Berlin Blockade
Overview
 
The Berlin Blockade (88 June 1948 – 12 May 1949) was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 blocked the Western Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 under Allied control. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet zone to start supplying Berlin with food and fuel, thereby giving the Soviets practical control over the entire city.

In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin.
Encyclopedia
The Berlin Blockade (88 June 1948 – 12 May 1949) was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 blocked the Western Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 under Allied control. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet zone to start supplying Berlin with food and fuel, thereby giving the Soviets practical control over the entire city.

In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin. The recently independent United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing up to 4700 tons of daily necessities such as fuel and food to the Berliners. Alongside US and British personnel the airlift involved aircrews from the Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force is the air force branch of the Australian Defence Force. The RAAF was formed in March 1921. It continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps , which was formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF has taken part in many of the 20th century's major conflicts...

, Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Royal New Zealand Air Force
The Royal New Zealand Air Force is the air arm of the New Zealand Defence Force...

 and South African Air Force
South African Air Force
The South African Air Force is the air force of South Africa, with headquarters in Pretoria. It is the world's second oldest independent air force, and its motto is Per Aspera Ad Astra...

.

By the spring of 1949, the effort was clearly succeeding and, by April, the airlift was delivering more cargo than had previously been transported into the city by rail. The success of the Berlin Airlift brought embarrassment to the Soviets who had refused to believe it could make a difference. The blockade was lifted in May 1949 and resulted in the creation of two separate German states. The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) split up Berlin. In remembrance of the airlift, three airports in the former western zones of the city served as the primary gateways to Germany for another fifty years.

Postwar division of Germany

When hostilities in the European theater of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 ended on 8 May 1945, Soviet and Western troops were stretched across Germany on a line running roughly along the Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

, although branching off in several locations. Units of the (re-forming) French army were also present in southwest Germany.

From 17 July to 2 August 1945, the victorious Allied Powers
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 reached the Potsdam Agreement
Potsdam Agreement
The Potsdam Agreement was the Allied plan of tripartite military occupation and reconstruction of Germany—referring to the German Reich with its pre-war 1937 borders including the former eastern territories—and the entire European Theatre of War territory...

 on the fate of postwar Europe, calling for the division of defeated Germany into four temporary occupation zones (thus re-affirming principles laid out earlier by the Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

). These zones were located roughly around the current locations of the allied armies. Additionally, the German capital of Berlin was to be divided into four sectors: the French sector, British Sector, American sector and the Soviet sector.

Berlin was located 100 miles inside the Soviet occupation zone. The Soviet zone produced much of Germany's food supply, while the territory of the British and American zones had to rely on food imports even before the war. In addition, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 ordered the incorporation of part of eastern Poland into the Soviet Union, compensating Poland by ceding to it a large portion of Germany east of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

. This area had contained much of Germany's fertile land. The administration of occupied Germany was coordinated by the Four Power Allied Control Council (ACC).

Morgenthau Plan

The agreement at Yalta was partly based on the Morgenthau Plan
Morgenthau Plan
The Morgenthau Plan, proposed by United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., advocated that the Allied occupation of Germany following World War II include measures to eliminate Germany's ability to wage war.-Overview:...

, which stipulated that Germany's economy under the "level of industry"
Industrial plans for Germany
The Industrial plans for Germany were designs the Allies considered imposing on Germany in the aftermath of World War II to reduce and manage Germany's industrial capacity.-Background:...

 plans should be reduced to 50% of its 1938 capacity, to prevent a remilitarized Germany from emerging in the future. The Soviets and French were in favor of the plans, while the British — who were occupying the region least capable of providing food for its population — were opposed, favouring higher industrial output.

United States Joint Chiefs of Staff ("JCS") directive 1067 embodied the Morgenthau Plan's goals, but implementation proved impractical because it prevented the effective functioning of the occupation, not least because it proscribed personal contact between Germans and Americans. Former US President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

, in one of his reports from Germany
The President's Economic Mission to Germany and Austria
The President's Economic Mission to Germany and Austria was a series of reports commissioned by US President Harry S. Truman and written by former US President Herbert Hoover....

, argued for a change in occupation policy, amongst other things stating: "There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

 can be reduced to a 'pastoral state'. It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25,000,000 people out of it."

The Soviet zone and the Allies' rights of access to Berlin

In the eastern zone, the Soviet authorities forcibly unified the Communist Party of Germany
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 and Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 in the Socialist Unity Party ("SED")
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

, claiming at the time that it would not have a Marxist-Leninist
Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

 or Soviet orientation. The SED leaders then called for the "establishment of an anti-fascist, democratic regime, a parliamentary democratic republic" while the Soviet Military Administration suppressed all other political activities. Factories, equipment, technicians, managers and skilled personnel were removed to the Soviet Union.

In a June 1945 meeting, Stalin told German communist leaders that he expected slowly to undermine the British position within their occupation zone, that the United States would withdraw within a year or two and that nothing would then stand in the way of a united Germany under communist control within the Soviet orbit. Stalin and other leaders told visiting Bulgarian and Yugoslavian delegations in early 1946 that Germany must be both Soviet and communist.

A further factor contributing to the Blockade was that there had never been a formal agreement guaranteeing rail and road access to Berlin through the Soviet zone. At the end of the war, western leaders had relied on Soviet goodwill to provide them with a tacit right to such access. At that time, the western allies assumed that the Soviets' refusal to grant any cargo access other than one rail line, limited to ten trains per day, was temporary, but the Soviets refused expansion to the various additional routes that were later proposed.

The Soviets also granted only three air corridors
West Berlin Air Corridor
During the Cold War era , the West Berlin Air Corridors comprised three regulated airways for civil and military air traffic of the Western Allies between West Berlin and West Germany passing over the former East Germany's territory. The corridors were under control of the all-Allied Berlin Air...

 for access to Berlin from Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Bückeburg
Bückeburg
Bückeburg is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany, on the border with North Rhine Westphalia. It was once the capital of the tiny principality of Schaumburg-Lippe and is today located in the district of Schaumburg close to the northern slopes of the Weserbergland ridge...

 and Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

. In 1946 the Soviets stopped delivering agricultural goods from their zone in eastern Germany, and the American commander, General Clay, responded by stopping shipments of dismantled industries from western Germany to the Soviet Union. In response, the Soviets started a public relations campaign against American policy, and began to obstruct the administrative work of all four zones of occupation.

The focus on Berlin and the elections of 1946

Berlin quickly became the focal point of both US and Soviet efforts to re-align Europe to their respective visions. As Molotov noted, "What happens to Berlin, happens to Germany; what happens to Germany, happens to Europe." Berlin had suffered enormous damage, its prewar population of 4.6 million people was reduced to 2.8 million, and the city could only produce 2% of its food needs. The Western allies were not permitted to enter the city until two months after Germany's surrender, during which time the local populace suffered brutal treatment at the hands of the Soviet army.

After harsh treatment, forced emigration, political repression and the particularly hard winter of 1945–1946, Germans in the Soviet-controlled zone were hostile to Soviet endeavors. Local elections in mid-1946 resulted in a massive anti-communist protest vote, especially in the Soviet sector of Berlin. Berlin's citizens overwhelmingly elected democratic members to its city council (with an 86% majority) — strongly rejecting Communist candidates.

