Army Air Field
1942 - September,
Deming, New Mexico is located about one
hundred miles West from El Paso on I-10. Until the
interstate highway system became a reality in th early 1960s
Deming was just a wide spot in the road. Even with the
railroad running through town it must have seemed pretty remote
The Bombardier School at the Deming Army Air Field was
established in 1942 and closed up in September, 1946.
The first class of bombardiers graduated on March 6,
1943. In the next three years an estimated 12,000 cadets
passed through the Deming school. With the end of World
War II, the bombardier training program at Deming wound down,
finally coming to an end in September, 1946. Deming Army
Air Field closed and the facility became the Deming Municipal
Airport. Currently (2005), some of the structures still
stand, including three hangars. The civilian operation
has mostly moved to the North side of the field, with the
South side becoming somewhat of a ghost town.
The units at DAAF appear to be in the following Structure,
with the 321st Bombardier Training Group containing the flying
units (equipped with AT-11s) and the 322nd BTG encompassing
all of the ancillary units:
Army Air Forces
Deming Army Air
and Air Base Squadron
19 858th Signal Service Company (Aviation)
419th Army Air
1014th Quartermaster Platoon
Most of the following photos are taken from a yearbook
style book about the Deming Army Air Field published in 1943
by the Army And Navy Publishing Company of Baton Rouge,
Louisiana. This type of book was published for the
personnel stationed at various bases, but have become
increasingly difficult to find.
Deming Army Air Field 1943
purpose of the base,
class of cadets in 1943. The base was just starting up,
but would be cranking out graduates at a steady rate for the
balance of the war.
A trio of AT-11s on a bombing mission in New Mexico.
common bombardier trainer used by the Army Air Force during
World War II was the Beech AT-11, like the C-45 it was a
derivative of the classic Beech 18.
first photo several AT-11s sit on the ramp awaiting further
training flights. The second, third and fourth panels
show AT-11s 42-37241, 41-27600 and 41-27602
respectively. The fifth panel is of an AT-11 on takeoff
with a photographer along side the runway. The last is
of a formation of AT-11s forming up over the field, these are
the same aircraft as in the photo above.
The letter "D" was used for Deming (makes
sense) and though I cannot find definite proof, I believe that
the first number of the aircraft code denotes the
squadron: 1 for the 971st BTS, 2 for the 972nd and
so on. The cowlings of some of the aircraft also appear
to be colored, but without color photographs it is next to
impossible to interpret what that means, if anything.
Three views of AT-11s in flight. The first photo shows a
three ship dropping practice bombs. All three have their bomb
bays open. The second photo is a closeup of the right
wing aircraft from the first photo and better shows the bomb
doors open. Both the first and second photos are of
Carlsbad AAF based aircraft. The third photo shows eight
silver AT-11s from an unidentified unit in formation with an
Olive Drab B-18A. The first three AT-11s in the last photo
are 41-27679, 41-27338 and 41. - 9530
bombardier trainee there were a large number of support
personnel necessary to keep the training aircraft in the
air. Whether that be the mechanics, fuelers, or
ordinance groups. There are also the personnel
essential to every endeavor that seldom are recognized, like
cooks, bakers and even truck drivers. Two pages in the
1943 book are dedicated to Maintenance: "On these two pages maintenance
crews are seen at various repair jobs. This work is
the Air Forces biggest behind the scenes job. The
life of its pilots and efficiency of the planes depends on
the accuracy and skills of its maintenance crews."
put it better myself.
The above photos show mainly
engine maintenance, though the AT-11 in the hangar is most
likely going through a heavy check. The second and
third photos show the knuckle breaking, back aching work
done to keep the Pratt and Whitney R-975 engines in
shape. Piston engines are a favorite with enthusiasts,
but require a great many man hours to keep in prime
photo shows routine preflight, or post flight checks.
Most likely pre-flight as the Norden bombsight is mounted and
"bagged" in the aircraft. The bomb bay doors are also
open (yes, the AT-11 did have a bomb bay).
photo involves some sort of mechanic pow-wow, with a
noticeable amount of oil on the overalls, which probably means
In the third
photo the mechanics seem to be servicing the brakes.
Unlike the bombardier in the nose of the aircraft, this is a
real photo, not posed.
looks like these two mechanics are working on the tail
surfaces, what I think they are really doing is signing off a
logbook. Some times that takes longer than the repair.
Repositioning an aircraft by hand can be a tricky task, one
has to wonder why they are not using the tug in the second
photo. The tug is a "Clarktor-6 Aircraft Tractor"
according to the USAAF. Somehow tractor seems to imply
"John Deere". An AT-11 is being fueled in the third
photo. Someone else will clean the windshield and check
also the personnel essential to every endeavor that are seldom
recognized or appreciated, like cooks, bakers and even truck
drivers. The Army was still a segregated service in
those days and most black soldiers were confined to those
support jobs. Jobs that the Army (and every other
service for that matter) would not have been able to function
without. All American servicemen contributed and all
should be recognized as well.
The first shot is of a formation of troops at
inspection. The second shows the ubiquitous "Deuce and
half", in this case a GMC CCKW-353. Pool tables in the
rec hall were pretty much universal in the military.
Armies (and Air Forces) have always run on paperwork.
Deming Army Air Field 2005
Some of the
structures and many of the foundations still remain. Some,
like the hangars, are still occasionally used, while others such
as the former laundry are long abandoned.
The first photo is of the laundry facility as
it looked in May, 2005. To the left is the steam plant
with the remains of a water tower while the laundry is to the
The three following photos show the
foundation of the engineering building. The small concrete
structure is the vault where either Norden bombsights, or
small arms were repaired.
The final photo is of one of the two
remaining Norden bombsight vaults. These would have been
guarded during WWII.
photos show the hangars as they appear today (2005).
The three hangars are almost identical. A fourth, larger
wooden hangar was located to the left of the engineering
building in the above series of photos, but it was torn down in
These hangars served as sets for Indiana
Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.
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Page Created 07-14-05