Gargantuan US Airforce Warplane Boneyard (Watch)

Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) may not be the most evocative name, but its nickname is far more striking.

Referred to unofficially as The Boneyard, it is located in Tuscon, Arizona, at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Although it might sound a little dramatic, the title actually makes sense.

The base, which is used as a missile storage and maintenance facility, has been the final resting place for a wide variety of United States planes over the years. Housing more than 4,400 aircraft at the moment, the Boneyard is officially the biggest storage space of its kind anywhere in the world.

Its origins lie in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War when, in 1946, one year after hostilities came to a close, the location was decided on and the new facility established. Initially the military had planned to leave C-47 and B-29 type aircraft here, but as the decades went by the site has been used to house numerous different planes, as well as many other kinds of technology ad equipment.

This storage yard consists of 2,600 acres (approx) and has been given the nickname of ‘the Boneyard.’ An aerial view of this site shows the vastness and, using Bing, you can zoom in using their interactive map online allowing you a closer view of the craft held in this place.

Acres of World War II aircraft in storage, awaiting their fate at Kingman, 1946
Acres of World War II aircraft in storage, awaiting their fate at Kingman, 1946

This primary role for the site is storage; sometimes for planes that are only temporarily out of use, but the main residents are mostly decommissioned and retired craft as well as those ready to be dismantled and used for scrap.

There are various reasons that this location is chosen to be a graveyard for aircraft; hot and dry conditions of the desert enable the craft to be kept out in the open with little fear of rust. The terrain consists of dry soil; this better allows the planes to be maneuvered without going through the time, and cost of constructing runways made of concrete.

The Boneyard’s official name has been changed on several occasions since it was first founded. After the decision was made to recognize the United States Air Force as a separate service in its own right, the unit was rebranded. Just two years after it was initially set up, it became the 3040th Aircraft Storage Depot.

Then in 1965, 17 years later, the unit was renamed once again, becoming the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center. Its function was now more diverse; after years of only attending to exclusively Air Force planes, it was now charged with the task of servicing aircraft from every branch of the United States military.

The unit had its most recent name change in 2007, when it became the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. This is the official title by which we know it today, although the Boneyard nickname has certainly stuck as well.

Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

When an aircraft arrives at the base, it goes through a standard process. On arriving at this location, they will be stripped of all engines, weaponry, and engine parts. These vital parts are either recycled into other active aircraft or sold on (with the profits going towards the running costs of the facility). Parts sold from aircraft here can reach a staggeringly high sum, they can make in upwards of $550,000,000 in a year.

You won’t only find fighter jets and planes at this site, of course – there are also cargo and freight craft. Watch the video and see the wide variety of aircraft that are now resting at the Boneyard.

Video Credit: Sgt. Nicholas Kurtz 

Video by Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Kurtz

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.