After the United States entered World War II in late 1941, the newly completed Dover municipal airfield was leased to the U.S. Army Air Corps and assigned to the Eastern Defense Command as a coastal patrol base. At this time a handful of soldiers were assigned to the growing Dover Army Air Field, with the C-47 arriving in 1943 to patrol Delaware’s coastline for enemy submarines. Later in the War, the base hosted Air to Air missile testing and pilot training squadrons in addition to safeguarding the eastern seaboard. The mission of the base changed over the years, and Dover is now home to a fleet of C-5 and C-17 cargo planes, able to provide crucial airlift support to not only to military conflicts but also to humanitarian crises around the world and here at home. Today there are more than 22 aircraft, 3,500 active duty military personnel, 1,200 civilians and 1,900 reservists attached to the base.
Please enjoy this selection of Dover Air Force Base photographs from our collections. The Delaware Public Archives has over 700,000 prints, negatives, slides and transparencies in our collections.
1945 – FIGHTER PILOTS TRAIN AT DOVER FOR COMBAT — Geared for simulated combat flights under the guidance of seasoned combat veteran instructors at the Dover Army Air Field, are these young pilots who head for their P-47 Thunderbolts during one on their regular training sessions. The Dover Army Air Field is on of the score of First Air Force bases along the Eastern Seaboard which are training pilots for aerial warfare around the world. Observing its fourth anniversary on Tuesday (Jan. 16), the First Air Force is an armed unit of some 50,000 men commanded by Major General Frank O’D. Hunter. Dover airfield was activated Dec. 17, 1941, ten days after Pearl Harbor, and has been utilized as a fighter training base for pilots since 1943.
Plane purchased by bond buyers of Kent County, Del.
1943 – Post Library
1943 – Post Chapel-Theatre
1943 – Catholic Services
1943 – 312th Mess Hall
1943 – Officers Mess
1943 – Distinguished Officers Quarters
1943 – 312th PX
1943 – Post Exchange Barber Shop
1943 – Old Area 3rd Anti-Sub
1943 – Hangar and Apron
1943 – General view from C.T. – West
1944 – “HOW MANY POINTS?” — asks Mrs. Harry C. Martin as Pfc Ralph L. Lyerly, cashier, totals the Martin’s grocery bill at the Dover Army Air Field’s newly-opened commissary. S/Sgt Martin (right), ignition mechanic and electrician from Winston-Salem, N.C., meanwhile keeps an eye on Baby Sandy – and the ketchup. The commissary is operated for the convenience of officers and enlisted men assigned to the airbase.
1944 – DOVER AIR FIELD TROOPS PARADE IN RAIN FOR BOND DRIVE — A steady drizzle failed to dampen the spirits of Dover Army Air Field troops who marched through the streets of Dover and then participated in a review and formal ceremony for the presentation of combat awards on Wednesday, November 29 as the state capitol opened the Sixth War Loan Drive
1944 – Hospital War
1944 – Non Com’s Clu
1944 – THAT THEY MAY VOTE — Soldiers at the Dover Army Air Field were given state absentee ballot applications as they stepped up to their sergeant’s desk to sign the August payroll. Here’s the scene in one of Dover Field’s orderly rooms as S/Sgt Charles G. Lehner, right, of Rhinebeck, N.Y., delivers an application to T/Sgt Edward G. Terry of St. Petersburg, Fla. Looking on are Lt. Richard L. Brown, Dover soldier voting officer, second from right; and S/Sgt William F. Maloney of Manhattan, and Sgt. J.D. Russell of Hayward, Cal., next in line respectively
1944 – LOOKING IT OVER — A P-47 fighter plane groans under the searching eyes of thousands of Delaware citizens who inspect it at close range during “open house” at the Dover Army Air Base. A special ramp was constructed over the wing to accommodate the crowd
1944 – DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS — One of the highest honors of the AAF – was presented to Lt. Martin Newstreet of Hawthorne, N.J. as the highlight of the first “Open House” in the history of the Dover Army Air Field on Tuesday. Lt. Col. Edwin M. Dixon, right, commanding officer at the fighter base, pinned the award on the flyer
CHARLES G. HAYES — Milford, Delaware, son of retired Army veteran and brother of two servicemen being sworn in as a Private in the Regular Army by Lt. Col. George F. Ceuleers, Recruiting Officer at the Dover Army Air Field
CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES — who have served more than six months at the Dover Army Air Field were presented with “Emblems of Civilian Service” by the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Edwin M. Dixon, at an noon-hour assembly. Shown receiving their awards are, left to right; Miss Sylvia Weinstein, Dover; Lowder L. Harringtorn, Felton; Mrs. Enid G. Slusser, Dover; Col. Dixon; and Lt. Stanley A. Prokip, civilian personnel officer
