Dobbins Air Reserve Base: Wikis

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Dobbins Air Reserve Base

Air Force Reserve Command.png

Dobbins-4apr2004.jpg
Dobbins Air Reserve Base - April 4, 2004
MGE - FAA Airport Diagram.gif
FAA airport diagram
IATA: MGEICAO: KMGEFAA: MGE
Summary
Airport type Military: Air Force Reserve Base
Operator Air Force Reserve Command
Location Marietta, Georgia
Built 1941
In use 1941 - present
Commander Col. Heath J. Nuckolls
Occupants 63rd Airlift Wing
Elevation AMSL 1,068 ft / 326 m
Coordinates 33°54′55″N 084°30′59″W / 33.91528°N 84.51639°W / 33.91528; -84.51639
Website www.dobbins.afrc.af.mil
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 10,000 3,048 Concrete
110/290 3,500[1] 1,067 Asphalt
Sources: FAA[2] and official website[3]
Location of Dobbins Air Reserve Base

Dobbins Air Reserve Base or Dobbins ARB (IATA: MGEICAO: KMGEFAA LID: MGE) is a United States air reserve base located in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Atlanta. It was named in honor of Captain Charles M. Dobbins, a World War II C-47 pilot who died near Sicily. It serves as the home station of the 94th Airlift Wing and its fleet of Hercules C-130 aircraft, and is the headquarters for Twenty-Second Air Force. It is also home to the Army Aviation Service Facility #2 (AASF#2), the Georgia Army National Guard and their fleet of UH-60 Blackhawks. Dobbins is also home to Marine and Navy Reserve units.

Dobbins ARB has two runways which it shares with Naval Air Station Atlanta (NAS Atlanta) to its south. 11-29 is the primary runway and it is 10,000 feet (3,000 m) long and 300 feet (91 m) wide with directions 110 and 290. The second runway, called an "assault strip", is a 3500×60-foot (1067×18-meter) runway referred to as 110-290, which is parallel to 11-29.

Contents

History

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Major commands

Redesignated: AAF Technical Service Command, August 31, 1944
Redesignated: Air Force Reserve Command, February 17, 1997 - present

Major units

  • 522d Base HQ and Air Base Squadron, June 10, 1943 – March 25, 1944
  • 292d Army Air Force Base Unit, March 25, 1944 – May 31, 1946
  • 54th Fighter (later Troop Carrier) Wing, October 2, 1946 – October 11, 1950
  • 4204th Army Air Force (later Air Force) Base Unit, May 31, 1946 – December 14, 1958
  • 94th Bombardment Group, May 29, 1947 – March 20, 1951
Established as: 94th Bombardment (later Tactical Reconnaissance) Wing, June 26, 1949 – May 18, 1955

War years

Originally intended by Cobb County as an alternative to Atlanta's Candler Field, it began in 1941 as Rickenbacker Field. It was named for former army pilot and then-current Eastern Air Lines president Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, for whom Miami's Rickenbacker Causeway is also named.

The boost needed to build the airport came in 1940 when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt selected General Lucius D. Clay to head a new Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) program of airstrip construction, some 450 to 500 being built in preparation for possible war. In 1940, the CAA offered to build a modern hard-surfaced airport if the local government provided the land. Due to the large potential labor force, local officials also hoped for an aircraft factory at the site. On October 24, local officials publicly announced the project and also revealed that options had been taken on three prospective sites. The Atlanta City Council passed a resolution endorsing the project on 2 January 1941. Since the Army had recently taken over part of Candler Field, the Atlanta municipal airport, the new airport in Cobb County was also seen as a reliever airport for Atlanta.

In May, the local government issued bonds to purchase 563 acres 3.5 miles southeast of Marietta on the west side of the new four-lane super highway to Atlanta. The CAA then allocated $400,000 for construction of two 4,000-ft. runways. W. L. Florence of Powder Springs, Georgia, the low bidder at $290,000, won the contract. The bid, under the estimate, allowed the CAA to add a third runway to the project. Construction got underway on 14 July 1941. The next month, Gulf Oil Corporation and Georgia Air Service agreed to lease the airport when completed for $12,000 per year. In September, Eddie Rickenbacker, America's leading ace in World War I and now President and General Manager of Eastern Airlines, agreed to have the airport named Rickenbacker Field in his honor. The same month, the United States Navy requested permission to use the airport for primary training landing practice, The Navy had commissioned Naval Aviation Reserve Base Atlanta, at what is now known as DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, in March 1941. In October, Georgia Air Service let a $70,000 contract for two 180x160-ft. hangars. Although far from complete, the dedication of the airport took place in October.

