Airport Gatow (1935 – 1994)
Airport Gatow is situated in Berlin-Spandau, in the district Gatow.
the course of re-arming Germany, the Airport Gatow was built up by the National
Socialists in 1935. 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 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.
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 Tempelhof though.
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 troops.
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
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
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.
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
(Text: Matthias Gocht)