Bundeswehr Museum of Military History Berlin – Gatow

Enhc F-104 ZELL 2112-2

F-104G ZELL

The Bundeswehr Museum of Military History Berlin – Gatow in western Berlin Germany is a large impressive complex with more than 200 aircraft, helicopters and missiles. The physical structures consist of nine hangars and a control tower. Currently the permanent indoor exhibition is housed in Hangar 3.

Future plans call for the museum to utilize the additional hangars and infrastructure found on site. For example Hangar 4 is destined to cover the ‘Cold War’ with the development of the East German NVA and the West German Bundesluftwaffe, as well as the Bundeswehr, which relates to the Post Cold War era.

Hangar 7 has been completely renovated and will soon be open via guided tours. Realistically it will probably be another decade before all the design and refurbishment of the remaining hangars are completed.

The museum site is located at the former National Socialist School for Aerial Warfare in Gatow, originally constructed in 1934-1935. Airborne flying training during World War II ended at the base in October 1944 due to fuel shortages. After World War II the British Royal Air Force took over the airfield. During the Cold War, Gatow accounted for one third of all British flights for the Berlin Airlift.

When the Allies withdrew their forces in the 1990’s the Bundeswehr took over the premises.

 

 

Focke – Wulf 190

Aircraft on display in Hangar 3

Early days of German aviation are seen at the museum with an original Halberstadt CL.IV. from the final weeks of World War One. This aircraft is currently on loan from the German Museum of Technology in Berlin.

 

 

Messerschmitt 163

From the World War Two period, one can see a Heinkel HE 111, Focke- Wulf Fw190 and a Messerschmitt 163. From the Cold War Era one can view a MIG-15 and MIG- 29 from the East German Airforce. RAF Gatow is represented by a DHC-1 Chipmunk which was used for air surveillance over Berlin until 1994.

 

 

Halberstadt CL. IV

Hangar 3 was extremely well done and stocked with very interesting aircraft and exhibits, but in truth I spent the bulk of my time enjoying and photographing the aircraft on display outdoors at Gatow.

 

 

Ilyushin IL-28

Outdoor aircraft display

Sadly many of the aircraft sitting outside exposed to the elements are in desperate need of restoration and paint, but nevertheless an amazing collection it is and ample time should be allocated to appreciate these aircraft and the important role in history they played.

 

 

MiG-23 BN

Former opponents from the East German NVA and the West German Bundesluftwaffe stand next to one another on display. There are multiple versions of MIG-23’s, along with a MIG-21 and SU-22’s.

 

 

Sukhoi Su-22M4

The Blue/Yellow/Red SU-22 M4 Fitter prominently on display was in service at Naval Pilot Squadron MFG-28 in Laage. The aircraft received a special last flight paint scheme with colors of the province Mecklenburg-Vorpommern blue/yellow/red.

 

 

Some of my favorite aircraft from the outdoor display were the German Armed Forces Canberra B-2, it was used for target towing as well as a flying testbed.

 

 

Nord 2501 Nortlas

In addition, a French developed Nord Noratlas, which began arriving in the West German Air Force in 1956. An Ex West German RF-4E which began service in the Luftwaffe in 1971 and served until 2003. It is the only surviving Luftwaffe RF-4E.

 

 

RF-4E Phantom

An Ex East German Air Force Ilyushin IL-28B. A rare East German Air Force MIL Mi-4, of which only four remain in Germany. The most important of all transport aircraft for the East German Air Force, An Antonov An-26 SM. Also calling attention to RAF Gatow and its role in the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949, an Ex RAAF C-47B is on display.

One more fascinating display is a Lockheed F-104G from the West German Air Force. Fitted with a Rocketdyne motor, this configuration named ZELL (Zero Length Launch System) provided a means for dispersing Luftwaffe F-104’s into the countryside to be mounted on pre-positioned ramps, allowing the aircraft to be launched under the power of the huge rocket motor.

 

 

Mil-4 

In Summary

When in Berlin I recommend that you take a short 20 minute cab or car ride to Gatow to view the current collection. Keep in mind that the hangars and base infrastructure along with the aircraft inventory continue to be developed, therefore one never knows what new treasures are to be found for visitors. Admission is free and the museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00am – 6pm.

 

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