The C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft built by Lockheed. It was designed to provide strategic heavy airlift over inter-continental distances and to carry outsize and oversize cargo.

 

The C-5 Galaxy has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1969 and is one of the largest military aircraft in the world.

 

Power Plant: Four General Electric TF-39 engines

 

 MacDill hangar construction, June 1941
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library

MacDill AFB History, continued from previous page

Private contractors undertook the construction of runways, hangars, barracks, and administration buildings in December 1939. Runway construction started on August 14, 1940. At that time Benjamin House (located near the present-day officers’ club) was used as an officers’ club and bachelor officers’ quarters, because it was one of the few buildings on Catfish Point before it became federal property. Enlisted men also used the former Immigration Service’s quarantine building for temporary housing. Lastly there was a two-story barracks containing the office of the adjutant and a mess hall on the first floor, with sleeping quarters for the guards on the second floor.
 

 

 

 


 

Airmen on parade at MacDill AFB dedication, 1941
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library

There were three airfields in Tampa during World War II. Drew Field, where present day Tampa International Airport is located, Hillsborough Army Airfield (Henderson Field) near and just north of where Busch Gardens is situated (originally envisioned as the place for Tampa’s main airport), and MacDill Field. Hillsborough and Drew fields were designated as auxiliary operational (support) bases for MacDill, as well as a number of other fields around the state.  During construction of MacDill air field in 1939, Lisbon Avenue was extended as the first road to the base and was soon renamed after Col. Leslie MacDill (MacDill Ave.) Bayshore Boulevard was a brick street that terminated at the base boundary, where motorists sometimes got stuck in the sand at the end. The best highway to the MacDill field was an extension of Vera Avenue, which was extended around 1943 to connect MacDill Air Field with Drew Field, in Drew Park. This road was soon dedicated as Dale Mabry Boulevard, for airship Captain Dale Mabry who was killed piloting the airship "Roma" at Norfolk, VA.

The first officer to arrive at the site was Major Lawrence L. Simpson, a construction quartermaster, who initiated the base survey on September 6, 1939, the day after he arrived. On September 8, Lieutenant Colonel Lynwood B. Jacobs, the first commanding officer arrived. During March and April 1940, enlisted soldiers came to the area from Mitchel Field, New York, and Barksdale Field, Louisiana. Lieutenant Colonel Harry H. Young, who had been a member of the selection panel that had chosen the site for the base, replaced Lt. Col. Jacobs as base commander on March 18, 1940.

Colonel Clarence L. Tinker assumed command of MacDill Field on May 17, 1940, and he was commissioned as a brigadier general on October 1,1940.  Lieutenant Colonel Vincent J. Meloy, commander of the 29th Bombardment Group, led the first flight of aircraft to Tampa on January 17, 1941. This consisted of fourteen aircraft flown from Langley Field to Tampa: three B-17s, two A-17s, and nine B-18s. 

Aircraft and men were housed at Drew Field until the runways at MacDill were built. Despite these obstacles, flying operations commenced on February 7, 1941.  At the time of the official dedication on April 15, 1941 there were three runways (5,000 feet long and 250 feet wide) and a few two-story buildings. Brigadier General Tinker landed the first aircraft on the newly completed runways to commemorate the opening. Hundreds of troops from the Army Air Corps 29th Bombardment Group and 27th Base Squadron lived mostly in a mosquito-infested tent city at the field. An official flag-raising ceremony was sponsored by the Tampa Elk’s Lodge on June 16, 1941.

 

 

 

 

Hangar construction, 1942
Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force

 

 

 

 


Military personnel at MacDill AFB, Aug. 28, 1942

 

1942 Aerial photo

During World War II as many as 15,000 troops were stationed at MacDill Field at one time. A contingent of Women’s Army Corps (WACS) troops arrived in 1943. The base provided various forms of entertainment including band concerts, live performers, and a movie theatre. Two films were made in Tampa with wartime themes: A Guy Called Joe starred Spencer Tracy and had scenes shot at MacDill; The Air Force Story starred John Garfield and had scenes shot at Drew Field. In the latter film B-26s were painted as Japanese bombers, and although the entire Bay area defenses were alerted to this fact, the Coast Guard still shot at the planes as they flew over the Gulf.

