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Clay estimated these would be able to haul about tons of supplies a day. The RAF was somewhat better prepared, since it had already moved some aircraft into the German area, and they expected to be able to supply about tons a day. This was not nearly enough to move the 5, tons a day that would be needed, but these numbers could be increased as new aircraft arrived from the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and Canada.

The RAF would be relied on to increase its numbers quickly. It could fly additional aircraft in from Britain in a single hop, bringing the RAF fleet to about Dakotas and 40 of the larger Avro Yorks with a ton payload. With this fleet, the British contribution was expected to rise to tons a day in the short term. For a longer-term operation, the US would have to add additional aircraft as soon as possible, and those would have to be as large as possible while still able to fly into the Berlin airports. Given the feasibility assessment made by the British, an airlift appeared the best course of action.

One remaining concern was the population of Berlin. Clay told Reuter, "Look, I am ready to try an airlift. I can't guarantee it will work. I am sure that even at its best, people are going to be cold and people are going to be hungry. And if the people of Berlin won't stand that, it will fail.

And I don't want to go into this unless I have your assurance that the people will be heavily in approval. His endorsement of the airlift option gave it a major boost. On 25 June Clay gave the order to launch Operation Vittles. The next day thirty-two Cs lifted off for Berlin hauling 80 tons of cargo, including milk, flour, and medicine. The first British aircraft flew on 28 June. At that time, the airlift was expected to last three weeks. On 27 June Clay cabled William Draper with an estimate of the current situation:. By 1 July the system was getting underway. Aircraft flew northeast through the American air corridor into Tempelhof Airport , then returned due west flying out on through the British air corridor.

After reaching the British Zone, they turned south to return to their bases. The British ran a similar system, flying southeast from several airports in the Hamburg area through their second corridor into RAF Gatow in the British Sector, and then also returning out on the center corridor, turning for home or landing at Hanover.

However, unlike the Americans, the British also ran some round-trips, using their southeast corridor. Flying from Finkenwerder on the Elbe near Hamburg to the Havel river next to Gatow, their corrosion-resistant hulls suited them to the particular task of delivering baking powder and other salt into the city.

Accommodating the large number of flights to Berlin required maintenance schedules and fixed cargo loading times. Smith and his staff developed a complex timetable for flights called the "block system": three eight-hour shifts of a C section to Berlin followed by a C section. Aircraft were scheduled to take off every four minutes, flying feet higher than the flight in front. This pattern began at 5, feet and was repeated five times. This system of stacked inbound serials was later dubbed "the ladder.

During the first week the airlift averaged only ninety tons a day, but by the second week it reached tons. This likely would have sufficed had the effort lasted only a few weeks, as originally believed. The Communist press in East Berlin ridiculed the project.

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Library Resource Finder: More Details for: The blockade breakers : the Berlin airli

It derisively referred to "the futile attempts of the Americans to save face and to maintain their untenable position in Berlin. Despite the excitement engendered by glamorous publicity extolling the work and over-work of the crews and the daily increase of tonnage levels, the airlift was not close to being operated to its capability because USAFE was a tactical organization without any airlift expertise.

Maintenance was barely adequate, crews were not being efficiently utilized, transports stood idle and disused, necessary record-keeping was scant, and ad hoc flight crews of publicity-seeking desk personnel were disrupting a business-like atmosphere. William H. Tunner command the operation. Under Wedemeyer's command, Tunner had successfully reorganized the wartime Hump airbridge between India and China, doubling the tonnage and hours flown. Vandenberg endorsed the recommendation.

On 28 July , Tunner arrived in Wiesbaden to take over the operation. MATS immediately deployed eight squadrons of Cs—72 aircraft to Wiesbaden and Rhein-Main Air Base to reinforce the 54 already in operation, the first by 30 July and the remainder by mid-August, and two-thirds of all C aircrew worldwide began transferring to Germany. Two weeks after his arrival, on 13 August, Tunner decided to fly to Berlin to grant an award to Lt.