The Marshall Plan


Concurring with the view of the commander of the United States occupation zone, General Lucius D. Clay
Lucius D. Clay
General Lucius Dubignon Clay was an American officer and military governor of the United States Army known for his administration of Germany immediately after World War II. Clay was deputy to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945; deputy military governor, Germany 1946; commander in chief, U.S....

, the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President on military matters...

 declared that the "complete revival of Germany industry, particularly coal mining" was now of "primary importance" to American security. In January 1947, Truman appointed General George Marshall
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

 as Secretary of State, in July 1947 he scrapped JCS 1067 and supplanted it with JCS 1779, which decreed that an orderly and prosperous Europe required the economic contributions of a stable and productive Germany.

Administration officials met with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 and others to press for an economically self-sufficient Germany, and demanded a detailed account of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure previously removed by the Soviets. After six weeks of negotiations, Molotov refused the demands and the talks were adjourned. Marshall was particularly discouraged after a personal meeting with Stalin, who expressed little interest in a solution to German economic problems.

The United States concluded that, for Europe's sake, a solution could not be delayed any longer. In a 5 June 1947 speech, Marshall announced a comprehensive program of American assistance to all European countries wanting to participate, including the Soviet Union and those of Eastern Europe. This was to be called the European Recovery Programme, but it became more widely known as the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

.

Stalin opposed the Marshall Plan. He had built up a belt of Soviet-controlled nations on his Western border, the Eastern bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, which included Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. Stalin wanted to maintain this buffer zone of states, combined with a weakened Germany under Soviet control. He felt that American aid would "buy" a pro-US re-alignment of the new Europe. He stated "This is a ploy by Truman. It is nothing like Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 — a different situation. They don't want to help us. What they want is to infiltrate European countries."

While Molotov was initially interested in the program and attended its early meetings, he later described it as "dollar imperialism
Dollar imperialism
Dollar imperialism was a term coined by the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov at the start of the Cold War; it was used in reference to the American government's Marshall Plan....

". Fearing American political, cultural and economic penetration, Stalin eventually forbade Soviet Eastern bloc countries of the newly formed Cominform
Cominform
Founded in 1947, Cominform is the common name for what was officially referred to as the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties...

 from accepting the aid. In Czechoslovakia, this demand resulted in the Soviet-backed Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948
Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948
The Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948 – in Communist historiography known as "Victorious February" – was an event late that February in which the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, with Soviet backing, assumed undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, ushering in over four decades...

, the brutality of which shocked Western powers more than any event so far and briefly provoked fear of a new war. This swept away the last vestiges of opposition to the Marshall Plan in the United States Congress.

Moves towards a West German state

Meanwhile, to coordinate the economies of the British and United States occupation zones, these were combined into what was referred to as the Bizone
Bizone
The Bizone, or Bizonia was the combination of the American and the British occupation zones in 1947 during the occupation of Germany after World War II. With the addition of the French occupation zone in March 1948, the entity became the Trizone...

. (to be re-named the Trizone when France later joined). Representatives of these three governments, along with the Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

 nations, met twice in London (London 6-Power Conference) in the first half of 1948 to discuss the future of Germany, going ahead despite Soviet threats to ignore any decisions taken.

In response to the announcement of the first of these meetings, in late January 1948, the Soviets began stopping British and American trains to Berlin to check passenger identities. As outlined in an announcement on 7 March 1948, all of the governments present approved the extension of the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 to Germany, finalized the economic merger of the western occupation zones in Germany and agreed upon the establishment of a federal system of government for them.

After a 9 March meeting between Stalin and his military advisers, a secret memorandum was sent to Molotov on 12 March 1948, outlining a plan to force the policy of the western allies into line with the wishes of the Soviet government by "regulating" access to Berlin. The Allied Control Council
Allied Control Council
The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in the German language as the Alliierter Kontrollrat and also referred to as the Four Powers , was a military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany after the end of World War II in Europe...

 (ACC) met for the last time on 20 March 1948, when Vasily Sokolovsky
Vasily Sokolovsky
Vasily Danilovich Sokolovsky was a Soviet military commander.Sokolovsky was born into a peasant family in Kozliki, a small town in the province of Grodno, near Białystok in Poland . He worked as a teacher in a rural school, where he took part in a number of protests and demonstrations against the...

 demanded to know the outcome of the London Conference and, on being told by negotiators that they had not yet heard the final results from their governments, he said, "I see no sense in continuing this meeting, and I declare it adjourned." The entire Soviet delegation rose and walked out. Truman later noted, "For most of Germany, this act merely formalized what had been an obvious fact for some time, namely, that the four-power control machinery had become unworkable. For the city of Berlin, however, this was the curtain-raiser for a major crisis."

The April Crisis and the Little Air Lift

On 25 March 1948, the Soviets issued orders restricting Western military and passenger traffic between the American, British and French occupation zones and Berlin. These new measures began on 1 April along with an announcement that no cargo could leave Berlin by rail without the permission of the Soviet commander. Each train and truck was to be searched by the Soviet authorities. On 2 April, General Clay ordered a halt to all military trains and required that supplies to the military garrison be transported by air, in what was dubbed the "Little Lift".

The Soviets eased their restrictions on Allied military trains on 10 April 1948, but continued periodically to interrupt rail and road traffic during the next 75 days, while the United States continued supplying its military forces by using cargo aircraft. At the same time, Soviet military aircraft began to violate West Berlin airspace and harass, or what the military called "buzz", flights in and out of West Berlin.

On 5 April, a Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 Yakovlev Yak-3
Yakovlev Yak-3
The Yakovlev Yak-3 was a World War II Soviet fighter aircraft.Robust and easy to maintain, it was much liked by pilots and ground crew alike....

 fighter collided with a British European Airways
British European Airways
British European Airways or British European Airways Corporation was a British airline which existed from 1946 until 1974. The airline operated European and North African routes from airports around the United Kingdom...

 Vickers Viking 1B
Vickers VC.1 Viking
The Vickers VC.1 Viking was a British twin-engine short-range airliner derived from the Vickers Wellington bomber and built by Vickers Armstrongs Limited at Brooklands near Weybridge in Surrey. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Viking was an important airliner with British airlines...

 airliner near RAF Gatow airfield
RAF Gatow
Known for most of its operational life as Royal Air Force Station Gatow, or more commonly RAF Gatow, this former British Royal Air Force military airbase is in the district of Gatow in south-western Berlin, west of the Havel river, in the borough of Spandau...

, killing all aboard both aircraft. The Gatow air disaster
1948 Gatow air disaster
The 1948 Gatow air disaster occurred on Monday 5 April 1948 when a British European Airways Vickers VC.1B Viking airliner crashed near RAF Gatow, Berlin, Germany after a mid-air collision with a Soviet Air Force Yakovlev Yak-3 fighter. All ten passengers and four crew on board the Viking were...

 exacerbated tensions between the Soviets and the other allied powers. Internal Soviet reports in April stated that "Our control and restrictive measures have dealt a strong blow to the prestige of the Americans and British in Germany" and that the Americans have "admitted" that the idea of an airlift would be too expensive.

