Lewistown Satellite Airfield Historic District

By Aviation: From Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms
Hangar from rear
Hangar from rear Photo from National Register collection

The Lewistown Satellite Airfield was constructed in Lewiston, Montana, during World War II as one of four training facilities for B-17 Flying Fortress crew members and included a storage site for the top secret Norden Bombsight. The Norden Bombsight, a synchronous stabilized bomb-aiming device, was considered fundamental in America's precision bombing doctrine. The extant bombsight storage shelter which housed the bombsight is one of a few known buildings of this type remaining in the United States. With construction complete by 1942, Lewistown was built as a satellite field for Great Falls Air Base. Squadrons were trained in the navigation of the B-17 in addition to receiving gunnery and bombing practice. Once their training was complete, the men were sent to the European front. The airfield was in operation during a 12-month period between 1942 and 1943 and thereafter deactivated.

Hangar South Side
Hangar South Side Photo from National Register collection

The historic district retains all original buildings within its boundaries, with the exception of a guard house previously located southeast of the bombsight storage building. The Norden Bombsight was stored in a small one-story building constructed of poured concrete. Divided into two vaults, the Norden device was only accessible through bank vault doors. Other extant buildings include a hangar, the operations building, an armament building and an underground storage vault. The field was declared surplus in 1944 and has served the local community as a municipal airport ever since.

 

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