Paul O. Lykins, an airlift pilot who had made the most flights into Berlin up to that time, as symbolic of the entire effort to date. A C crashed and burned at the end of the runway, and a second one landing behind it burst its tires while trying to avoid it. A third aircraft ground looped on the auxiliary runway, closing the entire airport.

While no one was killed, Tunner was embarrassed that the control tower at Tempelhof had lost control of the situation while the commander of the airlift was circling overhead, stacked with a dozen other transports. General Tunner radioed for all stacked aircraft to return home immediately. This became known as "Black Friday," and Tunner personally noted it was from that date that the success of the airlift stemmed.

As a result of Black Friday, Tunner instituted a number of new rules; instrument flight rules IFR would be in effect at all times, regardless of actual visibility, and each sortie would have only one chance to land in Berlin, returning to its air base if it missed its slot. Accident rates and delays dropped immediately. Another decision was made when it was realized that it took just as long to unload a 3.

One of the reasons for this was the sloping cargo floor of the "taildragger" Cs, which made truck loading difficult. The tricycle geared C's cargo deck was level, so that a truck could back up to it and offload cargo quickly. Tunner decided to replace all Cs in the Airlift with Cs or larger aircraft. Having noticed on his first inspection trip to Berlin on 31 July that there were long delays as the flight crews returned to their aircraft after getting refreshments from the terminal, Tunner banned aircrew from leaving their aircraft for any reason while in Berlin.

Instead, he equipped jeeps as mobile snack bars , handing out refreshments to the crews at their aircraft while it was being unloaded. They knew we couldn't date them, we had no time. So they were very friendly. With unloading begun as soon as engines were shut down on the ramp, turnaround before takeoff back to Rhein-Main or Wiesbaden was reduced to thirty minutes.

Berlin Blockade

To maximize utilization of a limited number of aircraft, Tunner altered the "ladder" to three minutes and feet of separation, stacked from 4, to 6, feet. However, the single most effective measure taken by Tunner, and the most initially resisted until it demonstrated its efficiency, was creation of a single control point in the CALTF for controlling all air movements into Berlin, rather than each air force doing its own. The Berliners themselves solved the other problem, the lack of manpower. Crews unloading and making airfield repairs at the Berlin airports were replaced almost entirely by local people, who were given additional rations in return.

As the crews improved, the times for unloading continued to fall, with a record being set by the unloading of an entire ton shipment of coal from a C in ten minutes, later beaten when a twelve-man crew unloaded the same quantity in five minutes and 45 seconds. By the end of August, after only one month, the Airlift was succeeding; daily operations flew more than 1, flights a day and delivered more than 4, tons of cargo, enough to keep West Berlin supplied.

Supplies improved to 5, tons a day. US Air Force pilot Gail Halvorsen , who pioneered the idea of dropping candy bars and bubble gum with handmade miniature parachutes, which later became known as "Operation Little Vittles". Gail Halvorsen , one of the many Airlift pilots, decided to use his off time to fly into Berlin and make movies with his hand-held camera. He arrived at Tempelhof on 17 July on one of the Cs and walked over to a crowd of children who had gathered at the end of the runway to watch the aircraft.

He introduced himself and they started to ask him questions about the aircraft and their flights. As a goodwill gesture, he handed out his only two sticks of Wrigley's Doublemint Gum , and promised that, if they did not fight over them, the next time he returned he would drop off more. The children quickly divided up the pieces as best they could. Before he left them, a child asked him how they would know it was him flying over, and he replied, "I'll wiggle my wings. The next day, on his approach to Berlin, he rocked the aircraft and dropped some chocolate bars attached to a handkerchief parachute to the children waiting below.

Every day after that the number of children increased and he made several more drops. His commanding officer was upset when the story appeared in the news, but when Tunner heard about it he approved of the gesture and immediately expanded it into "Operation Little Vittles". Other pilots participated, and when news reached the US, children all over the country sent in their own candy to help out.

Soon, the major manufacturers joined in. In the end, over three tons of candy were dropped on Berlin, [48] and the "operation" became a major propaganda success. The candy-dropping aircraft were christened " raisin bombers " by the German children. As the tempo of the Airlift grew, it became apparent that the Western powers might be able to pull off the impossible: indefinitely supplying an entire city by air alone.

In response, starting on 1 August, the Soviets offered free food to anyone who crossed into East Berlin and registered their ration cards there, but West Berliners overwhelmingly rejected Soviet offers of food. Throughout the airlift, Soviet and German communists subjected the hard-pressed West Berliners to sustained psychological warfare.

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During the early months of the airlift, the Soviets used various methods to harass allied aircraft. These included buzzing by Soviet planes, obstructive parachute jumps within the corridors, and shining searchlights to dazzle pilots at night. Although the USAFE reported separate harassing events, including flak, air-to-air fire, rocketing, bombing, and explosions, this is now considered to be exaggerated. None of these measures were effective. On 9 September a crowd of , people gathered at the Brandenburg Gate , next to the ruined Reichstag in the British sector.

The Airlift was working so far, but many West Berliners feared that the Allies would eventually abandon them to the Soviets. They needed reassurance that their sacrifices would not be for nothing. The crowd surged towards the eastern sector and someone ripped down the Red Flag from the Brandenburg Gate. Soviet military police responded, killing one. The resonance worldwide was enormous, notably in the United States, where a strong feeling of solidarity with Berliners reinforced a determination not to abandon them.

Berlin's parliament decided to meet instead in the canteen of the Technical College of Berlin-Charlottenburg in the British sector, boycotted by the members of SED, which had gained The city parliament, boycotted by its SED members, then voted for its re-election on 5 December , however, inhibited in the eastern sector and defamed by the SED as a Spalterwahl "divisive election". The SED did not nominate any candidates for this election and appealed to the electorate in the western sectors to boycott the election, while the democratic parties ran for seats. The turnout amounted to On 7 December the new, de facto only West Berlin city parliament elected a new city government in West Berlin headed by Lord Mayor Reuter, who had already once been elected lord mayor in early but prevented from taking office by a Soviet veto.

In the east, a communist system supervised by house, street, and block wardens was quickly implemented. Although the early estimates were that about 4, to 5, tons would be needed to supply the city, this was made in the context of summer weather, when the Airlift was only expected to last a few weeks. As the operation dragged on into the fall, the situation changed considerably. The food requirements would remain the same around 1, tons , but the need for additional coal to heat the city dramatically increased the total amount of cargo to be transported by an additional 6, tons a day.

To maintain the Airlift under these conditions, the current system would have to be greatly expanded. Aircraft were available, and the British started adding their larger Handley Page Hastings in November, but maintaining the fleet proved to be a serious problem. Tunner looked to the Germans once again, hiring plentiful ex- Luftwaffe ground crews. All of the existing runways required hundreds of laborers, who ran onto them between landings and dumped sand into the runway's Marsden Matting pierced steel planking to soften the surface and help the planking survive.

The Berlin blockade 24 June ;— 12 May was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post—World War II Germany , the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies ' railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under allied control. The Soviets offered to drop the blockade if the Western Allies withdrew the newly introduced Deutschmark from West Berlin. In response, the Western Allies organised the Berlin airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin. While 2, tons a day is required in normal foods, tons a day utilizing dried foods to the maximum extent will substantially increase the morale of the German people and will unquestionably seriously disturb the Soviet blockade.

To accomplish this, it is urgent that we be given approximately 50 additional transport planes to arrive in Germany at the earliest practicable date, and each day's delay will of course decrease our ability to sustain our position in Berlin. Crews would be needed to permit maximum operation of these planes. By 1 July, the system was getting under way. Aircraft flew northeast through the American air corridor into Tempelhof Airport , then returned due west flying out on through the British air corridor.

After reaching the British Zone, they turned south to return to their bases. The British ran a similar system, flying southeast from several airports in the Hamburg area through their second corridor into RAF Gatow in the British Sector, and then also returning out on the center corridor, turning for home or landing at Hanover. However, unlike the Americans, the British also ran some round-trips, using their southeast corridor. To save time many flights didn't land in Berlin, instead air dropping material, such as coal, into the airfields. Flying from Finkenwerder on the Elbe near Hamburg to the Havel river next to Gatow, their corrosion-resistant hulls suited them to the particular task of delivering baking powder and other salt into the city.

Accommodating the large number of flights to Berlin of dissimilar aircraft with widely varying flight characteristics required close co-ordination. Smith and his staff developed a complex timetable for flights called the "block system": three eight-hour shifts of a C section to Berlin followed by a C section. Aircraft were scheduled to take off every four minutes, flying 1, feet higher than the flight in front. This pattern began at 5, feet and was repeated five times. This system of stacked inbound serials was later dubbed "the ladder.

During the first week the airlift averaged only ninety tons a day, but by the second week it reached 1, tons.

Samenvatting

This likely would have sufficed had the effort lasted only a few weeks, as originally believed. The Communist press in East Berlin ridiculed the project.


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It derisively referred to "the futile attempts of the Americans to save face and to maintain their untenable position in Berlin. Despite the excitement engendered by glamorous publicity extolling the work and over-work of the crews and the daily increase of tonnage levels, the airlift was not close to being operated to its capability because USAFE was a tactical organisation without any airlift expertise. Maintenance was barely adequate, crews were not being efficiently used, transports stood idle and disused, necessary record-keeping was scant, and ad hoc flight crews of publicity-seeking desk personnel were disrupting a business-like atmosphere.

William H. Tunner , command the operation. Vandenberg endorsed the recommendation. On 28 July , Tunner arrived in Wiesbaden to take over the operation. MATS immediately deployed eight squadrons of Cs—72 aircraft to Wiesbaden and Rhein-Main Air Base to reinforce the 54 already in operation, the first by 30 July and the remainder by mid-August, and two-thirds of all C aircrew worldwide began transferring to Germany to allot three crews per aircraft.

Two weeks after his arrival, on 13 August, Tunner decided to fly to Berlin to grant an award to Lt. Paul O. Lykins, an airlift pilot who had made the most flights into Berlin up to that time, a symbol of the entire effort to date. A C crashed and burned at the end of the runway, and a second one landing behind it burst its tires while trying to avoid it. A third transport ground looped after mistakenly landing on a runway under construction. Newly unloaded planes were denied permission to take off to avoid that possibility and created a backup on the ground. While no one was killed, Tunner was embarrassed that the control tower at Tempelhof had lost control of the situation while the commander of the airlift was circling overhead.

Tunner radioed for all stacked aircraft except his to be sent home immediately. This became known as "Black Friday," and Tunner personally noted it was from that date that the success of the airlift stemmed. As a result of Black Friday, Tunner instituted a number of new rules; instrument flight rules IFR would be in effect at all times, regardless of actual visibility, and each sortie would have only one chance to land in Berlin, returning to its air base if it missed its approach, where it was slotted back into the flow.

Stacking was completely eliminated. With straight-in approaches, the planners found that in the time it had taken to unstack and land nine aircraft, 30 aircraft could be landed, bringing in tons. Tunner decided, as he had done during the Hump operation, to replace the Cs in the airlift with Cs or larger aircraft when it was realised that it took just as long to unload a 3.

One of the reasons for this was the sloping cargo floor of the "taildragger" Cs, which made truck loading difficult. The tricycle geared C's cargo deck was level, so that a truck could back up to it and offload cargo quickly. The change went into full effect after 28 September Having noticed on his first inspection trip to Berlin on 31 July that there were long delays as the flight crews returned to their aircraft after getting refreshments from the terminal, Tunner banned aircrew from leaving their aircraft for any reason while in Berlin. Instead, he equipped jeeps as mobile snack bars , handing out refreshments to the crews at their aircraft while it was being unloaded.

