Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Kingman Arizona, the warbird scrapyard, 1946

Covering five square miles and stretching for six and one-half miles along U.S. Highway 66, more than 7,000 retired Army bombers, fighters and training planes parked row on row at the old Kingman Army Airfield, formerly a flexible gunnery training base, then transformed into Storage Depot 41 of the War Assets Administration.

In no other place in the world have so many aircraft been concentrated in one area at one time. Billions of dollars–and untold heroic victories in the clouds–are represented in the acres of fighting ships glinting in the Arizona sunshine.

The planes began arriving from all points of the world  Oct. 1945, and during December, one a minute landed at the depot.

Some of the big, four-engined ships limped in from overseas bases with one or two engines dead, barely arriving at their final resting place in one piece. A few come almost directly off production lines, brand-spanking new – “boot” planes without a chance to show the world a combat record.

20% of all craft with 100 or less flying hours are “pickled.” This means preservation oils are forced into their engines and movable parts are protected against corrosion and the elements. Such ships can be airborne within 24 hours.

Among the types of ships stored at the depot – and the standard price by the W.A.A. – are
 B-24 Liberators for $13,750 each;
 B-17 Flying Fortresses, also for $13,750 each;
 B-25 medium bombers for $8250 each;
 P-38 Lightnings at $1250 each.

Other types include B-32’s, the super bombers comparable to famed B-29 Superfortresses;
 A-26’s, America’s newest and fastest medium bombers, available at $2,000 apiece;
P-61 Black Widow night fighters at $6,000 apiece;
 P-47 Thunderbolt fighters at $3,500 each;
P-40’s of Flying Tiger fame at $1,250 each and
A-24 Navy diver bombers at $1,650 apiece. …


Photos from 1946, LA Times, Phil Bath photographer

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