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Kansas World War II Army Airfields

Us army air corps shield.svg

Part of World War II
Kansas-airfields-2.jpg
Locations of World War II USAAF Airfields in Kansas
Type Army Airfields
Built 1940-1944
In use 1940-Present
Controlled by United States Army Air Forces
Garrison Army Air Force Training Command

During World War II, Kansas was a major United States Army Air Force (USAAF) training center for pilots and aircrews of USAAF fighters and bombers. Kansas was a favored because it has excellent, year-round flying conditions. The sparsely populated land made ideal locations for gunnery, bombing, and training ranges.

Contents

World War II

The USAAF established fifteen airfields (AAF), under the command of Second Air Force, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado between 1942 and 1945. These were:

The training that was given to the airmen stationed at these airfields gave them the skills and knowledge that enabled them to enter combat in all theaters of warfare, and enabled the Allies to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

The majority of these airfields were located in rural farmland, near small farming towns. The effect of stationing thousands of airmen brought the reality of war to rural and small town Kansas. In addition to providing training for servicemen, the air bases provided jobs for many civilians. Civilians were employed in maintenance, repair, and secretarial work.

Postwar Use

After the war ended, the vast majority of these airfields were declared surplus by the USAAF and were either sold to the public or turned over to the local community. Most of them today are small, rural general aviation airports. Many World-War II era reminders remain with abandoned runways and streets, with some wartime-era buildings still in use.

Marshall AAF is located at Fort Riley. It is still in use by the United States Army as a military airfield and is not open to the public.

Sherman AAF is located at Fort Leavenworth. Although the airfield is within the confines of a United States Army post and is still used by the military, it has agreement with the city of Leavenworth to permit civilian use at all hours.

Smoky Hill AAF and Topeka AAF became major United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases (Shilling AFB, Forbes AFB). In the 1960s and early 1970s they were taken off active duty and were turned over to the local communities for redevelopment. Both are still in use by the Air National Guard.

McConnell AFB was not an active USAAF installation during World War II. It is located at the site of Wichita's original municipal airport, which shared a runway with the Boeing Aircraft Wichita facility. Boeing produced B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-29 Superfortresses at Wichita, and the USAAF Air Materiel Command took over control of the airport in 1942 to accept, service and coordinate the transfer of newly-produced aircraft to other installations. It was returned to civilian jurisdiction in 1946. Wichita Municipal Airport was acquired by the United States Air Force in 1951, and it eventually became McConnell AFB.

See also

References

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.

External links

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