I was deep into compiling information about Route 66 during World War II when a veritable storm of important projects consumed every spare moment. So, the Route 66 encyclopedia has languished for almost two full weeks transforming my carefully planned schedule into something that now looks similar to the one the German military had in the weeks after the Battle of the Bulge.
The austerity of the war years made manifest in gasoline rationing, a shortage of rubber for tires, and restrictions on the acquisition of new automobiles or trucks curtailed long distance pleasure drives and subsequently some business owners on Route 66 were most likely thinking of the years of the Great Depression as the good old days. However, for many communities the construction of bases, road improvements, and troop movements swept away the hard times of the 1930s and set the stage for the boom of the late 1940s and the 1950s.
For some towns along the highway the boom of the war years served only as a brief respite from the spiral toward abandonment. Since the realignment of Route 66 in 1931, Goffs in California had been on the fast track toward oblivion. However, the massive war games in the Mojave Desert under the leadership of General Patton presented the illusion that in Goffs the boom of the teens had returned.
Another wide in the spot in the road deep in the heart of the Mojave Desert that prospered during the war years was Essex. In addition to benefiting from the war games and troop movements, a small airfield and POW camp was built nearby.
The wide open spaces of the southwestern deserts were tailor made for preparation of the invasion of North Africa and the construction of vast airfields far from populated areas and prying eyes. One of the largest aerial training bases to be found along U.S. 66 was in the Hualapai Valley east of Kingman with auxiliary fields at Yucca, Site Six (now Lake Havasu City), and at Red Lake.
In addition to seclusion, access to the railroad and Route 66 also played an important part in the decision to locate the Army Air Force Flexible Gunnery School near Kingman. Officially the Kingman Army Airfield opened on May 27, 1942 with the Harvey House in Kingman serving as the headquarters.
With assistance from construction crews pulled from the site of Davis Dam, the school opened in August and was fully operational by December. The first full training classes commenced in January of 1943.
With Bugs Bunny as the official mascot, the base evolved into a gunnery school, a bomber co-pilot transitional training center, and a training school for Women Air Service Pilots. The complex was massive sprawling across acres of the desert floor.
The first of the auxiliary fields, Yucca Subbase, opened in late 1942. On June 16, 1943, this facility became a miniature Kingman Army Airfield was renamed Yucca Army Airfield, the training center for the Yucca Aerial Gunnery Range.
As an historic footnote the Yucca based closed on December 23, 1945. The task of dismantling and selling structure fell to the Army Corps of Engineers. The property itself sold to Ford Motor Company in late 1954 and was transformed into a test facility. One of the first vehicles tested here was the 1955 Thunderbird.
Ford utilized the facility until 2007. At that time it was sold to Chrysler and is currently utilized by that company and Harley Davidson for product testing and development.
Deactivation of the Kingman Army Airfield occurred on February 25, 1946. Designation as Storage Depot 41 took place the next day.
Aircraft from throughout the United States as well as the European and Pacific theater were flown to the depot for storage, sale, or dismantling. At one point this was deemed the largest collection of military aircraft in the world with planes lining Route 66 for more than a mile.
On July 1, 1948, a new chapter began at the historic field with designation as the Mohave County Airport. The addition and expansion on industrial park at the site, as well as the dismantling and sale of most structures erased much of the former airfield. 
Surprisingly, a number of vestiges remain. There is the former gunnery range north of Route 66 and the airport entrance with its row of bullet littered berms and a row of concrete pillboxes, the control tower, a few hangers, foundations, and a machine shop that now houses the fledgling Kingman Army Airfield Museum.
The next time you find yourself motoring through Kingman on Route 66, it might be worth your while to seek the vestiges of the Kingman Army Airfiled. Many have been erased in just the past few years and now a housing development threatens the former gunnery range.
Another recommended stop in regards to this forgotten chapter in Route 66 history would be the Schoolhouse Museum in Goffs. I found this museum to be one of the finest treasures along the western leg of Route 66.
This museum, and in particular Rob Chilcoat, have been particularly helpful in gathering information about the Kingman Army Airfield and its auxiliary bases. Thank you very much for the assistance.

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