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Chapter 4: The Development of Base Facilities

AN AIR FORCE,” General Arnold explained to a congressional committee in January 1939, “is a balanced compound of three essential ingredients – airplanes, combat and maintenance crews, and air bases.”1 Air planners, believing that any air force which did not keep aircraft, personnel, and base facilities continually in balance could not be an effective combat arm, accepted this definition as basic policy in programming AAF expansion during World War II. To them it was obvious that recruits would have to be provided housing and shelter before they could be trained and integrated into the Air Corps. But they also knew that the AAF, unlike other elements of the Army, depended upon its bases for fighting power, training effectiveness, and strategic mobility, for the bases were the core around which all air force operations revolved, the point from which all air missions started and to which they returned.

Each base, regardless of whether it was used for training or for combat, thus had to maintain facilities both for housing and sustaining its personnel and for performing the air mission. It had to maintain and operate runways, control towers, air communications equipment, weather apparatus, off-base navigational aids, night lighting devices, and synthetic training installations, as well as the extensive shops and warehouses required for the maintenance of aircraft and other equipment. As a unit of AAF command, the base had to supervise subbases, auxiliary fields, and bombing and gunnery ranges. The air depots had to have all of the usual base facilities, in addition to large shop establishments and warehouses needed for the more complicated

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maintenance of Army aircraft and for the bulk storage of AAF materiel.

Within the United States these air bases had to be properly located for continental defense because the AAF, in addition to being a training and a service organization, had to maintain a striking force for home defense. For its defense mission the AAF needed bases and auxiliary airfields in each of the nation’s possible theaters of war – in the northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest. These fields had to be suitable for employment by bombardment, fighter, and air support aviation. The defensive mission also dictated that an additional number of fields should be so located across the center of the continent as to permit quick movement of air units from one defense area to another. As a training organization, the AAF required bases geographically so situated as to provide the most favorable weather for year-round operations. As a service organization, it needed air depots located where they could best fulfill the maintenance and storage requirements of the defense and training functions.2

To meet these requirements on the scale dictated by the expansion of the air arm in the years between 1939 and 1945 required an extensive program for the development of base facilities. From the total of 17 air bases, 4 air depots, and 6 bombing and gunnery ranges available to the Air Corps in January 1939, the AAF expanded to peak totals of 783 main and subbases and auxiliary fields, 12 air depots and 68 specialized depots, and 480 bombing and gunnery ranges. In 1939 the Air Corps had units and small detachments, one of which consisted of only three individuals, at seventy-six installations in the continental United States. By December 1943 it had a peak total of 2,252 installations of all kinds.3 The capital investment in air bases and airfields showed an even larger increase. In June 1940 Air Corps facilities in use had cost approximately $100,000,000, much of which had been spent during World War I. By September 1945 air facilities in use had increased to a capital value of $2,991,606,485, a total which does not account for other construction developed for the AAF but disposed of before September 1945. Counting all work put in place for the AAF between June 1940 and August 1945, some $3,152,025,000, or 29.5 per cent of the total War Department construction expenditures, had been used for AAF command installations. In September 1945 the AAF was using 19,698,993 acres of land, an area nearly as large as that of New Hampshire,

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Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut combined.4 Whether considered in terms of money expended, materials used, or man-hours employed, the development of AAF base facilities represented a major part of the national war effort.

Status of Air Installations in 1939

The system of Army air installations in use in January 1939, with the world facing a second general war, was strikingly similar in its broad outlines to the hodgepodge of airfields hurriedly developed for training purposes during World War I. Although some new bases had been built and most of the older fields had benefited at one time or other by some improvements, the number of installations fell far short of the Air Corps’ needs in 1939.

Five of the ten air bases assigned to the GHQ Air Force, the combat arm of the Air Corps, either antedated or had been acquired during World War I. These old bases were Langley Field at Hampton, Virginia; Mitchel Field at Garden City, New York; March Field at Riverside, California; Scott Field at Belleville, Illinois; and Selfridge Field at Mount Clemens, Michigan. Langley had been located in 1916 to serve experimental functions for the Army, Navy, and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, but construction delays during the war had caused both the Army and Navy to turn to other experimental installations, and Langley had been developed as an Army flying field. The site for Mitchel had been leased as a storage area in 1917, but after the war it had been purchased and developed into a flying field for the defense of New York City. March had been leased for training flyers in 1918, purchased in 1919, and occupied by combat units in 1931. Scott and Selfridge, located in the center of the continent, filled no clear defensive mission. Scott had been leased in 1917 for flying training, had been purchased in 1919, and after 1922 had housed the Army’s balloon school. In 1938 it was selected for development as the headquarters post of the GHQ Air Force which was to be moved from Langley. Although this move was never to be made, the work of dismantling the balloon facilities and building a new flying station at Scott was getting under way in January 1939. Selfridge had been leased in 1917, had been purchased in 1920, and during the two decades prior to 1939 had been developed as a pursuit base.5

The other five bases assigned to the GHQ Air Force were of

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more modern construction. In 1929 and 1930 Congress had authorized the War Department to accept donated sites for Barksdale Field at Shreveport, Louisiana, and for Hamilton Field at San Rafael, California. Barksdale had been built with some view to its use in defending the Gulf coast, and Hamilton had been designed as a bomber base for the defense of San Francisco. Moffett Field at Sunnyvale, California, had come to the Air Corps as the result of an unwanted exchange of facilities between the Army and Navy, announced in 1935 as an effort to relieve duplication. The Army had been required to give up, in exchange for Moffett, Rockwell Field at San Diego, California; old Bolling Field at Anacostia, District of Columbia; and Luke Field, Oahu, Hawaii. Moffett had been built by the Navy between 1930 and 1934 as a dirigible base, but a declining interest in lighter-than-air craft had left no use for it. Although the Air Corps occupied the field in 1935, its maintenance costs, particularly on the dirigible hangar, which could not be dismantled, were regarded as excessive, and as a defense base it duplicated Hamilton. After the transfer of old Bolling Field to the Navy, the War Department had secured funds to build a new field, also called Bolling, directly to the south of the older installation. In 1939 the new station was just becoming completely operational.6 Newest of the GHQ Air Force stations was McChord Field at Tacoma, Washington. Construction of this field had been authorized in the Wilcox Act of 12 August 1935, a statute which had also authorized the development of new bases in the northeastern and southeastern United States and in Alaska, and of air depots in the southeastern and Rocky Mountains areas of the United States. Although building had started on McChord’s donated site in 1938, it was not to be ready to receive a combat group until 1940.7

The Air Corps Board had concluded in 1936 that all of the air bases authorized by the Wilcox Act were necessary for adequate defense of the United States, but funds had been made available only for McChord.8 As late as 1939 there was still no air base in New England, although its industrial complex made it a prime objective for enemy attack; the southeastern United States and the entrance to the Caribbean were similarly unprotected. The technical inadequacy of the GHQ Air Force stations was also most apparent. Although the GHQ Air Force had protested in 1937 that the drainage, housing, and landing fields at its bases were inadequate, and aircraft

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engineers had recommended that paved runways at least 7,000 feet long would be needed for the new types of heavy bombers,9 none of the tactical stations as yet possessed such facilities.

The burden of the supposedly temporary World War I construction lay even more heavily upon the fields used for training in 1939. Only two of the seven fields employed for that purpose had originated after the First World War. Kelly Field, one of the three flying training fields located near San Antonio, Texas, to take advantage of the favorable weather there, had originated as the aviation cantonment of Fort Sam Houston and in 1917 had been formally established for pilot training. Except for an interruption from 1920 to 1922 when it had been used as a mechanics school, it had been a flying training station ever since. Flying training had begun at Brooks Field in 1918, and, except for the years between 1919 and 1922 when it had served a balloon school, the station continued to fill its original function. The single new flying school, Randolph Field, had been organized in 1928, and its pretentious plant had been built in the years which followed.10 The two airfields used for Air Corps technical training were Chanute at Rantoul, Illinois, and Lowry at Denver, Colorado. Chanute had been leased in 1917 as a flying school, but after the war it had been used as a storage depot for aviation supplies. In 1921 the deteriorating plant had been reopened, purely as a temporary expedient, to receive the mechanics school from Kelly, but eventually all technical training had been moved there. Unfavorable weather prevented proper flying training at Chanute, and the plant was so overcrowded as to be a hazard to the health of its occupants. Yet in 1930 and 1934 proposals to move the school met so much political opposition that they had to be dropped. In 1937 a compromise finally permitted a part of the Technical School to be moved to a donated site near Denver, Colorado. In 1938 the Air Corps had begun to occupy the new station, Lowry Field.11 Maxwell Field at Montgomery, Alabama, was the site of the Air Corps Tactical School. This property had been secured for an engine repair shop in 1917, but in 1921 the maintenance function had been moved to Fairfield, Ohio, and Maxwell had become a flying field. In 1927 permanent construction had been begun, and in 1931 the Tactical School had moved from Langley to occupy the new plant.12

Both from the point of view of housing and technical facilities,

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these training airfields – with the notable exception of Randolph – were ill equipped for their missions. Housing at Chanute, Kelly, and Brooks was largely of World War I origin.13 The salubrious climate of south Texas prevented actual hardships to persons housed at Kelly and Brooks, but Chanute, overcrowded and run-down because of the long indecision on its fate, was a post which personnel avoided when they could. “Don’t shoot ‘em, Chanute ‘em,” had become a popularly conceived punishment in the Air Corps.14 Maxwell, on the other hand, was one of the show places of the Air Corps because of its buildings and grounds, but it had a totally inadequate flying field. The OCAC estimated that a new station could be built for less than the amount of money which would be required to buy the land needed to bring Maxwell up to standard.15

The four air depots operational in January 1939 were closely similar to those which had remained in use after the First World War. The San Antonio Air Depot, opened at Duncan (later Kelly) Field, San Antonio, Texas, in 1917, was still being used in 1939. Middletown Air Depot, founded at Middletown, Pennsylvania, in 1917, was also still functioning although it was so restricted in area that authorities doubted whether it should be retained or abandoned. Fairfield Air Depot at Fairfield, Ohio, established in 1918 to service the wartime Wilbur Wright Field, had limited facilities in 1939. The Sacramento Air Depot at Sacramento, California, was the only new installation. Ground had been broken at its site in 1936, and in 1939 the old depot which had been at Rockwell Field was moved there. The headquarters of the Materiel Division, OCAC and the experimental and testing activities of the Air Corps were located at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, a postwar field which had come into use in 1927. Even in terms of peacetime requirements, existing depot facilities were no more than barely adequate; except for the new Sacramento warehouses, available storage space was filled. The total repair capacity of the depots, measured in terms of a unit representing the complete overhaul of one aircraft, was but 3,400 units a year. Both the San Antonio and Middletown depots were physically incapable of any great expansion: Middletown was crowded between an urban area and the Susquehanna River, and San Antonio was circumscribed by railway tracks and Kelly Field. Patterson Field at the Fairfield Air Depot had no improved runways, and during bad weather heavy aircraft landed there with difficulty. Olmstead

Randolph Field

Randolph Field

Expansion of Langley 
Field, VA January 1941

Expansion of Langley Field, VA January 1941

Barracks Types: 
Permanent, March Field, Calif

Barracks Types: Permanent, March Field, Calif.

Barracks Types: 
Mobilization, Chante Field, Ill

Barracks Types: Mobilization, Chante Field, Ill

Barracks Types: Theater 
of Operations, Marfa Army Airfield, Texas

Barracks Types: Theater of Operations, Marfa Army Airfield, Texas

Difficulties: Mud at AAF Technical School, Sioux Falls, SD

Construction Difficulties: Mud at AAF Technical School, Sioux Falls, SD.

Difficulties: Sand at Yuma Army Air Field, Ariz

Construction Difficulties: Sand at Yuma Army Air Field, Ariz.

