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Fairfax Field

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Title: Fairfax Field  
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Fairfax Field

Fairfax Field
Part of
1951-4: Air Defense Command
1944-tbd: AAF Technical Services Command
tbd: Air Transport Command
1935-1942: US Navy
Located on Goose Island, Kansas, at the state line on the Missouri River west of North Kansas City, Missouri
Northward view of the air base in World War II after the modification center was built along the south taxiway.
Coordinates [2] (1941-89 B-25/GM plant)
Code FUDS - WRD (WWII weather station)[3]

Fairfax Field[4] was an early Cold War military installation north of Kansas City, Kansas. Used as a pre-war Naval Air Station,[5] the United States Army Air Forces leased the municipal airfield and built a WWII Air Force Plant and modification center for North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber production. Military use of the site continued as late as 1957 by Strategic Air Command for bombing practice.


The airfield was first used in 1921 for an air meet and became the 1925 Sweeney Airport and the 1928 Fairfax Airport. A naval reserve air base was established at Fairfax Field in 1935[6]; a Navy squadron and a Marine squadron were established on July 12.[7] In 1937 Fairfax acted as an "army reserve base" with Douglas O-46 observation planes,[8] and by 1938 the airport had four runways, including one 2,700 ft (820 m) long.[9] Fairfax's "U.S. Naval Reserve aviation base",[10] had a 30 day pre-flight training course in 1940.[11]

Navy Elimination Air Base

The "Marine Air Flight Program" established by 1 September 1940[5] at Fairfax's "Navy Elimination Air Base" (E-base) used "a physical and mental examination…ten hours of dual instruction…check rides and a fifteen-minute solo flight" for screening candidates[12] to become Naval Aviation Cadets.[13] A Fairfax "naval flying cadet… crashed into the Missouri river two miles northwest of the Fairfax air base" [sic] on 16 June 1942,[14] Fairfax's naval aviation training moved in July to the new United States Naval Aviation Reserve Base at Olathe about 20 miles away.[6] Fairfax still had "Barracks U.S. Navy" in 1946.[15]

1944 B-25 Mitchell assembly line in Air Force Plant NC: In 1953, the facility was the Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac Assembly Plant adjacent to Fairfax Field[16] and unveiled the assembly line for F-84F Thunderflash fighters[16] (General Motors produced 599 F-84Fs at Fairfax.)

WWII B-25 production, training, and modifications

Survey work for Air Force Plant NC had begun in December 1940, and the city of Kansas City, Kansas, purchased the airport in February 1941.[17] The USAAF leased the Fairfax Airport from the city and the Works Projects Administration sponsored expansion of the four civilian runways. The government purchased a 75 acres (30 ha) alfalfa field [18] for the plant and for right-of-way to the airfield. B-25 production began in December 1941, and Fairfax's first B-25D was accepted in February 1942. The Fairfax Modification Center was a dual hangar built May–October 1942 along the south taxiway for altering the new B-25s (a west extension and several outbuildings were added.)[19] The 76th AAF Technical Training Detachment activated on 4 February 1943 (designated 5 October) and administered a 6 week hydraulics course for AAF mechanics under the direction of the Aircraft Accessories Corporation. About 300 students were admitted before the school was closed in October as a duplicate of a Chanute Field course. The 81st AAF Technical Training Detachment activated 22 February 1943 and designated, effective 30 August, to supervise apprentice crew chiefs at the Modification Center. January AAF policy was for each mechanic selected as a crew chief to be assigned an aircraft as it left the factory, review its modifications at the center, and deploy with it to the field unit. B-25 modifications only took a week until the B-25G gunship modifications for Pacific War anti-shipping missions, which took 2–3 months. Peak enrollment was 296 mechanics on 27 June, and the apprenticeship program was abandoned (the detachment inactivated on 31 October 1943.)

WWII ferrying

[23] and from Fairfax the 33d delivered 6,202 aircraft to CONUS bases and 251 abroad. On 22 September 1944 the 33d Ferrying Group began daily scheduled Military Air Transport (MAT) flights with military cargo/passengers to Minneapolis and Omaha (2 more daily flights were later added.) In October 1944, the modification center became an adjunct to the final assembly line. On 9 November 1944 the 33d Group furnished plane and crew to fly Senator Harry S. Truman from Fairfax to Washington for ceremonies following his election as Vice-President, and in early 1945 the 33d controlled ten operating locations.. During the Fairfax transition to P-80 production, the 33d Ferrying Group was discontinued.