On 9 April, Soviet officials demanded that American military personnel maintaining communication equipment in the Eastern zone must withdraw, thus preventing the use of navigation beacons to mark air routes. On 20 April, the Soviets demanded that all barges obtain clearance before entering the Soviet zone.

The currency crisis

Creation of an economically stable western Germany required reform of the unstable Reichsmark German currency introduced after the 1920s German inflation
Inflation in the Weimar Republic
The hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic was a three year period of hyperinflation in Germany between June 1921 and July 1924.- Analysis :...

. The Soviets had debased the Reichsmark by excessive printing, resulting in Germans using cigarettes as a de facto currency or for bartering. The Soviets opposed western plans for a reform. In February 1948, the Americans and British had proposed to the ACC that a new German currency be created, replacing the over-circulated and de-valued Reichsmark. The Soviets refused to accept this proposal, hoping to continue the German recession, in keeping with their policy of a weak Germany.

Anticipating the introduction of new currency by the other countries in the non-Soviet zones, the Soviet Union in May 1948 directed its military to introduce its own new currency and to permit only the Soviet currency to be used in their sector of Berlin, if the other countries brought in a different currency there. On 18 June the United States, Britain and France announced that on 21 June the Deutsche Mark would be introduced, but the Soviets refused to permit its use as legal tender in Berlin. The Allies had already transported 250,000,000 Deutsche marks into the city and it quickly became the standard currency in all four sectors. This new currency, along with the Marshall Plan that backed it, appeared to have the potential to revitalize Germany, even against the wishes of the Soviets. Further, the introduction of the currency into western Berlin threatened to create a bastion of western economic resurgence deep within the Soviet zone. Stalin considered this a provocation and now wanted the West completely out of Berlin.

The start of the Berlin Airlift

The beginning of the Blockade

The day after the 18 June 1948 announcement of the new Deutsche Mark, Soviet guards halted all passenger trains and traffic on the autobahn to Berlin, delayed Western and German freight shipments and required that all water transport secure special Soviet permission. On 21 June, the day the Deutsche Mark was introduced, the Soviets halted a United States military supply train to Berlin and sent it back to western Germany. On 22 June, the Soviets announced that they would introduce a new currency in their zone. This was known as the "Ostmark".

That same day, a Soviet representative told the other three occupying powers that "We are warning both you and the population of Berlin that we shall apply economic and administrative sanctions that will lead to the circulation in Berlin exclusively of the currency of the Soviet occupation zone." The Soviets launched a massive propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 campaign condemning Britain, the United States and France by radio, newspaper and loudspeaker. The Soviets conducted well-advertised military maneuvers just outside the city. Rumors of a potential occupation by Soviet troops spread quickly. German communists demonstrated, rioted and attacked pro-West German leaders when these attended meetings of the municipal government in the Soviet sector.

On 24 June, the Soviets severed land and water communications between the non-Soviet zones and Berlin. That same day, they halted all rail and barge traffic in and out of Berlin. On 25 June, the Soviets stopped supplying food to the civilian population in the non-Soviet sectors of Berlin. Motor traffic from Berlin to the western zones was permitted, but this required a 23 kilometer detour to a ferry crossing because of alleged "repairs" to a bridge. They also cut off the electricity relied on by Berlin, using their control over the generating plants in the Soviet zone.

Surface traffic from non-Soviet zones to Berlin was blockaded, leaving open only the air corridors. The Soviets rejected arguments that the occupation rights in the non-Soviet sectors of Berlin, and the use of the supply routes during the previous three years, had given Britain, France and the United States a legal claim to use of the highways, tunnels, railroads, and canals. Relying on Soviet good will after the war, Britain, France and the United States had never negotiated an agreement with the Soviets to guarantee these land-based rights of access to Berlin through the Soviet zone.

At the time, West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 had thirty-six days' worth of food, and forty-five days' worth of coal. Militarily, the Americans and British were greatly outnumbered due to the post-war scaling-back of their armies. The United States, like other western countries, had disbanded most of its troops and was largely inferior in the European theater, though it still possessed its nuclear deterrent. The entire United States Army had been reduced to 552,000 men by February 1948. Military forces in the western sectors of Berlin numbered only 8,973 Americans, 7,606 British and 6,100 French.

Soviet military forces in the Soviet sector that surrounded Berlin totaled one and a half million. The two United States regiments in Berlin could have provided little resistance against a Soviet attack. General Lucius D. Clay
Lucius D. Clay
General Lucius Dubignon Clay was an American officer and military governor of the United States Army known for his administration of Germany immediately after World War II. Clay was deputy to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945; deputy military governor, Germany 1946; commander in chief, U.S....

, in charge of the US Occupation Zone in Germany, summed up the reasons for not retreating in a cable to Washington, D.C., on 13 June 1948: "There is no practicability in maintaining our position in Berlin and it must not be evaluated on that basis... We are convinced that our remaining in Berlin is essential to our prestige in Germany and in Europe. Whether for good or bad, it has become a symbol of the American intent."

Believing that Britain, France and the United States had little option other than to acquiesce, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany celebrated the beginning of the blockade. General Clay felt that the Soviets were bluffing about Berlin since they would not want to be viewed as starting a Third World War. Stalin did not want a war, and Soviet actions were aimed at exerting military and political pressure on the West to obtain concessions, relying on the West's prudence and unwillingness to provoke a war.

The decision for an airlift

Although the ground routes had never been negotiated, the same was not true of the air. On 30 November 1945, it had been agreed in writing that there would be three twenty-mile-wide air corridors providing free access to Berlin. Additionally, unlike a force of tanks and trucks, the Soviets could not claim that cargo aircraft were some sort of military threat. In the face of unarmed aircraft refusing to turn around, the only way to enforce the blockade would have been to shoot them down. An airlift would force the Soviet Union into the position of either taking military action, in a morally reprehensible fashion, breaking their own agreements, or else to back down.

Enforcing this would require an airlift that really worked. If the supplies could not be flown in fast enough, Soviet help would eventually be needed to prevent starvation. Clay was told to take advice from General Curtis LeMay
Curtis LeMay
Curtis Emerson LeMay was a general in the United States Air Force and the vice presidential running mate of American Independent Party candidate George Wallace in 1968....

, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe
United States Air Forces in Europe
The United States Air Forces in Europe is the United States Air Force component of U.S. European Command, a Department of Defense unified command, and is one of two Air Force Major Commands outside of the continental United States, the other being the Pacific Air Forces...

 (USAFE), to see if an airlift was possible. LeMay, initially taken aback by the inquiry, which was "Can you haul coal?", replied "We can haul anything."

When American forces consulted Britain's Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) about a possible joint airlift, they learned the RAF was already running an airlift in support of British troops in Berlin. General Clay's counterpart, General Sir Brian Robertson
Brian Robertson, 1st Baron Robertson of Oakridge
General Brian Hubert Robertson, 1st Baron Robertson of Oakridge, GCB, GBE, KCMG, KCVO, DSO, MC , known as Sir Brian Robertson, 2nd Baronet, from 1933 to 1961, was a British Army General....