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Field at Middletown was so small and circumscribed by flying hazards that it was dangerous to land and take off.16

Army observation units, organically a part of the Air Corps but assigned to Army ground units for control, were located at Lawson Field, Fort Benning, Georgia; Pope Field, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Godman Field, Fort Knox, Kentucky; Gray Field, Fort Lewis, Washington; Marshall Field, Fort Riley, Kansas; and Post Field, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. These units varied in size from a flight to a squadron, and the fields were usually small and limited in facilities. Godman, for example, had originally been the Fort Knox polo grounds, and the observation squadron stationed there operated from a grass strip. In October 1937 the housing at these fields had been described as ranging from “fair to bad.” Other small Army fields were Sherman at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Stewart at West Point, New York; and Phillips at the Aberdeen, Maryland, ordnance proving ground. None of these fields was controlled by the Air Corps.17

The bombing and gunnery ranges available to the Air Corps were too few in number and small in size for the intensive training desired. In 1937 the GHQ Air Force had described the lack of available ranges as the “limiting factor” in its preparation for combat. Hamilton and Mitchel had no regular ranges. Langley used a range on Plum Tree Island, off the Virginia coast, but its use would be disputed with nearby Fort Eustis until September 1940. Selfridge had a gunnery camp at Oscoda, Michigan, suitable only for summer use. The ranges at Barksdale were located on the main post, and bombing and gunnery interfered with the traffic pattern at the landing field. In 1933 tactical units at March Field had begun to make use of a dry lake bed at Muroc, California, for bombing and gunnery, a fairly satisfactory arrangement except in wet weather. In 1936 the Air Corps Tactical School had secured the donation of 7,460 acres of land including a small airport at Valparaiso, Florida. This installation, called Eglin Field, was being used for experimental bombing and gunnery exercises. Largest of the bombing ranges was a 64,000-acre tract southwest of Lowry Field which had been donated by the city of Denver in 1938.18

To facilitate cross-country flights, the Air Corps also maintained small detachments of weather, communications, and service personnel at twenty-nine civil airports.. Since it was obviously impossible for the Army to maintain during peace the number of fields which

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would be needed for war, it looked to the civil airports of the nation for the additional bases which could be used in an emergency. In January 1939, however, the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), after an extensive survey, reported that only a small fraction of the nation’s airfields could be used by the Air Corps. Of a total of 1,907 civil airports, only 882 had refueling equipment, only 230 had adequate lighting equipment, and only 231 had hard-surfaced runways. No more than thirty-six civilian fields could be considered fully suited for military aviation. Between 1933 and 1939 the United States government had spent from relief funds $137,931,950, a sum larger than that expended for all Army airfields, on the development of civil airports, but most of this money had gone into small local fields which were of doubtful use to the military.19

Several explanations lie behind this story of inadequate facilities. The Air Corps had been penalized by the unavoidable necessity of depending heavily upon World War I bases during the postwar years. The Wilcox Act, it is true, had authorized badly needed installations, but the Air Corps had found it inexpedient to ask for more than one field, because, among other reasons, it would not have had the strength to man additional bases even if they could have been built. The War Department, moreover, had not been entirely free to determine its own program of construction for the Air Corps. It had lost more than it had gained by the 1935 exchange of facilities, and thereafter the bulk of new construction had to go into the development of bases to substitute for those lost to the Navy. Since all funds for land acquisition had come from general appropriations, the Air Corps had not thought it wise to acquire new bombing and gunnery ranges when its bases were still below standard. It was also true that the original construction of most Air Corps bases showed a marked failure to anticipate the operational needs of the future. The small and slow planes of the pre-1939 Air Corps had needed only limited airfield facilities, and consequently the larger part of construction funds had been spent on buildings and grounds, all too often without regard for opportunities subsequently to expand flying facilities. At Maxwell, for example, only $497,258 out of a total of $5,371,167 had been spent on the flying field. And, finally, though the Air Corps had obtained a large share of all Army construction funds in the late 1930’s, the total appropriations for such purposes had not been sufficient even to meet the needs of the Air Corps alone.20

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Augmentation of Facilities, 1939–40

On 13 January 1939, the day after President Roosevelt had requested Congress to vote $300,000,000 for the purchase of Army aircraft, General Arnold proposed to the War Department that $62,000,000 of this amount be spent for two new continental air bases, and one new air base each for Puerto Rico, Panama, and Alaska. His proposal, he urged, would provide the foundation for “a well-rounded air defense which would be wholly lacking if the whole $300,000,000 were devoted to the procurement of airplanes.”21 At that time he hoped to secure an additional $20,000,000 from the Works Progress Administration for the construction of two new air depots, a hope destined for disappointment. But the disappointment mattered little. By summer Congress had voted a cash outlay of $64,862,500 for Air Corps construction and had authorized the obligation of $21,337,500 in contracts.22

Determined to stretch these funds as far as possible toward meeting the indispensable needs of an expanding Air Corps, Arnold warned all station commanders against attempts to bring pressure on the War Department through civilian channels for pet projects of their own. Funds could be made available for “only the most urgently needed essential items.”23 Permanent brick-and-concrete-type construction would be used only for technical buildings in the United States. Troops would be housed in temporary mobilization-type wooden structures. General Arnold was certain that nothing had been left in his construction program “but the mere flesh and bone.”24

In 1939 War Department construction procedures were slow and deliberate. Ordinarily, the using service indicated its general needs and, if new stations were to be built, requested the appointment of War Department site boards to recommend locations for them. The Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, initiated the necessary papers, and after approval by the Chief of Staff, the boards, whose membership represented all interested agencies, were formally appointed by The Adjutant General. After investigation, these boards reported to The Adjutant General, who routed the reports to the General Staff’s G-3 and G-4 and to the chief of the using service for comment. The Secretary of War gave final approval of the new sites. Following this, the using service requested the initiation of construction, and G-4, acting for the Chief of Staff, directed the Quartermaster General to acquire the necessary real estate and to prepare plans in coordination

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with the using agency. Approval of the plans having been secured, construction directives were prepared by G-4, approved by the Chief of Staff, and issued to the Quartermaster General, whose construction officers at the local projects supervised land acquisition and actual work at the sites. Within the OCAC the responsibility for recommending sites rested largely with the Plans Section, and the Buildings and Grounds Section reviewed all layout plans for new construction.25 This leisurely procedure would be much changed by the impact of the war emergency, but it was slavishly followed in 1939.

Planning for the location of the new facilities had actually begun long before the appropriations for their construction. In 1936 the Air Corps Board had recommended that new combat bases should be far enough inland so that enemy aircraft would have to search for them over unfamiliar territory. With this principle in mind, in October 1938, the War Department, acting on General Arnold’s request, had established a site board, composed of representatives of the General Staff and the OCAC, and had directed it to locate an air base in the northeast. In January 1939 the board was further instructed to pick a site for an air base and another for an air depot, both of them in the southeast. None of the sites subsequently recommended by the board in April was found acceptable, but an agreement was soon reached on the locations for the southeast air base and air depot. On 13 July the Secretary of War announced that they would be located, respectively, at Tampa, Florida, and at Mobile, Alabama. The Tampa site was thought desirable because it was far enough south to permit aircraft to operate in the Caribbean and still to be shielded by the mainland of Florida against carrier-borne air attacks. The site for the air depot at Mobile would make it suitable both for providing maintenance in the southeastern United States and for potential support of the Caribbean area.26 Location of the northeast air base at a site near Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, a decision made difficult by the dense population of New England, was not announced until 15 September 1939.27 Selection of a site for the Rocky Mountains air depot had been settled much earlier. In the period of optimism following the passage of the Wilcox Act, a site had been selected adjacent to the ordnance depot at Ogden, Utah, options had quietly been taken on land, and the Air Corps had arranged for getting WPA assistance in developing an airfield, ostensibly for the ordnance depot. In the discussions of the appropriation bill, the Army had committed itself to the Ogden site,

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which it considered suitable for supplying any place on the Pacific coast and yet far enough distant to protect it from enemy air attack.28

Some time was lost in drawing up plans and clearing the titles to the land for these new stations, and construction could not begin at any of them before January 1940. General Arnold privately estimated that the air bases would not be operational for at least two years, and his predictions proved only slightly over-pessimistic.29 MacDill Field, the southeast air base, received its heavy bombardment group in May 1940, but it had to use the airport at Tampa’s Drew Field until February 1941. Because the maintenance buildings were unheated, the heavy group scheduled for Westover Field, the northeast air base, could not be transferred there until May 1941. The Ogden Air Depot and its adjoining Hill Field were completed late in 1941, but the Mobile Air Depot and its Brookley Field were not ready for full-scale operations until January 1942.30

The augmentation program included no appropriations for new flying training fields, but the Chief of Air Corps was allowed to enroll aviation cadets in nine civilian flying schools.* The government incurred no expense and no responsibility for the erection of facilities at these contract schools. The appropriations did include funds for the expansion of the plants at Chanute and Lowry. In addition, the Air Corps Technical School secured the use of Scott Field, effective June 1939, for housing a basic training center, and it was permitted to enroll students in seven civilian schools.31

Efforts to secure bombing and gunnery ranges during the 1939 expansion were only partly successful. In September the OCAC requested funds for a range at Valparaiso, Florida, and for others at Hamilton and McChord Fields. Money was appropriated for the latter two ranges in February 1940, and in June the whole Choctawhatchee National Forest at Valparaiso was transferred to the Army, together with money to begin clearing the civilian holdings within the reservation.32 Two site boards, representing the General Staff, the OCAC, the GHQ Air Force, and the Quartermaster Corps, were sent out to locate ranges. The board which was to have located sites in the eastern United States suspended its activities when the Choctawhatchee Forest was transferred to the Army, but before concluding its work in April 1940 the western board located possible sites near Arlington, Washington; Sacramento, California; Wendover, Utah; and Tonopah,

* See below, pp. 455-56.

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Nevada. The Air Corps secured almost immediate possession of a tract of waste land near old Mather Field at Sacramento, but negotiations for the other ranges dragged on and became a part of the 1940–41 expansion of facilities.33

During 1939 the Chief of Air Corps worked with the CAA and WPA in an effort to build up civilian airports of value to the national defense. Faced with the beginning of the war in Europe, the OCAC almost immediately asked the WPA and CAA to improve all of the civil airports lying within 100 miles of the coast from Maine to Mobile, Alabama, in a first-priority effort. As a second priority, it asked that WPA funds be spent at the larger inland airports. In talks between representatives of the three agencies later in September, however, it developed that by law WPA funds could be used only according to the relief needs of the states and that each municipality had to contribute a sponsor’s share of funds in order to secure a WPA grant. The WPA nevertheless offered to keep the sponsorship share as low as possible at deserving projects, the CAA agreed to solicit sponsors for fields having military importance, and the OCAC agreed to designate such fields. After consultations between the War Department’s War Plans Division, the Navy, and the OCAC, such a list of fields was forwarded to the WPA early in January 1940.34 Most of these fields were located in the four defense areas of the United States, and nearly all of them would be brought into military use after Pearl Harbor.

Expansion of Facilities for Hemispheric Defense, 1940–41

By April 1940 the augmentation program conceived before the beginning of World War II had brought the Air Corps up to a personnel strength needed to man its authorized twenty-five combat groups.35 The major airdromes required to defend the United States were under construction, and arrangements had been made to build up civilian fields needed for dispersal against attack. Continued Nazi successes, however, made it almost immediately evident that twenty-five groups could not successfully defend the Western Hemisphere. In the Army appropriation for fiscal year 1941, approved on 13 June, Congress voted funds to complete the construction authorized in 1939, to expand the enlisted strength of the Air Corps to about 55,000, to increase the number of aircraft authorized, and to raise pilot training

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to 7,000 per annum. In a supplemental appropriation, spurred to quick approval on 26 June by the collapse of France, Congress voted funds to increase the Air Corps enlisted strength to approximately 94,443 men.36 Following a directive of 29 June, the OCAC submitted plans for 54 combat groups, 6 transport groups, and 4,006 tactical aircraft assigned to units.37 Funds and personnel, however, permitted the immediate organization of only forty-one combat groups, and it was not until 8 October 1940 that Congress appropriated money for the others.38 Both programs were, with the exception of their accompanying pilot expansions, undertaken simultaneously under the designation of the Army’s First Aviation Objective. Expansion of the combat strength would require increases in the flying training rate first to 7,000 pilots annually for the 41-group strength and then to 12,000 pilots a year for the 54-group strength. The 41-group program would require an Air Corps enlisted strength of over 94,000, and the 54-group project would need more than 136,000.39 The Technical School would have to increase its training rate so as to provide 52,000 enlisted technicians by the end of 1941. Three new air depots would be needed to take care of the increased number of Army aircraft. Finally, new stations would be needed for the additional combat groups to be formed.

Although no definite time limit was established for the accomplishment of the First Aviation Objective, the steadily deteriorating Allied cause in Europe admitted no delay. The program could not wait for the completion of new air bases such as MacDill and Westover, and the War Department accordingly announced that existing facilities – military, state, and municipal – must be used to the maximum. All new construction would be of a temporary wooden type, and the number of hangars and maintenance buildings would be kept to a minimum.40 All agreed that site-selection and construction procedure had to be simplified, but there was difficulty in finding a workable one. In November 1940 the Quartermaster Corps, overburdened by the immensity of Army construction, transferred all Air Corps construction to the Corps of Engineers.*

The most immediate task in June 1940 was to increase the pilot-training rate to 7,000 annually. On 24 May, General Arnold had submitted a plan to the War Department proposing to establish three flying training centers, to be designated the Southeast, Gulf Coast, and

* See below, p. 135.

