Dyersburg Army Airfield
Dyersburg Army Airfield (1942-1945) - A World War II U.S. Army Air Field established in 1942 near Halls, Lauderdale County, Tennessee. First named Dyersburg Army Air Base, renamed Dyersburg Army Airfield in early 1944. Used as a bomber crew training base. Closed in 1945.
The Dyersburg Army Air Base was actually located near the edge of Halls, Tennessee. The original site was near Dyersburg but an Army study found the Halls site to be a better option.
Approximately 2,400 acres of land were leased by the War Department and turned over to the Air Corps, causing the relocation of over 70 families from their homes and farms. Grading of the land began in late May 1942.
Dyersburg Army Air Base officially became active on 26 Aug 1942 but construction really began in September 1942 when runway construction started along with barracks, various administrative buildings, maintenance shops, and hangars.
Three long 6,167' runways were constructed in a triangle pattern. A large parking ramp was constructed for the four-engine bombers along with numerous taxiways and navigational aids. Construction continued through 1942 and into 1943, and by the summer of 1943, the base had over 300 buildings.
Dyersburg was placed under the Army Air Forces II Bomber Command on 1 Feb 1943, and the 346th Bombardment Group was assigned to the field on 26 February with four training squadrons. The 502d and 505th Bombardment squadrons provided B-24 Liberator training, while the 503d and 504th Bombardment squadrons provided B-17 Flying Fortress combat crew training. The B-17 had a crew of 10 while the B-24 had a crew of 11.
On 1 May 1944, the 346th Bombardment Group was inactivated as part of an overall reorganization of training. Dyersburg assumed responsibility for all three phases of heavy bomber training, phase one training added night flying, and long-distance flying training for navigators. Bombardier training and gunnery training was also added. In December 1944, P-63 Kingcobra fighters were assigned to the school to help train gunners in fighter defense.
The war in Europe ended in May 1945 and Dyersburg lost it's training mission because B-24s and B-17s were not being used in the war on Japan. The training was completely stopped by the end of August with the Japanese surrender. During the life of Dyersburg Army Airfield it trained some 7,700 crewmen, 23 of its bombers crashed and 114 crewmen died in aircraft accidents.
On 1 Sep 1945 Dyersburg AAF was placed on standby status by Third Air Force. In 1946, with World War II over, the base was deactivated, dismantled, land and structures were sold and the Army departed.
Current uses include as a municipal airport Arnold Field (M31) with a single 4700 ft. x 75 ft. runway and as a large industrial area. Surviving WWII era buildings include one of the original bomber hangers and a set of vaults that were used to store the classified Norden Bombsights for the B-17s.
Located on one of the aircraft parking aprons is the world-class Veterans Museum that contains all sorts of exhibits and artifacts relating to the airfield, the men and women who trained there, and especially local veterans. Included in the library portion of the museum are two large replicas of murals that were on the base. Also in the library area is a large screen display with an excellent video describing the base and its role during World War II. Don't pass up the video!
Visited: 8 Sep 2020