Bibliography Texts

Report of
Joint Army-Navy Air Mission
Trinidad, South America, and the Galapagos Islands

April-May 1944

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Appendix C

This air base includes two parallel Army landplane strips, with attendant installations, and a Navy seaplane base located immediately adjacent. The entire base, including the roads and the housing facilities was built by a private contractor to the Army, although certain supplementary construction has recently been carried out by Army Engineers and Navy Seabees. The total cost of construction of the Galapagos Air Base was $7,920,000. The landplane installations are operated and maintained by the Army; the seaplane base is operated and maintained by the Navy as a Naval Auxiliary Air Facility. All of the aviation facilities on this island were designed to provide as a key point a very important link in the system of air defense for the Panama Canal Zone.


In earlier days of the war, this base was used extensively by Army forces in support of the Panama Canal, and naval patrol plane activities were developed to increase the effectiveness of this point. By April 1944 there was no longer the critical need for all of these operations and a considerable reduction had been effected in personnel and aircraft operations, to such an extent that at the landplane field the Army was basing only eight B-24’s as a striking force (but engaged mainly in training); and at the seaplane base the Navy was basing six PSM’s and providing overnight accommodations each day for two PB2Y type aircraft on patrol missions from Corinto. There is a regular transport service operated into the Galapagos from the Canal Zone by the 20th Troop Command of the Army Air Forces. In April 1944 there were 302 landings and takeoffs effected at the landplane field, the great majority of them training flights (B-24).


Army personnel in the Galapagos include a considerable number of coast artillery and infantry troops. On 1 May 1944 there were a total of 1933 Army personnel and 459 naval personnel at the Galapagos Base, distributed as follows:

NAVY:OfficersEnlisted MenARMYOfficersEnlisted Men
VP-2092462Base HQ Air Base Sq.41449
VP-15 (overnighting930Bomber Squadron52326
Base Force13121Infantry15443
Hedron 3271Coast Artillery4148
Special Services Gp.136AA Artillery17319
Seabees233Signal Corps852
Post Engineers3135
Total †51408Total1431795
† These incorrect sums appear in the actual report.
‡ Correct sums.
   Note that neither amounts agree with those mentioned in text above the table.


Army barracks have capacity for 4,000 enlisted men and BOQ capacity for 250 officers. Navy has barracks capacity for 1,100 enlisted men and 100 officers. In each case the Army and Navy are only occupying these quarters to less than half their capacity and a number of buildings have been closed.


The Army has one officers’ mess, three enlisted men’s messes, and one mess for native personnel in the immediate vicinity of the Air Base, plus ten small separate unit messes with the artillery and signal units at outlying points. Total capacity approximately 4,500 enlisted men and 400 officers. Navy galley facilities will serve 1,200 enlisted men and 100 officers per meal. Present arrangement provides for an officers’ and enlisted men’s mess in separate buildings but with common galley.


30-bed Army hospital with x-ray apparatus and standard operating room; 5 Army doctors and 20 enlisted men assigned. Navy has 1?-bed dispensary with some x-ray apparatus: served by one medical officer and 10 enlisted men. A Navy Dental officer — ?? — weeks out of every 12.


Army transportation includes sedans, command cars, tractors, ambulances, and various sizes and types of trucks, in addition to such special field equipment as a C-2 wrecker and a mobile field lighting unit, for a total of 123 vehicles. Navy is equipped with about 20 vehicles including personnel-carrying truck and tractor types, most of which are in generally worn-out condition. The Navy units have a 63-foot aircraft rescue boat, 7 motor launches, 4 motor whaleboats, 4 r___ing boats, one personnel boat, and one gig.


Navy has a Ship’s Service; the Army a very complete Post Exchange with small branches at outlying artillery posts.


The Army has an officers’ club plus 8 barracks buildings serving as a recreation hall and library for each squadron or unit. An enlisted men’s club is under construction. There is a theater, various courts and fields, bowling alley, and a beer garden. The seaplane base has an officers’ club, enlisted men’s club, and a chief’s club plus various outdoor courts and fields, and a theater. Provision is made for joint use of all facilities by Army and Navy.


Army Quartermaster Laundry serves both Army and Navy.


All Army units have their own small bomb dumps with thirty days’ ammunition supply. Base ordnance had no buildings at present for bomb or ammunition storage but ten magazines are being built for the purpose of stowing a 120-day level. The Navy has ten magazines of various types. Torpedo compressor facilities and a complete torpedo work shop are provided. Complete bomb-handling facilities for both services.


#1 – N/S, 8,000' × 300', macadam; #2 – N/S, 6,800' × 300', macadam, plus 1,000-foot hard dirt extension;§ runways designed to support 120,000 lbs. Gross load in dry weather. Drainage is very poor in wet weather and the deterioration of the runways has been very persistent during the two months of the year in which there is considerable rain. For this reason the B-24's have been breaking through the runways from time to time and constant repair has been necessary. The seaplane operating area is ample with moderate surface and a depth of over ten fathoms.

§ #1 is the now-abandoned southwest runway; #2 is the current Baltra airport runway (GPS airport code), with the 1,000-foot extension now re-surfaced for a total runway length of about 7,800 feet.


