Naval Air Station (NAS) Brunswick was originally constructed in 1943 as a training ground for British WWII pilots to train to fly F4U Corsairs and F6F Hellcat airplanes. Soon US squadrons were assigned to Brunswick, using the station as a base for anti-submarine missions.
Following the surrender of the Japanese and the end of WWII, the station was scheduled for deactivation and was closed in October of 1946. At this time, the site was turned over to the University of Maine and Bowdoin College. The two schools leased the land and buildings until 1949 when the lease was turned over to Brunswick Flying Service, a commercial airline.
Brunswick Flying Service used the retired station until 1951, when the Navy recommissioned the base. In 1950, the Navy listed Brunswick as a potential site for development for fleet service. Shortly thereafter, North Korea crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea and the post WWII reduction in forces was reversed. On March 15, 1951, Brunswick became a Naval Air Station again. New, dual 8,000 foot runways were constructed and most of the existing WWII buildings were razed and replaced with modern buildings capable of supporting a full-scale station.
Throughout the Cold War, NAS Brunswick served the Navy by tracking Soviet Subs with Lockheed P3 Orion aircraft. Aircraft from NAS Brunswick were among the first to arrive in the Middle East in support of Operation Desert Shield. Following the Cold War, patrol squadrons were reduced and military force reduction began again. In 2005, the station was listed on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) list. Aircraft and almost all personnel left the site between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. The site's official shut down date is September 2011, though there is little, if any, Naval activity at the station at all at this time (fall 2010).
The government hopes to have the site repurposed as a civilian airport as it was in 1949, though with both Portland Jetport and Bangor International Airport reasonably close by, it seems unlikely that an airport would be successful. Bowdoin College has expressed interest in creating dormitories on site and several other businesses are looking to utilize the existing buildings.
NAS Brunswick is located on Route 24 in Brunswick, ME. To reach the site from Bangor, take I95 south to I295 and get off at the Topsham Fair Mall exit (Route 196). Take Route 196 for about a mile, turn right onto Route 201 and stay on it as it turns into Route 24.
These pictures were taken during a September 2010 visit to the east side of the base.
I will be returning to take many more photos when time allows.