, was ready with some concrete numbers. During the Little Lift earlier that year, British Air Commodore Reginald Waite
Reginald Waite
Air Commodore Reginald Newham Waite CB CBE RAF was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force during the middle of the 20th century....

 had calculated the resources required to support the entire city. His calculations indicated 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.

Carrying all this in would not be easy. The post-war demobilization left the US forces in Europe with only two squadrons
Squadron (aviation)
A squadron in air force, army aviation or naval aviation is mainly a unit comprising a number of military aircraft, usually of the same type, typically with 12 to 24 aircraft, sometimes divided into three or four flights, depending on aircraft type and air force...

 of C-47 Skytrain
C-47 Skytrain
The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport aircraft that was developed from the Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front line operations through the 1950s with a few remaining in operation to this day.-Design and...

 aircraft (the military version of the Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-3
The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

, which the British called "Dakota"), which could each carry about 3.5 tons of cargo. Clay estimated these would be able to haul about 300 tons of supplies a day. The RAF was somewhat better prepared, since they had already moved some aircraft into the German area, and they expected to be able to supply about 400 tons a day.

This was not nearly enough to move the 5,000 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 150 Dakotas and 40 of the larger Avro York
Avro York
The Avro York was a British transport aircraft that was derived from the Second World War Lancaster heavy bomber, and used in both military and airliner roles between 1943 and 1964.-Design and development:...

s with a 10 ton payload.

With this fleet, the British contribution was expected to rise to 750 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. Only one aircraft type was suitable, the four-engine C-54 Skymaster
C-54 Skymaster
The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was a four-engined transport aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces and British forces in World War II and the Korean War. Besides transport of cargo, it also carried presidents, British heads of government, and military staff...

 and its US Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 equivalent, the R5D, of which the U.S. military had approximately 565, with 268 in MATS
Military Air Transport Service
The Military Air Transport Service is an inactive Department of Defense Unified Command. Activated on 1 June 1948, MATS was a consolidation of the United States Navy Naval Air Transport Service and the United States Air Force Air Transport Command into a single, joint, unified command...

.

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 called in Ernst Reuter
Ernst Reuter
Ernst Rudolf Johannes Reuter was the German mayor of West Berlin from 1948 to 1953, during the time of the Cold War.- Early years :...

, the Mayor-elect of Berlin, accompanied by his aide, Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt, born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm , was a German politician, Mayor of West Berlin 1957–1966, Chancellor of West Germany 1969–1974, and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany 1964–1987....

. 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." Reuter, although skeptical, assured Clay that Berlin would make all the necessary sacrifices and that the Berliners would support his actions.

General Albert Wedemeyer
Albert Coady Wedemeyer
General Albert Coady Wedemeyer was a United States Army commander who served primarily in Asia during World War II. His most notable command was the China theater in the South-East Asia Theater. During the Cold War, Wedemeyer was a chief supporter of the Berlin Airlift.-Early Life and military...

, the US Army Chief of Plans and Operations, was in Europe on an inspection tour when the crisis broke out. He had been the commander of the US China-Burma-India Theater
China Burma India Theater of World War II
China Burma India Theater was the name used by the United States Army for its forces operating in conjunction with British and Chinese Allied air and land forces in China, Burma, and India during World War II...

 in 1944–45 and he had a detailed knowledge of the previous largest airlift—the World War II American airlift from India over The Hump
The Hump
The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces based in...

 of the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 to China. His endorsement of the airlift option gave it a major boost. The British and Americans agreed to start a joint operation without delay; the US action was dubbed "Operation Vittles," while the British one was called "Operation Plainfare". The Australian contribution, begun in September 1948, to the airlift was designated "Operation Pelican
Berlin Airlift Squadron RAAF
The Berlin Airlift Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force transport squadron formed to participate in the Berlin Airlift. The Australian contribution to the airlift, from September 1948, was designated Operation Pelican....

."

The Airlift begins

On 24 June 1948 LeMay appointed Brigadier General Joseph Smith, headquarters commandant for USAFE at Camp Lindsey
Wiesbaden Army Airfield
Wiesbaden Army Airfield or WAAF is located southeast of the city of Wiesbaden, Hessen, Germany. It was selected as the site for Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe on 28 September 1945, in large part due to its proximity to Frankfurt am Main, where the U.S. Seventh Army was...

, as the Provisional Task Force Commander of the airlift. Smith had been chief of staff in LeMay's B-29 command in India during World War II and had no airlift experience. On 25 June 1948 Clay gave the order to launch Operation Vittles. The next day thirty-two C-47s 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
William Henry Draper Jr.
William Henry Draper Jr. was a U.S. army officer, banker, and diplomat.- Biography :Draper was born in Harlem, New York City, and received a B.A. and M.A. in economics at New York University. He joined the United States Army soon after finishing college and served during World War I as a major in...

 with an estimate of the current situation:
By 1 July the system was getting underway. C-54s were starting to arrive in quantity, and Rhein-Main Air Base
Rhein-Main Air Base
Rhein-Main Air Base was a U.S. Air Force / NATO military airbase near the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It occupied the south side of Frankfurt International Airport. Its airport codes are discontinued....

 became exclusively a C-54 hub, while Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

 retained a mix of C-54s and C-47s. Aircraft flew northeast through the American air corridor
West Berlin Air Corridor
During the Cold War era , the West Berlin Air Corridors comprised three regulated airways for civil and military air traffic of the Western Allies between West Berlin and West Germany passing over the former East Germany's territory. The corridors were under control of the all-Allied Berlin Air...

 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
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 area through their second corridor into RAF Gatow
RAF Gatow
Known for most of its operational life as Royal Air Force Station Gatow, or more commonly RAF Gatow, this former British Royal Air Force military airbase is in the district of Gatow in south-western Berlin, west of the Havel river, in the borough of Spandau...

 in the British Sector, and then also returning out on the center corridor, turning for home or landing at Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

. However, unlike the Americans, the British also ran some round-trips, using their southeast corridor. On 6 July the Yorks and Dakota
Douglas DC-3
The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

s were joined by Short Sunderland
Short Sunderland
The Short S.25 Sunderland was a British flying boat patrol bomber developed for the Royal Air Force by Short Brothers. It took its service name from the town and port of Sunderland in northeast England....

 flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

s. Flying from Finkenwerder
Finkenwerder
Finkenwerder is a quarter of Hamburg, Germany in the borough Hamburg-Mitte. It is the location of a plant of Airbus and its airport...

 on the Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

 near Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 to the Havel
Havel
The Havel is a river in north-eastern Germany, flowing through the German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt. It is a right tributary of the Elbe river and in length...

 river next to Gatow, their corrosion-resistant hulls suited them to the particular task of delivering baking 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-54 section to Berlin followed by a C-47 section. Aircraft were scheduled to take off every four minutes, flying 1000 feet higher than the flight in front. This pattern began at 5,000 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 1000 tons. This likely would have sufficed had the effort lasted only a few weeks, as originally believed. The Communist press in East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 ridiculed the project. 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. This was recognized by the United States National Security Council
National Security Council
A National Security Council is usually an executive branch governmental body responsible for coordinating policy on national security issues and advising chief executives on matters related to national security...

 at a meeting with Clay on 22 July 1948, when it became clear that a long-term airlift was necessary. Wedemeyer immediately recommended that the deputy commander for operations of the Military Air Transport Service
Military Air Transport Service
The Military Air Transport Service is an inactive Department of Defense Unified Command. Activated on 1 June 1948, MATS was a consolidation of the United States Navy Naval Air Transport Service and the United States Air Force Air Transport Command into a single, joint, unified command...

