|Kingman Army Air Field
Depot 41, Kingman, Arizona
|History of Kingman Army Airfield and Depot 41, Kingman, Arizona:
Kingman Army Airfield was established on May 7th 1943 as a training base for Army Air Force aerial gunners. In addition to the
main base, the Kingman Ground-to-Ground Gunnery Range and Kingman Air-to-Air Gunnery Range was located about six
miles north of the present city limits of the City of Kingman. From this point, the former practice gunnery ranges extended
northward approximately 31 miles, generally following the Hualapai Valley.
After 1945, there was no need for a gunnery school to remain at Kingman. On November 15th 1945, the property was declared
surplus, and between 1946 and 1950 the various parcels were returned and leases cancelled.
After the war, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation established five large storage, sales and scrapping centers for Army Air
Forces aircraft. These were located at: Albuquerque Army Air Field, New Mexico; Altus Army Air Field, Oklahoma; Kingman
Army Air Field, Arizona; Ontario Army Air Field, California; and Walnut Ridge Army Air Field, Arkansas. A sixth facility for
storing, selling and scrapping Navy and Marine aircraft was located at Clinton, Oklahoma.
The War Assets Administration came to Kingman AAF to set up Sales & Storage Depot No. 41. Depot 41 was to sell-off the
base buildings and equipment. In addition, the former Kingman Field would store aircraft from the Army Air Force. Official
estimates of over 5,000 WWII warbirds, many of which were heavily used combat veterans of the European and Pacific
Campaigns, were flown to Kingman in 1945 and 1946 for storage and sale. 38 of the 118 B-32 "Dominator" Very Heavy (VH)
Bombers, built at the end of WWII by Convair Aircraft at Fort Worth, Texas, were flown to Kingman, including several straight
from the assembly line. Five of Kingman's B-32's had served overseas with the 312th Bombardment Group, in the closing days
of World War II in the Pacific. There is not a single B-32 "Dominator" aircraft in existence today.
Most of the WWII transport and trainer aircraft could be used in the civilian market, but very few surplus fighters and bombers
were purchased. The prices for surplus aircraft at the conclusion of WWII were: BT-13 Trainer Aircraft $450, P-38 Fighter
Aircraft $1,250, AT-6 Advanced Trainer Aircraft $1,500, A-26 Medium Bomber $2,000, P-51 Fighter Aircraft $3,500, B-25 Medium
Bomber $8,250, B-17 Heavy Bomber $13,750 and B-24 Heavy Bomber $13,750. The B-32 Very Heavy Bomber was not allowed
to be sold on the surplus market. Very few of the aircraft stored at Kingman, Arizona were purchased. Those that were not
purchased, were cut-up on the spot and melted into large aluminum ingots that were then sold as aluminum scrap.
After the Sales-Storage at Depot 41 completed its job in late 1948, the airfield was turned over to Mohave County to be used as
an airport for the county.
|Very few WWII aircraft or artifacts survived the scrapping operations at Depot 41, Kingman Army Air Field, Kingman Arizona.
One specific historic aircraft was spared, B-17D-BO 40-3097 "Flying Fortress" named "The Swoose". This aircraft saw
extensive use in the Southwest Pacific theatre of World War II and survived to become the oldest B-17 still intact. It is the only
early "shark fin" B-17 known to exist, and the only surviving B-17 to have seen action in the 1941–42 Philippines Campaign,
operating on the first day of the United States entry into the war. She was saved from Kingman in March 1946.
The extensive 33-piece, WWII aircraft nose art collection, owned by the Commemorative Air Museum, Dallas, Texas, was saved
and obtained from the scrapping operations done at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, in 1946. None of these artifacts came from the
Kingman scrapping operations.
For the Historian and Adventurer:
If you are planning a trip to Kingman, Arizona, this area is a beautiful and history-rich "small town". With the famous Route 66,
early American mining operations, and outright beautiful desert landscape with star filled skies that cannot be seen in a major
U.S. city, Kingman, Arizona is a "must see". If you planning a short stay in the area, QuestMasters recommends the
El Trovatore Motel, 1440 E Andy Devine Ave, Kingman, AZ 86401. This small family-owned motel is a basic slice of Americana,
with history themed rooms. It is just a basic roadside motel - the type of place you want to sleep in, when you Quest across the
western United States.
|Kingman Army Air Field Booklet, above left photo.
This Kingman Army Air Field Booklet, in the QuestMasters Museum collection, was published with cooperation of the Kingman
Army Air Field Public Relations Office during the war, to show the aerial gunnery training that was being done on the field
Kingman Army Air Field Decal, above right photo.
This decal, in the QuestMasters Museum collection, was produced during WWII for application to a leather circle "squadron
patch" for the A-2 Flying Jacket. This would have been worn on the left front of the A-2 Flying Jacket of the staff, instructors
and crews that were stationed at Kingman Field, during WWII.
|Kingman Army Air Field Souvenir Apron, above left photo.
This Kingman Army Air Field Souvenir Apron, in the QuestMasters Museum collection, was sold in the Kingman Field Post
Exchange. This souvenir was produced so that a Service Member could mail-home something from their time at the Gunnery
School at Kingman Field.
Kingman Army Air Field Gunnery Graduation Certificate, above right photo.
