Not sure what these acronyms stand for? Here’s a more common nickname for these titles – the Boneyard. As in today’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (that’s AMARG), which occupies a large parcel of land on Tucson AZ’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Most of the U.S. military’s surplus aircraft are stored here, either for future use or for reclamation in one form or another. Some Federal Agencies store surplus civilian aircraft here too, and museums hold some of their recent acquisitions here in the Sonoran Desert. More than 4,000 planes are usually on hand at any one time.
Where did the acronyms come from? The site was originally home to a municipal airport that began operations in 1927. Davis-Monthan Field was named after a pair of Tucson military aviators who lost their lives in air crashes. The airport shared military and civilian flight operations until just before World War II, when the airport became the Tucson Army Air Field and civilian operations ended. Later, just days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the airport was renamed the Davis-Monthan Army Air Field and bomber training missions began while the U.S. entered the Second World War.
Post war, the Army ceased training, and set up the 4105th Army Air Force Unit to facilitate the storage of surplus C-47 and B-29 aircraft on land adjacent to the air field.
In 1948 with the establishment of the U.S. Air Force, the Field was renamed the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the storage function became known as the 3040th Aircraft Storage Depot, for Air Force and Army aircraft. In 1965, the facility was renamed again, as the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC). With the name change came the need to store almost 500 additional aircraft when the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard moved their mothballed aircraft from Goodyear AZ’s NAS Litchfield Park lots. In 1985, the Center was renamed the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC). Finally, with a change in its higher command structure, the organization became the present-day 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in 2007.
This is the first in a series of Classic Warbirds presentations about the storage facility, with short articles with lots of photos. Groups will contain fighters, bombers, transports, reconnaissance/special use, and trainers. As our modern military trims aircraft from its operational fleet and retires entire weapons systems from its arsenal, we’ll look back at those types that are gone from the skies forever. Keep coming back every few weeks for a new series.
This batch is from the MASDC days when fighters, especially the F-100 and F-106, were being turned into pilotless drones for full-scale aerial target duties. It was during this time that transition from Century Series fighters to the F-15 and F-16 occurred, and the Navy and Marines transitioned from F-4s to F-14s and F-18s too.