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West Coast Air Corps Training Centers. To the first of these would be assigned Maxwell, Barksdale, a new station to be near Maxwell, and a new gunnery school at Eglin Field. The second was to control Randolph, Kelly, Brooks, and two new stations in Texas. The third would take over Moffett and was to open a new station in California. Each of the nine civil primary schools was to open a new school south of the 37th parallel, where flying conditions were most suitable. The War Department approved the plan in principle on 6 June, and a week later Congress appropriated funds to carry it out.41 The Air Corps Training Center, acting on War Department orders, appointed a site board to select the locations for the new stations. This group met in Washington on 13 June and, after a somewhat perfunctory investigation, recommended that the new stations be located at the Montgomery, Alabama, and Stockton, California, municipal airports, at the site of old Ellington Field near Houston, Texas, and at a new site to be leased at San Angelo, Texas. Later in the month another school site, seemingly not originally contemplated, was selected near Selma, Alabama.42

With these preliminaries out of the way, the redistribution of existing facilities was undertaken. The new centers were established in July, and by October the older stations had been assigned according to Arnold’s plan.43 Originally, the OCAC had intended that all of the new training fields would have only grass landing surfaces, but soil conditions at the sites chosen soon made it evident that heavy training would make paved runways or landing mats essential. The two municipal fields – Gunter Field at Montgomery and the Stockton airport – did not require such additions and were ready for use during November and December 1940. All of the other stations, except Ellington, were ready to begin training during the spring of 1941.44 At Ellington work bogged down in unusually wet weather and was not completed until fall.

To accomplish the training of approximately 52,000 technicians before the end of 1941, the OCAC estimated that at least two additional Army technical schools would be required.45 The Technical School, however, opposed the idea, on the grounds that neither trained personnel nor equipment could be made available for new schools. The OCAC secured funds from Congress for the two new schools, but they were not actually started as a part of the First Aviation Objective. Instead, the Air Corps took possession of the old Army post at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, on 30 July and moved its

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basic training center there. Scott, thus released for other duties, became the permanent station for radio training in September. To clear Lowry for armament and photographic training expansion, the Air Corps secured Fort Logan, Colorado, and moved its clerical course there in March 1941. Through staggering shifts at existing schools and farming out other students to eight additional civil schools the Technical School succeeded in fulfilling its training responsibility.46

At the same time that it was making plans to expand its training facilities, the OCAC was studying the more difficult problem of securing stations for the new tactical groups. The 54-group program would more than double the number of combat groups assigned to the GHQ Air Force; its four existing combat wings were to be increased to seventeen, and four new air districts (redesignated as air forces in the spring of 1941) were to be formed. But the most immediate task was to find stations for the combat groups which had to be moved out of Moffett, Maxwell, and Barksdale. After several plans had been offered, the War Department finally approved the proposal to move the heavy bombardment group from Hamilton to the municipal airport at Salt Lake City, Utah, and to replace it with the fighter groups from Moffett. At Salt Lake City the bombardment group would be housed initially at Fort Douglas, another old Army post which was being given up by the ground troops. The composite group at Maxwell would be moved to the municipal airport at Orlando, Florida, and the Air Corps Tactical School would be temporarily inactivated.47 During July 1940 leases were negotiated for building areas adjacent to these two municipal fields, and shortly afterwards the Quartermaster Corps began the construction of cantonments. Most of the moving was done during September.48 In early October the light bombardment groups from Barksdale were moved to a leasehold at Savannah, Georgia, where they occupied tent camps until a cantonment could be built.49

Since few of the other municipal airports of the nation were suitable for the use of combat groups, the OCAC supported proposed legislation which would appropriate funds to the CAA for the development of a national system of airfields suitable for defense purposes.50 In October 1940 this legislation was enacted, giving the CAA $40,000,000 with which it was directed to improve not more than 250 airports designated by the War and Navy Departments as important to national defense.51 By December a list of these airports had been worked out in joint conferences, and by March 1941 the last of

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the CAA’s funds had been allocated.52 To carry on this essential work, Congress appropriated another $94,977,750 to the CAA in June 1941 and raised the number of airports which could be improved to 399.53 In the expenditure of these funds the OCAC sought to get CAA to build up the airports at which its combat groups were to be based, to develop other fields in each of the nation’s four defense areas, to improve fields needed for ferrying, and to build new airports to accommodate civilian flying displaced from airports leased for military use.54

Selection of sites for the new stations required under the 54-group activation schedules began in June 1940. The Plans Division, OCAC drew up a tentative list of municipal fields considered suitable for military use and submitted it to General Arnold on 15 June. It also recommended that a board of officers representing the GHQ Air Force, the Buildings and Grounds Division, OCAC and the Training and Operations Division, OCAC be appointed and sent out at once to begin an investigation of sites. By 2 July a revised list of suggested sites had been submitted by the OCAC to the War Department.55 But the General Staff was unwilling to detail such a board as the Plans Division had suggested. Instead, the boards appointed on 18 July represented the General Staff, the GHQ Air Force, and the Quartermaster General.56 The G-4 issued the general instructions to the three boards, and although they were permitted direct communication with the Chief of Air Corps, they were instructed to report directly to The Adjutant General.57

Both their constitution and their lack of definite instructions led the boards into numerous difficulties. None of the board presidents was an Air Corps officer and, according to the GHQ Air Force representative on one of the boards, the president had to be “merely a puzzled and confused figure-head” or else he had to assume an active role which was likely to cause personality clashes. The boards were seemingly uncertain about just what concessions they should try to get from a local community, and bidding for Air Corps bases by each municipality contacted appears to have been more encouraged than discouraged. Lack of instructions led to inconclusive reports that a certain site would be satisfactory “if and when so and so” was accomplished by the city.58 Slowness of the boards in making their final reports caused the G-4 to direct early in August that each of them give tentative yes-or-no answers by telephone as soon as they had inspected a new site.59 Because of this delay, a general conference held on 17 August, attended by both General Marshall and General

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Arnold, undertook to draw up a tentative list of the new stations without the benefit of all of the formal site board reports. The list was somewhat modified as additional information came in. Although the Plans Division assigned construction priorities to twenty-four airport projects on 18 September, the whole list was not definitely established until December.* In the opinion of the OCAC Buildings and Grounds Division, the site boards had held up the whole program about two months.60

After each board report had been circulated and approved, the Quartermaster General was directed to start lease negotiations. Generally, the leases sought to limit civilian flying on the airfields being used by the military to scheduled airliners and to other privately owned aircraft equipped with two-way radio. Early in November, however, the OCAC discovered that few of the leases had contained provisions to restrict civilian student flying; other leases had failed to secure areas large enough for the Army cantonments. Renegotiation of the leases added to the delay in beginning the building effort.61

By November 1940 it was obvious that the Construction Division of the Quartermaster Corps was being overtaxed by its burden. At the same time, the Corps of Engineers, normally responsible for river and harbor construction projects, had less than its usual quota of work because of the shifting emphasis from civil to military projects. Seeking to speed up the lagging Air Corps program, the G-4 accordingly proposed early in November that all Air Corps construction be transferred to the Corps of Engineers for supervision and control. The Buildings and Grounds Division initially opposed the transfer since it feared additional delays, but General Marshall directed the change on 19 November 1940. The transfer of responsibility for stations already under construction was made gradually during the next three months, seemingly without causing any additional delay. The Corps of Engineers made no immediate changes in administrative procedure, but merely replaced the Quartermaster Corps in all that had to do with Air Corps construction.62

* The stations finally used in the 54-group expansion were Salt Lake City, Utah; Orlando, Fla.; Drew Field, Tampa, Fla.; Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee, Fla.; Hunter Field, Savannah, Ga.; Bowman Field, Louisville, Ky.; Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Fla.; New Orleans, La.; Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Ariz.; Kirtland Field, Albuquerque, N.M.; Portland, Ore.; Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Grenier Field, Manchester, N.H.; Key Field, Meridian, Miss.; Paine Field, Everett, Wash.; Geiger Field, Spokane, Wash.; Hammer Field, Fresno, Calif.; Morris Field, Charlotte, N.C.; Daniel Field, Augusta, Ga.; Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho; Harding Field, Baton Rouge, La.; Pendleton, Ore.; and Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Conn.

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The difficulties which had beset the program were by no means ended once construction got under way. Because it was impossible to make accurate plans without knowing where the stations would be, the cost estimates for the construction had been, as the Buildings and Grounds Division later admitted, no more than a “shot in the dark.”63 Consequently, on 17 March 1941 Congress had to appropriate additional funds for the work. Although achievements were notable, so were the failures. Hunter Field at Savannah, Georgia, was given a cantonment in ninety working days through expedited cost-plus fixed-fee contracts.64 Other stations were built in a very short time, and the activation program of the Air Corps was not materially delayed by the building effort. Most of the failures seem to have been due to the derelictions of the site boards. At New Orleans, Louisiana, the municipal airport, enthusiastically recommended as a station for a heavy bombardment group, proved to have excessively short runways when the group moved into the new post. Daniel Field at Augusta, Georgia, turned out to be too small for any type of tactical group. Before work had actually begun, the municipal airports at Fresno, California, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, were found to be unsuited for military use, and the Air Corps projects had to be transferred to new fields being built by the CAA in the same areas.65 Nor were the commitments obtained by the site boards from the municipalities always an unmixed blessing. At Bangor, Maine, the city authorities at first contracted to maintain the runways at Dow Field, but when they realized that Army aircraft would be the heaviest users of the field, they refused to carry out their part of the lease. The Air Corps recognized that it was unfair to expect the city to keep up the airfield, and the government finally had to buy it in order to assume such functions.66 Although some of the fields selected proved to be unsuited for their planned purposes, the Air Corps in its following expansions nevertheless made full use of them.

As the GHQ Air Force occupied the new stations, it began to encounter operational hazards caused by unskilled civilian flying. To meet that organization’s emphatic complaints on this score and to seek some solution for the growing problems of congested air traffic in many areas, the War Department sponsored the formation of an Inter-departmental Air Traffic Control Board with representation from the Air Corps, the Navy, and the CAA. Although this board, established in April 1941, was able to find no immediate solution to its main problem, it nevertheless became an important coordinating agency for

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the location of Army and Navy air installations.67 Because of traffic hazards the Air Corps had decided that it could use no more municipal fields unless they could be leased in their entirety.68

Facilities also had to be provided for the headquarters of the GHQ Air Force, the new air districts, the new commands, and the new wings. The GHQ Air Force headquarters was moved from Langley to Bolling in March 1941. Vying headquarters were located on tactical air bases. Notwithstanding Air Corps policy enjoining separate headquarters stations for air districts and commands, the headquarters of the Northeast Air District (First Air Force) was located at Mitchel, supposedly as a temporary measure. That of the Southeast Air District (Third Air Force) was established in the National Guard armory in Tampa, Florida, that of the Southwest Air District (Fourth Air Force) in leased space in Riverside, California, and that of the Northwest Air District (Second Air Force) at Fort George Wright, Spokane, Washington. The headquarters of the 1 and IV Interceptor Commands were located with their parent air forces, but those of the II and III Interceptor Commands were at Fort Lawton, Seattle, Washington, and Drew Field, Tampa, Florida.69

For the 12,000-pilot (54-group) program the OCAC had first estimated that eight new flying training fields, two new gunnery stations, and five new cadet reception centers would be needed. Funds for their construction were appropriated on 24 September 1940. Later that month the OCAC directed each training center to designate boards to locate potential sites, and by December each center had recommended its quota. To make the selections official, the War Department appointed a board of officers, representing the Buildings and Grounds Division, the Training and Operations Division, and the Chief of Engineers, which inspected the recommended sites. By early March 1941 the War Department had accepted the sites for the seven flying training stations which were to be built and for the two gunnery stations.* Belated opposition arose later in the month when the GHQ Air Force protested against the location of additional training

* Arranged by training center, the new flying training stations for the 12,000-pilot program were:

Gulf Coast Training Center – Foster Field, Victoria, Tex.

West Coast Training Center – Minter Field, Bakersfield, Calif.; Mather Field, Sacramento, Calif.; Luke Field, Phoenix, Ariz.; and Gardner Field, Taft, Calif.

Southeast Training Center – Cochran Field, Macon, Ga., and Turner Field, Albany, Ga.

The additional gunnery schools were at Las Vegas, Nev., and Tyndall Field, Panama City, Fla.

