Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Army Air Field
Desert Center AAF,
1 May 1943
Located one mile northeast of the town
of Desert Center, this airfield is now the town's local airport.
During the days of California-Arizona Maneuver
Area (CAMA) it was a sub-base of San
Bernardino Army Air Field and served several installations
in the area including Camp Young,
CAMA headquarters. To reach the airfield, proceed northeast out
of Desert Center on California Highway 177 about five miles to
an orchard on the right. Just past the orchard is a road to the
southeast. Take that road to the airfield. There are numerous
World War II foundations and several post-war buildings at the
Source: World War II Sites in
the United States: A Tour Guide and Directory by Richard E. Osbourne
Desert Center Army Air Field (AAF) was
built in the early 1940s was a subbase of Thermal Army Air Field
and served as a support base for the Air Technical Service Command.
The airfield was located within the Desert Center Division Camp,which encompassed
over 34,000 acres (140 km2). Desert Center was one of the areas
included in the California Arizona Maneuver Area, used during
1942-44 to train General Patton's armored forces for desert combat
prior to it deploying to North Africa.
Desert Center AAF was first known as the
Desert Center Airdrome. According to a history of the 1st, 2nd,
and 3rd Airdrome Detachments, a detachment of the 475th Base
Headquarters & Air Base Squadron was the first administrative
unit stationed at Desert Center, arriving in 15 January 1943.
It was described as having 5,500' runways. The field also had
taxiways & a parking apron. More than 40 buildings were constructed
at the airfield, including an operations building, power house,
Link Trainer building, hangar and various supply buildings. The
74th Reconnaissance Group was the first flying unit at the field,
arriving in December 1942 while the facility was under construction.
It was variously equipped with O-52s, L-1s, L-4s, B-25s, P-39s
and P-40s and trained to provide air support and reconnaissance
to the Army ground forces training at the desert combat training
Desert Center AAF was officially opened
in April 1943. The 3d Airdrome Detachment was activated on 1
August to maintain the installation and assist in the administration
and training of tactical organizations stationed at the airfield
for training and maneuvers.
The 1 May 1943 edition of the Army of
the United States Station List shows the following Army Air Forces
units were present at the airfield:
Detachment, 475th Base Headquarters and
Air Base Squadron
Detachment, 1111th Guard Squadron
When the training area closed in 1944,
the airfield was assigned to the Fourth Air Force, and operational
activities decreased greatly. The airfield remained open, however,
and was used by B-24 Liberator crews flying training missions
from March Field.
In 1946, following the end of World War
II, the airfield was turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers,
and the buildings were auctioned off to the public.
December 1945 Airfield Directory
Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities,
Theater of Operations: 150
Station Hospital: 10
Cost to Government Since 1 July 1940:
acres transferred from the Department of the Interior.
Questions and comments concerning
this site should be directed to the Webmaster