The Airport Gatow (1935
The Airport Gatow is situated
in Berlin-Spandau, in the district Gatow.
In the course of re-arming
Germany, the Airport Gatow was built up by the National Socialists in 1935.
In the course of the attack
on Berlin, the Red Army occupied the airport in May 1945 but pulled back its troops
already in July 1945 and surrendered the airport to the Royal Air Force. During
the Territory Exchange after the Second World War, the area originally counting
to Seeburg had been exchanged for West-Staaken and then belonged to West-Berlin.
After its completion, the Aerial Warfare School 2 ( Luftkriegsschule 2) and
the Aerial Warfare Academy (Luftkriegsakademie) of the German Luftwaffe was
put in here. These education and training centres were the most important training
camps for the German Luftwaffe.
The English constructed the first concrete runways on the airfield now called
“Airport of the Royal Air Force Gatow” and arranged the first scheduled flight
to London via Hamburg with a BEA DC-3. This flight was quite quickly moved to
The Royal Air Force had already thought about plans in case of a blockade. Naturally,
they focussed on the Airport Gatow being situated in the British sector. However,
they assumed that the main task of an airlift would be the supplying of the own
Maybe this explains the quantity of the goods handled on the first day of these
air transportations – the 28th of June 1948: all of 40 tons.
In best time, the more modest appearing Gatow airport mutated to the most strongest
cargo airport in handling world-wide. Already at the beginning of July 1948, Gatow
achieved the daily delivery of 1,000 tons of all of those goods the trapped town
needed – from baby food to coal!
This allows conclusions on the technical-organizational dimensions of the airlift
in Gatow, the biggest operation ever of the Royal Air Force realized in peace
times. The aim was to get 20 machines (good weather) and 12 machines (bad weather)
per hour on the runway. However, the airplanes had to move in only three corridors
and there at a height between 100 and 10,000 feet – according to the Allied Agreement.
After the airlift the Airport Gatow developped to a normal transport/military
base of the Royal Air Force.
And it was also the destination airport when members of the royal family paid
Berlin a visit.
Later, Britannia Airways took on the weekly troop exchanges on Wednesdays together
with the Royal Air Force. Moreover, this airline brought the first civilian Boeing
737 to West-Berlin. British Airways used the Airport Gatow for its crew training
and as an alternative airport, when landings in Tegel or Tempelhof were not possible.
On the 18th of June 1994 – after nearly fifty years – the Allies said
goodbye to Berlin. Now, the German Federal Armed Forces took on the airport on
the 7th of September 1994 and stopped air traffic completely at the
beginning of 1995.
Today, the grounds are divided in the General-Steinhoff-Barracks and the Air Force
Museum-Airport Gatow. The southern part of the area belongs to the barracks, the
hangars, the tower and part of the former runway to the museum. We have been trying
to assemble in the picture gallery, which interesting visitors the airport Gatow
had to offer.
Have fun with the “GWW”-page! The Planeboys
(Text: Matthias Gocht)