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fields near the Pacific coast, but the OCAC, unwilling to deprive training organizations of the favorable weather there, overruled the protest.70 Most of the flying training stations were ready for use in June 1941, but difficulties in securing gunnery ranges held up the operation of the gunnery schools until shortly after Pearl Harbor. Only three of the five reception centers originally projected were opened: one at Maxwell in September 1941, one at Kelly in November 1941, and one at Santa Ana, California, in February 1942.71 Eleven new civil contract schools for primary flight training were established.*

Three new depots had to be added under the First Aviation Objective. The four original ones had a combined capacity for overhauling 800 engines a month, and Mobile and Ogden were expected to be able to overhaul an additional 500 a month; but the Materiel Division, OCAC estimated that over-all requirements would attain 20,000 engines annually. The OCAC, taking into consideration the frequent incompatibility of theoretical and actual performance, asked for the additional depots to be built with a combined monthly capacity of 900 engines, and Congress appropriated $45,000,000 for the purpose on 17 March 1941.72 The OCAC came to a quick agreement with G-4 and the Chief of Engineers in regard to the designation of site boards. The Chief of Air Corps would, with War Department orders, establish the boards, instruct them, and receive their reports which, however, would be reviewed by the G-3 and G-4 before approval. By April sites had been selected near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Rome, New York; and Macon, Georgia. None of them was without disadvantages, but each was in an area of anticipated need and the three cities offered desirable concessions to get the depots. All of them were ready for operation by the fall of 1942.73 The facilities required by the First Aviation Objective had hardly been programmed before new organizations became necessary under the Army’s Second Aviation Objective. On 14 February 1941 General Marshall directed the Chief of Air Corps to increase pilot training to a rate of 30,000 a year and to raise the annual goal for technician training to 10,000 men. On 14 March the War Department set the Air Corps’ objective at 84 combat groups, to which 7,799 aircraft would be assigned.74

Planning for the new expansion again had preceded the issuance of a formal directive. The OCAC at first intended to use the same site-selection

* See below, p. 457.

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procedure as had been used for the 12,000-pilot program, but in March 1941 a conference between representatives of G-4, the Chief of Engineers, and the Buildings and Grounds Division agreed that in the interests of efficiency and speed site selection should be delegated to the three training centers, each of which would be required to name a board composed of an Air Corps, a Medical Corps, and a Corps of Engineers officer. Their reports would go to the Chief of Air Corps for review and then to the General Staff for final action. The Chief of Engineers indicated that his representative would be the local district engineer in the area being investigated.75 Funds for twenty new flying training fields, one new gunnery station, and one new reception center were voted on 5 April 1941. The Air Corps also now had to find substitute facilities for Moffett Field, which the Navy desired to repossess for use as a lighter-than-air patrol base. After extended negotiations, the OCAC agreed to surrender the base for $6,500,000.76

Problems of site selection in each of the centers were peculiar to their geographical areas, but each found that acceptable sites for training fields were becoming scarce. In the West Coast Training Center the situation became especially acute, and by June 1941 there seemed to be no alternative but to locate the new stations in more northerly regions of excessive rainfall or the southwestern desert country where heat, dust, and insufficient civilian housing would be encountered. Partly to alleviate this threatened difficulty, the OCAC extended the center’s eastern boundary from the 108th to the 103rd meridian, permitting it to enter the mesa country of New Mexico and west Texas. Despite such difficulties, however, all of the new stations had been placed before the end of the summer,* and contracts had been made with sixteen additional primary schools.77 Although the War Department, realizing that sites which could be leased for nominal rentals were not always the best bargains, had authorized

* The flying training stations for the 30,000-pilot program were:

Gulf Coast Training Center – Enid, Okla.; Perrin Field, Sherman, Tex.; Waco, Tex.; Moore Field, Mission, Tex.; Lubbock, Tex.; Midland, Tex.; and Lake Charles, La.

West Coast Training Center – Lemoore, Merced, Chico, and Victorville, Calif.; Roswell, N.M.; and Williams Field, Chandler, Ariz.

Southeast Training Center – Greenville and Columbus, Miss.; Hendricks Field, Sebring, Fla.; Shaw Field, Sumter, S.C.; Spence Field, Moultrie, Ga.; Napier Field, Dothan, Ala.; Moody Field, Valdosta, Ga.; and Tuskegee, Ala.

The gunnery school was located at Harlingen, Tex., and the cadet reception center at Ellington Field, Houston, Tex.

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the purchase of real estate for the new fields, most of the sites were leased in the usual manner. Only a few of the new stations were ready for training prior to Pearl Harbor, but most of them were brought into operation early in 1942 and all of them were complete by June of that year.78

The Technical Training Command, activated on 26 March 1941, accomplished most of its base expansion before Pearl Harbor. In the First Aviation Objective the Air Corps had been allotted funds for two new mechanics schools, but the money had not been spent, and late in 1940 the OCAC directed the Technical School to recommend sites for them. After visiting a large number of interested cities, the commandant of the Technical School recommended sites near Biloxi, Mississippi, and Wichita Falls, Texas. After further inspection by a War Department board, both were approved in February 1941. Necessary real estate was leased, the CAA allocated funds to improve both municipal fields, and by late September 1941 Keesler Field at Biloxi and Sheppard Field at Wichita Falls were ready to begin training mechanics.79 In May 1941 funds were allotted to build an airfield, later called Buckley Field, on Lowry’s bombing range near Denver. Scott and Chanute received additional housing and school buildings. In order to relieve the overcrowding at its basic training center at Jefferson Barracks, the OCAC requested additional housing for Keesler and Sheppard Fields, and by September both of the new basic training centers were ready to receive troops. Because of congestion at Chanute, the new headquarters of the Technical Training Command was moved to leased office space in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during September 1941.80

To maintain the new planes of the 30,000-pilot program, the OCAC asked for funds to build two additional air depots, and such money was included in the general appropriation for the pilot-training expansion approved on 5 April 1941. By July the Materiel Division had calculated the needs of both the 30,000-pilot objective and of the 30 new combat groups to be formed, and it had decided that two depots, if properly located, could serve both expansions.81 Late in June a site-selection board, including representatives of the new Air Corps Maintenance Command, the Buildings and Grounds Division, the district engineer concerned, and a Medical Corps officer, had located a site for one depot in San Bernardino County, California; in July it selected a site at Spokane, Washington, which would be far

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enough from the Pacific to withstand attack, have better weather and access to eastern raw materials, and would be on the inland route to Alaska.82 The Spokane depot was ready for full-scale operations in July 1943, but the San Bernardino installation, lacking a high defense priority, did not become fully operational until early 1944.83

In locating additional bases for combat groups under the Second Aviation Objective, the Air Corps for the first time in its history was to be in charge of the selection and development of its own stations. The Chief of Air Corps, in a memo for Marshall on 7 May 1941, proposed to locate sites for twenty-one combat groups in the United States by appointing four site boards, one for each air force, consisting of an Air Corps and Medical Corps representative from the air force, a member from the OCAC, a representative of the Chief of Engineers, and an officer representing the corps area concerned. The boards would get their instructions from the Chief of Air Corps and would report directly to him. General Marshall having approved the procedure, the boards were appointed on 11 July. Because the recent reorganization of the War Department exempted the AAF from corps area controls, no corps area representatives were included. The senior air officer on each board reported to the OCAC for instructions late in July, where he received detailed specifications as to requirements for each type of base. In recommending new sites the boards seem to have been informally directed to give due consideration to states which had no air bases.84

The preparatory work at Headquarters had been thorough, but it had also taken much time. The Buildings and Grounds Division and the Chief of Engineers, before having to make budget estimates, had hoped to have sufficient time after receipt of reports from the site boards to draft detailed cost estimates based on an actual engineering survey of the sites. But early in August the Buildings and Grounds Division had to go ahead with estimates, to arrive at a figure described by the division as “the same guess work as have been all previous estimates.”.85 Actually, there were so many uncertainties about the number and types of groups that would be based in the United States that no exact cost planning was possible. Not until November was there a firm decision to build up enough continental bases to support fifty-five combat groups. By this time, hearings had begun on the appropriation legislation, in which the AAF committed itself to building fourteen new bases in the United States. It first asked for $379,804,238

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to build eleven complete airfields, to add construction at fourteen other stations, and to accomplish other miscellaneous projects. The amount had been approved by the House and had gone to the Senate before Pearl Harbor, but with the beginning of hostilities the AAF secured an amendment to the legislation adding $390,000,000 to complete all the facilities needed by the Second Aviation Objective. The amount desired was appropriated on 17 December, together with $59,115,300 allotted to the CAA for the development of an additional 105 public airports.86

On 20 September the War Department transferred most of its responsibilities relating to the acquisition of real estate for construction of air facilities to the Chief of the AAF.87 Under the new setup, the Buildings and Grounds Division prepared recommendations for final approval by Arnold,88 who had approved the sites for all fourteen of the proposed stations by 1 January 1942. The AAF immediately requested the Chief of Engineers to acquire the real estate for seven stations, all of them planned as all-purpose bases for accommodation of any type of group. Formal construction directives were issued for the seven stations during January and early February.* With the proposed locations kept confidential until appropriations for the construction had been made, political interference by cities willing to make special concessions in order to get an air base was kept to a minimum. Construction was rushed and by the late summer of 1942 all of the bases were in use.89

Concurrently with the First and Second Aviation Objectives, the Air Corps and the AAF expanded bombing and gunnery range reservations. By June 1940 General Arnold had decided that combat units would need both local practice ranges and larger general ranges. Congress had appropriated money on 17 March for thirty local practice ranges, described as areas of about four square miles to be located near the using base, to meet the 54-combat-group-program needs. The OCAC had delegated the responsibility for securing these ranges to the GHQ Air Force and to its successor, the Air Force Combat Command.90 Selection and acquisition of the general ranges, large areas designed for aerial gunnery and actual bombing practice, however,

* The first seven stations were located at Syracuse, N.Y.; Richmond, Va.; Walla Walla, Wash.; Greenville, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio (Lockbourne Army Air Base); Rapid City, S.D.; and Smyrna, Tenn. The second seven stations were placed at Sioux City, Iowa; Topeka, Kan.; Ft. Worth, Tex.; El Paso, Tex.; Santa Maria, Calif.; Pueblo, Colo.; and Reno, Nev.

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continued to remain the duty of the OCAC. In 1940 and 1941 it cleared up civilian titles in areas near Tonopah, Nevada; Boardman, Oregon; and Wendover, Utah. Most of the 4,298,605 acres in these three ranges were public domain, but since each had a scattered number of grazing, homestead, and mining claims which were particularly hard to assess and purchase, their use was delayed until late 1941. Three other general ranges (near Alamogordo, New Mexico; Avon Park, Florida; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) were acquired by the Air Corps late in 1941 and exploited in 1942.91 Acquisition of ranges for flying training encountered similar delays. Despite opposition from sporting interests, however, the Air Corps secured ranges on Matagorda Island and the nearby Matagorda Peninsula, both on the south coast of Texas. A range for Tyndall Field, Panama City, Florida, was purchased after long legal proceedings had increased costs from an estimated $225,000 to $537,916. Particular trouble was met in locating ranges for Luke Field. Suitable public desert lands were available between Gila Bend and Ajo, Arizona, but stockmen who had leased the area held up its use until late December 1941, when the government finally secured a condemnation of the leaseholds.92 The effects of these protracted delays seriously impeded preparation for air combat during 1941. Throughout most of this critical year, for example, the combat units of the Second and Fourth Air Forces had only the crowded range at Muroc Dry Lake, California, for all their bombing practice.93

The search for small air support fields which accompanied the fulfillment of the First and Second Aviation Objectives was not an integral part of either program, nor was it a major concern of the Air Corps. The OCAC limited its attention at first to the development of stations for the Army observation and reconnaissance squadrons. It sponsored the construction of an air support station at Salinas, California, which during the summer of 1941 was ready to receive the observation squadron displaced from Moffett and a new reconnaissance squadron. It also secured the development of a reconnaissance squadron station at the Atlanta, Georgia, municipal airport. An additional site was leased at De Ridder, Louisiana, and a small station was built to accommodate an observation squadron supporting the armored division training at Camp Polk, Leesville, Louisiana.94 Since most of the new observation squadrons being mobilized were National Guard units that would train with ground divisions also being mustered

