World War 1 USN Airship Operations

Peter O. Knight Airport, 1938

Still busy today with general aviation, Peter O. Knight opened in 1935 as Tampa’s principal airport and remained so until 1945. One of many airports built under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the field boasted multiple paved runways, could handle seaplanes, and had a very nifty art-deco terminal seen in the foreground (unfortunately, now long-gone). When this photo was taken in March of ’38, the main attraction was the bevy of Air Corps planes dotting the field: B-18s, P-26s, P-35s, and a lone B-10.

Shaw AFB, 1955 (3)

RB-57’s and RB-26’s of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing bask in the South Carolina sunshine. With their black paint jobs, the interior of these aircraft must have been hotter than an atomic sauna.

PS. Whatever 1950’s chemical is in those green barrels killing the grass beneath would probably drop a man dead with one sip. (2)

More RB-57’s. The hangar under construction is still in use today. (4)

C-119’s and RB-26’s. (1)

More C-119’s and RB-57’s with a couple of RT-33’s in the distance. Constructed in 1941, Shaw was slowly modernizing in the 1950’s but there are still plenty of WWII buildings in the background. (5)

F-86s arriving at Shaw on a cross-country hop from Alexandria AFB, LA. Renamed later that year as England AFB, it was, in 1955, home to the 366th Fighter Bomber Wing and their Sabres.

Open house at CGAS St. Petersburg (4) (3) (1)

Above: B-18’s of the 32nd Bomb Squadron have flown cross-country from there home at March Field Ca. The B-18 would become a familiar sight to locals when MacDill Field opens nearby in 1941.

Douglas O-25 (2)

Classy mom and dad. The hangar still stands, and the base is still in use today, but is no longer an air station; it is now USCG Sector St. Petersburg.

Rockwell Field CA.


Sharing the field with NAS North Island, Rockwell was home to countless early birdmen until the field was transferred to the navy in the late 30’s.

Side note: A friend who was NAS North Island skipper in the 1970’s gave me a rectangular man-hole cover (weighs a ton) that reads “Army Air Service.” Apparently, they were replacing them during his tenure as boss. I made a table top out of it.