Oroville Army Air Field
(Oroville Gap Filler Annex)
In 1936, the City of Oroville acquired 188 acres of grazing land for use as a municipal airport. During 1941, the city and the Works Project Administration (WPA) extended the runways and increased the total airport land area to 428 acres.
In 1942, the War Department leased the Oroville Municipal Airport and renamed it Oroville Army Air Field (AAF). That same year the Army purchased an additional 381.98 acres of land for expansion of the field and construction of a cantonment area. Once operational, it served as a fighter group training installation from spring of 1943 through early summer 1944. Two fighter groups rotated through Oroville AAF: the 357th Fighter Group (fighter group of famed pilots Chuck Yeager and Bud Anderson) and the 369th Fighter Group. Aircraft present at the field were identified as the Bell P-39Q Airacobra, North American P-51B/C/D Mustangs, and possibly the North American A-36 Apache, the ground attack version of the P-51.
Layout plans of the former Oroville AAF dated 1944 indicate a Bomb Storage Area west of the two runways and a skeet range between the southern extents of the runways. Fueling pit boxes were located along former Taxiways A (running parallel to runway 12/30) and C (connecting the southernmost ends of runways 1/19 and 12/30). A 1947 Inventory Report of Buildings and Structures states that bombs were stored in earth revetments.
In 1945 Oroville AAF was listed as “temporarily inactive” under assignment to Air Technical Service Command and was later classified as surplus. In 1946 the War Assets Administration (WAA) assumed custody of the site and on 21 May 1947, the WAA terminated the U.S. Army’s lease with the City of Oroville and quitclaimed the fee owned property to that municipality.
Oroville Gap Filler Annex
The 0.25-acre site is located at the Oroville Municipal Airport, approximately 4 miles southwest of the City of Oroville in Butte County, CA. On 14 October 1955, the Air Force acquired 0.25 fee acre from the City of Oroville with the intent of installing an unmanned gap filler station. No improvements were ever made to the site by the Air Force and on 6 January 1965 the parcel was conveyed back to the City of Oroville.
Oroville Precision Bombing Range
(Oroville Auxiliary Field)
In 1944, the United States Government acquired fee title to 360.06 acres of land by four Declarations of Taking.
The site has been referred to as Chico Auxiliary No.5; Chico AAF; Auxiliary Field A 5; Auxiliary Landing Field A 5; Chico Army Flying School; Oroville Auxiliary Field A5 (Auxiliary to Chico AAF); Chico Army Airfield (Oroville Auxiliary Field A 5); Chico Auxiliary Bombing Range A 5; Basic Flying School; Oroville A 5 Satellite Field; Chico Field; and Fifth Satellite Field near Oroville, in Butte County. The site was used as an auxiliary landing field, a practice precision bombing range, and a dive and skip bombing training range. Improvements to the site included a building, latrine, fencing, and a landing mat surfaced with oil.
On 1 October 1944, the site was classified by the U.S. Government as a surplus supply location; then on .18 June 1945, the site was reestablished as a landing field. It was again reclassified as a surplus supply location on 1 November 1946.
On 28 February 1947, 360.06 acres were transferred to the War Assets Administration for disposal. It is currently undeveloped grasslands.
By CW3 Mark Denger
California Center for Military History
On March 26, 1942 the Secretary of War determined the need to establish Auxiliary Landing Field A-5, for use by the Army Air Forces, Ninth Service Command, Chico Army Flying School, Chico, California. The determination of a military necessity was based upon the approval of the Commanding General, Army Air Forces on July 16, 1942. Funds for this purpose were authorized by Public Law 649, 77th Congress, approved July 2, 1942. Subsequently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was directed to acquire the necessary land in accordance with Section VII of Circular No. 47, War Department.
Accordingly, a Lis Pendens dated August 10, 1942 was filed in the District Court of the United States in and for the Northern District of California, Northern Division, in the matter of United States of America vs. 360 acres of land in Butte County, State of California, Sam F. Brown, Haxel L. Brown, Thomas A. Green, Albert L. lnman, County of Butte, State of California, et al.; which was recorded on August 20, 1942, Book 305, page 107, Official Records of Butte County, California.