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into federal service, the General Staff and the National Guard Bureau assumed the task of locating fields for all of the twenty-one squadrons inducted during the winter of 1940 and the early spring of 1941.95 In the selection of stations for a second group of eight squadrons which were subsequently brought to active duty, the Chief of Air Corps participated only slightly. By April 1941 General Marshall had approved sites for the permanent stations of all of these National Guard squadrons;96 many of the stations were leaseholds on municipal airports, where the first construction projects provided only the bare essentials for light airplanes and limited numbers of personnel. Esler Field at Alexandria, Louisiana, for example, in November 1940 used the abandoned buildings of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and its runway was reported unsafe in wet weather. Reilly Field at Fort McClellan, Alabama, was found to be unsafe for flying in any weather, and the Chief of Air Corps secured its abandonment before much work had been done. The tent area at Columbia, South Carolina, was located along the runway of the municipal field, and its occupants were prominently exposed to the public view. In June 1941 the Inspection Division, OCAC found the whole observation situation “extremely poor.”97 In an effort to bring some order into the training and use of these squadrons, General Marshall ordered the AAF to assume active control of them in July 1941, and in the ensuing reorganization they were divided into observation groups which were placed under five air support commands, responsible in turn to an Air Support Section of the Air Force Combat Command. By this reorganization the AAF assumed the basic responsibility for the development of their fields, but as late as the early spring of 1942 air force commanders still did not know whether they controlled the observation bases.98

Only one other Air Corps function required additional bases during the year preceding Pearl Harbor. This was the air transport and ferrying effort, which on 29 May 1941 was concentrated in a new Air Corps Ferrying Command. Since this command was initially designed to ferry British lend-lease aircraft from the factories to peripheral transfer points in the United States, lend-lease funds were to be used for needed base development, but the command was supposed to make the maximum use of existing Army and municipal airfields. By December 1941, however, it had secured a leasehold on the Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan, and had purchased municipal

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fields at Presque Isle and Houlton, Maine, for use as transfer points.99

By 7 December 1941 the AAF had developed 114 bases and subbases in the continental United States, and it had 47 other airfields projected or under construction. Counting the facilities provided for all of its various detachments of whatever nature, the AAF had a total of 293 separate installations either owned or leased. Additionally, the AAF had sponsored the development by the CAA of a number of other civilian airports which would be immediately suitable for military use. There had been difficulty and delay, but over the course of two years the work had been done with sufficient expedition to make possible the extraordinary expansion of all AAF activities that would follow hard upon Pearl Harbor.100

Expansion of AAF Facilities, 1942–43

The news from Pearl Harbor had a twofold effect upon the problem of AAF base installations. First and most pressing, the AAF had to take over new fields on which to disperse its units, both for their own protection against possible enemy attack and for the defense of the continental sea frontiers. Second, it had to provide the installations needed for the immediate mobilization of an air force of tremendously increased size. The beginning of the war thus brought about a quick multiplication of the number of AAF airfields, forced new attention to ways in which quicker and cheaper construction might be achieved, and shifted the scarce factor in construction from funds to labor and critical materials. The very immensity of the effort led to a decentralization in which using agencies in the field, not AAF Headquarters in Washington, had to assume the responsibility for determining the facilities they needed. Only as 1943 brought the double assurance of security from serious enemy attack and of base facilities equal to the demands of full mobilization would AAF Headquarters begin to reassume immediate control.

The news from Pearl Harbor and Clark Field pushed to the fore problems of passive defense – that is, of the need for revetments, dispersal, and camouflage as protective devices against possible air attacks. On 9 December, General Arnold directed that all aircraft west of the Rocky Mountains be dispersed immediately and that they be protected by revetments; on the Atlantic coast all large concentrations of planes were to be similarly protected. Within a few days it was decided that all new bases to be built within 350 miles of the

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Atlantic and Pacific and within 300 miles of the Gulf would be given a dispersed layout.101 The War Department was comparably prompt in extending, first to the Western Defense Command and then to the Eastern Theater of Operations, the power to bypass normal channels in getting emergency construction done.102 By 26 December the Corps of Engineers had started eighty-one projects at airfields on the Pacific coast, including hardstandings, dispersal taxiways, revetments, and sandbag protective devices. Along the Atlantic coast fighter revetments were constructed at twenty-three bases, and heavy bomber dispersal areas were built at seven fields. Both for training and for camouflage, a complete dummy airdrome was built near the Richmond Army Air Base.103 The excitement, however, soon passed. In February 1942 the War Department curtailed the emergency powers over construction formerly given the continental theaters of operations, and by March the construction of revetments was prohibited unless on special authorization. By the end of the year the AAF, with some overseas experience to guide it, had returned to more compact and conventional airfield designs. In March 1943 the War Department directed that in the future passive defense projects would be limited to vital zones and would be as simple as possible. In October 1943 General Arnold directed that no more such construction be approved for the AAF in the United States.104

The continental air forces had rushed their combat groups into a defensive deployment as quickly as possible after Pearl Harbor and had undertaken to develop the necessary subbases and auxiliary fields, chiefly through the development of civilian airports. First Air Force having deployed its pursuit units in accordance with a plan depending upon airfields at Norfolk, Virginia; Bendix, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Farmingdale, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Groton, Connecticut; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Boston, Massachusetts, the Eastern Theater of Operations in January 1942 ordered emergency projects to prepare all of those airfields for military occupation.105 As the year progressed, there was some recovery from the pressure for “a fighter base every five miles,” but by May 1943 the First Air Force had developed twenty-two defense fields in its operational area.106 Most of the fields had facilities for only a single fighter squadron, although those at Millville, New Jersey; Westhampton Beach, New York; and Andrews Field, Camp Springs, Maryland, were larger installations.107 In addition to these pursuit fields, the First Air Force

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also had to provide fields for its I Bomber Command, charged with antisubmarine patrol off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Such stations were built at Dover, Delaware, and Bluethenthal Field, Wilmington, North Carolina, but for the most part I Bomber Command and its successor, the Antisubmarine Command, operated from the existing bases. Such of these bases as lacked heavy bomber facilities were built up for the antisubmarine units.108

The Third Air Force met its limited defense requirements without any additional fields. In March 1942, however, the AAF Directorate of Air Defense, calling attention to the need for pursuit fields to cover the Sault Ste Marie Canals, directed the Third Air Force to locate sites for such fields in northern Michigan. Although the area was primarily a gun-defended zone under the Central Defense Command, the AAF developed runways, lighting, and gasoline storage at Raco and Kinross, Michigan, against the possibility that they might be needed to protect the critical connection between the iron-ore fields on Lake Superior and the Great Lakes waterways.109

In the Pacific Northwest the Second Air Force, despite the fact that its plans were complicated by the impending transfer of the whole defense mission on the west coast to the Fourth Air Force,* moved a pursuit group to Seattle, Washington, and made plans to build up subbases and auxiliary fields. To the south, in California, the Fourth Air Force,* moved tactical units to the North Island Naval Air Station at San Diego, and to the municipal airports at San Bernardino, Long Beach, Bakersfield, Oakland, Sacramento, and to Mines Field at Los Angeles; and to facilitate coordination with the Western Defense Command, it moved its headquarters and that of IV Bomber Command to San Francisco early in January. The IV Interceptor Command headquarters remained temporarily at Riverside but moved to Oakland as quickly as it could establish communications facilities there.110 By May 1943 it had acquired fifty-one subbases and auxiliary fields in Washington, Oregon, and California.111

Most of these fields taken over for defense had been built or improved by the CAA, and with the beginning of hostilities the continental air forces swamped the administration with requests for new work. By April 1942 these air forces’ had asked for improvements to about 600 airfields; the First Air Force alone had a list of 155 fields which it wanted developed. The problem was taken to General

* See above, p. 92.

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Arnold on 27 April, and he, believing that the war would be fought in Europe and in the Pacific rather than in the United States, declared himself flatly opposed to the development of more than about a fourth of such a number of fields by the CAA.112 In July 1942 the CAA received an appropriation of $199,740,000 and the ceiling on the number of the airports which could be improved was raised to 668, but this was to be the last substantial sum voted for such purposes during World War II. By the end of 1943 nearly all of the CAA projects had been completed.113

At the same time that it was effecting this expansion of facilities for the protection of the continental sea frontiers, the AAF was busy with the much greater problem of finding and developing other fields to accommodate the programmed expansion of its combat strength. In December 1941 the AAF announced that its immediate objective during 1942 would be to complete the 84-group program. Early in January 1942, however, it proposed to bring its strength up to 115 combat groups during 1942, to expand its pilot output first to 50,000 and then to 70,000 annually, and to increase its technician-training rate to 300,000 during the year. This program was approved by the War Department on 19 February. Programming for 1943 began at once, and during February 1942 the AAF set up for planning purposes a figure of 224 combat groups, a commitment approved in the War Department troop basis issued in August. At that time the AAF already had drawn up still more ambitious plans for an ultimate strength of 213 combat groups, a number which Arnold came by mid-December to regard as the “saturation-point” of Army air power. Although the composition of the program was thereafter revised four times, the total of 273 groups was not again changed during World War II.114

It was contemplated that no more than one-third of the combat strength of the AAF would be based in the continental United States at any one time. But each combat group so accommodated was to have one main base and four subbases, and additional installations would be needed for flying and technical training or for maintenance, repair, and storage.115 Since the 273-group program was scheduled for completion by December 1943, its combat be facilities would have to be prepared before that time. Although the AAF wished to avoid the construction of “ghost villages” awaiting occupants, it was

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deemed advisable to gear its building program at once to maximum requirements and to push it with all possible speed. In November 1942 all air forces and commands were instructed to submit full building projects, “ruthlessly pruned to the bare essentials” but equal to the demands of the 273-group program.116

The new facilities were to be provided subject to rules of “Spartan simplicity” laid down at the outset of hostilities. As Arnold explained the policy to his A-4 in January 1942, “all frills and nonessential items would be eliminated and only the bare essentials would be approved.”117 On 4 February the War Department directed that all buildings constructed should be of a theater-of-operations type, i.e., one-story, tar-paper structures, which were both cheap and easy to build. At Spokane, Washington, for example, it was estimated that housing for one man in theater-of-operations barracks would cost $44 instead of the $175 in the mobilization-type (two-story wooden) barracks formerly used. The new-type housing, moreover, could be built in one-sixth the time required for mobilization-type buildings.118 On 20 May the Secretaries of War and of the Navy and the chairman of the War Production Board agreed that no construction project would be approved unless it was essential, could not be postponed without hurting the war effort, could not be replaced by rented facilities, represented all possible economies, and was of the most simple construction possible.119

Under the War Department reorganization of 9 March 1942, the Chief of Engineers, of the Services of Supply (later, Army Service Forces), was directly responsible for all Army construction and for acquisition of necessary real estate. But the AAF determined the operational characteristics of its own installations and controlled the expenditure of funds allotted to it. Plans and directives were submitted by the AAF to the Corps of Engineers through the Services of Supply, which was also responsible for the preparation of budget requests for necessary funds.120 Within the AAF, the responsibilities for base facilities formerly belonging to the Air Force Combat Command and the OCAC Buildings and Grounds Division were now absorbed, on the operating staff level, by the Director of Military Requirements, whose office contained a Directorate of Base Services. On the policy-making staff the problem of base facilities fell to A-4. When the AAF dropped the distinction between policy and operating

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staffs in March 1943, the Directorate of Base Services was transferred to the new AC/AS, Materiel, Maintenance, and Distribution. There, as the Air Installations Division, it continued to supervise the construction of base facilities during World War II.121

In April 1942 the AAF invested the commanders of its air forces and independent commands with responsibility for site selection, and on 23 July, pursuant to an agreement with the AAF, the Chief of Engineers authorized his division engineers to approve and construct projects costing not more than $40,000 when such projects were requested by the AAF commanders.122 Such decentralization of authority made some safeguards necessary. Accordingly, the Director of Military Requirements enunciated an ironclad policy that all new sites would have to be approved by the Interdepartmental Air Traffic Control Board prior to acquisition, and the Directorate of Base Services demanded notification of intended acquisitions and information copies of all layout plans. In September 1942 the Directorate of Base Services sent liaison officers to work with each division engineer in order to insure that all new plans complied with AAF safety regulations.123

In the new expansion, as with earlier programs, the highest priority tended to go to the training plant. The Air Corps Flying Training Command, established on 23 January 1942, had a responsibility for construction comparable to that of the four continental air forces,124 but it left the job of selecting sites to its three training centers. Each of these centers faced differing problems, but all encountered competition for desirable sites, all met miscellaneous pressures from political agencies, and all were hard-put to get their new facilities into operation as quickly as desired. Each of them was also forced to move into areas of marginal flying weather to avoid air space congestion. The Southeast Training Center entered Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, and the Gulf Coast Training Center moved into Kansas. The West Coast Training Center, most sorely pressed of all for good sites, had to build stations in western Texas and Colorado, where water and utilities were hard to obtain, elevations too high for efficient flying training, and the weather far from ideal.125

By May 1942 all forty-five of the new airfields added to meet the boosted requirements of the 50,000- and 70,000-pilot programs were ready for operation, and most of them had been utilized much

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earlier* These new stations with their tar-paper buildings were far from beautiful. Nor were they comfortable, for the men living in them were plagued with dust or mud, heat or cold, according to the location of the field. All had been put into operation before they were completed. At Marana, Arizona, for example, flying began on a level spot in the desert before landing strips were ready, and a detail of men had to fill rat holes in the earth each morning before the planes could take off.126 The capacity of the training centers to meet their objectives depended also upon the expansion of facilities at older fields and the adaptation of some combat bases to training. During December 1941 the West Coast Training Center had taken over Kirtland Field at Albuquerque, New Mexico, to receive the bombardier school from Barksdale, which was transferred to the Third Air Force. The air base at Jackson, Mississippi, subsequently was taken over by the Southeast Training Center for the instruction of Nether-lands East Indies cadets. Three of the 84-combat-group-program stations – Lockbourne, Smyrna, and Fort Worth – in 1942 became Flying Training Command four-engine pilot transition schools.127 Auxiliary fields were obtained for each main training field, roughly on the basis of one field for each 100 cadets in training at the parent station. Subbases at Apalachicola and Naples in Florida added to the capacity of the gunnery schools at Tyndall and Buckingham Fields. At many stations facilities were stretched by reducing the allowance of barracks space to forty square feet per man, and by the use of tents, field kitchens, pit latrines, and other such temporary facilities.128

* The 50,000-pilot program airfields were:

Southeast Training Center – Ft. Myers, Fla.; Bainbridge, Ga.; Walnut Ridge, Ark.; Marianna, Fla.; Blytheville, Ark.; George Field, Lawrenceville, Ill.; and Monroe, La.

