Berlin Airlift - The Beginning

Department of Defense Photo Essay

  • Berliners' interest in the airlift remained high throughout the many months of the blockade.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A pilot's view of Tempelhof Airport in the American sector of Berlin taken shortly before the blockade that sparked the Berlin Airlift. An existing agreement created three, 20 mile-wide corridors of airspace access to West Berlin, allowing Allied supplies to be dropped into the city without Soviet interference. The only other airport in West Berlin at the start of the blockade was Gatow Airfield in the British sector.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Pierced steel planking for a new runway at Tempelhof Airport arrives aboard a C-47.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A C-54 flies over a graveyard, and close to some apartments buildings, while making its landing approach at Tempelhof Airport.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Airlift C-54s being unloaded at Tempelhof Airport after the heaviest snowfall of the winter blanketed the airport on March 1,1949. High winds, poor visibility, and icing conditions forced a operations to cease during the night, but clearing skies the next day brought tonnages to near normal levels.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • C-47 transport aircraft, each containing 190 sacks of flour, arrive at Tempelhof Airport,  July 2, 1948. A pair of B-17 weather aircraft can be seen at the far side of the airfield along with a lone C-54 at the extreme right.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Early morning airlift operations at Tempelhof Airport, Aug. 22, 1948. Note the trio of aircraft parked beneath the overhang of the airport structure.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A giant C-74 unloading at Gatow Airfield becomes an attraction for sightseers. Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Awaiting their turn to take off for Berlin, U.S. Air Force C-54s will land at Gatow Airfield in the British sector of Berlin just one hour away from their British zone airlift supply terminal at Fassberg, Germany.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A controlled approach unit at Tempelhof Airport was designed in sections for ease of movement.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Radio operators on the B-17 weather patrols of the airlift corridors reported on flight conditions every 20 minutes from pre-determined check points.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A weather officer at Oberpfaffenhofen Air Force Depot briefs the crew of a B-17 before its six-hour patrol of the corridors.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • When American, French and German forces determined a third airport was needed to receive airlift supplies, a site for the new Tegel Airfield was chosen in the French sector. The only obstacle: the office complex of Soviet-controlled Radio Berlin and its tower interefered with the flight approach. When the Soviets refused to remove the obstacle, French army Gen. Jean Ganeval ordered the tower demolished. Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • The dedication of Tegel Airfield, Dec. 1, 1948. French army Gen. Jean Ganeval, who ordered the demolition of Radio Berlin's broadcast tower, is saluting as he stands at front row left.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A resident of the Neukoeln district receives her weekly coal ration.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Work crews unload flour from rail cars and prepare to truck this airlift cargo from train to nearby plane-side at Wiesbaden Air Base.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Crews unload flour at Tempelhof Airport.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Bakers in Berlin make bread from airlifted flour.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A little girl who lives in one of Berlin's Western sectors, totes her family's weekly bread ration from a bakery near her home. The bread was baked from American flour and is wrapped in a Soviet-licensed newspaper which carries a banner headline reading: "AIRLIFT USELESS."  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Workers distribute care packages to Berliners.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Fresh milk is loaded on a C-47. Shipments of whole milk soon were dropped in favor of lighter weight condensed milk.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum