Tag Archives: Berlin Airlift

26 June 1948

U.S. Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports unloading supples at Templehof Airport, Berlin, 1948. (U.S. Air Force)
U.S. Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports unloading supplies at Flughafen Berlin-Templehof, Berlin, 1948. (U.S. Air Force)

26 June 1948: 32 United States Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports flew 80 tons of supplies to Berlin, the first day of the Berlin Airlift.

At the height of the Cold War, the Union of Soviet Soviet Socialist Republics, occupying eastern Germany following World War II, blockaded the Allied portions of the city of Berlin, cutting off all transportation by land and water. This was followed by the building of the Berlin Wall. The western part of the city was now completely isolated. Josef Stalin hoped to force Britain, France and the United States to abandon Berlin, giving the communists complete control of the devastated country.

Soviet T-55 tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, one of just three access points to the Allied sectors of Berlin. (Central Intelligence Agency)

General Curtis LeMay was asked to transport the needs of the city by air. It was calculated that they would need to supply seventeen hundred calories per person per day, giving a grand total of 646 tons of flour and wheat, 125 tons of cereal, 64 tons of fat, 109 tons of meat and fish, 180 tons of dehydrated potatoes, 180 tons of sugar, 11 tons of coffee, 19 tons of powdered milk, 5 tons of whole milk for children, 3 tons of fresh yeast for baking, 144 tons of dehydrated vegetables, 38 tons of salt and 10 tons of cheese. In total, 1,534 tons were needed daily to keep the over two million people alive. Additionally, the city needed to be kept heated and powered, which would require another 3,475 tons of coal and gasoline.

At the height of the airlift, one airplane was landing every 30 seconds. By the end, more supplies were arriving by air than had previously come by rail. The airlift ended 30 September 1949.

2,326,406 tons of food, medicine and coal had been delivered.

101 aviators lost their lives.

A Douglas C-47 Skytrain clears the rooftops after takeoff from Berlin-Templehof. (Unattributed)
A Douglas C-47 Skytrain clears the rooftops after takeoff from Berlin-Templehof. (Unattributed)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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16 April 1949

A Douglas C-54 Skymaster on final approach to Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof.
A Douglas C-54 Skymaster on final approach to Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof.

16 April 1949: During the Berlin Airlift, airplanes delivered a record 12,941 tons (11,740 metric tons) of coal—equivalent to 600 rail carloads—to the blockaded city during a 24-hour period. This required 1,383 flights.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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30 September 1949

A Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport on approach to Flughafen Berlin-Templhof, circa 1948. (LIFE Magazine)

The Berlin Airlift officially ended on 30 September 1949, after fifteen months. In total the United States Air Force, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force delivered 2,334,374 tons, nearly two-thirds of which was coal, on 280,290 flights to Berlin.

A Douglas C-54 Skymaster approaches the end of the pierced-steel mat runway at Berlin, circa 1949. (U.S. Air Force)

At the height of the Airlift, one plane reached West Berlin every thirty seconds.

101 airmen lost their lives.

A Douglas C-54 Skymaster on final approach to Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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