Airfield Construction By Aviation engineers employed the same basic construction techniques around the globe. After an area had been cleared of trees or other obstructions, Caterpillar tractors towing carryalls cleared the area. Once the dirt runway had been leveled, engineers laid pierced steel planking to create an all-weather runway. After the invasion of Leyte in the Philippines in October 1944, heavy Japanese naval and aerial attacks forced the U.S. Navy to withdraw its carriers. The only airpower available to American ground forces came from aircraft flying from airstrips hastily constructed by aviation engineers, like the airstrip at Taclobon, Leyte. In spite of Japanese bombing raids and paratrooper attacks, the overcrowded airstrips proved vital to victory. Rollers, such as the ones driven by African American engineers at Bacolod Strip in the Philippines in May 1945, smoothed out any rough spots left by the heavier equipment. Aviation engineers also constructed fully-functional airbases. Click here to return to the Engineer Aviation Battalions Overview.