Wilbur Wright Field, circa 1920
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|Type||Pilot training airfield|
|National Museum of the United States Air Force|
Air Service, United States Army|
United States Army Air Forces
|Garrison||Training Section, Air Service|
World War I
World War II
Wilbur Wright Field was a military installation and an airfield used as a World War I pilot, mechanic, and armorer training facility and, under different designations, conducted United States Army Air Corps and Air Forces flight testing. Located near Riverside, Ohio, the site is officially "Area B" of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and includes the National Museum of the United States Air Force built on the airfield.
History[edit | edit source]
World War I[edit | edit source]
Wilbur Wright Field was established in 1917 for World War I on 2,075 acres (840 ha) of land adjacent to the Mad River which included the 1910 Wright Brothers' Huffman Prairie Flying Field and that was leased to the Army by the Miami Conservancy District. Logistics support to Wilbur Wright Field was by the adjacent Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot established in January 1918:7 and which also supplied three[specify]
other midwest Signal Corps aviation schools. A Signal Corps Aviation School began in June 1917 for providing combat pilots to the Western Front in France, and the field housed an aviation mechanic's school and an armorer's school. On 19 June 1918, Lt. Frank Stuart Patterson at the airfield was testing machine gun/propeller synchronization when a tie rod failure broke the wings off his Airco DH.4M while diving from 15,000 ft (4,600 m).[verification needed] Also in 1918, McCook Field near Dayton between Keowee Street and the Great Miami River began using space and mechanics at Wilbur Wright Field. Following World War I, the training school[which?] at Wilbur Wright Field was discontinued.
Training units assigned to Wilbur Wright Field
- 42d Aero Squadron, August 1917
- Re-designated Squadron "I"; October 1918-February 1919
- 44th Aero Squadron, August 1917
- Re-designated Squadron "K"; October 1918
- Re-designated Squadron "P"; November 1918-April 1919
- 231st Aero Squadron (II), April 1918
- Re-designated Squadron "A", July–December 1918; Assigned to Armorers' School
- 246th Aero Squadron (II), May 1918
- Re-designated Squadron "L", October 1918-February 1919
- 342d Aero Squadron, August 1918
- Re-designated Squadron "M" October 1918
- Re-designated Squadron "Q" November 1918-April 1919
- 507th Aero Squadron, July 1918-April 1919
- 512th Aero Squadron (Supply), July 1918-April 1919
- 669th Aero Squadron (Supply), May 1918-April 1919
- 678th Aero Squadron (Supply), February 1918-April 1919
- 851st Aero Squadron, March 1918
- Re-designated Squadron "B" July 1918-April 1919
Combat units trained at Wilbur Wright Field
- 12th Aero Squadron, July–November 1917; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 13th Aero Squadron, July–November 1917; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 20th Aero Squadron, July–November 1917; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 43d Aero Squadron, August–December 1917; Transferred to Ellington Field, Texas
- 47th Aero Squadron, August 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 149th Aero Squadron, August 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 159th Aero Squadron, December 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 162d Aero Squadron, December 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 163d Aero Squadron, December 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 166th Aero Squadron, December 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 172d Aero Squadron, December 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
Service units trained at Wilbur Wright Field
- 19th Aero Squadron, July–November 1917; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 151st Aero Squadron, December 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 211th Aero Squadron, December 1917-February 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 255th Aero Squadron, March–June 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 256th Aero Squadron; March–June 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 257th Aero Squadron; March–June 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 258th Aero Squadron; March–June 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 259th Aero Squadron; March–July 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 260th Aero Squadron; March–July 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 265th Aero Squadron; March–July 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
- 287th Aero Squadron, May–July 1918; Transferred to Chanute Field, Illinois
- 288th Aero Squadron, May–July 1918; Transferred to Chanute Field, Illinois
- 827th Aero Squadron (Repair), February–March 1918; Deployed to American Expeditionary Forces
Inter-war years[edit | edit source]
1923 records for speed, distance, and endurance were set by an April 16 Fokker T-2 flight from Wilbur Wright Field which used a 50 km (31 mi) course around the water tower, the McCook Field water tower, and a pylon placed at New Carlisle. In June 1923, an Air Service TC-1 airship "was wrecked in a storm at Wilbur Wright Field" and by 1924, the field had "an interlock system" radio beacon using Morse code command guidance (dash-dot "N" for port, dot-dash "A" for starboard) illuminating instrument board lights.:155 The Field Service Section at Wilbur Wright Field merged with McCook's Engineering Division to form the Materiel Division on 15 October 1926 ("moved to Wright Field when McCook Field closed in 1927"). The Air Service's "control station for the model airway"—which scheduled military flights of the Airways Section—moved to Wilbur Wright Field from McCook Field in the late 1920s (originally "at Bolling Field until 1925").
