Happy 60th Birthday Forbes Field

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bill Gilliland
  • 190th ARW Wing Historian

13 July, 1949 was the day that Topeka Army Air Field became Forbes Air Force Base.  The following is an extract from the official history of the 190th.

Congress authorized the Topeka Army Air Field (TAAF) building project within two weeks after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Eight months later, the completed air base, consisting of 4233 acres and essential buildings, hangars, repair shops, steam heating plants, fuel storage and three 7,000 by 150-foot paved runways -- was formally accepted by the Army Air Corps. In August 1942 the first troops arrived and had to be quartered in the agriculture building on the Topeka Fair Grounds because their green wood two-story barracks buildings weren't finished yet. By September 1942, the field was the home of the 333rd Bombardment Group. By 1945 TAAF was one of three B-29 centers where newly transitioned crews claimed new Superfortresses and took off for the Pacific to aid in the assault on the Japanese home islands. On 31 October 1947 Topeka Army Air Field was inactivated.

On 01 July 1948 Topeka Army Air Field reactivated as a Strategic Air Command base (SAC); home to the 311th Air Division, Reconnaissance, and to the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. On July 13, 1949, TAAF was renamed Forbes Air Force Base in memory of Maj. Daniel H. Forbes, a Topeka pilot killed June 5, 1948, while testing the Northrop XB-49 "Flying Wing" jet bomber near Muroc Dry Lake, CA.  The SAC.