Historic California Posts, Camps Stations and Airfields:
Bakersfield Army Air Field
(Oildale Field, Bakersfield Municipal Airport, Kern County Airport No. 1)

In late December 1941 this field, 4.5 miles northwest of town, was one of seven in California to receive combat-ready Army Air Forces fighter units assigned to defend California against an enemy attack. After the threat of such attacks subsided the field was taken over by the 4th Air Force for use as a sub-base to Hammer Field in Fresno and used for elementary pilot training. The Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) also operated here.
In early 1945, the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth of the new jet powered YP-80As, were delivered to the 31st Fighter Squadron of the 412th Fighter Group at Bakersfield Municipal Airport in California for service tests. The first production P-80A was accepted by the Army Air Forces in February of 1945. The group relocated to Santa Maria Army Air Field in July of 1945
Source: World War II Sites in the United States: A Tour Guide and Directory by Richard E. Osbourne

Corps of Engineers History

A 543.7-acre site was acquired by the US Army during World War II as a sub-base for Hammer Field. On 14 December 1941, the 280-acre Kern County Airport was leased from the County of Kern by the US Army. Shortly thereafter, 23.6-acres were leased from the Kern County Union High School District. Through Declarations of Taking, 240.1 acres were acquired by the US Army on 18 January 1943.

The US Army assigned the site to the Army Air Forces' 4th Air Force for use as a military airfield. The site was used to support Hammer Field. Improvements to the airport included construction of living quarters, administration buildings, and repair facilities.

On 15 November 1945, the 543.7-acre site was declared surplus. Beginning 1 April 1946, 23.6 acres were transferred to the Federal Public Housing Authority via a Transfer of Lease between the War Department and the Kern County Union High School District. On 24 May 1949, 220.6. acres were quitclaimed to the County of Kern. In addition, the 280-acre airport was also released back to the County of Kern through the same quitclaim deed. As for the remaining 19.5 acres, no real estate information was found. However, the 19.5 acres is currently owned by Teachers Management and Investment Corporation (TMI), and is part of a total 52 acres owned by TMI. The site is now known as Kern County Airport No. 1-Meadows Field.

Source US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Early Jet Fighters Operating From Bakersfield Municipal Airport
Bell P-56A "Airacomet"
The Bell P-59 Airacomet was a twin jet engined fighter aircraft, the first for the USA, designed and built by Bell Aircraft during World War II. The United States Army Air Force was not impressed by its performance and cancelled the contract when fewer than half of the aircraft ordered had been produced. Although no P-59s went into combat, it paved the way for another design generation of U.S. turbojet-powered aircraft and was the first turbojet fighter to have its turbojet engine and air inlet nacelles integrated within the main fuselage. The image above is of a P-59A assigned to Bakersfield Municipal Airport's 412th Fighter Group.
Lockheed YP-80A "Shooting Star"
The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Designed and built by Lockheed in 1943 and delivered just 143 days from the start of the design process, production models were flying but not ready for service by the end of World War II. Designed with straight wings, the type saw extensive combat in Korea with the United States Air Force (USAF) as the F-80. America's first successful turbojet-powered combat aircraft, it helped usher in the "jet age" in the USAF, but was outclassed with the appearance of the swept-wing transonic MiG-15 and was quickly replaced in the air superiority role by the transonic F-86 Sabre. The F-94 Starfire, an all-weather interceptor on the same airframe, also saw Korean war service. The closely related T-33 Shooting Star trainer would remain in service with the U.S. Air Force and Navy well into the 1980s, with the last NT-33 variant not retired until April 1997. Many still serve in a military role in foreign air arms or are in private hands.

Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, December 1945




Cost to Government Since 1 July 1940:

Extract of January 1945 US Army and Navy Directory of Air Fields

Known Units at Bakersfield Municipal Airport
Source US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
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Updated 23 June 2017