They knew we couldn't date them, we had no time. So they were very friendly. With unloading beginning as soon as engines were shut down on the ramp, turnaround before takeoff back to Rhein-Main or Wiesbaden was reduced to thirty minutes. The most effective measure taken by Tunner, and the most initially resisted until it demonstrated its efficiency, was creation of a single control point in the CALTF for controlling all air movements into Berlin, rather than each air force doing its own. The Berliners themselves solved the problem of the lack of manpower.

Crews unloading and making airfield repairs at the Berlin airports were made up of almost entirely by local civilians, who were given additional rations in return. As the crews increased in experience, the times for unloading continued to fall, with a record set for the unloading of an entire ton shipment of coal from a C in ten minutes, later beaten when a twelve-man crew unloaded the same quantity in five minutes and 45 seconds. By the end of August , after two months, the Airlift was succeeding; daily operations flew more than 1, flights a day and delivered more than 4, tons of cargo, enough to keep West Berlin supplied.

Gail Halvorsen , one of the many Airlift pilots, decided to use his off-time to fly into Berlin and make movies with his hand-held camera. He arrived at Tempelhof on 17 July on one of the Cs and walked over to a crowd of children who had gathered at the end of the runway to watch the aircraft. He introduced himself and they started to ask him questions about the aircraft and their flights.

As a goodwill gesture, he handed out his only two sticks of Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. The children quickly divided up the pieces as best they could, even passing around the wrapper for others to smell. He was so impressed by their gratitude and that they didn't fight over them, that he promised the next time he returned he would drop off more.

Before he left them, a child asked him how they would know it was him flying over. He replied, "I'll wiggle my wings. The next day on his approach to Berlin, he rocked the aircraft and dropped some chocolate bars attached to a handkerchief parachute to the children waiting below. Every day after that, the number of children increased and he made several more drops.

His commanding officer was upset when the story appeared in the news, but when Tunner heard about it, he approved of the gesture and immediately expanded it into "Operation Little Vittles". Other pilots participated, and when news reached the US, children all over the country sent in their own candy to help out.


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Soon, major candy manufacturers joined in. In the end, over twenty three tons of candy were dropped on Berlin [50] and the "operation" became a major propaganda success. German children christened the candy-dropping aircraft " raisin bombers ".

The Cold War: The Berlin Blockade - Episode 12

The Soviets had an advantage in conventional military forces, but were preoccupied with rebuilding their war-torn economy and society. The US had a stronger navy and air force, and had nuclear weapons. Neither side wanted a war; the Soviets did not disrupt the airlift. As the tempo of the Airlift grew, it became apparent that the Western powers might be able to pull off the impossible: indefinitely supplying an entire city by air alone.

In response, starting on 1 August , the Soviets offered free food to anyone who crossed into East Berlin and registered their ration cards there, but West Berliners overwhelmingly rejected Soviet offers of food. Throughout the airlift, Soviet and German communists subjected the hard-pressed West Berliners to sustained psychological warfare. During the early months of the airlift, the Soviets used various methods to harass allied aircraft. These included buzzing by Soviet planes, obstructive parachute jumps within the corridors, and shining searchlights to dazzle pilots at night.

Although the USAFE reported separate harassing events, including flak , air-to-air fire, rocketing, bombing, and explosions, this is now considered to be exaggerated. None of these measures were effective. One day I was buzzed about three times. The following day it started again and he came across twice and I got a bit fed up with it.

So when he came for the third time, I turned the aircraft into him and it was a case of chicken, luckily he was the one who chickened out. In the autumn of it became impossible for the non-Communist majority in Greater Berlin's citywide parliament to attend sessions at city hall within the Soviet sector. On 9 September a crowd of , people gathered at the Brandenburg Gate , next to the ruined Reichstag in the British sector.