 (MATS), Maj. Gen. William H. Tunner
William H. Tunner
William Henry Tunner was a general officer in the United States Air Force and its predecessor, the United States Army Air Forces...

 command the operation. Under Wedemeyer's command, Tunner had successfully reorganized the wartime Hump airbridge
The Hump
The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces based in...

 between India and China, doubling the tonnage and hours flown. USAF Chief of Staff Hoyt S. Vandenberg
Hoyt Vandenberg
Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg was a U.S. Air Force general, its second Chief of Staff, and second Director of Central Intelligence....

 endorsed the recommendation.

Black Friday

On 28 July 1948, Tunner arrived in Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

 to take over the operation. "Tonnage" Tunner had significant experience in commanding and re-organizing the airlift over The Hump
The Hump
The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces based in...

 to China in 1944–45. He revamped the entire airlift operation, reaching an agreement with LeMay to form the Combined Air Lift Task Force (CALTF) to control both the USAF and RAF lift operations from a central location, which went into effect in mid-October 1948. MATS immediately deployed eight squadrons of C-54s—72 aircraft to Wiesbaden and Rhein-Main Air Base
Rhein-Main Air Base
Rhein-Main Air Base was a U.S. Air Force / NATO military airbase near the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It occupied the south side of Frankfurt International Airport. Its airport codes are discontinued....

 to reinforce the 54 already in operation, the first by 30 July and the remainder by mid-August, and two-thirds of all C-54 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. Cloud cover over Berlin dropped to the height of the buildings, and heavy rain showers made radar visibility poor. A C-54 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
Ground loop (aviation)
In aviation, a ground loop is a rapid rotation of a fixed-wing aircraft in the horizontal plane while on the ground. Aerodynamic forces may cause the advancing wing to rise, which may then cause the other wingtip to touch the ground...

 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
Instrument flight rules
Instrument flight rules are one of two sets of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations; the other are visual flight rules ....

 (IFR) would be in effect at all times, regardless of actual visibility, and each sortie
Sortie
Sortie is a term for deployment or dispatch of one military unit, be it an aircraft, ship, or troops from a strongpoint. The sortie, whether by one or more aircraft or vessels, usually has a specific mission....

 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 3.5-ton C-47 as a 10-ton C-54. One of the reasons for this was the sloping cargo floor of the "taildragger"
Conventional landing gear
thumb|The [[Piper PA-18|Piper Super Cub]] is a popular taildragger aircraft.thumb|right|A [[Cessna 150]] converted to taildragger configuration by installation of an after-market modification kit....

 C-47s, which made truck loading difficult. The tricycle gear
Tricycle gear
Tricycle gear describes an aircraft undercarriage, or landing gear, arranged in a tricycle fashion. The tricycle arrangement has one wheel in the front, called the nose wheel, and two or more main wheels slightly aft of the center of gravity...

ed C-54's cargo deck was level, so that a truck could back up to it and offload cargo quickly. Tunner decided to replace all C-47s in the Airlift with C-54s 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 bar
Snack bar
thumb|A snack bar in AmsterdamA snack bar usually refers to an inexpensive food counter that is part of a permanent structure where snack foods and light meals are sold. A beach snack bar is often a small building situated high on the sand. Besides soft drinks, candies and chewing gum, some snack...

s, handing out refreshments to the crews at their aircraft while it was being unloaded. Gail Halvorsen
Gail Halvorsen
Colonel Gail Halvorsen is a retired career officer and command pilot in the United States Air Force known as the original Candy Bomber or the "Rosinenbomber" in Germany. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah...

 later noted, "he put some beautiful German Fräulein
Fräulein
Fräulein is the German language honorific previously in common use for unmarried women, comparable to Miss in English. Fräulein is the diminutive form of Frau, which was previously reserved only for married women. Since the 1970s, Fräulein has come to be used less often, and was banned from...

s in that snack bar. They knew we couldn't date them, we had no time. So they were very friendly." Operations officers handed pilots their clearance slips and pertinent information while they snacked. 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.

To maximize utilization of a limited number of aircraft, Tunner altered the "ladder" to three minutes and 500 feet of separation, stacked from 4,000 to 6,000 feet. Maintenance, particularly adherence to 25-hour, 200-hour, and 1000-hour inspections, became the highest priority and further maximized utilization. Tunner also shortened block times to six hours to squeeze in another shift, making 1440 (the number of minutes in a day) landings in Berlin a daily goal. His purpose, illustrating his basic philosophy of the airlift business, was to create a "conveyor belt" approach to scheduling that could be sped up or slowed down as situations might dictate. 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 10-ton shipment of coal from a C-54 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 1,500 flights a day and delivered more than 4,500 tons of cargo, enough to keep West Berlin supplied. All of the C-47s were withdrawn by the end of September, and eventually 225 C-54s (40% of USAF and USN Skymasters worldwide) were devoted to the lift. Supplies improved to 5,000 tons a day.

"Operation Little Vittles"

Gail Halvorsen
Gail Halvorsen
Colonel Gail Halvorsen is a retired career officer and command pilot in the United States Air Force known as the original Candy Bomber or the "Rosinenbomber" in Germany. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah...

, 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 C-54s 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
Doublemint
Doublemint is a flavor of chewing gum made by the Wrigley Company. It was launched in the United States in 1914, and has had variable market share since that time....

, 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. Soon there was a stack of mail in Base Ops addressed to "Uncle Wiggly Wings", "The Chocolate Uncle" and "The Chocolate Flier". 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, and the "operation" became a major propaganda success. The candy-dropping aircraft were christened "raisin bombers
Raisin bombers
Raisin Bombers was the name Berliners gave to the transport aircraft of the Western Allies, which brought in supplies to the western half of the city of Berlin during the Berlin Blockade in 1949....

" by the German children.

Initial responses

Events were turning against the Soviets. 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. In radio broadcasts, they relentlessly proclaimed that all Berlin came under Soviet authority and predicted the imminent abandonment of the city by the Western occupying powers. The Soviets also harassed members of the democratically elected city-wide administration, which had to conduct its business in the city hall located in the Soviet sector.

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 733 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.

The Communist putsch in the municipal government

In the autumn of 1948 it became impossible for the non-Communist majority in Greater Berlin's city-wide parliament (Stadtverordnetenversammlung von Groß-Berlin) elected – as provided by the provisional constitution of Berlin – two years earlier (20 October 1946) to attend sessions, as usual, within the Soviet sector. As SED
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

-controlled policemen looked on passively, Communist-led mobs repeatedly invaded the city hall, then the Neues Stadthaus, the provisional city hall, on Parochialstraße since all other central municipal buildings had been destroyed in the War, interrupted the parliament's sessions, and physically menaced its non-Communist members. The Kremlin organized an attempted putsch for control of all of Berlin through a 6 September takeover of the city hall by SED members.