Gulf Coast Training Center – San Angelo, Tex.; Big Spring, Tex.; Eagle Pass, Tex.; South Plains Field, Lubbock, Tex.; Hondo, Tex.; Majors Field, Greenville, Tex.; Blackland Field, Waco, Tex.; and Coffeyville, Kan.

West Coast Training Center – Marana, Ariz.; Hobbs, N.M.; Pecos, Tex.; Deming, N.M.; and Carlsbad, N.M.

Aviation cadet classification centers were built for the Southeast Training Center at Nashville, Tenn.; for the Gulf Coast Training Center at San Antonio, Tex.; and for the West Coast Training Center at Santa Ana, Calif.

The 70,000-pilot program airfields were:

Southeast Training Center – Newport, Ark.; Stuttgart, Ark.; Greenwood, Miss.; Courtland, Ala.; Malden, Mo.; and Freeman Field, Seymour, Ind.

Gulf Coast Training Center – San Marcos, Tex.; Garden City, Kan.; Independence, Kan.; Strother Field, Winfield, Kan.; Aloe Field, Victoria, Tex.; Altus, Okla.; Frederick, Okla.; Pampa, Tex.; Laughlin Field, Del Rio, Tex.; Dodge City, Kan.; Childress, Tex.; Liberal, Kan.; and Bryan, Tex.

West Coast Training Center – Douglas, Ariz.; Kingman, Ariz.; Yuma, Ariz.; Marfa, Tex.; La Junta, Colo.; and Ft. Sumner, N.M.

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At the time of Pearl Harbor the AAF Technical Training Command had an objective of 100,000 graduates per year. This goal was promptly raised to 300,000, and ultimately the load imposed reached a rate as high as 600,000. All planning, including that for facilities, was made the more difficult because student flow followed no fixed schedules during 1942 and 1943 – indeed, it often fluctuated from week to week. Early in 1942 General Arnold directed the command to push its program of construction and to lease civilian facilities for more immediate needs.129

By March 1943 eight new technical training stations had been rushed into operation.* Since the construction of these stations was relatively simple, requiring only theater-of-operations buildings and limited airfield development, the time interval between the initiation of work and the actual use of the stations was fairly short. Construction costs, however, soared under the expedited procedures. By September 1945 the eight stations, with a combined housing capacity of 130,924, had cost over $120,000,000.130 The roughly constructed facilities also caused hardships to the personnel so housed; respiratory diseases at Kearns, Truax, and Sioux Falls were an almost constant problem during the winter months, and inclement weather turned the partly completed camps into muddy bogs.131 At the older stations an expansion of existing facilities, the reduction of the living space allotted per man, and the use of tent camps helped to accommodate the accelerating flow of students. One huge tent city at Jefferson Barracks housed approximately 12,000 men before deteriorating canvas and insufficient messing facilities caused its abandonment in June 1942. Overcrowding was common at most of the stations. Scott Field in March 1942 housed 12,505 enlisted men in barracks designed for 11,340. Sheppard Field barracks were so fully utilized that there was little more than sleeping room.132

Even so, the command got by only by the mass leasing of civilian facilities. Maj. Gen. Walter R. Weaver, taking over the Technical Training Command on 18 February 1942, seems to have decided fairly early that he could use the hotels of the nation, particularly those in resort areas, to house a part of his schools. To many military men this seemed a dubious experiment, and the policy also met with

* These new stations were a basic training center at Kearns, Utah; a basic training center at Seymour-Johnson Field, Goldsboro, N.C.; radio schools at Truax Field, Madison, Wis., and Sioux Falls, S.D.; and mechanics schools at Lincoln, Neb., Amarillo, Tex., Greensboro, N.C., and Gulfport, Miss.

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criticism from civilian sources. General Weaver, however, maintained that “the best hotel room is none too good for the American soldier.”133 He moved his headquarters to the all resort community of Pinehurst-Southern Pines, North Carolina, and by the end of 1942 the Corps of Engineers, acting on his request, had leased hotels, apartment houses, and other miscellaneous buildings in Miami Beach, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, Florida, and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Largest of these establishments was that at Miami Beach, where, at the peak, the Army housed approximately 82,000 men in some 326 hotels and apartments.134 In the fall of 1942, when the quota of radio operators was suddenly increased from 48,000 to 101,000 in an augmentation to be accomplished before the end of the year, General Weaver secured condemnation proceedings enabling the government to take over three hotels in downtown Chicago. Other hotels were leased at Grand Rapids, Michigan, to serve a specialized weather school, and the AAF radar school was moved into a leased club at Boca Raton, Florida.135 Other facilities leased for the command included the county fairgrounds at Fresno, California, the Federal Indian School at Tomah, Wisconsin, a preparatory school for boys at Pawling, New York, and some buildings at Yale University. Still other students were farmed out to civilian institutions for training and housing. In May 1943, shortly before such detached training was curtailed, the command had trainees in thirty-five contract technical schools, in thirteen civil mechanics schools, in eleven factory training schools, and in five machinists schools. Meteorology training was being given in five colleges and universities, and eleven similar institutions were giving clerical training.136

The use of leased facilities for the technical schools was undoubtedly less satisfactory than Army cantonments would have been, but it resulted in savings in labor and critical materials at a time when the nation’s resources were hard pressed. The Senate war investigating committee later concluded that facilities obtained at Miami for an annual rental of $20,000,000 would have cost $100,000,000 and have taken six months to construct. It is also significant that the Corps of Engineers, in its much-criticized purchase of the Stevens Hotel in Chicago complete with furnishings for $6,000,000, later realized $441,000 from the sale of surplus furnishings and sold the hotel after it had been occupied for more than a year for $5,000,000.

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Equally unusual in any history of war financing was the finding of the Senate committee that the facilities in Miami had been leased too cheaply for the good of their owners.137

Among the continental air forces, the First and Fourth Air Forces were so largely committed to defense assignments that their training activity required no new facilities aside from some additional housing. But the responsibility for unit training fell so heavily upon the Second and Third Air Forces as to require a major increase in their facilities.

The Second Air Force, upon being relieved from the defense of the upper Pacific coast in January 1942, was assigned the task of heavy bombardment unit training. For this mission it at first had only installations at Pendleton, Gowen, Geiger, and Salt Lake City, but in January it added Davis-Monthan Field at Tucson, Arizona, and in March the field at Wendover, Utah, was raised to air base level. By April all of these bases were being exploited to the utmost. At the request of Maj. Gen. Frederick L. Martin, commanding the Second Air Force, the Directorate of Base Services began action for the construction of new bases at Pocatello, Idaho; Great Falls, Montana; Salina, Kansas; and Casper, Wyoming.138 Maj. Gen. Robert Olds, replacing Martin in May 1942, promptly submitted a plan for accomplishing all heavy bombardment training in the Second Air Force. He had decided to abandon the practice of giving full operational training at single stations in favor of a three-phase plan of training, each phase to last thirty days and to be given at separate airfields. Third-phase training required that each new group would divide and operate from squadron-sized airfields under simulated operational conditions. He proposed to locate new sites in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana, to build up the fields at the Alamogordo, New Mexico, and Ephrata, Washington, bombing ranges to base level, and to use the airfield at Salt Lake City as an air force replacement processing station. The AAF approved the program early in June, and by July it had allotted the Second Air Force three new bases with oversized landing fields suitable for blind landings, three dispersed and eighteen other normal squadron-strength stations, and a new air base at Pyote, Texas.139

By August 1942 General Olds had located the blind landing fields at Clovis, New Mexico; Salina, Kansas; and a second site near Ephrata, Washington (Moses Lake Army Airfield). In December

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he located a fourth oversized landing field at Mountain Home, Idaho. The location and construction of the squadron-strength airfields met continuing difficulties. In selecting sites in Kansas and Nebraska the Second Air Force ran into competition from the Navy and after a great deal of bickering succeeded in getting only one site out of the five desired. General Olds also thought that building was too slow. On 9 September, protesting the amount of time consumed in the preliminaries to construction, he warned that he would need all of the squadron fields by February 1943. In rebuttal, the Corps of Engineers disclaimed any responsibility for delay and showed that work had actually been begun within an average time of less than thirteen days after the issuance of construction directives.140

Completion of this tortuously developed expansion represented the peak of the construction of new installations for the Second Air Force. In connection with the 273-group objective, General Olds asked only for increased housing at five of the southernmost bases to enable them to take units displaced by winter weather in the north. In January 1943 he asked that nine of the squadron airfields he built up to group-strength stations so that they could be used for staging. Both projects were quickly approved by AAF Headquarters.141 All of the new stations which the Second Air Force had requested built were in use by the spring of 1943;* thereafter, no new bases were built for this air force, and such additional facilities as it used were transferred from other AAF activities. Because of the southeastward shift in the air force’s area of responsibility, it moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs in May 1943.142 Construction of Second’s sprawling complex of facilities had been speedily accomplished, but the very demand for speed caused four of the worst failures of the entire AAF base-development program. Work on runways at the Great Falls, Montana, base, and at its three subbases at Glasgow, Cut Bank, and Lewistown, had been continued through

* By May 1943 the Second Air Force was using newly built main bases at Wendover, Utah; Alamogordo, N.M.; Ephrata, Wash.; Mountain Home, Idaho; Great Falls, Mont.; Pocatello, Idaho; Casper, Wyo.; Pyote, Tex.; Dalhart, Tex.; Clovis, N.M.; Moses Lake, Wash.; and Walker, Pratt, and Great Bend, Kan. Its new subbases were at Watertown, S.D.; Mitchell, S.D.; Scribner, Neb.; Scottsbluff, Neb.; Cut Bank, Mont.; Glasgow, Mont.; Lewistown, Mont.; Redmond, Ore.; Madras, Ore.; Pierre, S.D.; and Ainsworth, Neb. The airfields at Salina, Kan.; Topeka, Kan.; Kearney, Neb.; Fairmont, Neb.; Grand Island, Neb.; Bruning, Neb.; Harvard, Neb.; Herington, Kan.; and McCook, Neb. were being used for concentration. It had obtained airfields at Blythe, Calif.; Gulfport, Miss.; Alexandria, La.; Galveston, Tex.; and Dyersburg, Tenn. through transfers from other AAF activities.

