Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Trinidad Dive Bombing and Air
to Air Gunnery Range
by Dan Sebby, Military Historian,
California Military Department
The former Trinidad Dive Bomb Range
was acquired 640 acres through a lease with the Hammond Lumber
Company on 1 October 1944. In the June 1945 report, Physical
Properties and Facilities of the Principal Naval Activities and
Offices Located in the 12th Naval District, the site is shown
as being under the operational control of Naval
Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Arcata. Pilots from that station
would use this target area to practice precision dive bombing.
Documentation supports the use of inert
training bombs dropped by carrier-based aircraft training at
NAAS Arcata in preparation for deployment overseas. Spotting
charges were often incorporated into training in order to judge
accuracy. These inert bombs would be the following type
Army/Navy Mark-5, Mark-23, and Mark-43
bomblets made of cast iron, zink or lead.
Navy Mark VII or XV 100 pound practice
bombs filled with either sand or water.
There is an account by the then-Vice President
of the Hammond Lumber Co. that the U.S. Navy dropped live ordnance
on the Site. However, when contemporary aerial photographs are
viewed, they do show considerable scarring, but not the distinctive
cratering that live bombs would create.
According to the Humboldt Times articles
dated 6 and 7 October 1945, a 7,000-acre forest fire had devastated
the Site and vicinity. Evidence of new vegetation can be seen
in the 1948 aerial and burnt stumps were seen during the Site
visit. Any wooden structures erected by the DoD would have been
burnt in this fire and currently difficult to identify.
After the lease to the Navy was terminated on 4 March 1946, the
Site was again used as a timber stand for logging. The Site and
vicinity are still timber stands that have changed ownership
several times through deeds, mergers, and divisions. Green Diamond
Resource Company currently owns the Site and vicinity.
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