2a]


Text Notes

Lamphun airstrip and air activities in the immediate area,
associated with World War II

The Lamphun airstrip was not included in airmail routes operating in Northwest Thailand in 1941:

Lamphun location map

But, while Lamphun was not tied into Thailand's Aerial Transport Co airmail network,[3a] the airstrip was recorded as existing prior to World War II:

March 1940

A US War Department report listed Lamphun (Lambhun) as a "military landing ground" with "no repair facilities":[4]

Pre-war listing for Lamphun

When it was constructed has not been determined. It was located east of Lamphun town:[5]

Lamphun old airstrip location

22 December 1941

Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) histories record that a tactical fighter unit composed of three Curtiss Hawk III biplanes was relocated to Lamphun.[5a]


Continued on next page


Revision List
2012 Jul 28
First published on Internet
2013 May 02
Corrections, clarifications added
2023 May 29
p 6, fn 29, "1957", "1973" refs corrected




See Key for interpreting page content.

Revision list. See bottom of Text column on this page.

Bibliography supports notes.

1.^ Since the airstrip no longer exists, and no evidence of it is now visible in a landscape largely resculpted by construction of a major highway through the area, coordinates are per best information applied to Google Earth. See annotated aerial photos and discussion below.

2.^ Lamphun: also rendered Lambhun, Lambohn, Lambahn, Lampoon, etc. Because of its similarity in Western spelling and pronunciation to Lampang (a city 60 air-km to the southeast of Lamphun), the two have always been confused. It was a possible factor in Flying Tiger Jack Newkirk's failure to fly to Lampang, his designated target, before his fatal crash.

See: Bergin, Bob, "Flying Tiger, Burning Bright", Aviation History, July 2008, p 30.

2a.^ Stationing needed.

3.^ The map is a composite of information from Young, Edward, Aerial Nationalism (Washington: Smithsonian Institute, 1995), p ix, and A Survey of Thailand (Siam), (Washington: US War Department, March 15, 1941) p 101, "Civil Air Routes (Jan 1940)", (USAF Archive Reel A2874, p 1467), superimposed on a "Terrain" map from Nations Online Project: Searchable Map and Satellite View of Thailand using Google Earth Data [herafter, Nations Online]. Annotations by author using Microsoft Publisher show solid white lines per Young and lines unique to US War Department as dashed.

3a.^Young, ibid, pp 80-84, 101.

4.^ A Survey of Thailand (Siam), (Washington: US War Department, March 15, 1941), Appendix I - Airdromes, Landing Grounds, and Seaplane facilities of Thailand, v. Additional Airdromes, Landing Grounds and Seaplane Facilities of Thailand, "correct up to April 1940", p 89 (USAF Archive Microfilm Reel B1750 p1811).

5.^ ibid. Annotations by author based on Airfield Report No. 21, Apr 1944, aerial photo "Lambhun L/G", unnumbered page (USAF Archive microfilm reel A8055 p 657) and overlaid on a "Terrain" map from Nations Online, ibid.

(Annotated aerial photo available as November 1943 entry here)

5a.^ บระวัติกองทัพอากาศไทย
พ.ศ.๒๔๕๖ ๒๕๒๖
กองทัพอากาศ พุทธศักราช ๒๕๒๖, Royal Thai Air Force Official History 1913-1983 (Bangkok: Royal Thai Air Force, 1983) [hereafter, RTAF 1913-1983], pp 278-279.

Same recorded in: ประวัติศาสตร์การสงครามของไทย
กรมยุทธศึกษาทหาร กองบัญชาการทหารสูงสุด
พ.ศ.๒๕๔๐, History of the Royal Thai Army during World War II (Bangkok: Royal Thai Army Command School, 1997) [hereafter, RTAF 1941-1945], p 235.

The Curtiss Hawk model is identified as "III" in Young, ibid, pp 184-185.