List of Air Service American Expeditionary Force aerodromes in France

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Air Service recruiting poster, 1917–1918
see also: Organization of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force

When the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917, the Air Service of the United States Army existed only as a branch of the Signal Corps, and was known by the name of Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. It consisted of 1,120 personnel, of which 65 were officers. The Army was not ready for the deployment of aviation forces to Europe, and it became necessary to prepare after President Woodrow Wilson's declaration of war.[1]


Aerial Gunnery and Armament School Newspaper Saint-Jean-de-Monts The Fly Paper - 18 November 1918
Locations of major Air Service, United States Army stations in France, 1918

As part of the buildup of US forces, aviation units were formed into aero squadrons primarily at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, with additional units being formed at Rockwell Field, San Diego, California.[1] Once formed, and prior to their deployment to Europe, Camp Taliaferro, north of Fort Worth, Texas, and several airfields near Toronto, Ontario, Canada were used by the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) to perform flight training for the new aero squadrons. Camp Hancock, near Augusta, Georgia, was used for training service squadrons of aircraft mechanics as well as flight training.[2]

When ordered to deploy, units departed though Garden City, New York, which was the primary port of embankment. Units there were loaded onto transport ships for the trans-Atlantic crossing. Upon arrival in Europe, Liverpool, England, and Brest, France, were the primary ports of disembarkation, although other ports were also used. Some aero squadrons arriving in England received additional training from the Royal Flying Corps, and later the Royal Air Force (RAF) once it was established, and were then attached to British squadrons, deploying with them to France. Others received further training and were sent to Winchester, Hampshire, where they awaited their cross-channel transfer to France, using the port of Southampton.[1]

After deployment to France, St. Maixent Aerodrome was the primary reception center for new aero squadrons assigned to the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). There, units were classified as pursuit, bombardment or as observation units. Once processed, units were sent to the 1st Air Depot at Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome where equipment was issued to the units. If necessary, units were assigned to one of several Air Instructional Centers (AIC) where they received additional combat and gunnery training provided by the French. Once prepared for combat, Gengault Aerodrome (Toul) was used as the assignment center for new squadrons, from which they were transferred to their initial combat station.[1]

8th Aero Squadron (Observation), Saizerais Aerodrome, France, 11 November 1918

After assignment, the Air Service's deployed units operated primarily from French Air Force (French: Armée de l'Air (ALA) grass aerodromes (airfields). The exact location of many of these aerodromes is no longer certain as the facilities were only temporary and after the war much of the land on which they sat was returned to agricultural purposes. Today, many are fields that have been in production continuously since the end of the war, and traces of their wartime use are limited. As a result, the locations of many Air Service stations have only been approximated, using a variety of means including aerial photography, maps and the interpretation of other ancillary information.[2]

After the Armistice came into effect in November 1918, the wartime Air Service was demobilized. This process was completed within a year and the National Defense Act of 1920 then established the United States Army Air Service on a permanent basis, with several new units being formed. Later, some of the temporary wartime units were consolidated to retain the lineage and honors of their wartime service with the AEF.[citation needed]


Below is a list of the airdromes used by the American Expeditionary Force that were sent to France during World War I.[3]

American sector[edit]

Command and control[edit]

Organized at: La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, Île-de-France, 10 August 1918
Moved to: Ligny-en-Barrois, Lorraine, 25 August 1918
Moved to: Souilly, Lorraine, 21 September – 11 November 1918
Organized at: Toul, Lorraine, 12 October – 11 November 1918

Combat airdromes[edit]

Support aerodromes[edit]

Training schools[edit]

Aviation Instruction Centers

* The 5th Aviation Instruction Center at Bron (now Lyon–Bron Airport) was located at the French Air Service Mechanics School. The first Americans were sent to the school in mid-September, 1917. The school was overcrowded and was lacking in proper quarters and mess facilities for the Americans. Also a lack of English-speaking instructors led to the decision to withdraw the Americans from the school. Students were sent to the 3d AIC at Issodun, with the last departing on 4 December 1917.[4]

** The I Corps Aeronautical School was a temporary school, located at the French Air Service machine-gun training school at Gondrecourt-le-Château. About 225 men were sent to the school during March and April, 1918.[4]

British sector[edit]

[2] [5] [6]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf "Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Reference for Geographic coordinates of Aerodromes
  3. ^ "United States Air Service - USAS". 
  4. ^ a b US National Archives, Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, Series J Volume 10 Histories of the 5th (Bron), and 6th (Pau) Aviation Instruction Centers, Cazaux Aviation Instruction Center, St. John-de-Monts Aerial Gunnery School, 1st-5th Aerial Observation Schools, I and II Corps Aeronautical Schools, and Detachments at the Artillery Candidates School, and French, English, and Italian Aviation Scools via
  5. ^ Maurer, Maurer (1978), The US Air Service In World War I, Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF
  6. ^ Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. 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. 

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