Three days later RIAS Radio urged Berliners to protest against the actions of the communists. On 9 September 1948 a crowd of 500,000 people gathered at the Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate and one of the most well-known landmarks of Berlin and Germany. It is located west of the city centre at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which...

, 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. Then SPD city councillor Ernst Reuter
Ernst Reuter
Ernst Rudolf Johannes Reuter was the German mayor of West Berlin from 1948 to 1953, during the time of the Cold War.- Early years :...

 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 recognize that this city, this people, must not be abandoned — cannot be abandoned!" 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 situation could have escalated further, but a British deputy provost
Provost (military police)
Provosts are military police whose duties are policing solely within the Armed Forces, as opposed to Gendarmerie duties in the civilian population. However, many countries use their gendarmerie for provost duties....

 intervened and pointedly pushed the Soviet police back with his swagger stick. Never before had so many Berliners gathered. 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
Technical University of Berlin
The Technische Universität Berlin is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. Translating the name into English is discouraged by the university, however paraphrasing as Berlin Institute of Technology is recommended by the university if necessary .The TU Berlin was founded...

 in the British sector, boycotted by the members of SED, which had gained 19.8% of the electoral votes in 1946. On 30 November 1948 the SED gathered its elected parliament members and 1,100 further activists and held an unconstitutional so-called extraordinary city assembly (außerordentliche Stadtverordnetenversammlung) in East Berlin's Metropol-Theater which declared the elected city government (Magistrat) and its democratic members (city councillors) to be deposed and replaced it with a new one led by Oberbürgermeister (lord mayor) Friedrich Ebert junior and consisting of communists only. This arbitrary act had no legal effect in West Berlin, but the Soviet occupants inhibited the elected city government for all of Berlin to further act in the eastern sector.

December elections

The city parliament, boycotted by its SED members, then voted for its re-election on 5 December 1948, however, inhibited in the eastern sector and defamed by the SED as Spalterwahl (about: 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 86.3 % of the western electorate with the SPD gaining 64.5 % of the votes (= 76 seats), the CDU
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

 19.4 % (= 26 seats), and the Liberal-Demokratische Partei (LDP, merged in the FDP
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

 in 1949) 16.1 % (= 17 seats). 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 1946 but prevented from taking office by a Soviet veto. Thus two separate city governments officiated in the city divided into East and West versions of its former self. In the east, a communist system supervised by house, street, and block wardens was quickly implemented.

West Berlin's parliament accounted for the de facto political partition of Berlin and replaced the provisional constitution of Berlin by the Verfassung von Berlin (constitution of Berlin), meant for all Berlin, with effect of 1 October 1950 and de facto restricted to the western sectors only, also renaming city parliament (from Stadtverordnetenversammlung von Groß-Berlin to Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin
Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin
The Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin is the state parliament for the German state of Berlin, according to the state's constitution. The parliament is based at the building on Niederkirchnerstraße in Mitte which until 1934 was the seat of the lower house of the Preußischer Landtag...

), city government (from Magistrat von Groß-Berlin to Senate of Berlin
Senate of Berlin
The Senate of Berlin is the executive body governing the city of Berlin, which at the same time is a state of Germany. According to the Constitution of Berlin the Senate consists of the Governing Mayor of Berlin and up to eight Senators appointed by the Governing Mayor, two of whom are appointed ...

), and head of government (from Oberbürgermeister to Governing Mayor of Berlin
Governing Mayor of Berlin
The Governing Mayor of Berlin is the head of government in the city-state of Berlin, one of the States of Germany. It is the equivalent of the Ministers-President of the other German states except the two other city-states of Hamburg and Bremen, where the heads of government are called "First...

).

Preparing for winter

Although the early estimates were that about 4,000 to 5,000 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 1,500 tons), but the need for additional coal to heat the city dramatically increased the total amount of cargo to be transported by an additional 6,000 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
Handley Page Hastings
The Handley Page H.P.67 Hastings was a British troop-carrier and freight transport aircraft designed and built by Handley Page Aircraft Company for the Royal Air Force...

 in November, but maintaining the fleet proved to be a serious problem. Tunner looked to the Germans once again, hiring (plentiful) ex-Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 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 C-54s were putting on them. All of the existing runways required hundreds of laborers, who ran onto them between landings and dumped sand into the runway's Marsden Matting
Marsden Matting
Marsden Matting is standardized, perforated steel matting material originally developed by the United States at the Waterways Experiment Station shortly before World War II, primarily for the rapid construction of temporary runways and landing strips...

 (pierced steel planking) to soften the surface and help the planking survive. Since this system could not endure through the winter, between July and September 1948 a 6,000 ft.-long asphalt runway was constructed at Tempelhof. Far from ideal, with the approach being over Berlin's apartment blocks, the runway was, nevertheless, a major upgrade to the airport's capabilities. With it in place, the auxiliary runway was upgraded from Marsden Matting to asphalt between September and October 1948. 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
French Air Force
The French Air Force , literally Army of the Air) is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1933...

, meanwhile, had become involved in the First Indochina War
First Indochina War
The First Indochina War was fought in French Indochina from December 19, 1946, until August 1, 1954, between the French Union's French Far East...

, so it could only bring up some old Junkers Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52
The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

s to support its own troops. However, France agreed to build a complete, new and larger, airport in its sector, on the shores of Lake Tegel
Lake Tegel
Lake Tegel , is the second largest lake in Berlin, Germany. It is situated in the northwest of the city in the Reinickendorf borough, in the Ortsteil of 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 female laborers, 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. A solution was found by a Brazilian engineer, H.B. Lacombe, who had perfected the technique of dismantling large machines for transport, and then re-assembling them. (The same technique had been used by Americans involved in flying "Over The Hump
The Hump
The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces based in...

" from India to China in 1944.) He was flown in to advise the effort and, using the five largest American C-82 Packet
C-82 Packet
The C-82 Packet was a twin-engine, twin-boom cargo aircraft designed and built by Fairchild Aircraft. It was used briefly by the United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy following World War II.-Design and development:...

 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.

There was an obstacle in the approach to the Tegel airfield, however. A Soviet-controlled radio tower caused problems by its proximity to the airfield. Pleas to remove it went unheard, so on 20 November 1948, French General Jean Ganeval made the decision simply to blow it up. The mission was carried out on 16 December, much to the delight of Berliners, and provoking complaints from the Soviets. When his Soviet counterpart, General Alexej Kotikow, asked him angrily on the phone how he could have done this, Ganeval is said to have answered him laconically, "With dynamite, my dear colleague." The Tegel airfield later evolved 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
Ground-controlled approach
In aviation a ground-controlled approach , is a type of service provided by air-traffic controllers whereby they guide aircraft to a safe landing in adverse weather conditions based on radar images...

) 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.

