Fairfax Field

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This article is about Military use of Fairfax Field, Kansas. For 1921-1985 civilian aeronautical operations af Fairfax Field, see Fairfax Municipal Airport. For the US Army Project Nike site(s) in Kansas City MO, see Kansas City Defense Area. For the Raytown, Missouri, airport near Kansas City which had a 1922 Army[1] lease, see Ong Field.
Fairfax Field
Part of
1951-4: Airdefensecommand-logo.jpg Air Defense Command
1944-tbd: Air Technical Service Command - Emblem.png AAF Technical Services Command
tbd: Air Transport Command Emblem.png 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
Fairfax Field KS 1950.jpg
Northward view of the air base in World War II after the modification center was built along the south taxiway.
Coordinates 39°09′10″N 094°36′43″W / 39.15278°N 94.61194°W / 39.15278; -94.61194 (Air Force Plant 02)[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.

Kansas City[where?] military sites in Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri, had military activities beginning as early as 1919 when the city was part of a recruiting campaign in which "seventeen flying fields, one repair depot, and five balloon stations" took part.[6]:7 In 1923 the Air Service's southern division of the Model Airway used an airfield in the city for an Army air route to Kelly Field, Texas; and by the end of 1925, the "403th [sic] Pursuit Squadron" was assigned to a Kansas City facility (the Air Service leased the land for the airdrome in Kansas City, Missouri, with steel hangars for $1/year.)[6] In 1940, the USGS mapped the "State Boundary" as a straight north-south line demarcating a small eastern portion of "Fairfax Airport" as being in Missouri.[7] By the end of 1942, Kansas City, Missouri, had a modification center--in addition to the Fairfax plant and modification center in Kansas.[8] On 2 March 1945, Military Air Transport moved an air freight terminal to Fairfax from Kansas City, Missouri.

The USAF Central Air Defense Force (CADF) was activated with headquarters at Kansas City, Missouri, on 1 March 1951; on 24 April the Central Army Antiaircraft Command was "established with HQ at Kansas City" (organized 1 May 1951); and on 1 July the USAF 35th Air Division was activated at Kansas City (moved to Dobbins Air Force Base in September). The 4602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron--after being assigned to Peterson Field on 1 March 1952[9]--had its Flight B assigned with "Defense Force Headquarters [at] Kansas City, Missouri".[10] While Grandview Air Force Base was being completed, on 1 October 1952 Kansas City, Missouri, had CADF's Technical and Ground Training Division,[11] and the NSA's Special Study Group met on 1 August 1953 at "Headquarters, Central Air Defense Force, Kansas City, Missouri".[12]

Grandview Air Force Base
On 24 February 1954, HQ CADF moved to Grandview Air Force Base[13] outside of the city limits, but the land was owned by the Kansas City, Missouri government (from whom the USAF leased the airport on 1 January 1952--the "USAF accepted responsibility for [the base's] land and buildings" in January 1953.[9]


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[14]; a Navy squadron and a Marine squadron were established on July 12.[15] In 1937 Fairfax acted as an "army reserve base" with Douglas O-46 observation planes,[16] and by 1938 the airport had four runways, including one 2,700 ft (820 m) long.[17] Fairfax's "U.S. Naval Reserve aviation base",[18] had a 30 day pre-flight training course in 1940.[19]

Navy Elimination Air Base[edit]

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[20] to become Naval Aviation Cadets.[21] A Fairfax "naval flying cadet… crashed into the Missouri river two miles northwest of the Fairfax air base" [sic] on 16 June 1942,[22] Fairfax's naval aviation training moved in July to the new United States Naval Aviation Reserve Base at Olathe about 20 miles away.[14] Fairfax still had "Barracks U.S. Navy" in 1946.[23]

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[24] and unveiled the assembly line for F-84F Thunderflash[clarification needed] fighters[24] (General Motors produced 599 F-84Fs at Fairfax.)

WWII B-25 production, training, and modifications[edit]

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.[25] 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 [26] 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.)[27] 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.[citation needed] Peak enrollment was 296 mechanics on 27 June, and the apprenticeship program was abandoned (the detachment inactivated on 31 October 1943.)

