Harlingen Air Force Base

Harlingen Air Force Base

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Harlingen Air Force Base

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Harlingen Air Force Base, originally Harlingen Army Airfield, is a former United States Air Force base located in northeast Harlingen, Texas, United States. After its closure, the airport was redeveloped into Valley International Airport.


World War II

Harlingen Army Airfield opened in July 1941 and was used by the United States Army Air Forces as a training base during World War II. It was initially assigned to the AAF Gulf Coast Training Center as a flexible gunnery school. Training was conducted in both air-to-air & air-to-surface gunnery. The air-to-air training used a variety of aircraft, including AT-6 Texans, BT-13 Valiants, P-63 Kingcobras, B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators. For ground-based training, a number of facilities were available, including the moving target ranges and a number of gunnery simulators.

On 8 January 1943, the War Department constituted and activated the 79th Flying Training Wing (Flexible Gunnery) at Harlingen and assigned it to the AAF Eastern Central Training Command. In 1944, Harlingen began training B-29 Superfortress gunners. They received practically the same training as those for other aircraft, but at theend of the year a few of them began to receive training in B-24s modified by the addition of central fire control turrets to make them more like B-29s. Among the training devices used in this instruction was the manipulation trainer—12 towers arranged to resemble a formation of planes. The towers ranged in...
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