Worlds largest Aircraft Graveyard
An interesting documentary about the world famous US Air Force bone yard for surplus or out dated aircraft. Davis–Monthan Air Force Base (DM AFB) (IATA: DMA, ICAO: KDMA, FAA LID: DMA) is a United States Air Force base located within the city limits approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) south-southeast of downtown Tucson, Arizona. It was established in 1925 as Davis-Monthan Landing Field.
The host unit headquartered at Davis–Monthan is the 355th Fighter Wing assigned to Twelfth Air Force, part of Air Combat Command (ACC). The base is best known as the location of the Air Force Materiel Command’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), the aircraft boneyard for all excess military and government aircraft.
Davis–Monthan Air Force Base is a key ACC installation. The 355th Fighter Wing (355 FW) is the host unit, providing medical, logistical, mission and operational support to all assigned units. This wing’s combat mission is providing A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support and OA-10 forward air controllers to ground forces worldwide. The 355 FW provides initial and recurrent training to all U.S. Air Force A-10, OA-10 and EC-130 pilots and crews. The 355th is also the ACC’s executive agent for INF and START treaty compliance.
One of the wing’s tenant units, the 55th Electronic Combat Group, is tasked to provide command, control and communications countermeasures in support of tactical forces with its EC-130H aircraft; and, employing the EC-130E aircraft, provide airborne command, control and communications capabilities for managing tactical air operations in war and other contingencies worldwide.
Two other major tenants, the 563rd Rescue Group (structured under the 23d Wing, Moody Air Force Base) and 943rd Rescue Group (structured under the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base), are tasked to provide combat search and rescue support worldwide.
As the location of the Air Force Materiel Command’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), Davis–Monthan Air Force Base is the sole aircraft boneyard for excess military and government aircraft. Tucson’s dry climate and alkali soil made it an ideal location for aircraft storage and preservation.
The base was named in honor of World War I pilots Lieutenants Samuel H. Davis (1896–1921) and Oscar Monthan (1885–1924), both Tucson natives. Davis, who attended the University of Arizona prior to enlisting in the Army in 1917, died in a Florida aircraft accident in 1921. Monthan enlisted in the Army as a private in 1917, was commissioned as a ground officer in 1918, and later became a pilot; he was killed in the crash of a Martin bomber in Hawaii in 1924.
In 1919, the Tucson Chamber of Commerce aviation committee established the nation’s first municipally owned airfield at the current site of the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. The rapid increase in aviation activities meant a move in 1927 to the site which is now Davis–Monthan Air Force Base. After the City of Tucson acquired land southeast of town for a runway in 1925, Charles Lindbergh, fresh from his nonstop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, flew his “Spirit of St. Louis” to Tucson in 1927 to dedicate Davis-Monthan Field, then the largest municipal airport in the United States.
Military presence at the field began when Sergeant Simpson relocated his fuel and service operation to the site on 6 October 1927. He kept a log containing names of the field’s customers, including Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Foulois, and Jimmy Doolittle. Doolittle, awarded the Medal of Honor for his 1942 Tokyo raid, was the first military customer at the field on 9 October 1927. The combination of civil and military operations worked well until the early 1940s, when military requirements began to require the relocation of civil aviation activities.
World War II
Davis-Monthan Airport became Tucson Army Air Field in 1940, as the United States prepared for World War II. The first assigned U.S. Army Air Corps units were the 1st Bomb Wing, 41st Bomb Group and 31st Air Base Group, activating on 30 April 1941 with Lieutenant Colonel Ames S. Albro Sr. as commanding officer. In its military role, the base became known as Davis-Monthan Army Air Field on 3 December 1941. Air Corps leaders utilize the airfield, sending Douglas B-18 Bolo, Consolidated B-24 Liberator and Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers, for training and observation missions.
With the end of the war, operations at the base came to a virtual standstill. It was then the base was selected as a storage site for hundreds of decommissioned aircraft, with the activation of the 4105th Army Air Force Unit. The 4105th oversaw the storage of excess B-29s and C-47 “Gooney Birds.” Tucson’s low humidity and alkali soil made it an ideal location for aircraft storage and preservation, awaiting cannibalization or possible reuse — a mission that has continued to this day.