Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Culver City Army Air Forces Motion Picture Unit
(Hal Roach Studio, Fort Roach, Pacific Military Academy)
Headquarters, First Motion Picture Unit, Culver City

US Army Corps of Engineers History
The US Army Air Forces acquired about 13.6 acres from Hal Roach Studios Inc. The The Army Air Forces began using the Studios on 25 September and acquired the site formally by lease agreement on 5 October 1942. Records were neither complete nor specific. The site was located at 8822 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

The property was used by the Army Air Forces, as acquired, to create military training films. The lease agreement included all film making equipment and facilities associated with the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, California. Known facility improvements were limited to conversion of certain studio buildings (e.g., production building, plaster shop, costume department, etc.) to accommodate living quarters for personnel of the First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU). These included 6 barracks, 1 lavatory, 1 mess (kitchen), and 1 day room. A September 1942 War Department layout plan of the FMPU facilities indicates that two heating oil tanks were located on site, one of which may have been installed by the Army Air Forces. Other alterations to the studios were limited to internal building modifications to accommodate specific needs for the production of the training films.

The lease for about 13.6 acres and all facilities was terminated in approximately October of 1945 following the end of WWII. Official disposal records were not available. Hal Roach Studios was torn down in 1963 and redeveloped to what is currently known as the Landmark Industrial Tract which contains car dealerships, industrial warehouses, and office space. No War Department improvements remain on the site.
Source: Los Angeles District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Captain Ronald Reagan, Adjutant, First Montion Picture Unit
Army Units Assigned to Hal Roach Studios

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List  1 June 1943
1st Motion Picture Unit (AAF)
1st Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
2nd Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
3rd Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
4th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
6th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
7th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
11th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
14th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
15th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
16th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
 Army of the United States Station List  7 April 1945
13th Combat Camera Unit (AAF)
18th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Motion Picture Unit) (AAF)
38th Army Air Forces Base Unit (1st Radio Unit) (AAF)
AAF - Army Air Forces units | AGF - Army Ground Forces unit | ASF - Army Service Forces units | WDC - Western Defense Command

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

Culver City Army Air Forces Motion Picture Unit




Cost to Government Since 1 July 1940:

Remarks: Lease property includes the the Pacific Military Academy boarding school. Declared surplus 31 December 1945.
The Pacific Military Academy
The former Pacific Military Academy, circa 1952. The school was renamed Chevoit Hills Military Academy when the Army vacated the site. Note that at least one Theater of Operations type of building was still on the site of the school (Wikipedia).
This Florentine structure, designed by noted architect Wallace Neff, was originally built in 1929 as the Pacific Military Academy by Culver City Founder, Harry Culver. At the beginning of World War II, the building served as military barracks for the Army's First Motion Picture Unit. This Army unit used the Hal Roach Studios also located in Culver City. There is film footage still in existence which shows young officer Ronald Reagan lined up for lunch at the cafeteria in the basement of the main building.
Source: Wikipedia
Additional Online Histories
First Motion Picture Unit
First Motion Picture Unit
Chevoit Hills Military Academy
Hal Roach and Hal Roach Studios
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Updated 25 March 2016