After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, work on the project accelerated. In January 1942, Larry Bell, founder and president of Bell Aircraft, inspected the site for a proposed government-built Army aircraft factory. Meanwhile, the Navy announced its intention of taking over the airport for an auxiliary air station and would shortly begin condemnation proceedings. The Army in turn announced it would not contest the Navy's claim and would locate the factory elsewhere. Cobb County officials appealed to Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, urging him to change the Navy's plans. Since other options were available, Frank Knox relinquished the Navy's claim to the airport. (The Navy eventually established an auxiliary air station at Gainesville, Georgia.) On 23 January 1942, Bell and the Army announced that a $15 million plant employing 40,000 workers would be built at Marietta. The U.S. War Department announced on 19 February that it would become Marietta Army Airfield. Although construction began in March, the official ground breaking took place in May 1942 with Eddie Rickenbacker in attendance. Rickenbacker went on to fund an aviation educational program to train aviation workers. In the meantime, the City of Atlanta began work on a $1 million pipeline to supply the factory its water needs.

In addition, the Army Air Force purchased a parcel of land to the north of the airfield for a cantonment area. The base activated on 6 June 1943, in tents under the 58th Bombardment Operational Training Wing. At the end of June the complement stood at 42 officers and 356 men. The mission of the base was service testing B-29s for acceptance by the Army Air Force, modification of the B-29, and operation of an Air Depot. The barracks reached completion in November. By the beginning of 1944, the complement had risen to 73 officers and 1,263 men. For a time, the base was assigned to the Second Air Force under the XX Bomber Command. On 12 April 1944, Marietta AAF was reassigned to the 17th Bombardment Operation Training Unit.

Marietta Army Airfield and the Defense Production Plant #6, 1944
B-29s on the night production line at Bell Aircraft, Atlanta, 1944

A Bell Aircraft Corporation factory for the Boeing-designed B-29 Superfortress bomber was built next to the airfield, beginning operations in the spring of 1943. The Defense Plant Corporation provided funding for the project, known as Plant #6. Bell rolled out its first B-29 on schedule and flew it on 4 November 1943. Production of B-29s increased slowly through 1944, however by the fall of 1944, Bell production began to meet and exceed its goals.

By January 1945, Bell completed 357 B-29s. After that date, production switched to the B-29B, a stripped down version of the Superfortress without the computerized gun system and other components that raised the allowable bomb load from 11,000 to 18,000 pounds. The new B-29B radar, mounted in a wing-shaped radome under the fuselage, gave much better images of the ground. The 315th Bombardment Wing based at Northwest Field, Guam, received most of the B-29Bs for night low altitude pathfinder led missions against Japan. Bell built a total of 311 B-29Bs before the plant closed in January 1946. At its height, the Bell Bomber plant employed 28,263.

Post-war

Marietta Army Airfield remained open after the war and became the home of Georgia Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve units. The first post¬war ANG unit, the 128th Fighter Squadron, activated at Marietta on 20 August 1946, with P-47 Thunderbolts. This was followed by the activation of the headquarters of the 116th Fighter Group on 9 September and the activation of the headquarters of the 54th Fighter Wing which commanded 56 units of the Air National Guard throughout the Southeastern states.

In 1948, part of the land and barracks at the original Naval Air Station Atlanta in Chamblee were given to the state, for the purpose of creating an engineering technology school that could rapidly train returning soldiers for civilian work in various technical fields. The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta created the Southern Technical Institute (now Southern Polytechnic State University), which was moved to land given by Dobbins AFB in 1958. NAS Atlanta also moved next to Dobbins around that time, leaving the original site to become DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.

In 1948 the airfield became Marietta Air Force Base as a result of the creation of the United States Air Force. In 1950, the Air Force renamed the base Dobbins AFB Dobbins Air Force Base in honor of Captain Charles M. Dobbins of Marietta, a World War II transport pilot. Captain Dobbins' died near Sicily on July 11, 1943 when US Navy gunners who had earlier suffered a Luftwaffe attack mistakenly downed his C-47. He was flying his third mission of the day, dropping paratroopers.

