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Fort Wainwright (Ladd Field)

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Ladd Field
1938 and later

Construction began on the first U.S. Army airfield in Alaska in 1938. During World War II, Ladd Field served as a cold-weather experimental station, as an air depot for the repair and testing of aircraft, and as the principal base for the Air Transport Command, which transferred almost eight thousand military aircraft to the Russian front for use by Russian crews. The initial construction effort was concentrated on a 5,000-foot runway, with auxiliary buildings to the north. Because of the harsh weather, all of the buildings at the original post were permanent construction, not standardized temporary buildings. The original, permanent garrison was located on the north side of the runway in buildings arranged in a horseshoe-shaped plan, and most of them were occupied in 1941. The Quartermaster Corps completed 80 percent of the buildings before its duties were shifted to the Corps of Engineers in January 1941. Because additional functions were assigned to Ladd Field in 1943, there was additional construction. The runway was extended to a length of more than 9,000 feet, and a second, parallel runway was built to a length of 7,200 feet.

Additional hangars were constructed on the south side of the runway, and the coast artillery garrison was housed in buildings haphazardly arranged on the southwest side of the runway. By 1945, there were seventy-five buildings on the base.

In 1961 the Air Force transferred Ladd Air Force Base to the army, which was then named in honor of Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, the hero of Corregidor. The base has continued to expand in postwar years, most recently with the assignment of the Sixth Infantry Division (Light) to Fort Wainwright. The new construction is concentrated west of the original portion and is generally standardized and undistinguished. One exception is the housing area northwest of the runways, where slightly Postmodern housing is arranged on culs-de-sac.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Fort Wainwright (Ladd Field)", [Fairbanks, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 218-219.

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