Lewistown, Montana

10 men in winter clothing in front of B-17 Bomber aircraft
B-17 crew at Lewistown Satellite Airfield, 1942-1943

Montana History Portal, Lewistown Public Library

Quick Facts
Lewistown, Montana
The B-17, a four-engine behemoth developed in the 1930s, was utilized in World War II bombing campaigns in Europe. Lewistown Satellite Airfield was one of four training airfields in Montana built specifically to train B-17 Flying Fortress crew members.
American World War II Heritage City

American World War II Heritage City

In 1942, a B-17 Flying Fortress training base was established west of Lewistown, MT by the US Army Air Corps. Named the The Lewistown Satellite Airfield, it was one four training facilities in Montana for B-17 Flying Fortress crews and was used to train them for European and North African missions. The B-17, a four-engine behemoth developed in the 1930s, was utilized in World War II bombing campaigns in Germany. The model reportedly dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in during th war.

On October 28, 1942, the first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses roared over Lewistown’s Main Street with their bomb bays open, buzzed the treetops, and landed at the airfield. Crews trained day and night combining navigation, bombing, and gunnery practice. The men familiarized themselves with all aspects of the B-17 and trained with the top secret Norden bombsight, a computerized aiming device that reportedly could “put bombs in a pickle barrel.” The crews completed final proficiency phase training at Lewistown before being assigned to aerial combat in Europe and North Africa. Nearly 1,000 GIs trained at the The Lewistown Satellite Airfield.

The airfield was deactivated after eleven months of service. As the US Department of Defense systematically removes “temporary” World War II buildings, this Airfield is a rarity and its intact Norden bombsight storage shelter is the only known identifiable example remaining in the United States.

Lewistown Satellite Airfield Historic District, now the Lewistown Municipal Airport, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 17, 2004.

Last updated: September 21, 2023