CBIVA Sound-off, Fall 1993 Issue
By C. Keith Coffman

Memories of Third Air Depot

I recently found some data about the Third Air Depot Group Airdrome that will be of interest to all who served with it at Agra, India, and also to those who passed through between January 1943 and February 1945.

When we first arrived at what was to be the Third Air Depot located about two miles southwest of Agra on Thursday, June 25, 1942, we viewed what was, or had been, a dairy farm. There was nothing there that even faintly resembled an air base, only the potential. We consisted of 43 officers, six warrant officers, and 834 enlisted men. Eventually, I believe, that base strength rose to about 4000 men and officers.

Work began immediately. Accessory and engine overhaul departments were set up, and work on the runway, with native help, was begun. Hangar and barrack construction was begun, also.

Remarkable progress was achieved in all areas of effort during the rest of 1942, and on January 4, 1943, Capt. Paul M. Morton made the first landing on a 6000-foot section of the new runway that was still under construction. Eventually, I believe, the finished runway stretched to something over 11,000 feet, but this was the beginning.

On March 15, 1943, the field experienced its first accident. A Beechcraft (C-43), known as "Fluff Bottom," cracked up while landing. It was a total loss, but there were no serious injuries to personnel.

The second crack up occurred just 13 days later on March 28 when Capt. Joseph A. McKeown experienced landing gear problems and damaged a P-40. Capt. McKeown was only slightly injured in the crash.

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