1945 – DOVER AIRFIELD GET FIRST WAC — Lt. Margaret E. Willis of Baltimore, Md., arrived at Dover Army Air Field this week to become the first Woman’s Army Corps member assigned to the base for duty. She came from Wright Field, O., to join the Air Technical Service Command unit at the AAF Rocket Center as administrative officer. Orientation in her new role was given by Lt. Col. Lawrence A. Gerlach, administrative executive officer
1945 – SAVING LARD FOR ARMY USE AND CIVILIANS, TOO — All lard needed at the Dover Army Air Field is salvaged in the airfield’s own central butcher shop, newest innovation in the base mess system, and there is still plenty to be sold on the open market. Four Army butchers are shown at work preparing meat cuts for all mess halls. Sgt Otto Greulich, chief butcher, is at left; other are Pfc Merril Diggins, Sgt Charles Safford and Col Kermit LaRue
1945 – PAPER IN BASKET, REFUSE IN “RIDER” BUCKET — Only waste paper goes into waste baskets at Dover Army Air Field these days. Other refuse – much of it they type that ruins the paper for salvage – goes into the “rider” bucket handing on the side. Pfc Arthur H. Hahn demonstrates the new salvage program innovation
1945 – DEMOCRATIC MEMBERS OF THE STATE SENATE — were snapped with Col. Harold J. Rau, base commander, on a visit with other members of the State Legislature and officials to the Dover Army Air Field. Left to right: Senators Fred A. Bailey of Harrington and Harris B. McDowell, Jr., of Middletown; Colonel Rau, and Senators Irvin T. Hastings of Laurel, John R. Butler of Middletown, William H. Ayres of Millsboro, and J. Carl McGuigan of Wilmington
1945 – GRADUATE OF DOVER AIRFIELD GETS 20 PLANES — Just 10 months after he completed fighter pilot combat training at Dover Army Air Field, 21-year-old Capt. Michael Brezas of Bloomfield, N.J., who is credited with destroying 12 enemy planes in the air and eight on the ground in 63 missions with the 15th Air Force, visited the airfield to chat with his instructors, both combat veterans. He is shown with Lt. Col. Robert E. Kirtley, left, now deputy base commander, and Major Jacob W. Dixon, right, his former commanding officer at Dover, and now a key member of the pilot training staff.
1945 – HERO DECORATED ON V-E DAY — Technical Sergeant William J. Giambrone of Norristown, Pa., was awarded the Bronze Star Medal by Col., Harold J. Rau, Dover Army Air Field commanding officer, at the V-E Day formation at the field on Tuesday. The sergeant was decorated for bravery in aiding in the rescue of critically wounded Americans from a German prison hospital being bombed in Rumania while he was a prisoner of war
1945 – PILOT VETERANS RECEIVE COMBAT AWARDS — Four ace pilots at the Dover Army Air Field were presented with combat awards at a formal ceremony on Saturday, left to right: Captain Robert J. Johnson of Hudson, Mass., Silver Star; Capt Frank M. Cencak of East Douglas, Mass., Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with nine clusters; Lt. Milton A. Courtright of Lowman, N.Y., Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal; Lt. Steward E. Myers of Upper Darby, Pa., Distinguished Flying Cross
1945 – AVERAGING NEARLY 25 CENTS PER PERSON — in a quest for a dime average, personnel of the Dover Army Air Field had contributed nearly $500 to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, according to the still incomplete reports on the 1945 voluntary drive. Over $110 was collected in contribution boxes at the base theater, while most of the remainder was contributed by the officers and enlisted men during pay call. Mrs. Edwin M. Dixon, the wife of Dover’s commanding officer, is sponsoring the drive at the airfield, as a member of the state advisory committee, with Major Handly Henderson, base legal officer assistant
1946 – FRENCH AND CIVIC DIGNITARIES HONOR DOVER BASE CHIEF — The French Croix de Guerre was presented to Dover Army Air Field’s base commander, Colonel Harold J. Rau, by representatives of the French Embassy. Gathered at the affair were, left to right: Colonel William Breyton, acting Air Attache to the Embassy; Colonel Rau; Capt Frederic de Saint Marceaux, Colonel Breyton’s aide de campe; Lt Col Albert Ladousse, deputy Air Attache; Mayor J. Wallace Woodford and City Manager Gilbert L. Wilcox, both of Dover
1958 – CHRISTENED “STATE OF DELAWARE” — by Mrs. J. Caleb Boggs, wife of the Governor, the giant C-133 Cargomaster is shown on its initial flight operated by the Military Air Transport Service. The 300 mph aircraft which is completely pressurized set a trans-Atlantic record shortly after delivery by carrying a payload of 40,000 lbs a distance of 3,890 miles in 10 hours 21 minutes. Col Claude W. Smith 1607th Air Transport Wing commanded the flight.
1961 – ARMED FORCES DAY — 11th ARS., Dover AFB. Governor Carvel and Ssgt. Goodwin christen the “Diamond State Tanker”.