There is one 50½' × 150' concrete ramp with a 50' × 50' sheet steel extension decked with two-inch timbers. This will accommodate a PB2Y3. There are 13 moorings with five-inch anchor chain double the depth of water, each attached to a 2,300 lb. Concrete slab and one depth of cable. Night landing lights are available on request only.


Thirty-eight hard stands and revetments at #1 runway (366,784 sq. ft.); seven fighter hard stands at #2 runway. There is also room for 3 four-engine aircraft in front of the operations' building without hampering the taxiway. At the Marine Base 163,000 square yards of concrete-surfaced parking area supporting 25,000 lbs. per yard will accommodate 10 twin-engine flying boats or 6 four-engine flying boats of present design.


Both Army and Navy have one double nose hangar at their respective bases. The Army also has one small shed suitable as a hangar for one fighter aircraft.


At the present time t_________ maintains shops in their nose hangar and in 5 additional buildings _____ instrument shop artillery: ?? air field. The utility of all of these _____ echelon maintenance. Navy at the Marine Base has shop facilities in their nose hangar and an additional building to provide limited minor aircraft and engine overhaul as well as limited accessory overhaul. They are principally to give live maintenance and check service.


The landplane base has a number of buildings assigned to office and administrative space. There is a base headquarters' building as well as a barracks type building for each unit headquarters. Aircraft maintenance officers are on the second deck of the nose hangar. The Navy has an administration building for seaplane base and in addition uses the offices on the second floor of the nose hangar, plus two small buildings.


Army operates a control tower for landplane field and seaplane tower will soon be constructed and operated by the Navy. The Army with one officer and eighteen men operates a radio range and P/P and A/G circuits. The Navy with two officers and thirteen enlisted men also guard P/P and A/G circuits.


Army Class A and O Station provides both Army and Navy with route and terminal forecasts on request and makes routine terminal forecasts on daily basis. There are only 2 Navy aerographers' mates at this base, whose principal job had been to operate radiosonde apparatus. This has recently been ceased.


At the landplane base the Army has 4 warehouses for Air Corps supplies, 4 buildings for dry stores, a shed for paints, and a building for general aviation supplies. A Navy building is being used for added Army stores. The Army has 3 cold storage units (both chill and freeze). Army level of supply is being cut from sixty days on dry stores and forty-five days on perishables to a thirty-day level for both. Seaplane base provides 11 storage buildings to the Navy, 6 for general stores, 1 for paint stores, and 4 for dry provisions. In addition, certain aviation stores are maintained in a utility building at the base. The Navy has two banks of Tyler cold storage units, providing a total of 6,600 cubic feet, in addition to 4 individual refrigerating units giving a total of 576 cubic feet.


The Army furnishes all aviation gas either to the Navy trucks or Bowser boats from trucks. The Air Base receives its gas by tanker and has tank storage capacity of 1,499,000 gallons, 15,000 gallons of which is used for commercial gas discharged directly from barges to tanks reserved for that purpose. Each of 12 revetments at the field has a local refueling system drawn from the basic field system (includes a 3,000-gallon tank and a small pump). Tank trucks, tractors and trailers, are fueled at three double truck-fill stands, one of which is being used for loading commercial gas and is limited to the commercial gas storage tanks for that purpose. On a bypass from the main pipe line running to the storage tanks from the waterfront are four 15,000-gallon tanks which are going to be used for 91 octane aviation gasoline exclusively and for which one double track-fill stand is being constructed.


Almost the entire water supply is obtained from San Cristobal Island (70 miles) by a barge which hauls 160,000 gallons per trip. At the base there are four 75,000-gallon reinforced concrete storage tanks, one of which is used for salt water, and six are being built. The average daily requirement of the landplane field is about 50,000 gallons. There are four evaporators (??? Gallons per hour), and two additional being installed. The water supply system serves both Navy and Army installations. ____??____


There are three separate power plants, including four 89 (?) Kv Diesel generators, one in a standby status. There are small generator units at outlying posts and emergency units at key points.


All sewage is pumped to the ocean from a salt water storage tank by two salt water pumps capable of delivering 300 gallons per minute. There are some pit latrines.


All supplies, except very light or critical materials, are brought by surface vessel to the Marine Base where the Army dock has one 25-ton hook lift crane and one 15-ton mobile hook lift crane.


While the facilities and supplies at this base are considerably in excess of current operating requirements, the defense of the Canal fully justifies all of the facilities established.

The Mission concurs in the opinion of the Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, to the effect that immediate steps should be taken to acquire permanent rights for the use of the Galapagos Islands by the United States.

It may eventually be possible to effect economies by the use of landplanes for the operation of patrols now conducted in this area with seaplanes. At the present time, however, the policy of the Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, is to maintain all available bombardment squadrons in readiness as a striking force. Furthermore, both Army and Navy personnel agree that flying boats are more suitable than landplanes for the long over-water patrols between the Galapagos Islands, the coast of Guatemala and the coast of Ecuador. Several instances of successful forced landings with flying boats were cited. Safe landings could not have been made by land-based aircraft under similar conditions.

BOQbachelor officers' quarters     P/Pplane-to-plane