Airplanes Online Home Page Airplanes Online

Barksdale Air Force Base Louisiana

Barksdale AFB History

Barksdale Air Force Base Main Gate in Bossier City, Louisiana (circa 1958) ... "Peace is Our Profession"
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 on hangars, runways and billets. Barksdale's plan is based on a Beaux-arts radial plan, with the original structures built in the French Colonial Revival Style, characterized by terra-cotta and stucco walls, hipped/gabled red-tile roofs and wrong-iron rails. Plant materials native to the area were used, such as live oaks.

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.

Early aerial view of Barksdale Field ... "The World's Largest Airport"
Aerial View of "The World's Largest Airport" ... Barksdale Field, Shreveport-Bossier City Louisiana

 

 

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

Vintage image of a Boeing B-47 Stratojet Bomber, with Jet Assist Take-off, Barksdale Air Force Base
Vintage image of a Boeing B-47 Stratojet Bomber, with Jet Assist Take-off, Barksdale Air Force Base

 

B-52 "Elephant Walk" at Barksdale Air Force Base

The first Boeing B-52 Stratofortress arrived at Barksdale in August of 1958, followed by the first KC-135 Stratotanker shortly afterwards. The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation.

KC-135 Stratotanker S/N 63595 at the Barksdale Global Power Museum
KC-135 Stratotanker S/N 63595 at the Global Power Museum at Barksdale AFB

 

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.

Barksdale AFB Today

Barksdale Air Force Base gate in Bossier City, Louisiana

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 Eighth Air Force is one of two active-duty Numbered Air Forces in Air Force Global Strike Command.

The Air Force Global Strike Command, activated August 7, 2009, is a major command with headquarters at Barksdale. AFGSC is comprised of more than 33,700 Airmen and civilians responsible for the nation's three intercontinental ballistic missile wings, the Air Force’s entire bomber force, to include B-52, B-1 and B-2 wings, the Long Range Strike Bomber program, Air Force Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) systems, and operational and maintenance support to organizations within the nuclear enterprise.

Barksdale AFB headquarters and administration building

The 2nd 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. Together they ensure the 2d Bomb Wing provides flexible, responsive, global combat capability, autonomously or in concert with other forces, and trains all Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Force Reserve B-52 crews, including the 307th Bomb Wing mission partners at Barksdale AFB.

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.

Read more at the Barksdale Air Force Base Official Website

 

The B-52 Stratofortress in Action at Barksdale AFB

B-52 Stratofortress bombers on the tarmac at Barksdale Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force Photo)
B-52 Stratofortress bombers on the tarmac at Barksdale Air Force Base
USAF B-52 Stratofortress bomber preparing to roll at Barksdale Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force Photo)
USAF B-52 Stratofortress bomber preparing to roll at Barksdale Air Force Base
Lineup of B-52 Stratofortress bombers at Barksdale Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force Photo)
Lineup of B-52 Stratofortress bombers at Barksdale Air Force Base
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber at takeoff at Barksdale Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force Photo)
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber at takeoff at Barksdale Air Force Base
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber Serial Number 60-001, Tail Code LA (U.S. Air Force Photo)
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber Serial Number 60-001, Tail Code LA

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. Visit the museum's website for details on how to obtain an access pass.

Scene from the Barksdale airpark
Scene from the airpark at Barksdale AFB (Photo by Airplanes Online)

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 Barksdale Global Power Association operates independently of Barksdale AFB and supports the facility thru a variety of projects, events and services. 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.

Read more about the Barksdale Global Power Museum and how to obtain access passes

Boeing B-29 Superfortress S/N 487627, Buzz Number BF-627, at the Global Power Museum
Boeing B-29 Superfortress S/N 487627, Buzz Number BF-627
Right nose view of the B-17G Flying Fortress "Miss Liberty" S/N 231340 at the Barksdale AFB Museum

Right nose view of the B-17G Flying Fortress "Miss Liberty" S/N 231340 at Barksdale AFB

B-52G Stratofortress, S/N 57-6509, at the Barksdale Global Power Museum in Bossier City, Louisiana
B-52G Stratofortress, S/N 57-6509

 

Defenders of Liberty Air Show

Barksdale AFB is host to the Defenders of Liberty air show in Bossier City.

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

Read more at the Defenders of Liberty Air Show website

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. Read more about England Air Force Base in nearby Alexandria.

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.

Area Map of Barksdale Air Force Base

More Information about Barksdale Air Force Base

Barksdale Air Force Base Official Website

Barksdale Global Power Museum

Defenders of Liberty Air Show

Barksdale Field 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

Barracks at Barksdale Field

Barracks at Barksdale Field

The chapel at Barksdale Field

The chapel at Barksdale Field

Barksdale Field

Aerial View

Barksdale Field Aerial View

Two of the 13 hangars at Barksdale Field

Two of the 13 hangars at Barksdale Field

Parachute jumping over Barksdale Field

Parachute jumping over Barksdale Field

Barksdale Field, looking towards the Main Gate

Barksdale Field, looking towards the Main Gate

"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