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Dalhart Army Air Base

Military site : airfield

Detailed history

In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Dalhart Texan newspaper began asking its readers what they could do to support America’s war effort. Three prominent men in Dalhart, Herman Steele, manager of the Dalhart Chamber of Commerce, along with Mayor Herbert Peeples and Elmer Elliot, manager of the DeSoto Hotel announced plans to petition the Army Air Corps to build a training base near the town.
On Wednesday, 20 May 1942, The Dalhart Texan reported they had been successful in bringing to Dalhart a new glider school. The official announcement came from Representative Eugene Worley’s office. Land for the airfield was purchased as a result of Dallam and Hartley Country issuing a bond in 1942 for the purchase of more than 3,000 acres of land southwest of Dalhart for an Army Air Corps training airfield.
Construction proceeded on the new army airfield and Dalhart Army Airfield opened in May 1942. While under construction the command's temporary headquarters operated from a tent city in Amarillo. During the summer of 1942 three runways were laid down along with a large parking ramp and taxiway system. Four large hangars along with support buildings, barracks a street network, electric, sewer and water lines were constructed. On 1 July 1942, the still uncompleted airfield was assigned to the Central Flying Training Command, being under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces Glider School. In September 1942, Cadets began arriving for training at the school.

Glider training was performed by the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron, which arrived on 9 October 1942 with C-47 Skytrains being used for tow planes. The 878th, 879th and 880th Glider Training Squadrons were established at the base, equipped with the new Waco CG-4A "Hadrian" Glider. Cadets honed their skills, takeoff, and towed flight on a 350' nylon rope behind a C-47 Skytrain tow plane. The pilots held their position with two gliders being double towed. Also gliders were prepared on the ground for being snatched by a tow aircraft flying overhead. Cadets also were trained in infantry skills, as they were expected to serve as combat soldiers after landing.[1][2]
In February 1943, Dalhart was transferred to Second Air Force, which placed the base under the jurisdiction of II Bomber Command. The new mission of the base was to be B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber aircrew replacement training. Graduates of the training would then be assigned to new combat groups or be sent directly to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) for assignment as replacements. On 21 February, the 46th Bombardment Training Wing was organized at the base. In March 1943, the Glider School was transferred to South Plains Army Airfield near Lubbock.[1][2]
The 333d Bombardment Group became the Replacement Training Unit (RTU). Cadets flew training missions over practice target areas in the Texas Panhandle. Along with the 333d, the Third Air Force 415th Bombardment Group trained medium bomber pilots in A-20 Havoc, A-26 Invader and B-25 Mitchell medium Bombers. Fighter cadets were also trained in P-39 Airacobras and A-24 Banshee Dive Bombers. The 415th utilized the Hartley (#1) and Dallum (#2) satellite airfields for training leaving the main base to the heavy four-engine bomber training.[1][2]
In March 1944, the mission of Dalhart was again changed to B-29 Superfortress training as crews were needed in the Pacific Theater for the strategic bombardment of Japan. Second Air Force took over control of the base directly, with the 16th Bombardment Training Wing taking over training from the 46th on 1 March 1944. Along with the B-29 training, Second Air Force also organized the 72d Fighter Wing at Dalhart, with the 347th Fighter Group and 507th Fighter Groups taking over the Hartley and Dallam airfields. The 347th trained P-38 Lightning pilots and the 507th P-47N Thunderbolt pilots in very long range escort missions to support XX Bomber Command B-29 Superfortresses on strategic bombardment missions to the Japanese Home Islands.

Several groups trained in B-29s, one of which, the 393d Bomb Squadron, 504th Bombardment Group, was later selected by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., to serve as the core of an experimental unit. The 393d was the first and only squadron to fly missions with Atomic Bombs and attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945.

