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Hill Air Force Base is named in honor of Major Ployer Peter Hill (1894–1935), the Chief of the Flying Branch of the U.S. Army Air Corps Material Division of Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. Major Hill had died as a result of injuries he received from the crash of the Boeing Aircraft Company's experimental aircraft Boeing Model 299 at Wright Field, the prototype airplane for what became the famous B-17 Flying Fortress.
Hill Air Force Base traces its origins back to the ill-fated U.S. Army's Air Mail "experiment" of 1934, when the idea originated for a permanent air depot in the Salt Lake City area. In the following years, the Army Air Corps surveyed the region for a suitable location for the permanent western terminus of the air mail. Several sites in Utah were considered, and the present site near Ogden emerged as the clear favorite.
In July 1939, Congress appropriated $8.0 million for the establishment and construction of the Ogden Air Depot. Hill Field officially opened on 7 November 1940.
Following American entry into World War II in December 1941, Hill Field quickly became an important maintenance and supply base, with round-the-clock operations geared to supporting the war effort. Battle-worn warplanes like the A-26, B-17, B-24, B-29, P-40, P-47, P-61, and others depended on the men and women of Hill Field for structural repairs, engine overhauls, and spare parts. The peak wartime employment at Hill Field was reached in 1943 with a total of just over 22,000 military and civilian personnel. These dedicated men and women rehabilitated and returned thousands of warplanes to combat.
A retired USAF H-21C Shawnee double-rotor helicopter at the Hill Aerospace Museum.
Starting in 1944, Hill Field was utilized for the long-term storage of surplus airplanes and their support equipment, including outmoded P-40 Tomahawks and P-40 Warhawks which had been removed from combat service and replaced by newer and better warplanes. P-47 Thunderbolts, B-24 Liberators, B-29 Superfortresses, and many other types of aircraft were also prepared for and placed in storage at Hill over the course of the 1940s and 1950s.
Hill Field became the Hill Air Force Base on 5 February 1948, following the 1947 transition of the new U.S. Air Force away from the U.S. Army and the United States Army Air Forces, into an independent service, as called for by the National Security Act of 1947. This transition actually took place in October 1947, but it took many months to fully implement.
During the Korean War, Hill AFB was assigned a major share of the Air Materiel Command's logistical effort to support the combat in Korea. Hill AFB personnel quickly removed needed warplanes from storage, renovated them, and added them to active-service USAF flying squadrons.
Then during the 1960s, Hill AFB began to perform the maintenance support for various kinds of jet warplanes, mainly the F-4 Phantom II during the Vietnam War, and then afterwards, the more modern F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, and C-130 Hercules, and also air combat missile systems and air-to-ground rockets. Hill AFB continues to carry out these tasks to the present day.
Hill AFB has also housed the 30-acre (120,000 m2) Hill Aerospace Museum since 1981. This contains more than 80 retired USAF, USAAF, USN and former Warsaw Pact fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and missiles.
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