The Quonset Air Museum is housed in one of the last surviving buildings of what once was the mightiest Naval Air Station (NAS) in the northeastern U.S.. The hangar was originally used as a paint shop for reconditioned aircraft; today part of it acts as a repair and restoration facility for the all-volunteer museum staff as they rebuild and maintain almost two dozen former military aircraft. Before we take a closer look at the aircraft collection, here’s some of the rich history that surrounds the area.
The need for a large northeastern U.S. naval air station was identified as early as the 1920s, but one wasn’t commissioned until just a few months prior to the beginning of World War II. NAS Quonset Point was built on the shores of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, taking advantage of a naturally deep channel for a port. Initially, the base hosted aircraft which flew “neutrality” patrols, housed training and aircraft maintenance functions, and readied itself to receive locally-based aircraft carriers. When war was declared, the base gained an anti-submarine mission, more training aircraft arrived and a heavily-tasked Overhaul and Repair (O & R) aircraft maintenance depot evolved. Throughout the war, these functions kept the base running in excess of 100% of its pre-war planned capacity.