These images are from Moffett Field in Sunnyvale California, 1942. Moffett was a substantial training area on the West coast controlled by the US Navy. The big hangar in these pictures, Hangar One is one of the largest free standing buildings on the planet built back during The Great Depression for lighter-than-air craft. In this image you can see the camp where recruits were housed at the South East portion of Moffett Field as well as Hangar One and a dirigible mooring post sticking up above the tents.
These images looking East towards Hangar One are taken from the main gate as you entered the base. The buildings to the left and right are now NASA Research Park buildings 19 and 20. Its amazing how much of the airfield is still present that is represented in these images. The water tower for instance, seen at the corner of Hangar One is still present. Also the size of Hangar One makes it appear that it is right in back of the building at the center of the images. In reality is it almost 1000 feet behind that building.
The funny thing is that these barracks sitting on the West side of Hangar One were still present last time I was at Moffett back in 1992, though the place where this picture was taken was filled in with asphalt around these barracks and buildings rather than mud and grass shown in this picture. It would be interesting to know if these barracks buildings are still there.
A couple shots that show the size of Hangar One. Interestingly, the airfield used to be named Sunnyvale airbase, though there was a proposal to name it Mountain View airfield, but that name was rejected to prevent anxiety from the pilots of the dirigibles that landed there who might have been nervous about colliding with mountains. On September 1st, 1933 it was named after Rear Admiral William A. Moffett.
This photo must have been taken over by where the baseball diamonds by the freeway are currently. Al of the buildings at the South East portion of Moffett field are currently built on where the tents for recruits were housed in 1942.
My Grandfather enlisted as a private in the United States Army Air Corps, on July 3rd, 1941 and was posted to Moffett field for his first assignment after joining Army Intelligence. Unfortunately, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, US policy towards Japanese American citizens altered peoples lives irrevocably. Its hard to imagine the prejudice against American citizens during that period, but throughout the early to mid 1940’s, they were viewed with suspicion and as potential national security risks. Because of this national concern, my Grandfather had his first intelligence assignment, to observe two Japanese American citizens who had enrolled in the Army Air Corps and entered flight training at Moffett Field. As he related the story, he noted nothing unusual about them and recommended that they be allowed to continue with training. Its been many years since this conversation, but I seem to remember him noting that they were either not allowed to continue with their flight training or they achieved their wings, but were not able to serve in combat. I cannot remember the specifics, but that was the gist of things… Compounded disappointment and tragedy.
These are images of “rookies” or new recruits getting assigned their uniforms and learning how to march in unison. The bottom shot here is also a closer image of the dirigible mooring station.
These two characters were friends of my Grandfathers. Again, its been many years since our conversations, but I *think* he said the gentleman on the left was a physician who joined the service. Not sure about that, but the guy on the left makes a reappearance in another story about a fruitcake linked below.
These were some local kids from the South Bay area that were brought out to Moffett field for a tour. I don’t know how often this happened, but the expressions on the two kids at left are a riot. Being able to find out who all these folks are in the pictures would be a tremendous amount of fun.
This image describes the interment of a fruitcake. I talked about the backstory on this image here.
14 Replies to “Moffett Field 1942”
its great you have all the photos. wish my grandfather had more from his service.
BTW, hanger 1 is MASSIVE! it dwarfed the DC9 we would use to fly into Moffett.
These are wonderful images Bryan. Wonderful stories to go along with them. A fantastic family history. This post has a “cool factor” of 10.0. Simply awesome my friend.
Thanks guys. Much obliged. There will be more photographs to come.
Scott, as to Hangar One, yeah… I could not believe how big it was when I saw it for the first time. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie it was so big. And to think it was built in the 1930’s. The engineering and construction that went into it was top notch. I’d actually love to get back there and do a photo-essay on the place.
Great images and story I’d love to get a shot at that hangar!!
Thanks Howard. Getting over to Moffett again, this time to photograph is a must do.
I found your blog by searching for “Mountain View Airfield” which apparently was a real thing, since I found it on a map from 1948. It is labeled in the area bordered by Rengstorff, Central, San Antonio and Middlefield. Monte Loma school and park are now there. Do you have any information on this? There is no runway shown, so perhaps it was for farmers and cropdusters?
There were *many* airfields created back in the 1940s that are now housing developments or abandoned. Check out the Abandoned and Little Known Airfields website here: http://members.tripod.com/airfields_freeman/
Awesome shots, I grew up at Moffett (’68-’84), I love seeing pics of the base before my time. I hope you have some more.
Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, these are all the shots of Moffett I have, but I was so glad to have found them.
I was searching maps for Moffett Field and your blog showed up. Really great photos. Since I’m an engineer for NASA Ames I can give an update to Hanger One and the rest of area. Hanger One is undergoing a re-skinning to remove the old lead based paint, however, the question is still up in the air as to who will pay to re-skin. The barracks in one of your photos have been demolished as of July 2011. The rest of area still looks very much the same as the photos.
Thank you Jose! Much appreciated. Hopefully budgets can be worked out that will pay for the re-skin as it is a national historical building.