JETS AND PROPELLERS — The River City has long been a military town. The top postcard shows jets at the military base NAS Jax in about 1960. The middle postcard depicts Mayport Naval Station, “home of the big aircraft carriers.” This card dates from the Sixties.
Mayport Naval Station is located at the mouth of the St. Johns River. The installation’s harbor lay as a shallow tidal basin until the government dug it out for military use. According to the base’s website, “Since its commissioning in December 1942, Naval Station Mayport has grown to become the third largest fleet concentration area in the United States. Mayport’s operational composition is unique, with a busy harbor capable of accommodating 34 ships and an 8,000-foot runway capable of handling any aircraft in the Department of Defense inventory… The Navy at Mayport covers 3,409 acres and is the third largest Naval Facility in the continental United States.”
“Wings over Florida,” trumpets the bottom postcard, which comes from World War II. It presents Navy scout bombers on patrol. Postdated April 20, 1943, the card was sent to New York City by a military man at the Naval Air Technical Training Center, NAS Jax. He wrote, “Dear Artie: I guess you know a lot about Fla. so I’ll just say that the station is nice. How are you? I haven’t been down to any of the beaches yet. We study pretty hard. Write soon. Your pal, Allen.”
Still in operation today, NAS Jax proved particularly busy during WWII. As indicated by a caption on the WWII postcard, “The U.S. Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Fla., is the Navy’s major aerial defense and advanced training base on the Southeastern Seaboard. It is located on the St. Johns River 10 miles south of downtown.”
The bottom photograph depicts the first aircraft assigned to NAS Jacksonville. This Grumman J2F-3 landed Jan. 16, 1940, and would serve as the commanding officer’s personal airplane.
written by Glenn Emery