Intermediate Fields

 

Copyright 2001, Scott D. Murdock

Version 1.0 - 17 Feb 2001


 Introduction

While researching Army Air Forces (AAF) flying fields from the World War II (W.W.II) era, I found that certain landing fields carried the designation "Intermediate Field." I have put together a basic understanding of intermediate fields from the context of their listings in airfield directories, and their placement on aeronautical charts.  They are an interesting footnote in airfield--and commercial aviation--history.  Here is some brief information on intermediate fields, along with a listing of intermediate fields which were listed as having use by the AAF.


Background

Under the Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Air Commerce (later the Civil Aeronautics Administration) maintained a network of emergency landing fields across the country, in the 1930s and 1940s. These airfields were located at points along designated airways, between airports with scheduled airline service. They provided a pilot in distress with a better alternative than landing on a public road or a farmer's field.

Consider that in 1938, the venerable DC-3 was a brand new aircraft.  The Ford Tri-Motor was a typical commercial air transport airplane of the 1930s.  Navigation systems, weather prediction, and mechanical reliability were not up to the high standards we take for granted in the 21st Century.

Intermediate fields were identified by their specific site number, and the airway they supported.  The airway is generally listed by the city pair teletype identifiers.  For example, Site 48, NO-LS would be the 48th intermediate field on the New Orleans - St. Louis airway.


Characteristics

Intermediate fields were typically small, sod or dirt airstrips with minimal facilities. A typical field might have had a 3000 foot landing strip, some lights, and a basic fueling capability.


Military Use

Many intermediate fields were used as auxiliary fields or emergency landing fields by the AAF during World War II. Their dispersion along the air routes, their infrequent use, and their U.S. government ownership made them ideal for use by military aircraft.


Intermediate Field Inventory

I've made an initial attempt at an inventory, although it is by no means complete. I am only listing those intermediate fields which found themselves pressed into AAF service, as indicated by official documents. 

I have compiled this list from a variety of sources, providing some basic tabular data on each strip, along with its status in 1995.  (Why 1995? To correspond with the methodology of my paper "The Use in 1995 of World War II Army Air Fields in the United States.")  This gives a 50-year follow-up from the end of W.W.II.  Reader updates or corrections to this list will be greatly appreciated!

View the Database Summary, listing all the airfields studied for this paper.


Summary

CAA Intermediate Fields were one subset of airfields which the historian may notice while researching U.S. flying fields from the 1930s and 1940s.  Since many of these fields had some military use, I offer this information for the military historian who may be interested.  I welcome additional information or corrections to enhance this page.


References

This work draws from the same references I used for my paper of W.W.II Army Air Fields.  Click here to go to those references.


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