WWII air freight

On 2 March 1945, Military Air Transport moved an air freight terminal to Fairfax from Kansas City, Missouri, and had 362 personnel in June, the largest operating location in the division. For ferrying, Fairfax became an operating location of Rosecrans Army Airfield on 15 April 1945 with its pilots traveling to Fairfax for sorties. In 1945, 1,044 military transports used the field in July (e.g., President Truman for visits to Independence, Missouri). Plans for B-29 and F-80 aircraft production at Fairfax were never implemented, and B-25J production was terminated on August 15, 1945, after a total of 2,290 B-25Ds (152 Navy PBJ-1D variants) and 4,318 B-25Js had been built by the plant. The federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation set up a depot in the Fairfax district to liquidate war surplus not sent to depots or elsewhere for government use (reusable materials like aluminum and steel were reclaimed.) Seventy-two incomplete but flyable B-25Js were sold to the public. A USAAF C-47 crashed on September 15, 1945 on take off into the north bank of the Missouri River's curve, killing all 24 aboard.[24] The Air Transport Command operating location at Fairfax was discontinued by 6 December 1945 (9 C-47s and 80 pilots/co-pilots transferred west to Topeka Army Airfield which had been chosen for a central MAT flight facility by November 1945.) The 4101st Army Air Force Base Unit (Reserve Training) was activated at Fairfax on 12 July 1946 (redesignated 2472d AF Reserve Training Center on 28 August 1948)[25] and at the beginning of USAF planning, Fairfax activated the Reserve's 564th Bombardment Squadron on 6 January 1947 which sent 127 pilots to 1948 summer camp.

Kansas City Bomb Plot

Fairfax[26] in 1945 had an early 2AF Radar Bomb Scoring (RBS) site[27] which used an SCR-584 radar for evaluating bomber training The Kansas City RBS unit became a detachment of Colorado Springs's 206 AAFBU in July 1945,[28] and in 1954 was Det 5 of the 10th RBSS.[29] The detachment scored Convair B-36 Peacemaker runs during 1953,[30] the 1955 SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition,[31] and the 1957 "Operation Longshot".[32][33] The Kansas City aiming point for the 1957 operation was "the base of the northeast corner of the Columbian Steel Tank Company"[34][33]:1 at the corner of 12th/Liberty streets.[26] in the West Bottoms.[35] In 1959, SAC's simulated bomb runs on Kansas City were scored using a longer range radar at Missouri's Joplin Radar Bomb Scoring Site (10RBSS Det 2) to the south which had moved from Oklahoma's Hollis Radar Bomb Scoring Site in July.

In October 1948, 37 Air Force Reserve planes at Fairfax flew 1,844 hours and in 1949, the 564th was replaced by the 442d Troop Carrier Wing (activated 27 June). Despite a 1948 plan for Fairfax to "be withdrawn from surplus",[36] in "October 1949 the U.S. Air Force terminated its lease on Fairfax Airport, and the city of Kansas City, Kansas, regained control of the facility".[37]:260 On May 22, 1950, Fairfax's 2472d AF Reserve Training Center and 442d Troop Carrier Wing moved to Naval Air Technical Training Center Olathe.

Fairfax Municipal Airport

Fairfax's 4610th Air Base Squadron temporarily evacuated Fairfax Municipal Airport due to a fire during the Great Flood of 1951[38] and on 1 October 1952, the squadron "opened" the nearby Grandview Air Force Base in Missouri (Grandview's beneficial occupancy began 2 years later.)[39]:88 In 1952 the squadron was renamed the 4676th Air Defense Group[40] which began flying F-86 Sabres from Fairfax at the end of 1953. In 1953, a F-94 crashed on attempting a return, killing the pilot and radar operator. From 18 December 1953 – 1 March 1954, the 326th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was assigned to Fairfax, and a F-84 crashed near the city's business district killing the pilot and three residents.[41]

