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Barksdale Army Air Field

Military site : airfield

Detailed history

Barksdale Field was named in honor of 2nd Lieutenant Eugene Hoy Barksdale (1895–1926) on 2 February 1933. Lieutenant Barksdale received his wings in Great Britain in 1918 and flew with the British during World War I. Barksdale died on 11 August 1926, over McCook Field near Dayton, Ohio when testing a Douglas O-2 observation airplane for spin characteristics. He did not recover from a flat spin while parachuting out of the plane, and his parachute was caught in the wing's brace wires, causing Barksdale to fall to his death. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.[6]

The name of the airfield was changed to Barksdale Air Force Base on 13 February 1948, concurrent with the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate military branch.

Airships were still in use when field construction began, so Hangars One and Two were built large enough to accommodate them. No airships were ever assigned, but each hangar was large enough to accommodate two Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers wingtip to wingtip, which proved invaluable for Big Belly and Pacer Plank modifications managed by Boeing's Wichita plant between 1965 and 1973. Half of the B-52Fs were deployed from Barksdale, but never returned as they were replaced by B-52Gs after the Vietnam War.

Origins[edit]

As early as 1924, the citizens of Shreveport became interested in hosting a military flying field. In 1926, Shreveport citizens learned that the 3rd Attack Wing stationed at Fort Crockett, Texas, would be enlarged by 500 percent and would require at least 20,000 acres (81 km2) to support aerial gunnery and a bombing range. In February 1928, a delegation of prominent Shreveport citizens hired a young crop duster, an Air Corps captain named Harold Ross Harris, to fly over the local area and find a suitable site for an airfield.

Captain Harris selected what he felt was an adequate location for a military airfield. It was a sprawling section of cotton plantation near Bossier City The site selection committee, representing the wealthiest taxpayers in the city, unanimously agreed upon the Barksdale Field location. A delegation of citizens traveled to Washington, D.C., to personally present the advantages of the proposed site to the War Department. Following the return of this delegation, a special Army board visited Shreveport and reported the location met all requirements of the Air Corps.

The site was selected 5 December 1928, as the location of the airfield.

Construction of Barksdale Field began in 1931, when hangars, runways, and billets were built. Early flying operations began on 7 November 1932, with the arrival of the 20th Pursuit Group and its three pursuit squadrons equipped with the Boeing P-12 and Boeing P-26 Peashooter. The airfield was officially opened and dedicated on 2 February 1933.

By the mid-1930s, Barksdale Field was the headquarters and main base of the 3rd Attack Wing, equipped with the Curtiss A-12 and Northrop A-17. The airfield was used by both fighter and attack pilots to hone their gunnery and bombing skills. Additional barracks were constructed 1936–1937, and light bombers replaced pursuit and attack aircraft.

World War II[edit]

Barksdale was developed as an Air Corps flying school November 1940 and the runway apron was completed mid-1941. Between 23 and 25 May 1940, Barksdale Field was host to the Army's "complete military maneuvers" simulating European combat operations. Some 320 aircraft from throughout the Army Air Corps participated, as Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower watched. General George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, also briefly visited Barksdale Field during the latter stages of the maneuvers.

During World War II, the airfield trained replacement crews and entire units between 1942 and 1945. Known units that trained at Barksdale were:
27th Bombardment Group (Light) 1 February 1940 – 7 October 1940 (Douglas A-24 Dauntless)
8th Pursuit Group 5 September 1941 – 7 October 1941 (Curtiss P-40 Warhawk)
46th Bombardment Group (Light) 2 February 1942 – 1 April 1942 (Douglas A-20 Havoc)
44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) February 1942 – July 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
98th Bombardment Group (Heavy) February 1942 – 30 March 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) 1 March 1942 – 26 March 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)
93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) 1 March 1942 – 15 May 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
90th Bombardment Group (Heavy) 17 May 1942 – 21 June 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
17th Bombardment Group (Medium) 23 June 1942 – November 1942 (Martin B-26 Marauder)
95th Bombardment Group (Heavy) 15 June 1942 – 26 June 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)
100th Bombardment Group (Heavy) 18 June 1942 – 26 June 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)
319th Bombardment Group (Medium) 26 June 1942 – 8 August 1942 (Martin B-26 Marauder)
321st Bombardment Group (Medium) 26 June 1942 – 1 August 1942 (North American B-25 Mitchell)

The 335th Bombardment Group (Medium) took over training duties as a permanent Operational Training Unit (OTU) on 17 July 1942 with Martin B-26 Marauders. On 1 May 1944, the 335th was replaced by the 331st Army Air Force (AAF) Base Unit as the OTU, being subsequently replaced by the 2621st AAF Base Unit on 1 December 1945. The 2621st provided pilot training until 26 September 1947, when it was inactivated and replaced by the 2621st Air Force Base Unit.

Also during World War II Barksdale played host to the major contingent of the Free French Air Forces and Nationalist Chinese aircrews.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

  • 27th Fighter Group

    27th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 27th went through two different incarnations during the Second World War. As the 27th Bombardment Group it fought in the Philippines and Java in 1941-42. It was then reformed in the US and sent to North Africa, where it eventually became the 27th...

People

  • Joseph Curreri

    Military | Sergeant | Air Crew Member - Airplane Mechanic | 93rd Bomb Group
    Inducted: 29 January 1942 - Camp Upton, New York ...

  • Kenneth Erhard

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    As Ken was an independent and rather adventurous young man, he attempted several times to enlist in the military, but was always turned down because of his age. He was finally accepted in late November 1941 at the age of 19.   He wanted to be in the...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage, and heroism for...

  • John Young

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. John S. Young was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Bored with college at SMU in Dallas, and knowing the country was headed for war, he joined the Army Air Force early in 1941 and began training as an aviation cadet. He was known as "Johnny" or ...

Aircraft

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
16 September 2020 17:53:25 curreri Changes to person associations
Sources

Daddy of Them All: Story of the 17th Bomb Group in WWII Paperback – 1 Jan. 1990
Paperback : 78 pages
ISBN-10 : 096059003X
ISBN-13 : 978-0960590032
Publisher : Boomerang Publishers (1 Jan. 1990)
Language: : English

Date Contributor Update
06 December 2016 03:03:32 466thHistorian Created entry with name, known as, latitude, longitude, usaaf from date, construction date and history
Sources

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

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