None of these efforts could fix the weather, though, which would be the biggest problem. November and December 1948 proved to be the worst months of the airlift operation. One of the longest-lasting fogs ever experienced there blanketed the entire European continent for weeks. All too often, aircraft would make the entire flight and then be unable to land in Berlin. On 20 November, 42 aircraft departed for Berlin, but only one landed there. At one point, the city had only a week's supply of coal left.

The weather improved, however. More than 171,000 tons were delivered in January 1949, 152,000 tons in February, and 196,223 tons in March.

The Easter parade

By April 1949 airlift operations were running smoothly and Tunner wanted to break the monotony. He liked the idea of a big event that would give everyone a morale boost. He decided that on Easter Sunday the airlift would break all records. To do this, maximum efficiency was needed. To simplify handling, the only cargo would be coal, and stockpiles were built up for the effort. Maintenance schedules were altered so that the maximum number of aircraft was available.

From noon on 15 April to noon on 16 April 1949, crews worked around the clock. When it was over, 12,941 tons of coal had been delivered in 1,383 flights, without a single accident. A welcome side effect of the effort was that operations in general were boosted, and tonnage increased from 6,729 tons to 8,893 tons per day thereafter. In total, the airlift delivered 234,476 tons in April.

On 21 April the tonnage of supplies flown into the city exceeded that previously brought by rail. The Berlin Airlift had finally succeeded, and appeared able to operate indefinitely.

The blockade ends

The continued success of the Airlift humiliated the Soviets, and the "Easter Parade" of 1949 was the last straw. On 15 April 1949 the Russian news agency TASS
Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union
The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union , was the central agency for collection and distribution of internal and international news for all Soviet newspapers, radio and television stations...

 reported a willingness by the Soviets to lift the blockade. The next day the US State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 stated the "way appears clear" for the blockade to end. Soon afterwards, the four powers began serious negotiations, and a settlement was reached, on Western terms. On 4 May 1949 the Allies announced an agreement to end the blockade in eight days' time.

The Soviet blockade of Berlin was lifted at one minute after midnight on 12 May 1949. A British convoy immediately drove through to Berlin, and the first train from West Germany reached Berlin at 5:32 A.M.. Later that day an enormous crowd celebrated the end of the blockade. General Clay, whose retirement had been announced by US President Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 on 3 May, was saluted by 11,000 US soldiers and dozens of aircraft. Once home, Clay received a ticker-tape parade
Ticker-tape parade
A ticker-tape parade is a parade event held in a built-up urban setting, allowing large amounts of shredded paper to be thrown from nearby office buildings onto the parade route, creating a celebratory effect by the snowstorm-like flurry...

 in New York City, was invited to address the US Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, and was honored with a medal from President Truman.

Nevertheless, flights continued for some time, in order to build up a comfortable surplus, though night flying and then weekend flights could be eliminated once the surplus was large enough. By 24 July 1949 three months' worth of supplies had been amassed, ensuring that there was ample time to re-start the Airlift if needed. The Berlin Airlift officially ended on 30 September 1949, after fifteen months. In total the USA delivered 1,783,573 tons and the RAF 541,937 tons, totaling 2,326,406 tons, nearly two-thirds of which was coal, on 278,228 flights to Berlin. The RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) delivered 7,968 tonnes of freight and 6,964 passengers during 2,062 sorties. The C-47s and C-54s together flew over 92 million miles in the process, the distance from Earth to the Sun
Astronomical unit
An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

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

A total of 101 fatalities were recorded as a result of the operation, including 40 Britons
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 and 31 Americans, mostly due to crashes. Seventeen American and eight British aircraft crashed during the operation.

The cost of the Airlift was approximately US$224 million (equivalent to approximately $ now).

Subsequent events

Operational control of the three Allied air corridors was assigned to BARTCC (Berlin Air Route Traffic Control Center) air traffic control located at Tempelhof
Tempelhof
Tempelhof is a locality of Berlin within the borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. It is the location of the former Tempelhof Airport, one of the earliest commercial airports in the world. It is now deserted and shows as a blank spot on maps of Berlin. Attempts are being made to save the still-existing...

. Diplomatic approval was granted by a four-power organization called the Berlin Air Safety Center
Berlin Air Safety Center
The Berlin Air Safety Centre was established by the Allied Control Authority Coordinating Committee on the 12 December 1945. Operations began in February 1946 under quadripartite flight rules Paragraph 4...

, also located in the American sector.

Tegel was developed into West Berlin's principal airport. In 2007 it was joined by a re-developed Berlin-Schönefeld International Airport
Berlin-Schönefeld International Airport
Berlin-Schönefeld Airport is an international airport located near the town of Schönefeld in Brandenburg, directly at the southern border of Berlin and southeast of the city centre. Schönefeld was the major civil airport of East Germany , and the only airport serving East Berlin...

 in Brandenburg. As a result of the development of these two airports, Tempelhof
Tempelhof International Airport
Berlin Tempelhof Airport was an airport in Berlin, Germany, situated in the south-central borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. The airport ceased operating in 2008 in the process of establishing Schönefeld as the sole commercial airport for Berlin....

 was closed in October 2008, while Gatow is now home of the Museum of the German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 and a housing development. During the 1970s and 1980s Schönefeld had its own crossing points through the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 and communist fortifications for western citizens.

The Soviets' contravention by the blockade of the agreement reached by the London 6-Power Conference, and the Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948
Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948
The Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948 – in Communist historiography known as "Victorious February" – was an event late that February in which the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, with Soviet backing, assumed undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, ushering in over four decades...

, convinced Western leaders that they must take swift and decisive measures to strengthen the portions of Germany not occupied by the Soviets. The Blockade also helped to overcome any remaining differences between the French, British and Americans regarding West Germany, leading to a merger of all three countries' occupation zones into "trizonia".

These countries also agreed to replace their military administrations in those zones with High Commissioner
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

s operating within the terms of a three-power occupation statute. The Blockade also helped to unify German politicians in these zones in support of the creation of a West German state; some of them had hitherto been fearful of Soviet opposition. The blockade also increased the perception among many Europeans that the Soviets posed a danger, helping to prompt the entry into NATO of Portugal, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and the Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

 countries.

Animosities between Germans and the western Allies, Britain, France and the United States, were greatly reduced by the airlift, with the former enemies recognizing common interests, shared values and mutual respect. The Soviets refused to return to the Allied Control Council in Berlin, rendering useless the four-power occupation authority set up at the Potsdam conference. It has been argued that the events of the Berlin Blockade are proof that the Allies conducted their affairs within a rational framework, since they were keen to avoid war.

Aircraft used in the Berlin airlift

In the early days the Americans used their C-47 Skytrain or its civilian counterpart Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-3
The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

. These machines could carry a payload of up to 3.5 tons, but were replaced by C-54 Skymaster
C-54 Skymaster
The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was a four-engined transport aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces and British forces in World War II and the Korean War. Besides transport of cargo, it also carried presidents, British heads of government, and military staff...

s and Douglas DC-4
Douglas DC-4
The Douglas DC-4 is a four-engined propeller-driven airliner developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company. It served during World War II, in the Berlin Airlift and into the 1960s in a military role...

s, which could carry up to 10 tons and were faster. These made up a total of 330 aircraft, which made them the most used types. Other American aircraft such as the 5 C-82 Packets, and the one YC-97A Stratofreighter 45-9595, with a payload of 20 tons;— a gigantic load for that time;— were only sparsely used.

