The Berlin Airlift was a massive humanitarian operation that took place from June 1948 to September 1949. After World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones, with Berlin located in the Soviet zone. In an effort to gain control of the city, the Soviets blocked all ground access to Berlin in June 1948, cutting off essential supplies, including food and fuel. The Western Allies responded with the Berlin Airlift, an operation to supply the city with all necessary resources by air.
The airlift presented numerous challenges for air transport and air traffic control. The volume of supplies required was immense, with over 2.3 million tons of cargo and 276,000 flights delivered during the operation. The airports in the Western zones of Germany were not equipped to handle such a high volume of traffic, and new airfields had to be constructed to support the airlift.
Air traffic control was also a significant challenge. The number of aircraft operating in the region increased dramatically, and air traffic controllers had to manage the flow of aircraft in and out of the city while ensuring their safety. They also had to deal with difficult weather conditions, including fog and heavy snowfall, which could disrupt flight operations.
Despite these challenges, the Berlin Airlift was successful, and the Western Allies were able to supply the city with all necessary resources, demonstrating their commitment to democracy and freedom in the face of Soviet aggression.
On June 24, 1948, the Russian occupation forces began blockading West Berlin. Passenger and freight traffic was completely interrupted by rail, and roads and highways were closed. The goal was to subjugate Germany to its own political system through this means of pressure. At that time, more than 2 million citizens and almost 25,000 soldiers of the Western occupying forces, including about 7500 British soldiers, lived in the blocked West Berlin. With the goal of resisting Russian aggression, the USAF began supplying West Berlin on June 26, 1948, with planes taking off from Frankfurt and Wiesbaden. The Berlin Airlift was maintained for more than a year (it officially ended in September 1949). Berlin was supplied in three corridors (northern, central and southern corridor). In about 277,000 flights (of which about 87,000 were flown by the Royal Air Force), nearly 500,000 tons of goods were transported to West Berlin and, as a result, the enemy blockade by the Russians was successfully broken.
At the beginning of the Berlin blockade, the fighter-bomber squadrons Nos. 2, 30 and 80, which were stationed in Wunstorf at the time, were transferred with their Spitfires on day 2 (25.06.1948) to make room for transport aircrafts. On the same day, RAF Transport Squadrons Nos. 18 and 62 were transferred from Waterbeach to Wunstorf. On 02.07.1948 RAF Transport Squadrons 40, 47, 51, 59, 99, 206, 242 and 511 followed with a total of 43 Yorks from all over the British Empire. In addition, 48 Dakotas arrived at Wunstorf.
On 28.06.1948 at 06:00 lt the first Dakota (pilot B.G. Hughes) took off as part of "Operation Knicker", also known as the small airlift. The operation served to supply the British soldiers in West Berlin. On June 30, 1948, the RAF began supplying the Berlin population. In Wunstorf, planes took off every 6 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night. Approximately 94 tons of food for the British Army and approximately 360 tons of food for the Berlin population were flown daily. On July 3, 1948, the first York took off for Gatow. Further on, the locations Faßberg and Celle were included in "Operation Planefare" (middle corridor). On 26.08.1949 the pilot L.A. Miller took off with a York for the last flight from Wunstorf to Gatow. On 02.09.1949 the RAF-Yorks and Dakotas left Wunstorf forever.
Wunstorf is a town with over 40,000 inhabitants at the Steinhuder Meer, 15 km west of Hanover. A good 8 km south of Wunstorf, the Deister mountain range marks the end of Lower Saxony's mountainous region. North of it, the North German Plain (lowland) extends to the North Sea. The former RAF airfield in Wunstorf has been home to the German Air Force's Lufttransportgeschwader 62 (LTG 62) for over 60 years. The Airbus A400M replaced the Transall (C160) a good 10 years ago, which with its unique sound belonged to Wunstorf for decades like the eel to the Steinhuder Meer.
