Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Army Air Field
(Santa Ana Radar
In 1923, aviation pioneer Eddie Martin
built a private landing strip and founded a flying school on
land owned by The Irvine Company. In 1939, the Airport became
a publicly owned facility through a land swap between The Irvine
Company and the County of Orange. Located five miles south of
downtown Santa Ana, when it was taken over by the Army Air Forces
as a training base. It also served as base for Navy blimps. In
the postwar years it became John Wayne International Airport
Source: World War II Sites in
the United States: A Tour Guide and Directory by Richard E. Osbourne
Army Air Field
by Justin M. Ruhge, Goleta
Valley Historical Society
In 1942, the 4th Air Force, which was
responsible for protecting the U.S. homeland, took over the Orange
County Airport for use as a dispersal field. In early March 1942,
the Field was turned over to the War Department by the County
on a lease of $4,141 per year for 140 acres contiguous to the
Airport for a new hangar and barracks and concrete revetments
for aircraft protection. The County had already leased the 138-acre
airport to the government.
For a while the field served as the headquarters
for the 4t Fighter unit of the Western Defense Command. Its 332nd
Fighter Squadron of the 329th Fighter Group flew offshore patrols
using sixteen P-38 pursuit planes. On June 15, 1943 the Orange
County Municipal Airport was redesignated the Orange County Army
Air Field. The 332nd Fighter Squadron was disbanded at Santa
Ana on March 31, 1944. The parent organization, the 329th Fighter
Group, was headquartered at Grand
Central Air Terminal, Glendale California from 1942 through
March 31, 1944. On April 18, 1946 the Field was placed on the
war surplus list. In May, the County again operated the Airport.
Eventually this field became the Orange
County John Wayne International Airport.
References: The SAAAB Story
by Edrick J. Miller, 1981.
US Army Corps
of Engineers Los Angeles District History (30 September 1999)
ursuant to the General Directive No. RE-1180
approved 1 July 1942, the United States acquired by lease dated
3 August 1942 a portion of certain property commonly known as
County Airport, comprising 133.75 acres from Orange County. For
the improvement and expansion of said airport, two other leases
were executed with the Irvine Company in 1942 covering a 209.14
acre parcel and a 45.34 acre parcel. Additionally, 0.43 acres
of easements were also acquired for the improvement of the airport
from private parties. Total acquired property was 388.66 acres.
At that time, the developed airport was called Orange County
Army Airfield. Improvements to the property included approximately
12 temporary type buildings, parking aprons, revetments, asphalt
surfaced shoulders, aircraft protective concrete revetments,
bomb storage revetments, lighting and electrical systems, water,
sewage and storm drain facilities, runways, taxiways; fencing,
and underground gasoline fueling system. The airfield was used
by the Western Flying Training Command and by Headquarters, West
Coast Air Corps Training Center stationed at Santa
Ana Army Air Base.
The lease for 45.34 acres of Irvine Company land was terminated
on 26 September 1946. On 16 January 1947, 39.64 acres of the
209.14 acres leased from the Irvine Company were released. These
actions reduced the original 388.66 acres by 84.98 acres. The
remaining 303.68 acres (including easements) along with the improvements,
comprised Orange County Army Airfield and on 18 April 1946 this
property and improvements were declared excess to the needs of
the military and transferred to the War Assets Administration.
In 1948, remaining leases were terminated and improvements transferred
by the War Assets Administration to the County of Orange contingent
upon the condition that the leased premises, together with the
chattels and improvements, be used for public airport purposes.
Presently the property has been developed into a commercial and
general aviation airport known as John Wayne Airport.
US Army Corps
of Engineers Los Angeles District History (11 August 1992)
In 1940, construction of a new county
airport was begun with a 2,500 ft. paved runway and taxi strip
on what is now the approximate southerly half of John Wayne Airport.
In 1942 the government leased the airport (133.75 acres) and
contiguous property to the west, east, and south (254.91 acres)
for its use and constructed improvements including buildings,
utilities, fencing, bomb storage revetments, and underground
fueling system. Following use of the airport by the U.S. Army
Air Forces during World War II, 84.98 leased acres were released
and 303.68 acres were declared excess and transferred to the
War Assets Administration. In 1948, the War Assets Administration
terminated the leases and transferred the improvements to the
County of Orange with the condition that the leased property
and improvements be used for public airport purposes. Since that
time, extensive expansion of the airport and private, commercial
and street and highway development of the perimeter land has
taken place. The magnitude of this development and growth of
the airport and surrounding vicinity supports the assumption
that prior government improvements (underground fueling system
and ordnance storage, most specifically) have long since been
removed. There is no visible evidence on site which would indicate
that there are any residual eligible hazards present at this
time, nor is there any indication in the site history subsequent
to 1948 that any eligible hazards exist.
US Army Air
Forces Directory of Airfields (January 1945)
Radar Site L-39
Established in March 1942 this Army Air
Force air defense radar site was located on Orange County Army
Air Field, now John Wayne International Airport (33°40'56.62"N
117°51'48.18"W). The site was initially operated
by 654th Signal Aircraft Warning Company. It was later replaced
by the 653rd Signal Aircraft Warning Company. Both were assigned
to the Los Angeles Control Group. The radar used was the SCR-588
Long Wave Aircraft Detector and Ground Control Intercept Radar.
SCR-588 Long Wave Aircraft
Detector and Ground Control Intercept Radar
Fixed medium-range, long wave aircraft detector and GCI. Provides
azimuth, range, and altitude data. Type HR and PPI scopes.
To give continuous plan position and accurate relative height
of enemy plane and friendly fighter plane for GCI. Set can also
be used for early warning and to give increased coverage at low
angles of search. IFF equipment RC-188 is used. When operating
as GCI, VHF equipment SCR-624 is required.
Performance and Siting: Maximum range on a medium bomber, with set on flat
sea level site:
*Range of PPI limits GCI operation
to about 45 miles.
When operating as GCI, set must be sited
so that a flat unobstructed surface extends at least 1/4th mile
in the height-finding sector. Good GCI sites are extremely rare.
For early warning, sets should be sited between 100 and 1,000
feet above an unobstructed surface.
Set is packaged for shipment in 55 units, weighing a total of
54,000 lbs. Largest unit measures 15.3' x 3.8' x 1.8'. Total
shipping space is 3500 cu. ft.
Requires a weatherproof building approximately 20' x 40' for
housing radar components and a building approximately 20' x 20'
for power units and switchboard. A 25' tower on concrete footing
is required for support of antenna. Buildings and tower can be
built by Engineers in about 3 weeks. Radar can be installed by
5 men in 2 weeks.
8 men are operating crew. For 24-hour operation about 54 men
are required to run radar, communication radio, and camp.
4 KW at 230 volts and 1 KW at 115 volts, from three PE-198 electric
diesel units, supplied with set. (Two units operate simultaneously).
Fuel consumption is 21/2 gals. of Diesel fuel oil per hour.
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