Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wendover Airfield Wendover, Utah Veterans Day

Photo showing some of the historic buildings of the base

In remembrance of Veteran's Day I am going to honor our World War II veterans. Today's post will be about the Wendover Airfield in western Utah. The airfield has more historic buildings remaining from World War II. The problem is that many of them need to be refurbished. To get to Wendover take I-80 west of Salt Lake City 120 miles. Wendover is located on the Nevada border. Restaurants and hotels are prevalent in both Wendover and West Wendover, Nevada.

History: The United States military became interested in Wendover as a location to train airman because of its remote location and temperate climate. Clear skies gave a chance for plenty of training flights year round. Construction began in 1940 and the base became active in July of 1941. Through a series if acquisitions from the Department of Interior the base would grow to 3.5 million acres; making it the largest base in the world. By 1944, the base had 20, 000 people and approximately 668 buildings.

The airfield was used as a heavy bomber training base. A total of 21 heavy bomber groups were stationed at Wendover throughout the war. Included in this list: B-14, B-17, and B-29 crews. The most famous group the 339th bomber group of the 509th Composite trained here with the Enola Gay before they dropped the atomic bomb in Japan. The training was very secretive with very few people knowing the true mission.

Today the base is owned by the city of Wendover. A nonprofit organization the Wendover Airlfield is currently gathering funds to restore many of the historic buildings on the base. They have already refurbished the Officer's Quarters which might become a community center. Right now the organization has money from the US government to restore the Enola Gay Hanger. Many of the buildings are on the register of historic places. (Thanks to brochure from the Wendover museum for this information)
Photo showing the 308th Bomber group (photo from Google)

Photo of the Enola Gay "Super Fortress" (photo from Google)

Remnants of the highly effective Tokyo Trolly tracks to the north of town. Machine gunners fired at moving targets while moving themselves. This innovative training made them the best trained gunners in the war.

Remnant of the hospital building on base

Marker showing the location for the Enola Gay Hanger
aka. Atomic Mission Hanger

Enola Gay Hanger where the historic plane was housed. The
Airlfield has the money to refurbish the building and is currently
doing so. In fact if you look at the photo the building has new windows.
The problem is that the roof has a significant amount of asbestos in it.

Armament and Inspection Building: housed administrative offices,
also used to train men in installation, inspection of armaments. The highly
secretive Norden Bombsite was also stored here.

Officer's Service Club: provided place to rest relax with
a dining room and bar. First building to be refurbished by the
historic Wendover Airfield.