Glider training was performed by the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron, which arrived on 9 October 1942 with C-47 Skytrains being used for tow planes. The 878th, 879th and 880th Glider Training Squadrons were established at the base, equipped with the new Waco CG-4A "Hadrian" Glider. Cadets honed their skills, takeoff, and towed flight on a 350' nylon rope behind a C-47 Skytrain tow plane. The pilots held their position with two gliders being double towed. Also gliders were prepared on the ground for being snatched by a tow aircraft flying overhead. Cadets also were trained in infantry skills, as they were expected to serve as combat soldiers after landing.[1][2]
In February 1943, Dalhart was transferred to Second Air Force, which placed the base under the jurisdiction of II Bomber Command. The new mission of the base was to be B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber aircrew replacement training. Graduates of the training would then be assigned to new combat groups or be sent directly to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) for assignment as replacements. On 21 February, the 46th Bombardment Training Wing was organized at the base. In March 1943, the Glider School was transferred to South Plains Army Airfield near Lubbock.[1][2]
The 333d Bombardment Group became the Replacement Training Unit (RTU). Cadets flew training missions over practice target areas in the Texas Panhandle. Along with the 333d, the Third Air Force 415th Bombardment Group trained medium bomber pilots in A-20 Havoc, A-26 Invader and B-25 Mitchell medium Bombers. Fighter cadets were also trained in P-39 Airacobras and A-24 Banshee Dive Bombers. The 415th utilized the Hartley (#1) and Dallum (#2) satellite airfields for training leaving the main base to the heavy four-engine bomber training.[1][2]
In March 1944, the mission of Dalhart was again changed to B-29 Superfortress training as crews were needed in the Pacific Theater for the strategic bombardment of Japan. Second Air Force took over control of the base directly, with the 16th Bombardment Training Wing taking over training from the 46th on 1 March 1944. Along with the B-29 training, Second Air Force also organized the 72d Fighter Wing at Dalhart, with the 347th Fighter Group and 507th Fighter Groups taking over the Hartley and Dallam airfields. The 347th trained P-38 Lightning pilots and the 507th P-47N Thunderbolt pilots in very long range escort missions to support XX Bomber Command B-29 Superfortresses on strategic bombardment missions to the Japanese Home Islands.[1][2]

Graduating B-24 Liberator aircrew, 1944
Several groups trained in B-29s, one of which, the 393d Bomb Squadron, 504th Bombardment Group, was later selected by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., to serve as the core of an experimental unit. The 393d was the first and only squadron to fly missions with Atomic Bombs and attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945.

14th Troop Carrier Squadron (9 October 1942 – 27 February 1943) (C-47)
46th Bombardment Training Wing, 21 February 1943 – 1 March 1944
333d Bombardment Group (B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator) (RTU)
466th Bombardment Squadron (22 February 1943-1 April 1944)
467th Bombardment Squadron (22 February 1943-1 April 1944)
468th Bombardment Squadron (22 February 1943-1 April 1944)
469th Bombardment Squadron (22 February 1943-1 April 1944)
415th Bombardment Group ( A-20's, A-24's, A-26's, B-25's, and P-39 RTU)
465th Bombardment Squadron: 23 March 1943 – 5 April 1944
521st Fighter-Bomber (formerly 667th) Bombardment Squadron: 15 February 1943 – 5 April 1944
23d Fighter Squadron (27 October-24 December 1943) (P-39, P-40)
72d Fighter Wing, 1 April-30 May 1945
347th Fighter Group (18 August 1944 – 18 January 1945) (P-38 Lighting)
507th Fighter Group (15 December 1944 – 24 April 1945) (P-47N Thunderbolt)
16th Bombardment Training Wing, 1 March 1944 – 30 September 1945
6th Bombardment Group (19 April-19 May 1944)
9th Bombardment Group (9 March-19 May 1944)
331st Bombardment Group (12 July-14 November 1944)
333d Bombardment Group (7 July 1944 – 13 January 1945)
382d Bombardment Group (25 August-11 December 1944)
383d Bombardment Group (28 August 1944 – 14 January 1945)
449th Bombardment Group (24 July-8 September 1945)
502d Bombardment Group (5 June-26 September 1944)

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Aircraft

  • 42-30590

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 22/6/43; Gore 8/7/43; Dalhart 9/7/43; Tinker 25/7/43; Dalhart 9/8/43; 232 BU Dalhart 9/6/44; 271 BU Kearney 8/10/44; 232 BU Dalhart 19/10/44; 110 BU Mitchell 6/11/44; 232 BU Dalhart 10/11/44; 272 BU Topeka 2/12/44; 232 BU Dalhart 8...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
26 March 2019 14:42:38 466thHistorian Created entry with name, latitude, longitude, usaaf from date, usaaf to date and history
Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalhart_Army_Air_Base

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