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    Albrook Field (Albrook AFB, Marcos A. Gelabert Airport) ¬†Panama

Location
Located on the east side of the Panama Canal, south of Fort Clayton and north of Balboa in the "Canal Zone" or "C.Z.". Also known as Albrook Army Airfield, Albrook AFB and later Albrook Air Force Station.

Construction
US Congress authorized the construction of Albrook Field during 1928, allocating $1.9 million for construction. Actual construction began in 1930 and was completed in 1932. Commissioned during April 1932. During the 1930s, the base was expanded with additional buildings and the runways improved.

On April 17, 1939 hard surfaced runways were opened at the airfield.

On the southeast side of the airfield was a commercial air terminal that was camoflaged but used during the war by Pan Am.

Prewar, US President F.D. Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Albrook Field.

Naming Honors
Named after 1st Lt. Frank P. Albrook who died in an air crash at Chanute Field, IL on September 17, 1924. During the war, APO 825.

Wartime History
During World War II, based many fighter and bomber units patrolling the Canal Zone area. Home of the 6th Air Force headquarters for the duration of the war. Also, the Panama Air Depot (PAD).

American Units based at Albrook Field
6th AF, HQ
32nd PG, HQ (P-26, P-40) December 9, 1941 Patilla Point / Chorrera
37th FG, 31st FS (P-39, P-40) Chorrera May 19 - September 30, 1942
40th BG, HQ Howard Field Sept 16, 1942 - ?
73d Pursuit Squadron, 1 October 1933-14 July 1941
78th Pursuit Squadron October 15, 1932 - September 1, 1937
19th Composite Wing / 19th Bomb Wing, January 25, 1933 - October 25, 1941
30th Pursuit Squadron, 13 November 1940-24 November 1941
Panama Canal Air Force (Caribbean AF, Caribbean Air Cmd), HQ Nov 20, 1940 - Jan 1, 1976
12 Pursuit Wing, 32nd FG November 10, 1940 - 1946
51st PS January 1 - August 21, 1941
52nd PS January 1 - August 21, 1941
53rd PS January 1 - August 21, 1941
6th Bomber Command October 25, 1941 - November 1, 1946
26th Fighter Command March 6, 1942 - August 25, 1946
1st Communications Squadron, Air Support, 23 April 1942-April 1943
40th BG September 16, 1942 - June 3, 1943
6th BG, 3rd BS January 14 - November 1, 1943
6th BG, 74th BS January 14 - November 1, 1943
20th TCS, June 9, 1943 - September 1948
1st Depot Repair Squadron, May 6, 1943 - December 7, 1944

Postwar
Postwar, Albrook Field became Albrook Air Force Base (Albrook AFB) on March 26, 1948, by the Department of the Air Force General Order Number 10.

In 1975 the facility was downgraded to Albrook Air Force Station when the control tower was closed and Air Force aircraft and units moved to Howard AFB. On October 1, 1979 the airfield, hangars, buildings and Panama Air Depot (PAD) area were transferred to the Panamanian government. During the 1989 United States invasion of Panama, including an extended fire fight at its front gate.

Today
As as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, this air base was officially closed on September 30, 1997 and the facility was turned over to the Panamanian government. Renamed Albrook / Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport.

During January 1999 after refurbishing the former Air Force Base and constructing an operations/control tower and a passenger terminal, the airport is part of Panama's Civil Aeronautics Authority (Autoridad de Aeron√°utica Civil).

XB-15 (XC-105) "Grandpappy" 35-277
Postwar, abandoned in a swamp east of the airfield

Panama Canal Museum and Library
Located at the former commercial airport terminal

References
Alae Supra Canalem page 22, 37 (photos)

Contribute Information
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

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