Redesignations[edit | edit source]
For an aerial war game of 1929, "Fairfield" was the headquarters of the Blue air force: a Blue "airdrome north of Dayton at Troy" was strafed on May 16 ("a raid on the airdrome at Fairfield" was later expected), "Dayton" was the May 21 take off site for a round-trip bomber attack on New York, and "target areas at Fairfield" were used for live bombing on May 25.:242–5 A provisional division was "assembled at Dayton" on May 16, 1931, for maneuvers in which "Maj. Henry H. Arnold, division G-4 (Supply), had stocks at Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Buffalo; Middletown, Pennsylvania; Aberdeen, Maryland; and Bolling Field to service units as they flew eastward.":236 The depot remained active until 1946.
Wright Field[edit | edit source]
In 1924, the Dayton community purchased 4,500 acres (1,821 ha) the portion of Fairfield Air Depot leased in 1917 for Wilbur Wright Field along with an additional 750 acres (300 ha) in Montgomery County to the southwest (now part of Riverside.) The combined area[Clarification needed]
was named Wright Field to honor both Wright Brothers.[need quotation to verify] A new installation with permanent brick facilities was constructed on the new ground to replace McCook Field and was dedicated 12 October 1927. Transfer of 4,500 tons of engineering materiel, office equipment and other assets at McCook Field to Wright Field began on March 25, 1927, and was 85% complete by June 1 after moving 1,859 truckloads. "The Engineering School shut down for the school year 1927-28 at Wright Field, which had the Army Air Corps Museum in Building 12.
By November 1930, "the laboratory at Wright Field" had planes fitted as flying laboratories" (e.g., B-19 "flying laboratory" with "8-foot tires"),:139 and the equipment of the 1929 Full Flight Laboratory (closed out[where?] by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics, which had established the principle of safe fog flying) was moved to Wright Field by the end of 1931. Materiel Division’s Fog Flying Unit under 1st Lt. Albert F. Hegenberger used the equipment for blind landings.
Patterson Field[edit | edit source]
of Wright Field east of Huffman Dam (including Fairfield Air Depot, Huffman Prairie, and Wright Field's airfield). Patterson Field became the location of the Materiel Division of the Air Corps and a key logistics center and in 1935, quarters were built at Patterson Field:350 which in 1939 still "was without runways…heavier aircraft met difficulty in landing in inclement weather.":7 Wright Field retained the land west of the Huffman Dam and became the research and development center of the Air Corps.
Pre-war events[edit | edit source]
Engineering and flight activities of the two installations after the designation of Patterson Field included numerous aviation achievements and failures prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor:
|1932 May||Patterson||Blind landings at Patterson Field were conducted by the Fog Flying Unit using a variation of Doolitte's landing system from Mitchel Field.:278|
|1933-01||Wright||Both metal, two-place, low-wing monoplanes from Consolidated Aircraft (Y lP-25 for pursuit, XA-11 for attack) crashed during tests.|
|1933-05||Patterson||The Blue air force flew a simulated attack on Fort Knox representing "a rail and supply center" (the Red force's 1st Pursuit Group "maintained surveillance of Patterson Field" and relayed bombers' take off via a transport plane circling near Cincinnati.).:414|
|1933-07||Wright||The Materiel Division 1st course on the Mark XV Norden bombsight instructed "a few officers in care, maintenance, and operation" (2nd class finished September 1, 1934.)|
|1935-08-28||Wright||"Automatic radio navigation equipment comprising Sperry automatic pilot mechanically linked to standard radio compass" tested by Equipment Branch.:354|
|1935-10-30||Wright||The "Flying Fortress" prototype "Boeing 299 crashed during testing [after] no one had unlocked the rudder and elevator controls", killing the Flying Division chief and Boeing test pilot.|