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a very cold winter. Frozen aggregates had been graded into embankment fills, and with the spring thaws of 1943 the runways began to settle and break. Since the estimated cost of repairs to the four fields was regarded as excessive, the Second Air Force abandoned heavy bombardment training at the three subbases after only five months’ use and gave up the main base in October 1943. The base at Great Falls continued in use by the Air Service Command, but the subbases soon passed to a stand-by status.143

The Third Air Force, though ultimately charged with all operational and replacement training for medium, light, and dive bombardment aviation and for a large part of the fighter-pilot replacement training program, was more fortunate than the Second. In January 1942 the Third had nineteen stations assigned to it which were suitable for its mission, and it also had access to a great number of CAA-improved civil airfields which could be made suitable for its use with the addition of housing and a few other improvements. It inherited, moreover, most of the air support fields which had been built adjacent to each Army combat troop post. By May 1943 it was using eleven main bases, twenty-three subbases, and sixteen auxiliary fields for operational and replacement training.144 All but two of the main bases-those at Columbia, South Carolina, and Sarasota, Florida, both municipal fields which had been improved by the Army – were pre-Pearl Harbor stations. Practically all of the subbases and auxiliary fields were civil airfields which had been improved by the CAA.* Only in Florida, an area of heavy Army and Navy air activity, had the Third Air Force encountered any special competition for desirable sites, and incipient friction in that state had been virtually ended by the so-called Stratemeyer-Towers line drawn down the center of the state on 19 September 1942. By this demarcation

* In May 1943 the Third Air Force was using the following fields for operational and replacement training: Dale Mabry with subbases at Thomasville and Harris Neck Field, Ga., and Perry, Fla., and an auxiliary field at Carrabelle, Fla.; Drew with a subbase at Waycross, Ga.; MacDill with subbases at Lakeland and Jacksonville, Fla.; Sarasota with subbases at Bartow, St. Petersburg, Ft. Myers, and Tampa, Fla., and auxiliary fields at Immokalee, Lake Wales, Punta Gorda, and Winter Haven, Fla.; Hunter with a subbase at Chatham Field, Savannah, Ga.; Selfridge with a subbase at Oscoda, Mich.; Key with subbases at Ozark, Ala., Hattiesburg and Laurel, Miss., and an auxiliary field at Demopolis, Ala.; Will Rogers with subbases at Woodward, Ardmore, and Muskogee, Okla., and Marshall Field, Kan., and auxiliary fields at Gage, Hobart, Perry, and Tulsa, Okla.; Greenville with subbases at Greenwood and Florence, S.C., and auxiliary fields at Anderson and Spartanburg, S.C.; Columbia with subbases at Congaree and Walterboro, S.C., and auxiliary fields at Barnwell, Johns Island, North, S.C., and Dublin, Ga.; and De Ridder, La.

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Headquarters, Chicago 
Schools, AAFTTC, Unit No

Headquarters, Chicago Schools, AAFTTC, Unit No. 1 (Stevens Hotel)

Hotel Lobby

Hotel Lobby

Typical Hotel Room After 

Typical Hotel Room After Conversion

Grand Ballroom As Mess 

Grand Ballroom As Mess Hall

Classroom Building (The 

Classroom Building (The Coliseum)

the Navy took over rights in the entire east coast of Florida with the exception of small areas around Miami, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Jacksonville; the Army took over most of central Florida and the west coast from Key West to Pensacola.145 This agreement was faithfully kept until December 1943, when both parries permitted local commanders to arrange variations from the general dividing line. In January 1943 the Third Air Force had stated that it needed only some additional housing to permit it to fulfill its obligations under the 273-group objective.146

The smallest of the AAF organizations conducting operational and replacement training was the 1 Troop Carrier Command, established on 30 April 1942 to train troop carrier wings and groups for airborne operations. The work of selecting the stations which the command would use had been undertaken by the Air Force Combat Command as a part of the air support base-development program. In June 1942 command headquarters were located in a cantonment adjacent to Stout Field, the municipal airport at Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition to Stout Field, the 1 Troop Carrier Command sponsored the building of eight new airfields, two of which it gave up without having occupied them, and the improvement of three pre-Pearl Harbor bases.* Its small program seems to have given little trouble, and by February 1943 it could report that it required no other facilities to complete its mission under the 273-group program.147

The short-lived 1 Concentration Command, established in June 1942 to expedite the movement of combat groups overseas but disbanded five months later, during the course of its short and troubled existence built or improved eight airfields which were later used by other AAF agencies. In July it assumed control of Selfridge, Baer, Syracuse, Kellogg, and Lockbourne Fields, each of which was improved to prepare it for staging. It also secured a leasehold on Lunken Airport, Cincinnati, Ohio, to serve as its headquarters. During the summer it took over the responsibility for completing the airfield at Dyersburg, Tennessee, which the Southeast Training Center had given up because of excessive grading costs, and began construction

* The I Troop Carrier Command transferred the fields at Blythe, Calif., and Ardmore, Okla., to the Second and Third Air Forces without occupying them. It gave, the field at Florence, S.C., to the Third Air Force in March 1943. The three old fields regularly used by the command were Bowman, Lawson, and Pope. New fields were constructed at Austin, Tex. (Bergstrom Field); Laurinburg-Maxton, N.C.; Alliance, Neb.; Sedalia, Mo.; and Grenada, Miss.

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to suit it for staging two heavy bombardment groups. It sponsored runway extensions and housing for a heavy bombardment group at the airfield adjacent to the aircraft assembly plant at Willow Run near Ypsilanti, Michigan. Selfridge and Kellogg were later transferred to the Third Air Force, Baer to the I Troop Carrier Command for staging, Lockbourne to the Southeast Training Center for use as a four-engine pilot school, Lunken to the Air Transport Command, and Syracuse to the Air Service Command. Dyersburg was transferred to the Second Air Force, which regarded it as an acquisition of dubious value, and a part of the housing at Willow Run was used by a Technical Training Command detachment.148

Having been made responsible for reorganizing the observation squadrons of the Army in the fall of 1941, the Air Support Section of the Air Force Combat Command and its successor, the AAF Directorate of Ground-Air Support, projected a system of airfields designed to serve air units training with the ground forces. It was originally assumed that extensive base development would be needed near the four army headquarters at New York City, Memphis, San Antonio, and San Francisco, and near the command post of the Armored Force at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Each corps headquarters post was also to have an adjacent air base, and each division post was to have a smaller base, built to accommodate one observation squadron for each division at the post. Additional bases were set up for the Desert Training Center maneuver area around Indio, California, and for troop carrier training stations.149

Actually, this plan was based upon an unrealistic assumption as to the development of air support in World War II. The large air support bases scheduled for construction near each army headquarters were never built, but at Memphis and San Antonio smaller bases were provided on leased airdromes. Only a part of the bases designed to occupy positions proximate to corps headquarters seem to have been constructed, and most of them were quickly diverted to other uses. The remainder of the project, however, was accomplished much as had been planned, and by June 1943 small fields had been developed near each Army Ground Forces divisional post. Most of these fields were CAA-improved municipal airports, and housing facilities varied considerably. Esler Field, Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, for example, could accommodate 200 officers and 2,200 enlisted men in July 1944., while the airfield at Rice, California, could

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shelter only 20 officers and 100 enlisted men. The fields were usually organized as subbases of larger AAF installations in their vicinity, and most of them passed to the control of the Third Air Force during 1943.150 The older air support bases were also improved, an activity which inevitably led to conflicts with local post commanders. At Gray Field, Fort Lewis, Washington, plans for the expansion of the airfield conflicted with others for the expansion of the post, and only after much friction and recrimination was an adjustment worked out. To relieve such situations, the AAF sought to secure complete autonomy for its airfields on Army posts and later to fix definite boundaries at each of its fields located on such posts, but both efforts were unsuccessful.151

The impact of World War II upon the AAF’s supply, maintenance, and air transport functions produced three new commands – Air Service, Materiel, and Air Transport – each with its own special requirements for facilities. Of these, the Materiel Command, largely a testing and procurement authority established in March 1942 as successor to the Materiel Division,* needed fewer field installations than did the other two. Its headquarters and testing establishment at Wright Field, however, was tremendously expanded; between June 1940 and September 1945 construction and additional land purchased there cost $48,817,078, the largest amount expended at a single AAF base during World War II. During 1942, also, the command leased and improved the Clinton County Airport, Wilmington, Ohio, for use in testing gliders.152

The Air Service Command, responsible from late in 1941 for storage and maintenance of all AAF aircraft and technical equipment, required a much larger network of facilities. Each of the eleven air depots in operation or under construction in December 1941 was later expanded by ASC.† To meet a local maintenance need, the AAF permitted the command to locate an additional air depot at the 36th Street Airport, Miami, Florida. Fifteen months after work had begun there in February 1943, the new depot was in full operation. Between January 1942 and August 1944 new depot supply warehouses increased the available storage space from approximately 4,000,000 to approximately 24,000,000 square feet, but the mounting stocks of aircraft and materiel quickly overflowed

* See below, p. 294.

† For these depots, see below, p. 367.

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these warehouses. Accordingly, the command leased as much commercial storage space as could be secured and sponsored the construction of other in-transit and specialized depots. By August 1944 it held a total warehousing space of approximately 62,000,000 square feet, of which slightly more than two-thirds was government owned. Leased storage at that time included over 400 separate properties, rented for an estimated $4,000,000 a year. The command also utilized a varying number of air bases for training the service personnel, for storage, and to meet maintenance requirements in areas lacking adequate depot facilities. These airfields, developed by other AAF agencies, were inherited by the command as they became excess to other requirements.153

The Air Transport Command, shortly after its redesignation on 20 June 1942,* moved its headquarters to Gravelly Point, Virginia, adjacent to the National Airport. Besides acquiring Lunken Airport at Cincinnati, expanding responsibilities led to ATC’s securing of such bases as Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Florida, and Gore Field, Great Falls, Montana, both taken over in June. Two air support bases at Wilmington, Delaware, and Memphis, Tennessee, were occupied in May and November 1942. Two flying training units were established at Rosecrans Field, Saint Joseph, Missouri, and at Homestead, Florida. The former summer encampment area of the New Mexico National Guard at Camp Luna, Las Vegas, was developed for a technical training school, and an arctic training school opened at Camp Williams Field, Wisconsin. By February 1943 the ATC could state that, given no additional missions, it would not require additional building effort. In addition to the bases which it held in its own right, the ATC secured operating privileges at numerous bases along its ferrying and transport routes. Although it initially had trouble in maintaining these rights, the problem lessened when the rush of AAF operations in the continental United States began to taper off in the spring of 1943.154

In Florida the requirements of two special commands added to the difficulties experienced by the AAF in that area. The Air Corps Proving Ground, set up at Eglin Field in May 1941 for the testing of equipment under tactical conditions and given command status in April 1942, had developed by 1945 ten auxiliary airfields in the Choctawhatchee reservation, each devoted to a particular phase of

* See above, pp. 66-67.

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testing operations. The reservation had been increased in size to 429,758 acres of land, most of which were owned by the government. Like the Third Air Force, the Proving Ground engaged in repeated controversies with the naval air station at Pensacola in regard to flying in the westernmost part of its reservation.155 In central Florida the Fighter Command School and its successor, the AAF School of Applied Tactics, built up a still more ambitious testing and training establishment. The first school had been located at Orlando, Florida, in March 1942 for experimentation and training in the latest tactics of controlled interception.* Its subbases were nearing completion in November 1942 when the AAF activated the School of Applied Tactics at Orlando with a greatly expanded program of training in air defense, bombardment, air support, and air service.† The school ultimately constructed twelve airfields and used a number of other field installations to simulate a theater of operations in central Florida.156

During 1942 and 1943 the AAF continued to meet the same difficulties in locating bombing and gunnery ranges which it had encountered before Pearl Harbor. In the eastern United States high land prices made large reservations virtually impossible to obtain, and in the western states, where large tracts of public domain did exist, there were few areas, no matter how barren, in which someone had not acquired a vested interest. In locating its ranges the AAF made a determined effort to use only the least productive land available. Despite its difficulties, approximately 12,500,000 acres of land, an area larger than New Hampshire and Vermont combined, had been obtained for the AAF by June 1943, largely for use as ranges.157

The range needs of the First and Fourth Air Forces, concerned as they were with fighter training, were fairly easily supplied. The former developed a 14,677-acre reservation near Millville, New Jersey, as a gunnery range; the latter, controlling a part of the Tonopah range and the reservation at Muroc Lake, seemingly had ample facilities for its mission. The Second Air Force, however, met a number of difficulties. Despite strong opposition from cattlemen in Oregon and Idaho, the air force eventually secured two ranges in each state which were alternately used for bombing and for grazing. At Albuquerque it met delay in securing permission to bomb state-owned

* See above, p. 68.

† See below, pp. 684-93.

