Holux Overview 5: Luke & Douglas Army Air Force Bases
Luke Field / Glendale AZ – Army Air Force Advanced Flying School
During World War II, Luke Field was the largest fighter training base in the Army Air Forces, graduating more than 17,000 fighter pilots from advanced and operational courses, earning the nickname, “Home of the Fighter Pilot.” It was the largest single engine advanced flying training school in the U.S. More than a million hours of flying were logged, primarily in the AT-6 Texan, along with some transitioning to P-40 Warhawk fighters and later the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt.
Although continually modified during the war years, the course of advanced flight training at Luke averaged about 10 weeks and included both flight training and ground school. Approximately 60 hours of flying instruction covered formation flying, navigation, and instrument flying, as well as a bit of aerial acrobatics. About 20 additional hours of flight practice concentrated on aerial and gunnery training.
Ground school, or classroom training for the advanced flying course, varied from about 100 to 130 hours and was intermingled with flight time in the aircraft. Cadets flew in the morning and attended ground school in the afternoons, or flew training missions in the afternoon after a morning of ground school.
Douglas Army Air Field / Douglas AZ – Advanced Flying School
The Army activated the former Douglas Air Field on May 28, 1942, as a twin-engine advanced flying school for training bomber pilots. Douglas Army Air Field was an advanced flying training school where aviation cadets received their pilot wings and commissions as second lieutenants or appointments as flight officers in the Army Air Force. Aircraft assigned to the base were North American BT-14 Yales, North American AT-6 Texans, Beech UC-78 Bobcats, Curtiss-Wright AT-9 Fledglings, Cessna AT-17 Bobcats, and North American B-25 Mitchells.
Graduates were then sent to III Bomber Command airfields in the southeast for group assignments on B-26 Marauder or B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, or twin-engine Lockheed P-38 Lightning IV Fighter Command airfields along the West Coast. Others went to I Troop Carrier Command or Air Transport Command for transport pilot duty.