Hill Air Force Base in Utah can trace its history back to 1934 when the US Army experimented with the idea of using Air Corps pilots to deliver airmail. Military officials identified a site just south of the inactive Ogden Ordnance Depot in Utah, as a good place to locate a base and appropriated funds for the construction of the Ogden Air Depot. A short time later the name was changed to Hill Field in honor of Maj. Ployer P. Hill, who died while test-flying a prototype for the B-17 Flying Fortress. In 1948, Hill Field was renamed Hill Air Force Base.
Our new Hill AFB collection contains a variety of records including Unit Histories for several units including the 359th Bomb Squad from the 303rd Bomb Group. They were also known as Hell’s Angels, after their B-17 of the same name. Hell’s Angels was the first B-17 in the Eighth Air Force to complete 25 missions. In this photograph, her crew autographs the plane. The Knock-Out Dropper was the first to complete 50 and 75 missions, and Thunderbird was one of just of few B-17s to fly more than 100 missions. Hollywood actor Clark Gable even flew on a mission with the 359th. He is pictured here at RAF Molesworth in England.
You can also find historical reports for the 466th, 467th, and 468th Fighter Squadrons from the 508th Fighter Group. They were activated towards the end of WWII to provide long-range escorts for B-29s in the Pacific Theater. After Japan’s fighter defense weakened, the group was reassigned to air defense for the Hawaiian Islands.
There are additional histories in the Hill AFB collection, such as the Historical Report for the 537th Service Squadron based in Alliance, Nebraska. They repaired and reclaimed glider planes.
The 216th Army Air Force Base Unit supported the 72nd Fighter Wing at Wendover Army Airfield and the Hill AFB collection contains records and photographs from that facility. The largest bombing and gunnery range in the world was located in Wendover and during WWII, it was the training site for the 509th Composite Group that carried out the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Hill AFB collection also includes an archive of the base newspaper, the Hill Fielder and other histories like the History of the Army Air Forces Western Technical Training Command, historical data for the Second Air Force and the Army Air Base in Salt Lake City, and the History of the Waycross Replacement Training Unit.