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List of Air Service American Expeditionary Force aerodromes in France

  (Redirected from Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome)
Air Service recruiting poster, 1917–1918
see also: Organization of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force

When the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917, the Air Service of the United States Army existed only as a branch of the Signal Corps, and was known by the name of Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. It consisted of 1,120 personnel, of which 65 were officers. The Army was not ready for the deployment of aviation forces to Europe, and it became necessary to prepare after President Woodrow Wilson's declaration of war.[1]


Aerial Gunnery and Armament School Newspaper Saint-Jean-de-Monts The Fly Paper - 18 November 1918
Locations of major Air Service, United States Army stations in France, 1918

As part of the buildup of US forces, aviation units were formed into aero squadrons primarily at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, with additional units being formed at Rockwell Field, San Diego, California.[1] Once formed, and prior to their deployment to Europe, Camp Taliaferro, north of Fort Worth, Texas, and several airfields near Toronto, Ontario, Canada were used by the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) to perform flight training for the new aero squadrons. Camp Hancock, near Augusta, Georgia, was used for training service squadrons of aircraft mechanics as well as flight training.[2]

When ordered to deploy, units departed though Garden City, New York, which was the primary port of embarkment. Units there were loaded onto transport ships for the trans-Atlantic crossing. Upon arrival in Europe, Liverpool, England, and Brest, France, were the primary ports of disembarkation, although other ports were also used. Some aero squadrons arriving in England received additional training from the Royal Flying Corps, and later the Royal Air Force (RAF) once it was established, and were then attached to British squadrons, deploying with them to France. Others received further training and were sent to Winchester, Hampshire, where they awaited their cross-channel transfer to France, using the port of Southampton.[1]

After deployment to France, Air Service Replacement Concentration Barracks in St. Maixent was the primary reception center for new aero squadrons assigned to the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). There, units were classified as pursuit, bombardment or as observation units. Once processed, units were sent to one of several Air Instructional Centers (AIC) where they received additional training, then/or to the First Corps Observation Group School on Amanty Aerodrome or to the First Pursuit Organization and Training Center on Villeneuve-les-Vertus Aerodrome.[1]

8th Aero Squadron (Observation), Saizerais Aerodrome, France, 11 November 1918

After assignment, the Air Service's deployed units operated from grass aerodromes, at first using airfields already built by the French "Aéronautique Militaire", then from new aerodromes purposely built for the American forces. The exact location of many of these aerodromes is no longer certain as many archives have since disappeared, and as the facilities were only temporary, most of the traces have long vanished through ploughing.[citation needed]

After the Armistice came into effect in November 1918, the wartime Air Service was demobilized. This process was completed within a year and the National Defense Act of 1920 then established the United States Army Air Service on a permanent basis, with several new units being formed. Later, some of the temporary wartime units were consolidated to retain the lineage and honors of their wartime service with the AEF.[citation needed]


Below is a list of the barracks and aerodromes used by the American Expeditionary Force that were sent to France during World War I.[3] Most of the headquarters and command services used barracks or requisitioned properties not linked with flying grounds, yet some where installed on airfields as in Souilly, Saizerais or in Toul, where the "Gengoult" barracks had been built by the French "Aeronautique Militaire" on the northern edge of the Croix de Metz airfields (misspelt for "Gengault").[citation needed]

American sectorEdit

Command and controlEdit

Organized at: La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, Île-de-France, 10 August 1918
Moved to: Ligny-en-Barrois, Lorraine, 25 August 1918
Moved to: Souilly, Lorraine, 21 September – 11 November 1918
Organized at: Toul, Lorraine, 12 October – 11 November 1918
Organized at: Ligny-en-Barrois, Lorraine, 14 November 1918
Moved to: Longuyon, Lorraine, 22 November 1918
Moved to Germany.

Combat aerodromesEdit

Support aerodromes and depotsEdit

Training schoolsEdit

Aviation Instruction Centers

* The 5th Aviation Instruction Center at Bron (now Lyon–Bron Airport) was located at the French Air Service Mechanics School. The first Americans were sent to the school in mid-September, 1917. The school was overcrowded and was lacking in proper quarters and mess facilities for the Americans. Also, a lack of English-speaking instructors led to the decision to withdraw the Americans from the school. Students were sent to the 3d AIC at Issodun, with the last departing on 4 December 1917.[9]

** The I Corps Aeronautical School was a temporary school, located at the French Air Service machine-gun training school at Gondrecourt-le-Château. About 225 men were sent to the school during March and April, 1918.[9]

British sectorEdit



Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
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  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az "Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C."
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Reference for Geographic coordinates of Aerodromes
  3. ^ "United States Air Service – USAS".
  4. ^ With Second Army Air Service from 11 December ?
  5. ^ An airfield was briefly used in 1915 by the French Air Service at the "ferme de Vaudoncourt" in the same area
  6. ^ Before the V Corps Observation Group was formerly created
  7. ^ As there is no known Construction Squadron working there, it could be only a temporary stop of the ground part of the squadron on its way from Chaumont-Hill 402 to Croix-de-Metz Aerodrome, in the very last days of the war...
  8. ^ An airfield was first set up closer to Maulan in September 1914 by the French Aeronautique Militaire at "Le Petit Maulan", but soon to be abandoned after it was wrecked by a storm; a French squadron spent some time at "Maulan" in 1917 and 1918, but it is today difficult to know whether this was at the former site or already at the airfield later used by the American Air Service
  9. ^ a b US National Archives, Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, Series J Volume 10 Histories of the 5th (Bron), and 6th (Pau) Aviation Instruction Centers, Cazaux Aviation Instruction Center, St. John-de-Monts Aerial Gunnery School, 1st-5th Aerial Observation Schools, I and II Corps Aeronautical Schools, and Detachments at the Artillery Candidates School, and French, English, and Italian Aviation Schools via
  10. ^ Maurer, Maurer (1978), The US Air Service In World War I, Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF
  11. ^ Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.

External linksEdit