After the collapse of the GDR in 1989, a time of peace and prosperity in Germany, the current developments in Eastern Europe show how vulnerable peace and freedom are and how important it is to do everything possible to defend these valuable assets. Especially here in Wunstorf and the surrounding area, one can see how changeful history can be. A good 16 km west of Wunstorf is the "Hanover War Cemetery". Here, as a result of the Second World War, more than 2,400 British soldiers - mainly members of the RAF - found their final resting place. What must have been going through the minds of the RAF pilots who, a good 3 years after the end of the terrible war Germany had fought, suddenly had to supply the Germans with food in the Berlin Airlift at the risk of their own lives? Many of them lost friends and relatives at the hands of the Germans. They did an excellent job at that time and your efforts not only defended freedom in Europe, but also laid the foundation for a new friendship between the British and the Germans. The pilots of the RAF as well as the USAF were the heroes of the young German boys and thus role models for a whole generation.
We Germans will never forget this. The radio amateurs of the German Amateur Radio Club (Steinhuder Meer local chapter) feel bound to the friendship with the members of the Royal Air Force Amateur Radio Society and will call "cq UK, cq RAFARS" by radio activities exactly 75 years after the launch of the first Dakotas from Wunstorf.
Directly in front of the main entrance of Wunstorf Air Base is the museum "Ju-52-Halle", which is run by the association "Traditionsgemeinschaft Lufttransport Wunstorf e.V.". In addition to historical exhibits such as an original JU-52 and a Transall, there is also an exhibition on the Berlin Airlift. Further information can be found at www.ju52-halle.de. With the kind support of the museum, we will be active on radio and calling "cq UK - cq RAFARS" directly from the historic site - within sight of the runway from where the Yorks and Dakotas took off 75 years ago - on 01.07. and 02.07.2023. We will demonstrate the traditional mode of Morse telegraphy to museum visitors and celebrate the friendship between the nations with as many contacts to the UK as possible. Invitation
Especially for the museum event on 01. and 02. July 2023 we would be very pleased about visits of radio amateurs from UK here at Steinhuder Meer. If you are interested, please contact Vince Lewis (G4DQP) or us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We can help with hotel and travel arrangements. Also in the following months we will shout "cq UK" at certain events (contests and fielddays) and remind people of the unique achievements of the RAF here in Wunstorf. We are very happy about numerous contacts to the RAFARS. Henrik (DL6OCH/ German Amateur Radio Club)
Last night (15 June 2023) I received communication from Henrik in Wunstorf. The latest arrangements that have been made are as follows:
Henrick has arranged for the local press and photographers to be present. The Local area television station are also arranging for a camera crew and a presenter to be present. BFBS has also been contacted and have said they will cover the event. This may have been arranged by Reg, I am not sure. All of the publicity is for the 1st July, but Henrik is unsure if other times will be possible.
Reg has promised to have nice shiny shoes and to wear a RAFARS tie. Hi hi.
The Commodore of GAF Wunstorf has authorised a mobile GAF radio station to be present for backdrop interest. Henrick is unsure if this will be live or not, plus the minimum power out is 500 watts up to XXX Kwatt, so he is unsure of using it, even if authority were given.
Attached below is almost the same schedule except Henrick has included at 06.00 hrs UTC echolink to Berlin to DB0SP. He has stated echolink will be running to the Wunstorf Camp/Museum each day, for anyone to have a chat with those at Wunstorf starting on the 27th/28th June through to the 2nd July; this being via DB0STM. Late evenings are out due to STM is run by batteries powered via Solar panels.
Reg is meeting up with Allan Roberts DB3FMX RAFARS No 2228,who used to know Reg on one of the stations Reg was on. Allan now lives in Bergen Germany and is meeting Reg at Wunstorf for the event. On Saturday lunch time onwards I understand that Reg will leave Wunstorf and travel up to Berlin possibly operating mobile on route and when in Berlin Reg will be operating from either the radio club at Gatow or a university radio station.
So that's all for now My best Regards & 73
Vince G4DQP / VP8DOX