Following the war, The Bell Aircraft Plant #6 remained closed for five years, In 1951, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation took over the plant to modify B-29s for the Korean War. Lockheed Marietta also went on to build 394 B-47 Stratojets at the plant under license from Boeing. Additionally, Lockheed also conducted a B-47 modification program at Marietta. To handle the B-47 production and modification work, the airfield received a 10,000 x 300-ft. runway. Over the years, the Lockheed plant constructed the Lockheed JetStar business jet (C-140), C-130 Hercules, C-141 Starlifter, and C-5 Galaxy.

In 1957, the Atlanta Naval Air Station at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport in Chamblee moved to Dobbins. The Navy constructed a cantonment area on the southwest portion of Dobbins for their use. Over the years, a wide variety of Air Force aircraft have been stationed at Dobbins with the Air Guard and Reserves including the P-51, F-84, F-86, C-97, C-124, F-100, F-4, C-130, and the F-15.

Current and future

Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 66-8306 in 1980s European One color scheme
C-130s on the flightline of Dobbins Air Reserve Base
The first operational F-22 Raptor in production at the Lockheed Martin assembly plant

The future of Plant #6 seems secure. In 1995, Lockheed merged with Martin Marietta to become Lockheed-Martin. The C-130 Hercules remains in production 50 years after the first one rolled out in 1955. Work also continues on the F-22 Raptor and the Joint Strike Fighter. Dobbins has its own ZIP code, 30069, and Lockheed also has its own ZIP code, 30063. (However, Marietta is the only place name considered acceptable by the USPS for either of these.)

Dobbins is also an automated weather station, reporting five minutes before every hour. Until sometime in 2008, it only reported from 7am to 11pm (6:55 to 10:55/22:55), although it occasionally reported overnight during unusual weather conditions, such as strong winds due to the 2004 hurricanes (Frances, Jeanne, Ivan). Local conditions shown on The Weather Channel and Weatherscan are now taken from a different system setup by TWC during the mid-2000s; until then, overnight conditions for local cable TV systems came from Fulton County Airport.

Like most U.S. bases, Dobbins has had to fend off several attempts at closing it, as part of streamlining the country's military and reducing unnecessary spending. Development has steadily encroached upon the base since the war. 1989 A-7 Corsair II and 1993 C-130 Hercules plane crashes into residential areas near the base raised questions of safety in having a base in such a densely-populated suburban area. The airfield now sits in a vast sea of urban development, Flying demonstrations at air shows were discontinued some years ago because of safety concerns, although the Navy hosted an air show in 2004.

Public complaints about the noise continue, and attempts to close the facility have been thwarted so far by powerful local politicians, such as former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn in 1995. However, some have proposed that it again become a commercial airport, as it was originally envisioned.

Dobbins is the only U.S. military facility left in northern Georgia after 2005 BRAC recommendations were enacted. The Air National Guard transferred to Robins AFB in 1996, leaving Air Force Reserve C-130s as the only Air Force flying units at the base. The 148th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), 151st Aviation, and 171st Aviation units of the Army National Guard are also based there. More units are moving to Dobbins as the Georgia Army National Guard takes over NAS Atlanta.

In 2003, the Air Force Reserve Command changed the name of Dobbins Air Reserve Base to that of Dobbins Joint Air Reserve Base.[4]

In September 2005, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew out of Dobbins after Hurricane Katrina did major damage to their normal home at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Numerous evacuees also came to metro Atlanta through Dobbins, including many medevaced medical patients taken in by local hospitals.

Until the late 20th century, the oldest building on base was part of the Lockheed complex, and was built before the American Civil War. Legend has it that the only reason the building wasn't burned to the ground during Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's "March to the Sea" in 1864 was because the building's owner, a British citizen, had flown the British flag during the occupation of Marietta, part of the Atlanta Campaign.

Near Dobbins' main gate stands a Wichita built B-29 "Sweet Eloise" (B-29-80-BW 44-70113) which is on public display as a memorial to the World War II bomber production plant at the site. However, at least two Marietta-built B-29s have survived the years. One is on display at the Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park near Cordele (B-29A-15-BN 42-93967) and the other (B-29B-55-BA 44-84053) is located at Robins Air Force Base' Museum of Flight near Macon.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Shettle, M. L. (2005), Georgia's Army Airfields of World War II. ISBN 0-9643388-3-1
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0892010975

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Dobbins Air Reserve Base".

  1. ^ FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective 11 Mar 2010
  2. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for MGE (Form 5010 PDF), retrieved 2007-07-31
  3. ^ Dobbins Air Reserve Base, official site
  4. ^ Dobbins Air Reserve Base at GlobalSecurity.org

External links


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