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lands scattered throughout the public domain. At Blythe, California, the ubiquitous activities of the Desert Training Center held up bombing until December 1943, when a delimitation of activities permitted the use of four desert areas as part-time ranges. As late as September 1943 one Second Air Force wing commander stated flatly that the lack of ranges had made the air force’s gunnery training program “merely eyewash.”158 The Third Air Force expanded its ranges without so much difficulty. By November 1943 it had a 218,908-acre range at Avon Park, Florida, and a combination of land and water ranges covering 223,147 acres at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Other large ranges were maintained in Hancock County, Mississippi, with 30,622 acres, and at Cherokee, Oklahoma, with 31,177 acres. Many of the Third Air Force stations used ranges over the Gulf of Mexico.159

There were additional demands for range facilities by the training air forces. To illustrate the needs of a bombardier school, it may be noted that Kirtland Field had twenty-nine bombing ranges assigned to it by October 1945. As for the gunnery schools, Las Vegas, Laredo and Kingman ended the war with 2,305,280-, 628,298-, and 161,997-acre ranges. Tyndall and Harlingen had combination land and water ranges, while Buckingham used a 960,000-acre range in the Gulf of Mexico. The Ajo-Gila Bend ranges, used by Luke and Williams Fields, occupied 1,123,135 acres. Radar bombing activities at Boca Raton used island targets in the Bahamas.160 By June 1943 the AAF concluded, after a study, that only the Second Air Force still required any appreciable extension of its range facilities. And that need was considered met by the following October.161

Consolidation and Disposition of Facilities, 1943–45

During the latter half of 1943 the AAF reached the peak of its activity within the continental limits of the United States, and at the end of the year the number of its separate installations stood at the highest figure during the war: 345 main bases, 116 subbases, and 322 auxiliary fields.162 The main task of the AAF had been to train and equip the air forces which now were deployed in increasing strength around the world. Not only had the back of that job been broken but subsidiary responsibilities – notably that of continental air defense – also had been greatly reduced by the close of 1943. Except for such operations as were required to maintain and augment the

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great strength now deployed overseas, the time had come for a drastic cutback of AAF activity within the Zone of Interior.

With the bulk of base construction scheduled for completion by the spring of 1943, Arnold had warned his staff in January of that year that new projects must be curtailed. Every effort would have to be made to adapt existing facilities to new needs. The War Department in April 1943 specified the continuing flow of requests for small construction jobs as the nub of the problem henceforth. To the War Department’s admonition as to the necessity for a cutback, the AAF added for its own people the precept that new facilities must be “essential” and not just “desirable.” In August the War Department announced a general policy that no more land could be purchased unless failure to acquire it would seriously vitiate the use of land already owned. The blanket authority of division engineers to approve new construction projects costing less than $40,000 was revoked as of 31 December 1943. The volume of Army and especially AAF construction nevertheless remained high. During 1943 the total expended for AAF facilities amounted to about $548,039,000, while that for the AGF and ASF together totaled only about $362,368,000. General Arnold, displeased with this disparity, ordered on 14 January 1944 that future AAF construction be limited to that required to meet “critical requirements developing from changing operational needs for which existing facilities ... are completely inadequate.” More stringent regulations were issued, culminating on 27 February with General Arnold’s personal order that no more AAF construction within the continental limits of the United States be authorized without his own approval. Despite the great amount of detailed work which this policy imposed on AAF Headquarters, it was rigidly interpreted and executed.163

The volume of AAF construction requests was reduced by these restrictive policies, but the flow of new projects was by no means dammed. In fiscal year 1945, for example, AAF construction cost approximately $168,000,000. With the defense responsibilities of the First and Fourth Air Forces greatly reduced, both of these organizations gave increasing attention to training. In October 1943 the First Air Force was charged to operate four heavy bombardment replacement training groups. Initially, the air force, directed to use fields constructed for the deceased Antisubmarine Command, was forbidden to build any new facilities, but later it became necessary to

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expand housing at two stations. As the Fourth Air Force took responsibility for six heavy bombardment replacement training units, it obtained three stations for the purpose from the Second Air Force. Although some additional housing was permitted at Fourth Air Force stations, General Arnold was by no means generous. During 1943 and 1944, as a part of an effort to give each air force a more balanced training load, the Second Air Force received a fighter training mission and the Third Air Force some responsibility for heavy bombardment training, but in neither case was there a compensating provision for expansion of facilities.164

Most of the new construction was closely connected with the needs of very heavy bombardment training. Although for limited training the B-29’s could use 6,000-foot runways, for full training they needed 7,000 by 150-foot runways designed to support a 120,000-pound gross load. Housing and maintenance requirements for very heavy bombardment groups, largest of all AAF combat units, were in excess of the facilities provided at most bases. The Second Air Force carried the main responsibility, and by the end of 1943 was conducting B-29 training at Salina, Great Bend, Pratt, and Walker, Kansas, and at Clovis, New Mexico. Housing, in particular, was inadequate at first, but during 1944 facilities at these fields and at thirteen others were expanded to fit them for B-29 groups. There was much anxiety that the older runways would not hold up, but by the fall of 1944 experience had indicated that with a high degree of maintenance they could be expected to last until the summer of 1946.165 At the end of 1944 it had been decided to bring other training organizations into the B-29 program. The Training Command, scheduled to give transition training to B-29 and B-32 pilots, received authority to prepare Maxwell, Lowry, Randolph, Roswell, and Fort Worth for that purpose. In December the Third Air Force was authorized to expand Barksdale, Gulfport, MacDill, and Chatham Fields for B-29 operational training. The Fourth Air Force, although it would have participated more heavily had the war continued, received improvements only for Muroc, where it began to train B-29 lead crews in May 1945.166

The beginning of the employment of very heavy bombardment planes from the Marianas, together with the impending redeployment of air units through the United States to the Pacific, demanded a general increase of logistic facilities on the Pacific coast. During

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1944 the AAF secured the construction of a $10,000,000 in-transit depot at Alameda, California. It took over Camp Kohler at Sacramento for use as an overseas replacement depot. Mills Field at San Francisco was improved in a joint Army-CAA effort designed to provide extra space for the redeployment of air units, and Mather, Fairfield-Suisun, and Hamilton Fields were improved to meet the growing needs of the Air Transport Command.167

Some additional construction was permitted at other continental bases. Storage facilities continued to increase until the end of the war, so that by August 1945 the AAF held a total gross storage area of 87,241,000 square feet, of which only 14,813,000 square feet were leased. At Camp Springs, Maryland, a project for developing Andrews Field, originally a First Air Force defense airfield, into the headquarters post of the new Continental Air Forces was projected in September 1944, and by April 1945 some $10,000,000 had been allocated for improvements there. The AAF also took over a number of excess ground forces posts in order to meet its specialized needs, but these stations required little additional building.168

At the same time that the War Department and the AAF were making efforts to curtail new construction, both were seeking to dispose of their excess facilities. In December 1943 the War Department, citing the fact that personnel shortages demanded the closing of all excess stations, established a procedure for disposition of such property.169 The AAF, however, had already begun to give up its surplus leaseholds. During May and June 1943 most of the contracts with civilian technical schools were canceled, over protests from the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce. Movement of Training Command activities out of the hotels of Miami, St. Petersburg, Chicago, Detroit, and Atlantic City was well under way by the end of the year, but the AAF Personnel Distribution Command continued to occupy some hotels in the three resort areas. By the end of December 1943 the AAF had reduced its hotel leases from 464 to 216, and by the end of 1944 it held only 75 hotels.170 It had also begun to dispose of its surplus airfields and ranges. In October 1943 the Navy had asked for any excess fields located near enough to the coasts to be of use for carrier pilot training. All commands were polled as to fields which could be transferred to the Navy, and in March 1944 a list of 84 stations was tendered for transfer. In giving these stations to the Navy, the AAF succeeded in getting

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a commitment established that both air services could use the other’s fields in an emergency, an agreement that might better have been enunciated in December 1941. Counting both the fields taken over by the Navy and those turned over to the ASF for final disposition, the AAF had disposed of 79 air installations by 30 June 1945.171

Despite the obvious advantage of being rid of its excess holdings, the AAF had to be fairly slow in giving up its bases until the needs for redeployment could be ascertained, needs which were by no means clearly determined even as late as April 1945. In general, the AAF preferred to retain all airfields which had housing and third echelon maintenance equipment until some clear estimate of the number of fields which would be needed by redeployment was settled. Most of the excess fields were therefore placed on a stand-by status, and, after December 1943, they were assigned to the Air Service Command for caretaking. These stations were used for prisoner of war camps, for housing foreign laborers, for grazing leases, or utilized in any other way consistent with their preservation. The number of fields kept on stand-by status varied from month to month, but on 1 September 1945 some 78 of the 401 main and subbases still retained and 74 of the 269 auxiliary fields then held were being kept on an inactive basis.172After the capitulation of Japan, surplus facilities were speedily released. During December the last of the leased hotels were returned to their owners, and by the end of the month the AAF held only 429 base installations, including 273 main and subbases and 156 auxiliary fields.173 It was well on the way toward demobilization.

Problems and Achievements

In summary it may be well to speculate upon the value received from the $3,152,025,000 spent on AAF facilities in the United States during the war. Although the AAF had no direct control over the letting of contracts for construction, which fell within the province of the Quartermaster Corps and later of the Corps of Engineers, it did determine the extent of its needs and controlled the selection of its sites. These, of course, were the essential powers, and their possession by the AAF presents the critical questions.

On the whole, it can be said that the job of site selection was well done. In view of the extraordinary pressures, including those of time, little complaint can be made of the earlier choices of AAF

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site boards, whether weather, terrain, strategic necessity, or some other factor be the criterion for judgment. Because of an early saturation of the more desirable air space, the AAF eventually had to take over many marginal sites, but the best sites were selected first and were the most highly developed.

The record suggests, too, that the effect of political pressure on the choice of sites, an old source of trouble to the Air Corps, was reduced to a minimum. Each station history begins with an account of the desires of the local community to obtain an air base, and it usually continues with the narrative of appeals made to interested senators and congressmen, if not of frantic trips to Washington. But nearly every member of Congress seems to have presented the cause of his constituents to the AAF, and the pressure behind any particular claim tended to be canceled out by the multiplicity of other ones. These pressures tended also to be reduced by the very immensity of the AAF program and of other programs which offered multiplying opportunities for the satisfaction of local aspirations. It was possible, moreover, for responsible officers to take refuge behind the urgency of national needs; the combat stations for the 84-group program, for example, were not located until after the necessary funds had been appropriated, thus eliminating pressure in Congress for selection of a particular site. As this fact suggests, the circumstances of a national emergency usually permitted the AAF to resist any purely political pressure. There were instances in which it was deemed advisable to yield to the extent of investigating sites considered undesirable, and some delays undoubtedly resulted. But such delays were perhaps more than offset by the free information supplied by interested groups who at times guided a hard-pressed staff to favorably situated sites.

Competition with the Navy for desirable air station sites, however, was a real problem and one which got worse after Pearl Harbor. AAF and Navy commanders on the west coast found that both had planned to take over many of the same civilian airports to meet a war emergency. In Washington State a quick agreement was made on the sharing of naval air stations with the Fourth Air Force for single fighter squadrons, but at San Diego, California, no satisfactory agreement was ever reached, and the AAF never considered that the city was adequately protected.174 There was trouble in Florida throughout the war. Not until September 1944 did the two services

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work out an agreement which permitted the Army and the Navy to use each other’s air facilities freely in the event of an emergency – a delay in coordination that could have hampered defensive efforts in the event of attack. Both the Army and Navy, moreover, built up their air facilities with little or no reference to each other, spending more money and effort than might have been needed for an integrated program. Arrangements for transferring excess AAF airfields to the Navy were slow in development; the request for transfer which came in October 1943 was not acted on until March 1944. While the Interdepartmental Air Traffic Control Board helped to coordinate the Army and Navy programs, it lacked sufficient power. It should be noted, however, that fuller provision for coordination might well have imposed serious administrative delays on an AAF program which met its time schedules in large part because of decentralized controls.

This decentralization of control, on the other hand, made the AAF liable to the fault of overbuilding. Despite directives insisting upon all possible economy, each agency, rather than be caught short at a critical moment, tended to interpret its needs in terms of anticipated peak loads. Even at the point of fullest utilization, in March 1943, the AAF occupied only 73.2 per cent of its existing housing capacity.175 That this figure represents a good deal of overbuilding at some points is hardly to be debated, but it should be interpreted in the light of circumstances making some such surplus virtually unavoidable. Early plans for expansion of facilities had necessarily been drawn without full awareness of the effect hostilities would have on requirements. The emphasis within build-up programs shifted in accordance with changing conditions in a variety of overseas theaters. New demands on the home front might be taken care of through transfers of existing facilities, but base facilities could never be completely interchangeable. When B-29 training began, it was necessary to expand some stations while other bases stood virtually idle. Some bases having served their purpose, though for only a short time, could not readily be adapted to other uses and would become surplus. Thus, the troop carrier base at Grenada, Mississippi, was in active use for only ten months.176

One point in closing should be emphasized. The AAF met its strategic commitments without any serious delay that was attributable to a failure in the development of base facilities.