Gulfport Army Air Field
Gulfport Army Air Field (1942-1945) - A World War II U.S. Army Air Field established in 1942 near Gulfport, Harrison County, Mississippi. Named Gulfport Army Air Field after the location. Closed in 1945.
In 1941 the City of Gulfport established a new airport site northeast of the city. With the outbreak of World War II, the United States Army leased 1200 acres at the Gulfport Airport for a facility to train aircraft mechanics.
Ground was broken in May 1942 and the first class of trainees arrived in September 1942. The base was described as “a streamlined field, featuring theater-of- operations type buildings, constructed with great speed and designed for efficiency and economy." In addition to training aircraft mechanics, Gulfport Field served as a basic training center and heavy bombardment processing headquarters.
Starting on 1 May 1944, combat crews for B-17 “Flying Fortresses" spent three months at Gulfport training for high altitude bombing, gunnery and navigation. The mission changed again when the Army Air Force announced that B-29 “Superfortress" crews would begin training at the base. Due to the large size of the airplanes, additional facilities were necessary to accommodate them. Runways and taxiways needed to be expended. Larger hangars were necessary. The War Department awarded a contract to R.P. Farnsworth and Company to construct a number of hangars at Gulfport Field. The contract called for a fee of $344,686. The first B-29 crews arrived at Gulfport in March 1945 and B-29 crews trained at Gulfport for the remainder of the war.
The public announcement of the Gulfport Army Air Field closure came on 27 Oct 1945 with the closure date set to be before 31 Dec 1945. In 1947, the city took over the base under a special use permit. The federal government retained title to the runways and two concrete and steel hangars, while the city purchased the other facilities.
Terminal facilities were established in a portion of one of the original large AAF hangars, regularly scheduled service began on 2 Apr 1947, when a National Airlines flight departed for New Orleans. The terminal remained in the hangar until 1963 when a new passenger terminal building was constructed.
Gulfport International Airport shares the site with Mississippi National Guard components. The original hanger building was restored in 2015-2016 and then transferred to the Mississippi National Guard.
Visited: 1 Jan 2018