|1935-12-31||[specify]||"Device insuring automatic fuel transfer in airplanes with reserve fuel tanks developed by Air Corps Materiel Division.":354|
|1936 fall||Wright||Douglas Aircraft "delivered the first B-18 to Wright Field".|
|1936-12||Wright||The XB-15, "largest bombardment plane to date, from Boeing Plant at Seattle" arrived for testing.:354|
|1937-05-20||Patterson||The 10th Transport Group with Maj. Hugh A. Bivins commander (the group was headquartered as a Regular Army group.) was activated as the Air Corps' "operational transport unit" with C-27s and C-33s|
|1937-09-01||Patterson||The Air Corps Weather School began—20 of 25 in the first class graduated January 28.|
|1939-04-20||Patterson||"Air Corps school for autogiro training and maintenance opens".:354|
|1939-05||Wright||"First 4-blade controllable pitch propeller known to be built in U. S. is installed on a P-36A".:355|
|1939-07-30||Wright||World record (payload): "Maj. C. V. Haynes and Capt. W. D. Old fly Army Boeing B-15 to 8200 ft. with…15½ tons".:355|
|1940-06||Wright||Construction began at Wright Field for WWII ($48,817,078 through September 1945), "the most extensive of all AAF command facilities.":140|
|1941-06||Wright||Dayton's Price Brothers Company began constructing 2 concrete USACE runways: NW-SE next to the flight line and E-W along the southern edge of the property (completed February 1942). A SW-NE runway was completed in 1944.[verification needed]|
|1941-06-21||Patterson||Air Corps Ferrying Command opened an "installation point" at Patterson Field (moved to Romulus, Michigan by August).|
|1941-10-17||Patterson||Air Service Command established under the Materiel Division, OCAC, from the "Air Corps Provisional Maintenance Comd" formed on March 15, 1941 (renamed Air Corps Maintenance Command April 29, elevated from provisional status on 30 June). ASC was removed from the Material Div on 11 December; "stored, overhauled, and repaired AAF aircraft and equipment" in WWII; and developed a network of base facilities [including] 11 air depots. (moved to Washington DC on December 15, but returned to Patterson Field on December 15, 1942.)|
AAF and USAF base[edit | edit source]
The Army Air Forces Technical Base was formed on December 15, 1945, when Wright Field, Patterson Field, Dayton Army Air Field in Vandalia and Clinton County AAF in Wilmington merged. After the USAF was created, the base was renamed Air Force Technical Base in December 1947 and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in January 1948.. The former Wright Field became Area B of the combined installation, the southern portion of Patterson Field became Area A, and the northern portion of Patterson Field, including the jet runway built in 1946-47, Area C.
References[edit | edit source]
- William R. Evinger: Directory of Military Bases in the U.S., Oryx Press, Phoenix, Ariz., 1991, p. 147.
- Wright-Patterson Air Force Base history
- Maurer, Maurer. Aviation in the US Army, 1919-1939 (Report). ISBN 0-912799-38-2. "On July 17, 1926,…the Air Corps got two new brigadier generals [promoted from lieutenant colonel, including] William E. Gillmore to be Chief of the Materiel Division to be created at Dayton, Ohio. … Major Schroeder and Lieutenant Macready’s altitude work had a direct bearing on air power for it led to superchargers, oxygen systems, and other equipment … The Boeing 299 crashed during testing at Wright Field on October 30, 1935. Aboard were Tower and four men from the Materiel Division-Maj. Ployer P. Hill, Chief of the Flying Branch, pilot; 1st Lt. Donald L. Putt, copilot; John B. Cutting, engineer; and Mark H. Koogler, mechanic. Taking off, the plane climbed steeply to 300 feet, stalled, crashed, and caught fire. Tower and Hill died. Investigation disclosed that no one had unlocked the rudder and elevator controls."
- "Part V: Wright Field 1927-1948". http://contrails.iit.edu/history/Huffman/H-part05.pdf.
- Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the First World War, Volume 3, Part 3, Center of Military History, United States Army, 1949 (1988 Reprint)
- ASNL [Air Service News Letter], Feb 20, 1923, pp 7-8. (Maurer Ch. XI citation 31, p. 181)
- Citation 34 (Cited by Maurer's Training chapter, p. 63)
- Benson, Lawrence R. (2007). Acquisition Management in the United States Air Force and its Predecessors (Report). Air Force History and Museums Program. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a433213.pdf. Retrieved 2013-09-05. "To manage logistics functions, the Air Corps Maintenance Command was formed on 29 April 1941 at Patterson Field, located adjacent to Wright Field. This command, originally built from the Materiel Division's Field Service Section, was replaced on 17 October 1941 by the Air Service Command. In December 1941 it came directly under General Arnold. For exactly one year, until 15 December 1942, the command's headquarters were located in Washington, D.C., but thereafter returned to Patterson Field. ...the AAF made two changes on 16 March 1942. It redesignated the growing office of the Chief of the Materiel Division in Washington as the Materiel Command, while redesignating subordinate elements at Wright Field as the Materiel Center. On 1 April 1943 Headquarters Materiel Command moved back to Wright Field to be near the headquarters of the Air Service Command, but it left behind the former commander and much of his staff as the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Materiel, Maintenance, and Distribution."
- "Southwest Ohio Fairfield Air Depot / Wright Field". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields. Airfields-Freeman.com. http://www.airfields-freeman.com/OH/Airfields_OH_SW.htm#wright. Retrieved 2013-09-19. "Building 12 (which originally served as the Army Air Corps Museum) is on the left."
- "title tbd". November–December 1930. pp. 5–11. (Cited by Maurer p. 558)
- Arnold, Henry H.--Foreword (June 1944--Special Edition for AAF Organizations) [May 1944]. AAF: The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces. New York: Pocket Books. "Army Air Forces Board--The Army Air Forces Board is the AAF laboratory group for tactical research and experimentation. The board utilizes the personnel and facilities of the AAF Tactical Center and the Proving Ground Command to conduct tests which precede its decisions and recommendations. … The Air Service Command has 11 air depots as well as a number of special depots and stations. … AAF ENGINEERING SCHOOL--3 months' course. At Wright Field, Ohio, the Materiel Command gives a course in aeronautical engineering for pilots with degrees. … AIR SERVICE COMMAND--Patterson Field, Fairfield, Ohio; Maj. Gen. W. H. Frank. … AIR SERVICE COMMAND (ASC) is the stockroom and garage of the AAF. Operating withing the continental U.S., it receives all our aircraft and aircraft equipment and supplies… ASC is organized into 11 subordinate area air service commands, each operating in a designated area of the U. S. … AIR FORCE AIR SERVICE COMMANDS perform within the theaters of operations [the] supply and maintenance functions similar to those of the ASC within the continental U. S. … Near the center of each of 11 continental Air Service Command areas is an air depot. An air depot is a large wholesale house and warehouse, normally stocked with 2 months' supply of the types of property required in its area. In addition it performs heavy aircraft mainenance work. … Near the major ports of embarkation the Air Service Command operates intransit depots, which carry small stocks of AAF technical supplies…"
- Futrell, Robert F. (July 1947). Development of AAF Base Facilities in the United States: 1939-1945 (Report). ARS-69: US Air Force Historical Study No 69 (Copy No. 2). Air Historical Office. "The headquarters and the experimental activities of the Material Division, OCAC, were located at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, a new field which had been occupied in 1927.22" (p. 7)
- [full citation needed] This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
- "Ltr, Brig Gcn Augustine W. Robins, Ch, Materiel Div, to CAC, Apr 13, 1937, in AFHRC 145.91 - 136; Maurer, Combat Units, pp 52-53" (Cited by Maurer p. 368)
- "ACNLs, Jun 1, 1938, pp 1-2, Oct 1, 1938, pp 3-4; Aircraft Record Card, 36-349, in AFHRC." (Cited by Maurer p. 397)
- Walker, Lois F. and Wickam, Shelby Z. (1986). From Huffman Prairie to the Moon: A History of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Office of History, 2750th Air Base Wing, WPAFB. pp. 476. ISBN 0-16-002204-5.
- "The Origins of the Ferrying Div., ATC, may 1941 to Dec. 1941, v. 1, pp. 81-89; ltr., Col. F. M. Kennedy, Chief, D&G Div., to TAG, sub.: Lease of Wayne County Airport, Michigan, 11 June 1941, in AAG 601.53." (Futrell Ch. IV citation 245, pp. 144, 236)
- "Hist. AAF MC, 1926 thru 1941, v. 1, pp. 51-53 in AFSHO 200.1, v. 1. (cited by Futrell p. 140)
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