AMARG: America’s Military Aircraft Boneyard
by Nicholas A. Veronico and Ron Strong, Specialty Press, North Branch, Minn., 2010, $24.95.
The sight of more than 4,000 military aircraft at parade rest in Arizona’s desert is mind-boggling. There are bombers, fighters and transports that date from World War II to those of recent jet vintage (see related story, P. 52). This book by a seasoned science writer and a devotee of aircraft photography serves as a great introduction to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. It is illustrated with 325 excellent color and black-and-white photos.
After WWII, more than 30,000 surplus aircraft were crowded onto a handful of bases in Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The problems associated with these surplus planes first came to light in November 1943 when Herkimer, a warweary B-24D Liberator, was stripped of its engines, instruments, radios and hundreds of other parts. When officials discovered it took 783 man-hours to reduce the aircraft to nearly 33,000 pounds of parts, aviation industry reps were asked to see what could be recycled. Most declined to use Herkimer’s parts, leading the government to search for a way forward with that and thousands of other planes. So began the requirement to save, reclaim or otherwise recoup as many taxpayer dollars as possible.
Managed by the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, AMARG is unofficially known as “the Boneyard.” Today the facility houses an impressive array of air assets, much of it held in strategic reserve for possible future use.
AMARG’s authors note that “traveling to the Sonoran Desert to view the military’s aircraft storage facility has become something of a sacred pilgrimage for aviation enthusiasts.” This book is a pre-tour “must read” for anyone who’s planning to visit the remarkable collection of warbirds preserved near Tucson.
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.