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    France Field (Coco Walk, Colon, Enrique Adolfo Jiménez Airport)  Panama

Location
Lat 09°21′24″N Long 079°52′03″W  Located at located in Colón on the north coast of Panama, bordering the Atlantic Ocean.

Construction
This was the first military airfield established in Panama to protect the Panama Canal, with an emergency appropriation of $1,000,000 by Congress. A swamp area known as "Coco Walk" became a landing ground was initially built during March 1918 and known as "Coco Walk Aerodrome". Later, NAS pan was established on the northern shore.

Naming Honor
Renamed "France Field" in honor of 1st Lt. Howard J. France who died in a hydroplane crash on April 24, 1918 on Gatun Lake, the first Army pilot killed in the Canal Zone.

On August 5, 1938 US President Roosevelt disembarked USS Houston (CA-30) toured by automobile France Field plus the Naval Air Station, Submarine Base. At France Field, Roosevelt inspected the airmen of the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron and watched a flying display. An Air Corps newsletter recorded the visit: "...the spontaneous cheer from the throats of 600 France Field airmen touched a note that he will remember."

Wartime History
During World War II, the mission of the units at France Field consisted of the protection of the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, and to fly antisubmarine missions over the Caribbean During the war, known as APO 831.

American Units based at France Field
7th Aero Squadron (7th OS, RS) March 29, 1917 - November 26, 1941
6th BG, HQ December 9, 1941 Rio Hato
32nd PG, HQ Rio Hato December 9, 1941 - ?
24th PS (FS) April 30, 1922 - October 26, 1932; Aug 15, 1944 - October 15, 1946
25th BS April 30, 1922 - December 8, 1941
44th Observation Squadron, April 1, 1931 - May 13, 1932
3rd BS, February 1, 1940 - November 1, 1946
20th TCS December 15, 1940 - November 2, 1941
78th PS April 1, 1931 - October 15, 1932
101st BS (Photographic) February 1, 1940 - March 20, 1942
1st Depot Repair Squadron, January 1, 1941 - May 6, 1943
32nd FG (P-26, P-36, P-38, P-39, P-40) December 9, 1941 - November 1, 1943
51st FS December 23, 1941 - December 9, 1942
52d FS December 13, 1941 - March 23, 1944
53d FS December 12, 1941 - January 7, 1943; Oct 15, 1946 – Dec 1, 1947
45th BS June 17- November 13, 1942
10th BS December 11, 1943 - May 2, 1944
32d FS March 13, 1944 - January 10, 1945
43d FS January 10, 1945 - October 15, 1946

Postwar
With the end of World War II France Airfield was reduced in scope, with most units transferred to Albrook Field or Howard Field. On March 26, 1948 renamed France Air Force Base (France AFB).

American Units based at France Field postwar
4th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron December 1, 1947- August 20, 1948
91st Reconnaissance Squadron December 1, 1947 - January 12, 1948
319th Fighter Squadron January 14, 1948 April 29, 1949

Officially closed on November 1, 1949 and became a civilian airport known as "Colon Airport". The USAF, however, maintained jurisdiction over the airport until December 31, 1973 and was occasionally used as a satellite field of Albrook AFB. Pan Am operated flights to the airfield.

Today
When given to Panama on October 1, 1979, the airport was renamed "Enrique Adolfo Jiménez Airport) for the Panamanian president 1945 to 1948.

References
Alae Supra Canalem page 20, 186
F. D. Roosevelt Day by Day - August 5th, 1938

32nd Fighter Group - WWII - World War II - Army Air Forces

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

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