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Barksdale Air Force Base Louisiana

Barksdale AFB History

Barksdale Air Force Base Main Gate in Bossier City, Louisiana (circa 1958)
Barksdale Air Force Base Main Gate (circa 1958)

As early as 1924 the citizens of Shreveport became interested in hosting a military flying field. Construction began on Barksdale Field in 1931, and the facility was dedicated on February 2, 1933, becoming the world's largest airfield at the time, covering 22,000 acres.

Barksdale Air Force Base is named in honor of Lt. Eugene Hoy Barksdale, Air Corps, U.S. Army, who lost his life in August 1926, while flight testing Douglas O-2 observation airplane over McCook Field, in Dayton, Ohio.

During World War II, the base supported B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress, B-26 Marauders, and other aircraft.

After the U.S. Air Force became an independent branch of service, Barksdale Field was renamed Barksdale Air Force Base January 13, 1948.

In 1949 Barksdale became the home of the first Air Force all-jet strategic reconnaissance/bomber aircraft, the North American RB-45 Tornado and home to the Second Air Force Headquarters, bringing Barksdale into the Strategic Air Command.

The Boeing Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber and Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter aerial tanker were assigned to the base during the 1950s under the 301st and 376th Bomb Wings.

The first B-52 Stratofortress arrived at Barksdale in August of 1958 , followed by the first KC-135 Stratotanker shortly afterwards. Although not stationed at Barksdale, the other major SAC bomber and Cold War deterrent of the time was the Convair B-36 Peacemaker.

Barksdale AFB Today

Boeing B-47 Stratojets
Boeing B-47 Stratojets

Today, Barksdale AFB, located in northwest Louisiana in Bossier City, continues to be a major active military facility and a major contributor to the economy of the Shreveport area.

The base has hosted a number of key operational and training elements of the Air Force. Headquarters Eighth Air Force was installed on Barksdale after being located on Guam for five years in charge of strategic operations for the Vietnam War. Today, it continues as Headquarters of the Eighth Air Force, among other units.

The 2d Bomb Wing conducts the primary mission of Barksdale Air Force Base, La., with three squadrons of B-52H Stratofortress bombers - the 11th Bomb Squadron, which is the training squadron, the 20th Bomb Squadron and the 96th Bomb Squadron.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress

Barksdale received the first operational KC-10A Extender aerial tanker in March of 1981. The base's fleet of KC-135s and KC-10s remained at Barksdale through 1994, when the Air Mobility Command consolidated its tanker fleet. Barksdale's last KC-135 was placed in the 8th Air Force Museum after its final flight in March, and the last KC-10 departed in October.

In April 1992, 265 buildings on Barkdale's main base were placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The area from the Shreveport Gate to the flightline and from the Bossier Gate to Hoban Hall makes up the Barksdale Field Historic District. See the series of historic postcards below which show many of the original Barksdale buildings.

Hurricane Rita caused $1.1 million in damage to buildings and roofs at Barksdale AFB when it struck on September 24, 2005.

Barksdale Global Power Museum

The Barksdale Global Power Museum (formerly known as the 8th Air Force Museum) is located at Barksdale AFB and is a major national repository of historic Air Force airplanes. It is free and open to the public, accessible via the Barksdale north gate.

Scene from the Barksdale airpark
Scene from the airpark at Barksdale AFB
(Photo by Airplanes Of The Past)

Among the aircraft collection are the B-29 Superfortress, B-47E Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress, B-17G Flying Fortress, KC-135A Stratotanker, F-84F Thunderstreak, FB-111A, Lockheed SR-71 and other vintage aircraft and related equipment.

The GPM Association is not part of Barksdale AFB and is a separate organization that operates independently.

Dedicated in 1979, the facility is visited by 50,000 visitors annually. We have visited there, and highly recommended it.

Defenders of Liberty Air Show

Barksdale AFB was host to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Defenders of Liberty air show in Bossier City in 2015.

Defenders of Liberty Air Show 2012 - Courtesy of Barksdale AFB
Scene from the Defenders of Liberty Air Show 2012 at Barksdale AFB

A number of aircraft are typically on static display at the Barksdale air shows, such as the B-52, B-1, A-10, KC-135, B-25, C-130, KC-10, F/A-18, B-2 and others.

Visitors may purchase food and beverages at the show.

Parking and admission is free, but visitors are subject to base security procedures. Due to heightened security requirements, containers such as backpacks and coolers are will be prohibited on the airfield. Some exceptions will be made for items such as diaper bags, purses and folding lawn chairs, but visitors must submit them to security personnel for an inspection. Weapons are strictly prohibited.

Other Louisiana Military Bases

Other military installations in Louisiana have in the past, and some still do today, play key roles in the defense of the United States.

Louisiana World War II military bases such as Chennault Air Force Base in Lake Charles, Fort Polk in Leesville, Selman Army Airfield in Monroe, Harding Army Airfield in Baton Rouge, Pollock Army Air Field, and others have storied pasts.

England Air Force Base ... take the tour, recall the memories...

Alexandria and Central Louisiana were the site of the massive Louisiana Maneuvers staged before World War II, supported by Camp Livingston, Camp Claiborne, Camp Beauregard, Esler Field and Alexandria Army Air Base.

Barksdale AFB Historic Images

We have collected numerous historic images about the early years at Barksdale which show amazing stories of the magnitude of the base, and showcased it as "The World's Largest Airport".

Barksdale Field

Hospital

Hospital, Barksdale Field, Shreveport, Louisiana

Barksdale Field

Officers Club

Officers Club, Barksdale Field, Shreveport, LA

Barksdale Field

Barksdale Field

Barksdale Field

Aerial View of "The World's Largest Airport"

Aerial View of "The World's Largest Airport" ... Barksdale Field, Bossier City Louisiana

Barksdale Field

Aerial View

Barksdale Field Aerial View

Barksdale Field, Bossier City, LA

Barksdale Field, Bossier City, LA

"Old Glory" waving over "The World's Largest Airport", at Barksdale Field

Headquarters Building in the background

"Old Glory" waving over "The World's Largest Airport", at Barksdale Field, with the base headquarters building in the background


For More Information about Barksdale Air Force Base

Barksdale Air Force Base Official Website

Barksdale Global Power Museum

Defenders of Liberty Air Show