Monday, March 19, 2012

Madison's WWII airfield

Augustine Warner Robins
Known today as Bruce Campbell Field and located on Old Canton Road in Madison, Mississippi, Augustine Field conducted training for hundreds of pilots for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. The airfield opened in March 1941 as Robins Field but was changed to Augustine Field in the fall of 1941 so that an airfield in Georgia could use the name Robins. Both names honored General Augustine Warner Robins, known as the "Father of Logistics" in the USAF. Robins (1882-1940) was the son of Confederate Colonel William Todd Robins of the 24th Virginia Cavalry and was related to both George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Before making his contributions in the Air Force, Robins participated in Pershing's 1916 expedition in Mexico against Pancho Villa. The city of Warner Robins, Georgia, is also named in his honor.

The PT-17 Stearman
The Fairchild PT-19
Augustine Field trained United States Army Air Corps cadets under contract with the Mississippi Institute   of Aeronautics, and was a support airfield to Hawkins Field in Jackson. The pilots in Madison were trained primarily on two types of planes: the Fairchild PT-19 and PT-17 Stearman. The Fairchild PT-19 was a single-wing aircraft widely used for training by the USAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the RAF. In 1943, there were a number of complaints about the plywood wings of the PT-19 warping due to the heat and humidity of training bases in Texas and Florida. From then on, all PT-19s had all-metal wing sections. The Stearman was a biplane. Also known as a Kaydet, more than 8,000 were built in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. The Stearman was the primary trainer for the USAAF and the U.S. Navy throughout World War II. After the war, thousands were sold on the civilian market and were converted for use as crop dusters, sports planes and saw wide use in airshows.
Several airfield support buildings still
stand on the west side of Old Canton
Road, south of The  Home Place.

Augustine Field was deactivated on June 30, 1944, and was later turned into a civilian airport. The City of Madison changed the name to Bruce Campbell Field in 1953 in memory of Campbell, a Civil Aeronautics Administration Engineer, who died in 1952. Today, three original hangars from the training field are still in use at Bruce Campbell Field, and several support buildings still stand on the west side of Old Canton Road. As one of the most intact World War II airfields in Mississippi, Bruce Campbell was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

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