Dunnellon Army Air Field
|Dunnellon Army Airfield|
|Part of Army Air Forces Training Command
Third Air Force
|Located near: Dunnellon, Florida|
Dunnellon Army Airfield - 1949
Originally set on 500 acres (2 km²) that was purchased in 1942 by Marion County. It was opened in August 1942 as Dunnellon Army Airfield. The new base was designated as a sub-base to the Orlando Army Airbase, and assigned to the Air University Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT) tactical combat simulation school in Central and Northern Florida.
AAFSAT used the base as its Air Support School. Once sufficient construction was completed, the I Troop Carrier Command 10th Troop Carrier Group was moved from Pope Field, North Carolina, as a combat cargo training unit. Pilots and aircrew received training in advanced combat simulation based on what could be expected in the overseas combat theaters in short field landings, cargo drops and other tactics. In addition, personnel received training in towing British-designed Horsa glider and gilder pilots received training in advanced combat flying. Graduates saw duty in North Africa, Europe, and the China-Burma-India Theater in this capacity. As part of the training, Canal Air Force Auxiliary Field, ( ) was used for rough short field dirt landings and takeoffs.
In mid-1943, AAFSAT reassigned the 420th Night Fighter Squadron, a night fighter Operational Training Unit (OTU) to Dunnellon due to overcrowding at Kissimmee Army Airfield. Its mission to train pilots with night fighting skills for defensive missions against enemy night intruder aircraft. The squadron was equipped with modified Douglas A-20 Havocs for night fighter operations, designated P-70s.
Night fighter training was undertaken until January 1944, when the USAAF program was reassigned to IV Fighter Command, and the school was moved to Hammer Field, California.
Third Air Force
The Air University training mission ended in mid-1944, when Dunnellon was officially reassigned to III Fighter Command. Under Third Air Force, Dunnellon was assigned to the Commando Squadron Training School. Initially, the Liaison Squadrons of the 2d Air Commando Group were formed at the base in mid June. However, it was decided to consolidate the Liaison training at Cross City Army Airfield, where they were moved after being organized and equipped.
Instead, Dunnellon was returned to the Troop Carrier mission by forming and training Commando Troop Carrier squadrons. Two C-47 Skytrain squadrons, earmarked for Burma were trained in combat flying and techniques during the summer of 1944.
The Commando training was the last large-scale use of Dunnellon AAF. The 342d Airborne Squadron was assigned as a caretaker unit in September 1944 and the flying mission wound down. The number of personnel were reduced, being reassigned to other bases.
In January 1945, Third Air Force sent down orders to close the facility, and it was placed on inactive status on 1 February 1945. Jurisdiction of the airfield was transferred to Air Technical Service Command (ATSC), whose mission was the transfer of any useful military equipment to other bases around the country. Under ATSC, buildings and equipment were sold and any useful military equipment was transferred to other bases around the country. The base was declared as surplus in 1946 and was turned over to the War Assets Administration (WAA) for disposal and return to civil use.
Subsequently, the airfield was returned to civil control and the Dunnellon/Marion County Airport was re-established.
Major units assigned
Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics
- Attached from I Troop Carrier Command
- 10th Troop Carrier Group, 13 February-30 November 1943
- 27th Troop Carrier Squadron, 14 February-13 December 1943
AAF Interceptor Command School
- 420th Night Fighter Squadron, 20 August 1943 – 18 January 1944
Third Air Force
- 127th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 10–21 June 1944
- 155th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 12–21 June 1944
- 156th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 12–21 June 1944
- 317th Troop Carrier Squadron (Commando), 21 June-15 August 1944
- 318th Troop Carrier Squadron (Commando), 15 August-12 September 1944
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- World War II airfields database: Florida
- AFHRA search Dunnellon Army Airfield