Editor’s note: This feature is part of a Hill Air Force Base 80th anniversary series. These articles will feature the base’s historical innovations and achievements, and will highlight mission platforms that have been operated and supported throughout the decades.
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — From November 1940 up through mid-1944, Hill Field and its Ogden Air Depot benefited from the steadying influence of one commander who participated in every facet of building the installation’s facilities and mission.
It wasn’t until June 26, 1944, when Brig. Gen. Morris Berman left for a similar command post at San Antonio Air Service Command, did the Ogden Air Depot greet a new commander.
His successor, Col. Paul W. Wolf, was no newcomer to Hill Field. He’d been chief of the supply division since Dec. 3, 1942, where he served until he began his stint as commanding officer – an assignment that lasted for the next 18 months.
During the war years, after its activation on March 1, 1942, the nearby Wendover Army Air Field received support from Hill Field. On Dec. 31, 1945, the Army Air Forces transferred command jurisdiction of Wendover from the Second Air Force to the Air Technical Service Command, which gave the Ogden Air Depot control of the famous wartime installation.
The public did not learn until after the end of World War II about the use made of Wendover in training crews in bombing tactics with specially designed B-29 Superfortresses.
Of particular strategic importance, the 509th Composite Group activated at Wendover on Dec. 17, 1944, and trained there until April 26, 1945. This was the first Army Air Force group to be organized, equipped, and trained for atomic warfare.
On Aug. 6, 1945, one of the group’s B-29s, the “Enola Gay,” piloted by Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later another B-29 from the group, “Bock’s Car,” piloted by Maj. Charles W. Sweeney, dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. The use of these weapons hastened the end of World War II.
By the end of the war, Hill Field consisted of 3,526 acres of land, 14 miles of railroad, 77 miles of utility lines, 2,432,492 square yards of paved and stabilized areas, and 4,496,533 square feet of buildings.
Near the end of the war, the Air Service Command asked the Ogden Air Depot for an estimation of its capacity to store excess and surplus airplanes. Little did the Ogden Air Depot leadership realize then how significant this workload would be in the ensuing months.