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The Airlift was working so far, but many West Berliners feared that the Allies would eventually discontinue it. Then- SPD city councillor Ernst Reuter took the microphone and pleaded for his city, "You peoples of the world, you people of America, of England, of France, look on this city, and recognise that this city, this people, must not be abandoned—cannot be abandoned!

The crowd surged towards the Soviet-occupied sector and someone climbed up and ripped down the Soviet flag flying from atop the Brandenburg Gate. Soviet military police MPs quickly responded, resulting in the killing of one in the unruly crowd. The resonance worldwide was enormous, notably in the United States, where a strong feeling of solidarity with Berliners reinforced a general widespread determination not to abandon them.

Berlin's parliament decided to meet instead in the canteen of the Technical College of Berlin-Charlottenburg in the British sector, boycotted by the members of SED, which had gained The city parliament, boycotted by its SED members, then voted for its re-election on 5 December , however, inhibited in the eastern sector and defamed by the SED as a Spalterwahl "divisive election".

The SED did not nominate any candidates for this election and appealed to the electorate in the western sectors to boycott the election, while the democratic parties ran for seats. The turnout amounted to On 7 December the new, de facto West-Berlin-only city parliament elected a new city government in West Berlin headed by Lord Mayor Reuter , who had already once been elected lord mayor in early but prevented from taking office by a Soviet veto.

In the east, a communist system supervised by house, street, and block wardens was quickly implemented. Although the early estimates were that about 4, to 5, tons per day would be needed to supply the city, this was made in the context of summer weather, when the Airlift was only expected to last a few weeks. As the operation dragged on into autumn, the situation changed considerably. The food requirements would remain the same around 1, tons , but the need for additional coal to heat the city dramatically increased the total amount of cargo to be transported by an additional 6, tons a day.

To maintain the Airlift under these conditions, the current system would have to be greatly expanded. Aircraft were available, and the British started adding their larger Handley Page Hastings in November, but maintaining the fleet proved to be a serious problem. Tunner looked to the Germans once again, hiring plentiful ex- Luftwaffe ground crews.

Another problem was the lack of runways in Berlin to land on: two at Tempelhof and one at Gatow—neither of which was designed to support the loads the Cs were putting on them. All of the existing runways required hundreds of labourers, who ran onto them between landings and dumped sand into the runway's Marston Mat pierced steel planking to soften the surface and help the planking survive.

Far from ideal, with the approach being over Berlin's apartment blocks, the runway nevertheless was a major upgrade to the airport's capabilities. With it in place, the auxiliary runway was upgraded from Marston Matting to asphalt between September and October A similar upgrade program was carried out by the British at Gatow during the same period, also adding a second runway, using concrete. The French Air Force , meanwhile, had become involved in the First Indochina War , so it could only bring up some old Junkers Ju 52s to support its own troops and they were too small and slow to be of much help.

However, France agreed to build a complete, new and larger airport in its sector on the shores of Lake Tegel. French military engineers, managing German construction crews, were able to complete the construction in under 90 days. The airport was mostly built by hand, by thousands of mostly female labourers who worked day and night.

Heavy equipment was needed to level the ground, equipment that was too large and heavy to fly in on any existing cargo aircraft. The solution was to dismantle large machines and then re-assemble them. Using the five largest American C Packet transports, it was possible to fly the machinery into West Berlin. This not only helped to build the airfield, but also demonstrated that the Soviet blockade could not keep anything out of Berlin. The Tegel airfield was subsequently developed into Berlin Tegel Airport.

To improve air traffic control, which would be critical as the number of flights grew, the newly developed Ground Controlled Approach radar system GCA was flown to Europe for installation at Tempelhof, with a second set installed at Fassberg in the British Zone in West Germany. With the installation of GCA, all-weather airlift operations were assured.