On 30 August 1940, the United States Army Air Corps received approval to build a base at Hunter Municipal Airfield. Official dedication of the airfield as Savannah Army Air Base took place 19 February 1941. The Army Air Corps assigned Savannah AAB initially to the Southeast Air District (later Third Air Force), III Air Support Command.
The 27th Bombardment Group, equipped with Douglas B-18 Bolo medium bomber aircraft was the first assigned unit to the new airfield. The 27th was reassigned to the field from Barksdale Field, Louisiana. The group consisted of the 15th, 16th and 17th Bombardment Squadrons. In 1941, the group was reequipped with Douglas A-24 Banshee Dive Bombers, and on 21 October 1941 the group was ordered to the Philippine Islands in response to the growing crisis in the Pacific. The 27th returned to Hunter, without personnel or equipment on 4 May 1942 after being severely depleted in strength during the Battle of the Philippines (1942), and subsequent combat in the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea Campaigns (1942). The unit was reequipped with A-20 Havocs, remanned and retrained at Hunter. It was then deployed for combat with Twelfth Air Force in North Africa in July 1942.
During early 1942 after the Pearl Harbor Attack, Savannah AAB became a base for several Antisubmarine groups and squadrons of I Bomber Command and later Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command with a mission to patrol the Atlantic coast, locate and attack German U-Boats.
Throughout 1942, light bomber and dive bomber groups received combat training at Savannah AAB before being deployed to the combat zones overseas. Units assigned were:
85th Bombardment Group (Light), 9 June – 15 August 1942
86th Bombardment Group (Light), 20 June – 7 August 1942
311th Bombardment Group (Light), 4 July – 22 October 1942
339th Bombardment Group (Dive), 10 August 1942 – 6 February 1943
With the U-Boat mission taken over by the Navy after mid-1943, Savannah AAB became a training base for B-26 Marauder medium bomber crews. Marauder groups which received final combat training were:
344th Bombardment Group (Medium), 19 December 1943 – 26 January 1944
397th Bombardment Group (Medium), 1 November 1943 – 13 March 1944
At the end of the war, Savannah AAB was used as a Separation Center for the discharge and furlough of service members returning from Europe. In June 1946, the airfield was returned to the City of Savannah.
From 1946 to 1949, many of its buildings were leased to industrial plants. Some of the buildings were used as apartment houses, and an orphanage was located in the former commanding officer’s quarters. The University of Georgia established an extension campus on part of the old base, as well.
English Heritage's record description
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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...
The Group was constituted as 86th Bombardment Group (Light) on 13-Jan 1942, and activated on 10 Feb 1942. It was redesignated 86th Bombardment Group (Dive) in Sep 1942, 86th Fighter-Bomber Group in Aug 1943, and 86th Fighter Group in May 1944.
Military | First Lieutenant | fighter pilot | 370th Fighter Group
Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 397th Bomb Group
George was born at home at 850 Columbus Avenue in New York City on September 28, 1917. At that time his father, John, worked for the railroad and eventually became a chauffer. His mother was busy at home raising three other children. George had the...
Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Radio Operator/ Aerial Gunner/ Aerial Gunner Instructor | 94th Bomb Group
Emil Thomas Petersen, radio operator, Gunner, Gunnery Instructor missed the mission where his aircraft and all its crew members were lost as he was ill. He was then transferred to the Texas Mauler B-17
B-17 Flying Fortress
Available: 2 May 1944
B-17 Flying Fortress
Delivered Hunter 22/11/44; Grenier 4/12/44; Assigned 333BS/94BG [TS-T] Rougham 7/12/44; Returned to the USA Bradley 8/7/44; Sth Plains 10/7/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 29/12/45; JIMBO'S CIRCUS.