                                                         

                                                               
                                                                                           MacDill Field, March 1942 - Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force


A B17-E Flying Fortress and its crew
Move your cursor on the photo to see crew members identified
Photo by Frank Scherschel, Life Magazine
 


B17-E Flying Fortress crew at MacDill Airfield
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


Pilot's view of hangars
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine
 


B-17E Bomber over Tampa Bay
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine


Boarding the B17-E Bomber, pilot & co-pilot walk together and come
aboard last, which is customary. 
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine


Inspecting a B17-E bomb
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


Rolling out a machine gun assembly
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


View from inside a hangar
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 



Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


Inside a B17-E bomber
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


View of bottom turret on B17-E with gunner inside
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


 Working on a B17-E engine
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


Navigator's view
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine
 


Sharpening shooting skills
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine
 


B17-E Bombers over Tampa Bay
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine


 



Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine
 


Working on a B17-E engine
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine


 


Lt. Holmes has fun at the officer's club bar where, faced by signs which caution him, he plays dice for drinks and talks about flying.
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine
 




Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

 


2nd radio man and bottom turret gunner Pvt. Harold L. Langhofer, 24, squeezes into his turret like an embryo.
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine
 


Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine


Ready for take-off in B17-E
Pilot 2nd Lt. Fred W. Dallas, 22, and Co-Pilot John H. Holmes, 25
Read about these two men and their duties
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine


Here's lookin' at you, kid
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine
 

The job of defending the B17-E falls to five enlisted men who man the planes machine guns when they are under attack.  When
not under attack, they handle aerial engineering, radio and photography.  The five gun positions are: 1) top turret just aft of the cockpit,
2) Bottom turret, on the plane's belly behind the wings, 3)
& 4) waist positions on each side of the middle of the fuselage,
5) the tail postion.


2nd Aerial Engineer and waist gunner Pvt. Clarence Bauer, 20, pokes his .50-Cal machine gun out the
side window.  He mans only this gun and the radio operator handles the other waist gun.  In flight, all
crew wear headphones connecting to the pilot and each other.
Photo by Frank Scherschel, courtesy of LIFE Magazine

The above March, 1942 photos can be seen full size, along with many more, at LIFE Magazine images at Google
Read the April 9, 1942 issue of LIFE Magazine that featured some of these photos


Officers' Quarters, 1943
 

A 1943 view of the barracks from the street and air, at right shows the main thoroughfare, Florida Avenue.

 

Recreation at MacDill, 1943

Estimates of the number of crew members trained at the bases in the Tampa area varied from 50,000 to over 100,000. Several bases in Florida, including MacDill, also served as detention centers for German prisoners-of-war (POWs) beginning in the latter part of 1944 and early 1945. At the apex, 488 German POWs were interned at MacDill Field.

Post-World War II MacDill Field became an operational base for the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Avon Park, located 100 miles southeast of MacDill, became the main bombing range for the entire southeastern United States. Mullet Key returned to its pre-war state of dormancy, eventually to become part of De Soto State Park near St. Petersburg. MacDill served as headquarters for the 3rd Bomber and Fighter Commands after the latter moved from Drew Field in December 1945; both commands were inactivated on April 8, 1946. Tactical Air Command established its first headquarters in Tampa at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in 1946, but soon moved to its permanent base to Langley Field, Virginia. After the Air Force became a separate military service in September 1947, the official name changed from MacDill Field to MacDill Air Force Base on July 12, 1948. Thus ended phase one of MacDill’s history, although many an underwater plane hulks and practice bombs still remain as haunts from its wartime past.

 
 

The C-5 could carry more than any other airlifter. It has the ability to carry 36 standard pallets and up to 81 troops simultaneously. The Galaxy also carries all of the Army's air-transportable combat equipment, including such bulky items as its 74-ton mobile scissors bridge from the United States to any theater of combat on the globe. It can also carry outsize and oversize cargo intercontinental ranges and can take off or land in relatively short distances. Ground crews are able to load and off-load the C-5 simultaneously at the front and rear cargo openings, reducing cargo transfer times.

  • Able to operate on runways 6,000 feet long (1,829 meters)

  • Five landing gear totaling 28 wheels to distribute the weight.

  • Nose and aft doors that open the full width and height of the cargo compartment to permit faster and easier loading.

  • A "kneeling" landing gear system that permits lowering of the parked aircraft so the cargo floor is at truck-bed height or to facilitate vehicle loading and unloading.

  • Full width drive-on ramps at each end for loading double rows of vehicles.

  • A system that records and analyzes information and detects malfunctions in more than 800 test points

 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 

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Photos of MacDill Field operations during WW2 from Drew Field's weekly newspaper, Christmas 1942