WWII ferrying[edit]

Air Transport Command moved the 2d Ferrying Squadron of the 5th Ferrying Group from Dallas Love Field to Fairfax on April 15, 1943, and the squadron ferried out 157 B-25s during May[28] Of 1,881 deliveries in 1943 by the Ground Ferrying Squadron all but 129 were B-25s, but at the end of that year Fairfax pilots began ferrying Martin B-26 Marauders from the Omaha modification center and Consolidated B-24 Liberators from a St. Paul facility. From May-Sep 1944 a detachment of Women Airforce Service Pilots was at Fairfax.[29] The 33d Ferrying Group was designated on 1 April 1944 from the 2d Ferrying Squadron, which had been separated from the 5th Group on 1 January 1944 (393 officers and 578 enlisted men at the end of 1944).[30] Womens Air Service Pilots were organized at Fairfax on 1 May 1944,[31] 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[clarification needed] 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.[where?]. During the Fairfax transition to P-80 production, the 33d Ferrying Group was discontinued.[when?]

WWII air freight[edit]

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.[32][33] 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)[34] and at the beginning of USAF planning, Fairfax activated the Reserve's 564th Bombardment Squadron[specify] on 6 January 1947 which sent 127 pilots to 1948 summer camp.

Kansas City Bomb Plot

Fairfax[35] in 1945 had an early 2AF Radar Bomb Scoring (RBS) site[36] 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,[37] and in 1954 was Det 5 of the 10th RBSS.[38] The detachment scored Convair B-36 Peacemaker runs during 1953,[39] the 1955 SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition,[40] and the 1957 "Operation Longshot".[41][42][43] The Kansas City aiming point for the 1957 operation was "the base of the northeast corner of the Columbian Steel Tank Company"[44][45][43]:1 at the corner of 12th/Liberty streets.[35][46] in the West Bottoms.[47] 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).[citation needed] Despite a 1948 plan for Fairfax to "be withdrawn from surplus",[48] 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".[49]: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[edit]

Fairfax's 4610th Air Base Squadron temporarily evacuated Fairfax Municipal Airport due to a fire during the Great Flood of 1951[50] and on 1 October 1952, the squadron "opened" the nearby Grandview Air Force Base in Missouri (Grandview's beneficial occupancy began 2 years later.)[51]:88 In 1952 the squadron was renamed the 4676th Air Defense Group[52] 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.[53]

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[specify] moved nearby to the new Grandview Air Force Base near Kansas City, Missouri.[51]


