U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)
Chapter IX. AVIATION.
SELECTION AND PREPARATION OF BASES
Par. Main airdrome 9-5 Auxiliary airdromes 9-10 Advancelanding fields 9-11 Emergency landing ields 9-12 Specifications of landing fields 9-13 Minimum size of landing fields 9-14
9-9. Main airdrome.-a. The main airdrome within the theater of operations should be located within a reasonable distance of Force Headquarters and must be accessible by motor transport or on a navigable waterway. The air commander must be able to maintain close personal contact with the Force staff, and, conversely, the various departments of Force Headquarters should have easy access to the airdrome facilities. The main airdrome should be of such size as to permit heavily loaded transports to operate during adverse weather and field ccmditions. Existent landing fields which meet all of the requirements will seldom be encountered, and provision must be made for labor and construction materials to clear and prepare landing surfaces. b. The ground activities of a main airdrome can be conducted under canvas, but the use of permanent or temporary buildings will greatly facilitate shop work and improve the general efficiency of the organization. Provision must be made for the underground storage of bombs and fuzes. Protected areas for the storage of gasoline and oil must be selected, and preferably fenced off from other airdrome activities. Should there appear to be danger of sabotage, it may be advisable to fence off the more vulnerable areas of the airdromes with barbed wire entanglements. Airdrome guards, in addition to those furnished by the air units themselves, may be necessary. Should the opposing forces possess aircraft, antiaircraft protection must be provided for the airdrome. For defense against sporadic air raids which might be expected from a weak and poorly trained opposing air force, the air units would be able to organize their own antiaircraft machine gun crews for emergency protection, provided equipment were made available. In other cases, it would be necessary to arrange for a stronger defense by regular antiaircraft units.
9-10. Auxiliary airdromes.-In small wars situations the use of Auxiliary airdromes is contemplated, not for the dispersion of air units for protection, but to facilitate the provision of air support for semi-independent commands. Territorial departments are organized and garrisoned by subordinate units of appropriate size. The headquarters of these clepartments may be situated in isolated regions with indifferent transport facilities, and so remote from the main airdrome as to seriously curtail air support during periods of unfavorable weather. Auxiliary airdromes established in the vicinity of department headquarters, lightly stocked with supplies of fuel, bombs, ammunition, and spare parts, and staffed with skeleton ground crews, enable the air commander to detach small units for the close support of departmental operations. Furthermore, the uninterrupted transportation of troops and supplies by air is dependent upon the existence and maintenance of such auxiliary airdromes.
9-11. Advanced landing fields.-Each detached post and outlying detachment camp should have a field of sufficient size to permit the operation therefrom of scout and combat planes. Many of these fields need have no special facilities, other than the landing area, but certain ones in key locations should be provided with storage facilities for limited amounts of fuel, bombs, and ammunition. It may be desirable to have one or more mechanics stationed at such fields. Necessary protection and assistance in handling airplanes on the ground should be provided by the garrison of the station.
9-12. Emergency landing fields.-These are merely possible landing places, located, cleared, and properly marked. Their primary function is to provide disabled or weather-bound aircraft with emergency landing places. They may also be useful in making evacuations of sick and wounded men from isolated patrols, or for facilitating air support in unusual situations. As many as possible of these fields should be provided. Throughout the area of operations.
9-13. Specifications of landing fields.-a. Under normalconditions current types of military airplanes in taking off and landing usually roll on the ground for a distance of from 500 to 700 yards. This distance will be increased by the load carried, by a rough or muddy surface, by hot dry weather, or where the airdrome is situated at high altitudes. Therefore, in order to allow a reasonable factor of safety in operating airplanes under the varying conditions, landing fields should have minimum dimensions of from 700 yards for all combat airplanes up to 1,000 yards for transports. The landing fields should be smooth, of firm surface, and without obstructions within or near its boundaries.
b. If obstacles such as hills, trees, or large structures are near the boundary of a landing field, its dimensions must be increased in order that the airplane may clear the obstacles in taking off or landing. Obstacles near the ends of runways must not have a height greater than one-tenth of their distance from the field, i. e., a tree 50 feet high cannot be closer than 500 feet to the end of the runway. c. Under varying conditions of terrain it will frequently be impossible to locate or construct landing fields which will permit airplanes to land and take off in all directions. Under such conditions the runways or longer dimensions of the landing field should, if possible lie in the direction of the prevailing wind for that locality.
9-14. Minimum size of landing fields.-
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