At the time of acquisition, the Oroville Precision Bombing Range site was known as an Army Auxiliary Field and as such was known by many names including Chico Army Flying School; Chico Basic Flying School, Oroville A-5; Oroville Auxiliary Field A-5; Chico Auxiliary Field A-5; Auxiliary Landing Field A-5; Oroville Satellite Field A-5; and Chico Satellite A-5, and was located off of State Route 149, less than a mile from where State Route 70 intersects the highway, approximately 6 miles northwest of the city of Oroville, 25 miles southwest of Chico, in Butte County, California.
The subject property was located on four (4) parcels of land, being in the County of Butte, State of California, consisting of 360.06 acres, more or less, more particularly described as follows:
Tract A: The North half of North half of Southeast quarter of Section 16, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M.D.B.&M.,
Tract B: South half of North half of Southeast quarter; and South half of Southeast quarter of Section 16, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M.D.B.&M.; Northeast quarter of Northeast quarter of Section 21, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M.D.B.&M.
Tract C: East half of Southwest quarter of Section 16, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M. 0. B. & M.; Northeast quarter of Northwest quarter, and Northwest quarter of Northeast quarter of Section 21, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, N. D. B. & M.
Tract D: That certain parcel of land situate in the County of Butte, State of California, bounded by a line which begins at the West quarter of Section 15, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M. D. B. & M., and runs thence North 00 19' 40" West, along the westerly boundary line of said Section 15, 4.0 feet to a point in the southwesterly boundary line of the County road traversing said Section 15; thence South 33° 22' 20" East, along said southwesterly boundary line, 75.00 feet; thence 34° 47' 20" West 71.1 feet to a point in the westerly boundary line of said Section 15; thence North 0° 19 40" West along the westerly boundary line of said Section 15, to the point of beginning, containing 0.06 acre, more or less.
Judgment on said Declaration of Taking No. 1 (4520) was filed on November 14, 1942 in the District Court of the United States in and for the Northern District of California, Northern Division, under United States of America vs. 360 acres of land in Butte County, State of California, Sam F. Brown, Haxel L. Brown, Thomas A. Green, Albert L. lnman, County of Butte, State of California, et al; recorded November 20, 1942, Book 312, Page 12, Official Records of Butte County, California.
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took possession of the property there were no improvements of any description. As the property was originally designed for flying school training purposes, the government made the following improvements:
A landing mat (field), running in a north-south direction, was leveled and surfaced with oil, covering 206.6 acres and having dimensions of 3,000 ft. x 3,000 ft., with an entrance road from the highway to landing mat, 800 lineal feet, with a gravel and oiled surface. Three buildings were also constructed:
(1) Stagehouse 14' x 16', wooden frame;
(2) Latrine 6' x 6' wooden frame; and
(3) Crash truck and crew shelter 10' x 20', open face, timber frame.
Approximately 15,500 lineal feet of fence with 20" woven wire base and three strands of barbed wire on cedar and redwood posts set 16' apart were utilized to secure the airfield.
Fields in Tehama County, be placed in the category of surplus and disposed of in accordance with War Department Circular 306, 1944. On September 28, 1944, Oroville Auxiliary Field A-5 was placed in the category of surplus and its disposition approved. Meanwhile, the Final Judgment in Condemnation Awarding Just Compensation for Tracts A, B, C and D, as described in Amended Complaint and Declaration of Taking No. 1 (4502), was filed in open court on February 15, 1945.
On February 27, 1945 the subject airfield was requested to be withdrawn from the category of surplus as said property was required for carrying out simulated skip and dive bombing training by the Army Air Forces. Oroville Auxiliary Field A-5 was removed from the surplus category on June 25, 1945 and placed in an active status under the jurisdiction of the Commanding General, Army Air Forces until it was again reclassified and declared as surplus to the needs of government in June 1946.
War Assets Period
Having been declared as surplus to the needs of the government, on September 24, 1946 Lt. Col. Andre F. Castellotti, AC, Commanding, Headquarters Castle Field, certified that Chico Auxiliary Bombing Range A-S had been inspected and had been decontaminated on September 4 by the Base Armament Officer, Captain Arthur L. Nash, after several thousand practice bombs and unexploded spotting charges were removed from the field.
On December 3, 1946 a declaration was filed with the War Assets Administration, who assumed custody and accountability on February 28, 1947. According to the Narrative under Schedule 9 of the S.P.B.-5 Report, the subject property was determined that its "use as a flying field" by private parties was "highly improvable" and that the "sandy gravelly surfaced loam" and "compact clay subsoil and lava formation" was "generally not adaptable to cultivation.
Researched and submitted by Bill Edmiston