Historic Markers Across Florida



Buckingham Army Airfield



Marker ID:  
Location: At the intersection of Gunnery Rd and Sunset Rd, Lehigh Acres, FL
County: Lee
Coordinates: N 26° 38.255    W 081° 43.034
  26.63758333    -81.71723333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMJDDQ
 



Text:

Buckingham Army Airfield
1942 – 1945


Early in 1942, the United States Government leased 6,500 acres of mostly brush, palmetto trees, and in some places pine stumps left from previous logging operations, to establish a flexible gunnery training school on this site. Construction of the training center began in February 1942. By June, 1,200 men were working 10 hours a day to have the field ready for operations. The field was formally activated on July 5, 1942. Classes began on September 7, 1942, even though field construction was far from complete. At the peak of its operation, the field was home of 16,000 people and consisted of almost 100 buildings.

Initially, bomber gunners went through a five-week training program. They were trained to maintain, disassemble and effectively fire .30 and .50 caliber machine guns. These guns were used to defend bomber aircraft such as the B-17, B-24 and B-29 from enemy fighter planes. Both trap and skeet shooting ranges were used to develop aiming skills. Students were also trained on the moving target range riding in Jeeps, simulator training and in the final week air to air gunnery shooting at targets towed by aircraft.

Various aircraft were used to perform the training mission at the field. They included the AT-6, AT-18, RB-34, P-39, P-63, B-17, B-24 and B-29.

The field was closed on September 30, 1945. Fifty thousand gunners had graduated from the program. In addition, the field had trained co-pilots for the B-17, B-24 and B-29 bombers. The field made a significant contribution to victory in World War II.