Art Leatherwood

HITCHCOCK NAVAL AIR STATION. Hitchcock Naval Air Station was a World War II naval air station for lighter-than-air craft—semirigid airships, also known as blimps. The mission of the LTA craft at Hitchcock was to protect shipping facilities and ship traffic along the Texas coast from possible Axis submarine attacks. The base was located thirty-five miles south of Houston and fifteen miles northwest of Galveston, within the boundaries of the small community of Hitchcock in Galveston County. It was on approximately 3,000 acres of coastal plain procured by a government "Declaration of Taking" in April 1943.

The construction of the $10 million blimp hangar, which was designed to hold six of the giant airships, was actually begun in 1942. The hangar was 1,000 feet long, 300 feet wide and more than 200 feet high; it had more than 300,000 square feet of unobstructed floor space. Other necessary buildings included warehouses, dormitories, shops, vehicle garages, administration and office buildings, and a recreation building containing an auditorium, a gymnasium, a stage, dressing rooms, kitchen facilities, and an Olympic-size swimming pool. All of the buildings were of wood and painted gleaming white. The station was commissioned on May 22, 1943, by navy captain Arthur D. Ayrault. At the time 143 officers and men were attached to it. The base was struck by a hurricane on June 27 but suffered only minimal damage.

As the Axis powers were brought toward their ultimate defeat, the threat of U-boat attack on the Texas coast subsided, and the LTA stations were closed down. Hitchcock was redesignated a naval air facility, to be used primarily for the storage of inactive aeronautical material. In 1949 the General Services Administration sold the installation to H. L. Harvey for $143,777. The Commodity Credit Corporation used the hangar for storing rice; it has been noted that the entire rice harvest of Texas could have been stored in the immense building. In 1950 the site was sold to John W. Mecom. In 1951, during the Korean War, the facility was leased to Bowen-McLaughlin, Incorporated, and the hangar was converted to remanufacture half-tracks and army tanks. In 1961 the hangar suffered such major damage from Hurricane Carla that it was considered too expensive to repair and was demolished in 1962. John Mecom continued to use the site for his various business interests in 1990. The station had a lasting impact on the community of Hitchcock. Many of the civilians and military personnel who came to live and work there either stayed or later returned to the area.

Galveston Daily News, March 27, 1943, January 14, 1962.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Art Leatherwood, "HITCHCOCK NAVAL AIR STATION," accessed November 14, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qch04.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...