Surviving Artifacts

from

Kingman Army Air Field:

& Sales-Storage Depot No. 41

Planes:

 

 

Circa 1986

George Steinke, KAAF paintings & me

in front of the Base's relocated

Link Trainer Building

And these are 'feathers' that were once fastened to a Link Trainer in the building above during WWII:

(note the pre-War Insignia on each of the 5' silver wings, as well as the early tri-color striping on the rudder)

THE ART

Occasionally, military training could be exciting and often extremely dangerous, but for the most part, mind numbing tedium was the order of the day. It was left in the skilled hands of artists to lift spirits with colorful and often humorous depictions of daily life. The three extremely rare KAAF paintings shown at top were brushed onto wallboard, perhaps in a dayroom, and they depict several cartoon subjects that were very popular during the War: Miss LACE & The WOLF (the latter on his keester after being socked by the former), SAD SACK (in the mirror) and SNUFFY SMITH (having another one of his outlandish dreams!)

These are but a few of the precious Kingman Army Air Field paintings in the

Depot 41 Museum Collection

THE MAN

While he wasn't actually in the Armed Forces during WWII, he did live in Kingman through those hectic years and with his magical junkyard (where warbird aluminum & I made initial contact), his firsthand knowledge of what transpired at Kingman during the 40's and

his unrivaled character - which, by the way, included a charming sense of humor - George I. Steinke was not only the single most influential person with regard to nearly every aspect of my Kingman involvement, he remains one of the dearest friends I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Among his many accomplishments, during the late 40's George was instrumental in convincing Mohave County to move their antiquated PORT KINGMAN operations

(with its outdated buildings & dirt runways) just a few miles further north on Hwy 66 in order to take advantage of the modern and recently-vacated Army Air Field.

George was also a co-owner of the post-War KINGMAN FLYING SERVICE which, among other things, provided "FREE Pilot Training for Vetrans" (Sic).

According to this vintage poster, their stable of planes included Aeronca Champions, Stearmans, Fairchilds and BT-13s!

Always carrying his 1928

Pilot's Identification Card #1582, in 1991 George was deservingly inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame.

November 2001

A delighted George is seen here holding the old KINGMAN FLYING SERVICE sign that was once posted outside their business on Kingman Army Air Field

(flanked by myself and his girlfriend Marge Meyers)

Picked from debris left over from the aircraft salvage operation, the 17" diameter, 3/32" thick ALCLAD disc has several holes that once fastened it to some unknown USAAF aircraft assembly - lacking a part number, its original function may never be known

After living a life full of adventures, George passed away in August of 2002, nearly reaching his 98th birthday.

He may be gone, but his indomitable spirit is with me daily and there will definitely be more on him later.... JCS

Kingman Army Air Field Pics

(vintage)

Machine Shop under construction in 1942; the same building Kingman Army Airfield Museum occupied for years, until they closed down in June of 2016

January 1943

Base Theater under construction

Of all the photographs Keith A. Lewis sent, I really like the portrait shot he labelled:

"Me, Junior Birdman!!"

Bob Hope and Crew

packed a Kingman hangar

Jerry Colonna took time to give the Skeet Track a whirl

 

"To John - Thanks for the Memory,

Bob Hope"

And thanks for all you fellas did, Bob & Jerry!

Kingman Army Air Field Pics (modern)

Reminiscent of England's Stonehenge, the mysterious pillars of KAAF's Waller Trainer screens were still standing proudly when I took this photo in 1978...

Inset shows how the convex projection screen used for Gunnery Training was mounted on graduating concrete pillars.

And here's my interesting 1995 shot of a well-built fireplace that stood for many decades in the Nurse's area. Susequent commercial sprawl has long since obliterated these quaint pieces of KAAF history.

Some of the many thousands of pieces of KAAF history that were saved by yours truly:


Donated to Kingman Army Airfield Museum years ago by Frank & Doris Bonham, this 6' airplane can opener was part of KAAF's Crash Truck equipment. Possibly unique to the Base, it was used by several Firemen to puncture, then rip open a fuselage in order to extract airmen.

The unusual artifact was purchased at KAAM's June 2016

going-out-of-business auction.

3-1/2' X 3-1/2' K.A.A.F. wallboard painting WRITE TO Mother and Dad AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK and letters Alban F. Varnado wrote his folks while training at Kingman Army Air Field . . .

Alban graduated from Kingman's Gunnery School in 1944, then was sent to Hondo, Texas for Navigational Training before being assigned to the 306th Bomb Group in England.

He passed away December 11, 2015 at the age of 94.

Flightline Fire Extinguishers were always at the ready; this KAAF example's last inspection date was 2-9-45 . . .

and it remains fully-charged!

And finally, a relatively contemporary photo of the KAAF theater remains some 60 years after the War, taken from about where the stage would have been:

Tell me, is that music I hear above Arizona's perpetual wind, or only my mind playing tricks on me again?!

photo credits this page:

George I. Steinke,

Frank Ellerbrook,

Keith A. Lewis,

Ed Stockton,

Vern and Maude Heaton,

Depot 41 Photo Archives

 

 

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