This certificate, in the QuestMasters Museum collection, was produced during WWII for students who completed the Aerial
Gunnery School at Kingman, Arizona. This certificate was presented on October 26th 1943 by 1st Lt. Harry D. Kremer,
Commanding Officer and 2nd Lt. Jack D. Ganway, Adjutant, to Sgt. James R. Ruiz Jr., ASN 39856604, Enlisted February 17th
1943 from Arizona.
Sgt. James R. Ruiz Jr. would be killed in combat on March 15th 1944 as a Aerial Gunner of a B-26B "Marauder" Medium
Bomber, Serial Number 42-96209, 553rd Bomb Squadron, 386th Bomb Group, Marrakech, Station 10, Morocco, North Africa.
Sgt. Ruiz had been in the Army for 13 months and received his Aerial Gunners wings 6 months prior to his death.
|KINGMAN ARMY AIR FIELD, DEPOT 41
SEARCH AND RECOVERY:
|In 2015 and again in 2017, QuestMasters Museum conducted a survey of the area around the former Kingman Army Air Field in
search of any WWII aircraft remains that had been left behind from the scrapping operations that had been done between 1946
The former storage and scrapping area, to the south of Kingman Field, is roughly 2 square miles of open desert. Kingman and
the surrounding area is absolutely gorgeous, and is worth the trip alone - a high mountain desert with tumbleweed and desert
flowers. Kingman Airport is currently an industrial park with commercial aircraft storage in a fenced area in the south/west of
the Air Field.
The WWII aircraft that were stored at Kingman, between 1946 and 1948, shown in the black and white photos below, were
stripped of any usable components - engines and propellers, and then were dragged to mobile crane-operated guillotines to
cut the airframe into easily movable sections. These aircraft sections would then be pushed into one of three mobile smelters
that had been set-up on site to melt the aircraft into huge aluminum ingots, shown at the very bottom of this page.
Many hours of all-day searching with a metal detector did allow for many small WWII aircraft artifacts to be recovered by
QuestMasters. A scrapping operation of this size will yield small parts for decades to come, but for the reader and adventurer,
there are no large WWII aircraft components remaining at the Kingman Air Field or surrounding desert to the open-eye.
There is a substantial amount of modern trash and rubbish dumping that has been done in the area.
A small museum dedicated to the history of Kingman Army Air Field was erected at the municipal airport and industrial park.
The museum closed in 2016 and all of the privately owned WWII artifacts were sold at auction. The museum is permanently
The following photos, taken between 1946 and 1948 of WWII combat veteran aircraft being scrapped at Kingman Army Air
Field, and WWII aircraft artifacts recovered by QuestMasters Museum from the desert scrapping fields are not shown in any
These photos are included here for historic reference, documentation, preservation and future research.
|WWII .30 caliber and .50 caliber projectiles and casings, above photo.
The casing and projectiles, shown above, were recovered from the area around Kingman Army Air Field by QuestMasters
Museum in 2015 and 2017. It is not certain if these projectiles and casing were fired during Aerial Gunnery Training at the field
or fell from the combat aircraft when they were scrapped. The two yellow painted fired .50 caliber projectiles, at the bottom of
the photo, are definitely from gunnery training. Army Air Force instructors would paint the projectiles different colors so they
could tell which student was hitting a target correctly. The paint on the nose of the projectile would leave a colored mark on the
target. Different colors were used for multiple gunnery students firing at the same time. These colors were different from
factory produced projectile colors being used during WWII: black = Armor Piercing, red = Tracer, silver = Armor
Piercing/Incendiary, blue = Incendiary.
The headstamps on the bottom of the cartridge casings are: .30 caliber, FA 34, TW 42, DEN 41; .50 caliber, U 43, LC 43, M 43.
|WWII aircraft melted aluminum nuggets and splatter, above photo.
The aluminum nuggets, shown above, were recovered by QuestMasters Museum, from the area where the mobile smelters
operated at Kingman Army Air Field between 1946 and 1948. The former smelter location was found by QuestMasters Museum
in 2015 and again in 2017. When the large sections of WWII combat aircraft were pushed into the smelters to be melted into
large aluminum ingots, shown below, large globs of aluminum from the melted aircraft were deposited in the surrounding
ground. These aluminum nuggets are roughly the size of a chicken egg or small lemon.
|Small fragile WWII aircraft pieces from Depot 41, Kingman Army Air Field, above photo.
For very small fragile artifacts to survive in the open desert for 70 years is amazing. The two square mile area to the south of
Kingman Army Air Field had heavy movement across it between 1946 and 1948, processing over 5,000 aircraft for on-site
destruction and smelting. The two square mile search area, roughly 900 football fields in size, that was searched by
QuestMasters between 2015 and 2017, yielded many small historic WWII artifacts from combat-used aircraft. The fragile small
artifacts, shown above, are a WWII aircraft gun turret nomenclature plate, above left; two WWII AN 6029-1 Oxygen Flow
Indicator Nomenclature Plates, bottom center; an unbroken WWII aircraft instrument panel illumination bulb, center of photo;
and a Norden Bombsight Tangent Scale for the bombing computer. This Tangent Scale was part of the Bombardiers carry-on
equipment, that was held in a wooden case, for calculations for each bomb load. This scale was left behind in one of the
combat aircraft that was destroyed at Kingman, and fell from the aircraft into the desert when it was cut apart. These artifacts
were found by QuestMasters in 2015 and 2017.
|POST-QUEST HISTORY AND RECOMMENDATIONS: