Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
Origin of current name: Named in honor of 2d Lts Samuel Howard Davis (1896-1921) and Oscar Monthan (1885-1924). Lieutenant Davis was killed on December 28th 1921 in the crash of a Curtiss JN 6 HG, in which he was a passenger, at Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, FL. British-born Lieutenant Monthan died on March 27th 1924 when his Martin NBS-1 bomber failed to clear the baseball field backstop on takeoff from Luke Field, Oahu, HI. Both men had attended high school in Tucson, AZ.
Date current name was assigned to base: January 13, 1948
Previous Names: Davis-Monthan Landing Field, November 1st 1925; Tucson Municipal Airport, October 6th 1927; Davis Monthan Field, December 3rd 1941.
Date Established: October 6, 1925
Date Occupied: April 1, 1941
Construction Began: December 1, 1940
Changes in Capability: Concrete hangar and operations building constructed 1931; initial grading and leveling throughout base area completed March 28th 1941; overall expansion project, begun in December 1941, completed January 1943; ramp and runway expanded to cenvert field from a B-24 to a B-29 training base December 1944; storage and maintenance facilities made base the USAF's largest B-29 and C-47 storage area in late 1945, subsequently served to store all USAF mothballed aircraft; new NW-SE 11,500-foot runway for largest aircraft completed January 17th 1953; extended to 13,600 feet fall 1956; expansion of concrete areas and maintenance facilities for B-47 and KC-97 operations finished late 1954; structures and facilities to accommodate an ADC FI Sq completed fall 1955; "Alert City" and base hospital completed March 1961; 18 Titan II missile sites, May 1960-May 1961, construction completed December 1963; inactivation of 432d Tactical Drone Gp sharply reduced flying activity March 1979; Ground Launch Cruise Missile instruction commenced July 1st 1981.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is a key Air Combat Command installation, located within the city limits of Tucson, Ariz., with a colorful history and a long tradition of excellence in service to our country.
The 355th Wing is the host unit providing medical, logistical, and operational support to all D-M units. The wing's missions are to train A-10 and OA-10 pilots and to provide A-10 and OA-10 close support and forward air control to ground forces worldwide. The wing is also tasked to provide command, control, and communications countermeasures in support of tactical forces with its EC-130H aircraft and, employing the EC-130E aircraft, provide airborne command, control, and communications capabilities for managing tactical air operations in war and other contingencies worldwide.
D-M became a military base in 1925, but its origins can be traced to the earliest days of civil aviation. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh, fresh from his non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, flew his "Spirit of St. Louis" to Tucson to dedicate Davis-Monthan Field -- then the largest municipal airport in the United States.
The base was named in honor of Lieutenants Samuel H. Davis and Oscar Monthan, two Tucsonans and World War I era pilots who died in separate military aircraft accidents. Davis, who died in a Florida aircraft accident in 1921, attended the University of Arizona prior to enlisting in the Army in 1917. Monthan enlisted in the Army as a private in 1917, was commissioned as a ground officer in 1918 and later became a pilot. He was killed in a crash of a Martin bomber in Hawaii in 1924.
In 1940, with a war cloud on the horizon, the field was selected for expansion. During World War II, D-M served as an operational training base for B-18 "Bolos," and B-24 "Liberator" and, nearing the war's end, B-29 "Superfortress."
With the end of the war, operations at the base came to a virtual standstill. It was then the base was selected as a storage site for hundreds of decommissioned aircraft, particularly the excess B-29s and C-47 "Gooney Birds." Tucson's dry climate and alkali soil made it an ideal location for aircraft storage and preservation, a mission that has continued to this day.
Strategic Air Command ushered in the Cold War era at D-M in May 1946, in the form of two B-29 bombardment groups. Once again, the skies of the "old Pueblo," Tucson's nickname, were filled with the sights and sounds of the "Superfortress."
On 2 March 1949, the Lucky Lady II, a B-50A (serial number 46-010) of the 43rd Bombardment Group, completed the first nonstop round-the-world flight, having covered 23,452 miles in 94 hours and 1 minute. Lucky Lady II was refueled four times in the air by KB-29 tankers of the 43rd Air Refueling Squadron. For this outstanding flight, the Lucky Lady II crew received the Mackay Trophy, given annually by the National Aeronautic Association for the outstanding flight of the year, and the Air Age Trophy, an Air Force Association award, given each year in recognition of significant contributions to the public understanding of the air age.
The jet age came to the base in 1953, when SAC units converted to the new B-47 "Stratojet." That same year, the Air Defense Command appeared on the base with a squadron of F-86A "Sabre Jet" fighters.
In the early 1960s, the 390th Strategic Missile Wing and its 18 Titan II sites were activated here. This unit inactivated in 1984. In July 1963, a wing of U-2 strategic reconnaissance aircraft was assigned to the base and began flying global missions. The U-2s remained at the base until 1976, when they were transferred to Beale AFB, Calif.
The year 1964 brought back the combat crew training mission of the World War II years -- this time for the Air Force's newest and most sophisticated fighter, the F-4 "Phantom." In July 1971, the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying the A-7 "Corsair II" aircraft, was activated at the base and the F-4s moved to Luke AFB, Ariz., near Phoenix.
On Oct. 1, 1976, the base was transferred to Tactical Air Command after 30 years under SAC. It was also that year the 355th TFW accepted the first A-10A "Thunderbolt." Since 1979, D-M has been the training location for pilots in the A-10.
The 1980s brought several diverse missions to D-M, and the headquarters charged with overseeing them was the 836th Air Division, which was activated Jan. 1, 1981. Shortly thereafter, the base welcomed the 868th Tactical Missile Training Group, which trained the crews to operate, maintain, and defend the Ground Launch Cruise Missile system. The 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, equipped with the EC-130H "Compass Call" aircraft, was the next to arrive, followed by the 602nd Tactical Air Control Wing, a unit responsible for the Air Force's tactical air control system west of the Mississippi River.
The most recent unit to join the 355th Wing is the 42nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron who arrived at D-M from Keesler AFB, Miss. The squadron's EC-130E Hercules aircraft carry an airborne battlefield command and control center capsule, and provides continuous control of tactical air operations in the forward battle area and behind enemy lines.
On May 1, 1992, the 836th Air Division was inactivated and the 355th Fighter Wing was redesignated the 355th Wing in tune with the Air Force's philosophy of one base, one wing, one commander. The 355th Wing is comprised of the 355th Operations Group, the 355th Logistics Group, the 355th Medical Group, and the 355th Support Group.
Nearly every major air command, the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard are represented among the associate units at D-M. Among the base's associate units are the 12th Air Force headquarters, Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, 305th Rescue Squadron, and Detachment 1, 120th Fighter Interceptor Group.
Twelfth Air Force is charged with commanding, administering, and supervising tactical air forces west of the Mississippi River. As one of ACC's numbered air forces, 12th Air Force operates combat-ready forces and equipment for air superiority -- gaining and maintaining control of airspace; interdiction -- disrupting enemy lines of communication and logistics; and close air support -- working with U.S. and allied forces to defeat the enemy at the point of contact.
AMARC is responsible for more than 5,000 aircraft stored at D-M. An Air Force Material Command unit, AMARC is responsible for the storage of excess Department of Defense and Coast Guard aircraft. The center annually in-processes about 400 aircraft for storage and out-processes about the same number for return to the active service, either as remotely controlled drones or sold to friendly foreign governments.
The 305th Rescue Squadron, an Air Force Reserve unit, flies the HH-60G "Pavehawk" helicopters. Its primary mission is search and rescue.
Detachment 1, 120th FIG, an Air National Guard unit, flies the F-16 "Fighting Falcon." Each week, two F-16s rotate to the base from their home base in Great Falls, Mont. These aircraft can scramble in less then five minutes to identify, intercept, and, if necessary, destroy any airborne threat to U.S. security.
Other federal agencies using the base include the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Customs Service Air Service Branch, the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and a detachment of the Naval Air Systems Command.
Approximately 6,000 military and 1,700 civilian employees work at Davis-Monthan and nearly 13,000 military retirees reside in the Tucson area.
Information on the Titan II at Davis-Monthan can be found here.