After the 24 February 1954 Eisenhower statement for the "New Look" policy for Cold War defense, on September 1, 1954, Air Defense Command (ADC) was placed under Continental Air Defense Command and all Fairfax ADC units moved nearby to the new Grandview Air Force Base near Kansas City, Missouri.[39]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Murdock, Scott D. (6 May 2003). "List of Air Force Plants". 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b The Military Order of World Wars. Turner Publishing Company. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Olathe Naval Air Station: Sailors on the Plains" (pdf). Album: Johnson County History Museum XV (2). Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  7. ^ Hurt, R. Douglas (Autumn 1977). "Naval Air Stations in Kansas During World War II" (Tod Roberts transcription). Kansas Historical Quarterly. Retrieved 2013-07-15.  (see also "U.S. Army and Air Force Wings Over Kansas," Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 25, no. 2, (Summer, 1959), pp. 138-141)
  8. ^ "Air Pilots Thrill Crowd at Airport: Eleven Fliers From U. S. Army and Marine Reserve Base Put on Show" (Google news archive).  
  9. ^ Airport Directory,   (cited by Freeman)
  10. ^,5314987&dq=fairfax-air&hl=en
  11. ^ Hammel, Eric. Aces at War (Google Books). Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Former Iowa Athlete Killed in Plane Crash".  
  15. ^ map (Map). published in 1946 Fairfax Industrial District, UPRR ( map partially depicted online at (after GM lease on November 7, 1945). Retrieved 2013-07-14. ""
  16. ^ a b "Air Force Unveils New Jet Fighter". Press Courier (Google news archive). July 10, 1953. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  17. ^ "Big Bomber Plant for City". Kansas City Times. December 7, 1940.  (cited by Freeman and Macais)
  18. ^ Macias p. 247
  19. ^ Freeman, Paul (revised 12/29/12). "Sweeney Airport / Fairfax Airport / Fairfax Army Airfield (KCK), Kansas City, KS". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Eastern Kansas. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  20. ^ Document Detail for IRISNUM= 00182132 (History of the 33d Ferrying Group) (Report). AFHRA.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Fairfax Field". Wings Over Kansas. via Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  23. ^ "U. S. Army and Air Force Wings Over Kansas: Part II". Kansas Historical Quarterly. Volume 25 (The Kansas State Historical Society (via Quarterly Parts I and II). Autumn 1959-Number 3. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Document Detail for IRISNUM= 00179924 (History of the 4101st Army Air Forces Base Unit) (Report). AFHRA.
  26. ^ a b "H-Bomb Dropped on 12th and Liberty". The Kansas City Times ( October 31, 1957. Retrieved 2014-08-20.  (also at
  27. ^ compare with New Orleans Radar Bomb Scoring Site and Dallas Bomb Plots
  28. ^ Hellickson, Gene, ed. (9 November 1983) (pdf). Historical Summary: Radar Bomb Scoring, 1945–1983 (Report). Office of History, . Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Biggest Bomber Has Terrifying Power" (Google News archive). Miami Beach Morning Journal. May 26, 1963. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  31. ^
  32. ^,5208977&dq=bomb-scoring&hl=en
  33. ^ a b "Jet Armada To 'Bomb' Three Major U.S. Cities". Miami News (Google News archive). October 30, 1957. Retrieved 2014-08-20.  (page 1 section of article)
  34. ^ Chapter XIX - The Tanker Role (cached at [1])
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Air Force to Reopen Bases".  
  37. ^ Macias, Richard (Winter 2005–2006). We All Had a Cause": Kansas City's Bomber Plant, 1941-1945""" (pdf). Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains 28: 244–261. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  38. ^ "River Cracks Dike, Swamps Industrial Area". Pittsburg Post-Gazette (Google News Archive). July 14, 1951. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  39. ^ a b compiled by Johnson, Mildred W (31 December 1980) [February 1973 original by Cornett, Lloyd H. Jr]. A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980 (pdf).  
  40. ^ Duke University Alumni Register (Report). via Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  41. ^ "Brand New Jet Crashes Homes". Record Eagle (Traverse City, Michigan). July 8, 1954. Retrieved 2013-07-12. 
  • History of Strategic Air and Ballistic Missile Defense: Volume I: 1945-1955 (pdf). US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  • Maurer, Maurer. Aviation in the US Army, 1919-1939 (Report). pp. 151,307. ISBN .
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