Eglin Army Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
|Eglin Air Force Base, Florida ||32542-5495|
This site is located in the Northwest region of the state.
If driving, take Interstate 10, If coming from the east, exit on Highway 285 at Mossy
Head and go south until you reach Highway 20. Make a right turn and stay on 20
until you reach the East Gate. If coming from the west, exit Interstate 10 on
Highway 85 at Crestview. Take 85 south until you reach Highway 20; make a right
and proceed until you reach the East Gate.
This site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Valparaiso Bombing and Gunnery Base was established in June 1935 as a range for Maxwell Field, Alabama. In August 1937 the base was redesignated Eglin Field to honor Lt. Colonel Frederick I. Eglin, a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot killed in January 1937.
Eglin was selected as the site of an aircraft armament proving ground in 1940 and received the 384,000 acre Choctawhatchee National Forest from the U.S. Forestry Service for that purpose. With the activation of the Air Corps Proving Ground in 1941, Eglin became a major Research and Development (R&D) facility consisting of laboratories, technical buildings., test centers, as well as the complement of traditional base infrastructure. By the end of WWII, Eglin was the second largest air facility in the United States.
Training for the daring Tokyo Raid by Lt. Col. Jimmie Doolittle’s B-25 strike force took place at Eglin in March 1942 on specially marked runways. Eglin worked closely with the Air Force Tactical School at Orlando and extensive R & D work was conducted on airplanes, engines, and other aircraft related innovations. Nine concrete and brick structures were constructed in early 1944 to replicate German V-1 missile launch sites on the coast of France. Using these as targets, military personnel developed tactics and techniques designed to destroy the Nazi installations. This site, identified as Crossbow (code name for Royal Air Force operations against the V-weapons), is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Another National Register site at Eglin is identified as JB-2 (Jet Bomb) for the first American copy of a German V-1 rocket. Working from a salvaged V-1 bomb, American scientists created a new design within three weeks. Tests were conducted from Eglin in early 1945. Ten auxiliary airfields were developed in the area for use in training or emergency purposes.
As with many other facilities during the war, Eglin hosted up to 300 German POWs in a camp near DeFuniak Springs and Crestview. One of several Camp Gordon Johnston branch POW camps, Germans worked at clearing fields, preparing railroad track beds, and warehousing duties.
Following the surrender of Germany in May 1945, German V-2 rockets were evaluated at this facility.
Eglin Air Force Base today belongs to the Air Force Materiel Command with the Air Armament Center as the host unit. Covering 724 square miles of reservation and 97,963 square miles of water, Eglin is one of the largest Air Force bases in the world.
As a closed facility, public access, when possible, is permitted only through prior arrangements with the Base Public Affairs Office.
Eglin Air Force Base