Scott Air Force Base News

This month in Scott AFB History: Bldg. P-3 completed March 29, 1940

Pictured is the newly-completed Bldg. P-3 on Nov. 18, 1940, with “General Headquarters Air Force” inscribed above the pillars
Pictured is the newly-completed Bldg. P-3 on Nov. 18, 1940, with “General Headquarters Air Force” inscribed above the pillars

On March 29, 1940, Bldg. P-3 at Scott Air Force Base was completed at a 1940 cost of $183,283.51. Bldg. P-3 was originally built as the General Headquarters of the U.S. Army Air Corps and the Scott Field Post Headquarters under the Air Corps’ plan to locate the General Headquarters at Scott Field.

Bldg. P-3 was constructed as part of the Roosevelt Administration’s New Deal Works Progress Administration project to make Scott Field the new General Headquarters of the Army Air Corps.

Bldg. P-3 was constructed as part of the Roosevelt Administration’s New Deal Works Progress Administration project to make Scott Field the new General Headquarters of the Army Air Corps.

However, as war in Europe and the Pacific loomed, the Air Corps decided to leave the General Headquarters at Langley Field, Virginia, where it had been located since 1935, and prepare Scott Field for its new role as the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command Radio Operator and Mechanic Training School.

Bldg. P-3, consisting of three floors, was 208 feet long and 62 feet wide. The 40,000 square foot structure was constructed out of reinforced concrete with asphalt tile floors and slate roof shingles, which explains its longevity.

As originally constructed, the building interior displayed fine murals painted by the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project depicting military subjects. Among them were five murals executed by the FAP muralist, Mildred Waltrip (1911-2004) of Chicago, depicting the history of aviation.

The first mural panel depicted Greek mythology’s Icarus’ tragic flight too near the sun, Leonardo da Vinci and his flying machine, the discovery of hydrogen, Montgolfier’s hot air balloon, Sir George Cayley’s propeller, and Santos-Dumont’s airship of 1901.

A second panel, located on the north wall, depicted images of early aircraft, including Octave Chanute’s glider, the Glenn Curtiss airplane of 1908, and the Wright Brothers’ 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk on the bottom.

Over the years, historic Building P-3 has served as the Scott Field Post Headquarters, Air Force Technical School Headquarters, Air Training Command Headquarters, Military Air Transport Service Headquarters, Military Airlift Command Headquarters, and most recently as the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing, 375th Airlift Wing, and 375th Air Mobility Wing Headquarters.

Other panels were to depict a modern bomber flanked by Army Air Corps insignia, planes in action during the World War, and aviation in the past two decades (1920-30s), including the first U.S. Air Mail flight, to modern (circa 1940) “Flying Fortresses.”

Incidental features on the panels were to be antiaircraft guns, modern parachute jumping, wind tunnels, and radio communications stations. Based on period photo of the P-3 lobby, it appears Waltrip completed the History of Aviation mural.

Another WPA artist, Ralph Hendrickson, executed a mural located upstairs in the Building P-3 Court Room with a military training theme. Scott Field was a major Army Air Forces training base for radio operators and mechanics in World War II. Specifically, the mural depicted a symbolic trainee in civilian clothing flanked by service men working in the various branches of the Army. An American eagle in the foreground represented the Army Air Forces.

The fate of the FAP murals is presently unknown. If painted directly onto the plaster walls, they may have been simply painted over during the many Bldg. P-3 renovations since 1940. If the murals were oil painted onto canvas, the murals may have been peeled off the walls and discarded.

The 375th AMW History Office does not have images of the complete murals, only partial photographs hinting at what the interior of P-3 looked like when new.

As originally constructed, the building interior displayed fine murals painted by the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project depicting military subjects. Among them were five murals executed by the FAP muralist, Mildred Waltrip (1911-2004) of Chicago, depicting the history of aviation.

Over the years, historic Bldg. P-3 has served as the Scott Field Post Headquarters, Air Force Technical School Headquarters, Air Training Command Headquarters, Military Air Transport Service Headquarters, Military Airlift Command Headquarters, and most recently as the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing, 375th Airlift Wing, and 375th Air Mobility Wing Headquarters.

On July 7, 1951, Air Training Command, headquartered at Scott AFB, named Building P-3 “Yount Hall” in honor of Lt. Gen. Barton K. Yount (1884-1949) who, in 1943, was named as Commanding General, Army Air Forces Training Command. Yount’s training methods and emphasis on safety were credited with the successful training of hundreds of thousands of pilots from all branches of the U.S. military, a critical component to Allied success in World War II.

Looking much like it did in 1949, Bldg. P-3 is the crown jewel of the Scott AFB Historic District.

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