  1. ^ "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Northwestern Missouri". Airfields-freeman.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  2. ^ Murdock, Scott D. (6 May 2003). "List of Air Force Plants". 
  3. ^ "The Weather Observer: June 29, 1942 - United States. War Department - Google Books". Books.google.com. 1942-06-29. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ a b The Military Order of World Wars. Turner Publishing Company. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference Maurer was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ [USGS topographical map] (Map). map depicted at Airfields-Freeman.com. 1940. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  8. ^ Futrell, Robert F. (July 1947). Development of AAF Base Facilities in the United States: 1939-1945 (PDF) (Report). ARS-69: US Air Force Historical Study No 69 (Copy No. 2). Air Historical Office. p. 141. Daggett, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; Love Field, Dallas, Tex.; Fairfax Airport, Kansas City, Kans.; Buffalo, N. Y..; Evansville, Ind.; Niagara Falls, N. Y.; Offutt Field, Omaha, Neb.; Standiford Field, Louisville, Ky.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Vandalia, Ohio; St. Paul, Minn.; Denver, Colo.; Birmingham Ala.; Memphis, Tenn .; Tulsa, Okla.; and Kansas City, Mo. 
  9. ^ a b Mueller (1982). "Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base". Air Force Bases as of 1982 (Report). p. 502. 
  10. ^ "4602d AISS Unit History Sampler" (transcribed excerpts of Secret History of 4602D Air Intelligence Squadron). Cufon.org. Retrieved 2013-10-09. The 4602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron was activated and organized under authority of Air Defense Command General Order Number 20, dated 28 February 1952, at Peterson field [sic] [a sub-base of] Ent Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado with an authorized strength of thirty-four (34) officers and ninety-seven (97) airmen. Under this General Order, three (3) flights, designated as Flights A, B and C were organized to be located at the three (3) Defense Force Headquarters at Hamilton Air Force Base, California, at Kansas City, Missouri, and at Stewart Air Force Base, new York, respectively. 
  11. ^ "Official Register of the United States - United States Civil Service Commission, United States. Bureau of the Census". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  12. ^ "National Security Agency (NSA) Historical Study: The National Security Agency Scientific Advisory Board 1952 – 1963, September 1965" (PDF). Governmentattic.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  13. ^ "title tbd". Retrieved 2014-08-14. HQ, Central Air Defense Force was established [at Grandview Air Force Base] on 2/24/54  NOTE: biographical webpage distinguished the 2 different Missouri sites for HQ CADF.
  14. ^ a b "Olathe Naval Air Station: Sailors on the Plains" (PDF). Album: Johnson County History Museum XV (2). Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  15. ^ 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)
  16. ^ "Air Pilots Thrill Crowd at Airport: Eleven Fliers From U. S. Army and Marine Reserve Base Put on Show" (Google news archive). Lawrence Journal-World (Lawrence, Kansas). April 27, 1937. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  17. ^ Airport Directory, Airport Directory Company, 1938  (cited by Freeman)
  18. ^ [2][dead link]
  19. ^ Hammel, Eric. Aces at War (Google Books). Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  20. ^ "Aces at War - Eric Hammel - Google Books". Books.google.com. 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  21. ^ "E. LUTHER Obituary - Fairfax, VA | The Washington Post". Legacy.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  22. ^ "Former Iowa Athlete Killed in Plane Crash". The Milwaukee Journal (Google news archive). June 17, 1942. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  23. ^ map (Map). published in 1946 Fairfax Industrial District, UPRR (map partially depicted online at Airfields-Freeman.com.). November 7, 1945. Retrieved 2013-07-14. <! --Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac Assembly Plant … Barracks U.S. Navy … Ferrying Group Quarters … Military Air Transport Hangar … Fruehauf Trailer Co. … U.S. Army Air Base --> 
  24. ^ a b "Air Force Unveils New Jet Fighter". Press Courier (Google news archive). July 10, 1953. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  25. ^ "Big Bomber Plant for City". Kansas City Times. December 7, 1940.  (cited by Freeman and Macais)
  26. ^ Macias p. 247
  27. ^ Freeman, Paul (2012-12-29). "Sweeney Airport / Fairfax Airport / Fairfax Army Airfield (KCK), Kansas City, KS". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Eastern Kansas. Airfields-Freeman.com. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  28. ^ "Air Force History Index". Airforcehistory.org. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  29. ^ "Kansas Forts and Bases: Sentinels on the Prairie - Debra Goodrich Bisel, Michelle M. Martin - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  30. ^ "Fairfax Field". Wings Over Kansas. via Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  31. ^ "U. S. Army and Air Force Wings Over Kansas: Part II". Kansas Historical Quarterly. Volume 25 (The Kansas State Historical Society (via Archive.org) Quarterly Parts I and II). 1959. 
  32. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-47B-45-DK (DC-3) 45-1011 Kansas City-Fairfax Field, KS (KCK)". Aviation-safety.net. 1945-09-15. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  33. ^ "Kansas City-Fairfax Field, KS profile - Aviation Safety Network". Aviation-safety.net. 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  34. ^ Document Detail for IRISNUM= 00179924 (History of the 4101st Army Air Forces Base Unit) (Report). AFHRA. 
  35. ^ a b "H-Bomb Dropped on 12th and Liberty". The Kansas City Times (NewsPaperArchive.com). October 31, 1957. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  36. ^ compare with New Orleans Radar Bomb Scoring Site and Dallas Bomb Plots
  37. ^ Hellickson, Gene, ed. (9 November 1983). Historical Summary: Radar Bomb Scoring, 1945–1983 (pdf) (Report). Office of History, 1st Combat Evaluation Group. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  38. ^ "Arod L. Deas". StAugustine.com. 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  39. ^ "Biggest Bomber Has Terrifying Power" (Google News archive). Miami Beach Morning Journal. May 26, 1963. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  40. ^ [3][dead link]
  41. ^ "bomber command | operation longshot | kansas city | 1957 | 1525 | Flight Archive". Flightglobal.com. 1957-10-18. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  42. ^ [4][dead link]
  43. ^ 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)
  44. ^ [5][dead link]
  45. ^ "Chapter XIX - The Tanker Role". Webcache.googleusercontent.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  46. ^ "The Kansas City Times from Kansas City, Missouri · Page 3". Newspapers.com. 1957-10-31. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  47. ^ "Missouri Valley Special Collections : Item Viewer". Kchistory.org. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  48. ^ "Air Force to Reopen Bases". New York Times. November 24, 1948. 
  49. ^ 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. 
  50. ^ "River Cracks Dike, Swamps Industrial Area". Pittsburg Post-Gazette (Google News Archive). July 14, 1951. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  51. ^ 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). Peterson Air Force Base: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  52. ^ Duke University Alumni Register (Report). via Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  53. ^ "Brand New Jet Crashes Homes". Record Eagle (Traverse City, Michigan). July 8, 1954. Retrieved 2013-07-12.