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Nebraska World War II Army Airfields

Us army air corps shield.svg

Part of World War II
Nebraska-aaf-map2.jpg
World War II USAAF Airfields in Nebraska
Type Army Airfields
Built 1940-1944
In use 1940-Present
Controlled by United States Army Air Forces
Garrison Army Air Force Training Command

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

As early as September 1940 President Roosevelt's Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense gathered information on where to place army airfields in the midwestern states. The east and west coasts were thought vulnerable to potential attack, and the midwest was considered a safe place to put defense training sites, manufacturing facilities, and installations.

Through surveys conducted in 1940 and 1941, the USAAF found Nebraska ideal for training purposes. Meteorologists decided that the state had excellent year-round flying conditions. Additionally, Nebraska was lightly populated with large open areas which would provide numerous locations for gunnery, bombing and training ranges. The land was relatively inexpensive. The state was intersected with many reliable railroad lines which could transport troops and material to Airfields and training facilities. Nebraska also had a strong public utilities system, which meant that the United States military would need to deal with few facilities to obtain electricity for airfields and training facilities.

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 Nebraska. In addition to providing training for servicemen, the air bases provided jobs for many civilians. Civilians were employed in maintenance, repair, and secretarial work.

Along with the existing Fort Crook/Offutt Army Airfield, the USAAF established eleven airfields (AAF), the majority of them being under the command of Second Air Force, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado between 1942 and 1945. These were:

353d Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber, Fighter training
Now: Ainsworth Regional Airport (ANW)
434th Troop Carrier Group, Troop Carrier Command
Transport, Glider training; Flexible Gunnery School; Parachute Training
Second Air Force B-29 Superfortress aircrew training
Now: Alliance Municipal Airport (AIA)
510th Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber, Fighter training
Now: Airport until 1969. Currently in Agricultural use and as a cattle feedlot.
241st Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber, B-29 Superfortress, Fighter training
Now: Fairmont State Airfield (FMZ)
242d Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
B-29 Superfortress training
Strategic Air Command (1946) (B-29)
449th/28th Bombardment Groups
Now: Central Nebraska Regional Airport (GRI)
521th Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber, B-29 Superfortress training
Now: Harvard State Airport (08K)
485th Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber training
Kearney Air Force Base
Strategic Air Command (1946-1949) (F-82 Twin Mustang)
27th Fighter Wing
Now: Kearney Municipal Airport (EAR)
Western Technical Training Center, Army Air Forces Training Command
Strategic Air Command
Lincoln Air Force Base (1952-1966)
98th/307th Bombardment Wings (B-52s, ICBMs)
Now: Lincoln Airport (LNK))
Now: Lincoln Air National Guard Base (Nebraska ANG)
520th Operational Training Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber, B-29 Superfortress training
Now: Airport until 1952. Now agricultural area.
4190th Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber training
Glider Training, Troop Carrier Command
Now: Western Nebraska Regional Airport (BFF)
4316th Army Air Force Base Unit, Second Air Force
Heavy Bomber, Fighter training
Now: Scribner State Airport (SCB)

Construction of these facilities was based on standardized plans and architectural drawings, with the buildings designed to be the "cheapest, temporary character with structural stability only sufficient to meet the needs of the service which the structure is intended to fulfill during the period of its contemplated war use." To conserve critical materials, most facilities were constructed of wood, concrete, brick, gypsum board and concrete asbestos. Metal was sparsely used. Each facility was designed to be nearly self-sufficient, with not only hangars, but barracks, mess halls, even hospitals and recreation centers

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.

Currently, of the World War II Army Airfields in Nebraska, six are municipal airports (Ainsworth, Alliance, Scottsbluff, Lincoln, Kearney, Grand Island), four are owned by the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics (three, Harvard, Fairmont and Scribner, are operated as state airfields, and one, Bruning, is not), one is privately owned (McCook) and one is Offutt Air Force Base and Lincoln Airport hosts the Nebraska Air National Guard.

The memories of them still remain in the small towns which are very proud of the part they played in wartime.

References

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

  • ArmyAirForces.Com
  • 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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