The British used a considerable variety of aircraft types. Many aircraft were either former bombers or civil versions of bombers. In the absence of enough transports, the British chartered many civilian aircraft. British European Airways
British European Airways
British European Airways or British European Airways Corporation was a British airline which existed from 1946 until 1974. The airline operated European and North African routes from airports around the United Kingdom...

 (BEA) co-ordinated all British civil aircraft operations. Apart from BEA itself, the participating airlines included British Overseas Airways Corporation
British Overseas Airways Corporation
The British Overseas Airways Corporation was the British state airline from 1939 until 1946 and the long-haul British state airline from 1946 to 1974. The company started life with a merger between Imperial Airways Ltd. and British Airways Ltd...

 (BOAC) and most British independentindependent from government-owned corporation
Government-owned corporation
A government-owned corporation, state-owned company, state-owned entity, state enterprise, publicly owned corporation, government business enterprise, or parastatal is a legal entity created by a government to undertake commercial activities on behalf of an owner government...

s
airlines of that era — e.g. Eagle Aviation, Silver City Airways, British South American Airways
British South American Airways
British South American Airways or British South American Airways Corporation was a state-run airline in Britain in the 1940s. It was originally called British Latin American Air Lines Ltd....

 (BSAA), the Lancashire Aircraft Corporation, Airwork, Air Flight
Airflight
Airflight Limited was a British charter, and cargo airline from 1948 to 1950.- History :The airline was formed by former Air Vice-Marshall Don Bennett to operate in the Berlin Airlift operating two long-fuselage Avro Tudor aircraft. These were flown by Bennett and a single other pilot...

, Aquila Airways
Aquila Airways
Aquila Airways was a Southampton, Hampshire based British independentindependent from government-owned corporations airline, formed on 18 May 1948.-Early operations:...

, Flight Refuelling Ltd
Cobham plc
Cobham plc is a British manufacturing company based in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index...

 (which used their Lancaster tankers to deliver aviation fuel), Skyways, Scottish Airlines
Scottish Airlines
Scottish Airlines Limited was formed in 1946 as a subsidiary of Scottish Aviation Limited. The airline commenced worldwide passenger and cargo charter flights from bases at Prestwick and Stansted...

 and Ciro's Aviation. Altogether, BEA was responsible to the RAF for the direction and operation of 25 British airlines taking part in "Operation Plainfare". The British also used flying boats, particularly for transporting corrosive salt. These included civilian aircraft operated by Aquila Airways. These took off and landed on water and were designed to be corrosion-resistant. In winter, when ice covered the Berlin rivers and made the use of flying boats difficult, the British used other aircraft in their place.
  • Avro Lancaster
    Avro Lancaster
    The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

  • Avro Lincoln
    Avro Lincoln
    The Avro Type 694, better known as the Avro Lincoln, was a British four-engined heavy bomber, which first flew on 9 June 1944. Developed from the Avro Lancaster, the first Lincoln variants were known initially as the Lancaster IV and V, but were renamed Lincoln I and II...

  • Avro York
    Avro York
    The Avro York was a British transport aircraft that was derived from the Second World War Lancaster heavy bomber, and used in both military and airliner roles between 1943 and 1964.-Design and development:...

  • Avro Tudor
    Avro Tudor
    Avro's Type 688 Tudor was a British piston-engined airliner based on their four-engine Lincoln bomber, itself a descendant of the famous Lancaster heavy bomber, and was Britain's first pressurised airliner...

  • Avro Lancastrian
    Avro Lancastrian
    |-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Franks, Richard A. The Avro Lancaster, Manchester and Lincoln: A Comprehensive Guide for the Modeller. London: SAM Publications, 2000. ISBN 0-9533465-3-6....

  • Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter
    C-97 Stratofreighter
    The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter was a long range heavy military cargo aircraft based on the B-29 bomber. Design work began in 1942, with the prototype's first flight being on 9 November 1944, and the first production aircraft entered service in 1947. Between 1947 and 1958, 888 C-97s in several...

  • Bristol Type 170 Freighter
    Bristol Freighter
    The Bristol Type 170 Freighter was a British twin-engine aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company as both a freighter and airliner, although its best known use is as an air ferry to carry cars and their passengers over relatively short distances.-Design and development:The...

  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator
  • Consolidated PBY Catalina
  • Douglas C-54 Skymaster and Douglas DC-4
    Douglas DC-4
    The Douglas DC-4 is a four-engined propeller-driven airliner developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company. It served during World War II, in the Berlin Airlift and into the 1960s in a military role...

  • Douglas C-74 Globemaster
  • Douglas C-47 Skytrain and Douglas DC-3
    Douglas DC-3
    The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

     (UK: Dakota)
  • Fairchild C-82 Packet
  • Handley Page Hastings
    Handley Page Hastings
    The Handley Page H.P.67 Hastings was a British troop-carrier and freight transport aircraft designed and built by Handley Page Aircraft Company for the Royal Air Force...

  • Handley Page Halifax
    Handley Page Halifax
    The Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four-engined heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster, the Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing...

     Halton
  • Junkers Ju 52/3m
    Junkers Ju 52
    The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

     (operated briefly by France)
  • Lockheed C-121A Constellation
    Lockheed Constellation
    The Lockheed Constellation was a propeller-driven airliner powered by four 18-cylinder radial Wright R-3350 engines. It was built by Lockheed between 1943 and 1958 at its Burbank, California, USA, facility. A total of 856 aircraft were produced in numerous models, all distinguished by a...

  • Short Sunderland
    Short Sunderland
    The Short S.25 Sunderland was a British flying boat patrol bomber developed for the Royal Air Force by Short Brothers. It took its service name from the town and port of Sunderland in northeast England....

  • Vickers VC.1 Viking
    Vickers VC.1 Viking
    The Vickers VC.1 Viking was a British twin-engine short-range airliner derived from the Vickers Wellington bomber and built by Vickers Armstrongs Limited at Brooklands near Weybridge in Surrey. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Viking was an important airliner with British airlines...



Altogether, a total of 692 aircraft were engaged in the Berlin Airlift, more than 100 of which belonged to civilian operators.

See also

  • Airlift Device
    Airlift Device
    The Airlift Device is a decoration of the United States military which is presented as an attachment to both the Army of Occupation Medal and the Navy Occupation Service Medal...

     for the Army of Occupation
    Army of Occupation Medal
    The Army of Occupation Medal is a military award of the United States military which was established by the United States War Department on 5 April 1946. The medal was created in the aftermath of the Second World War to recognize those who had performed occupation service in either Germany or Japan...

     and Navy Occupation Service
    Navy Occupation Service Medal
    The Navy Occupation Service Medal is a decoration of the United States Navy which was issued to Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel who participated in the European and Asian occupation forces following the close of the World War II. The decoration was also bestowed to personnel who...

     Medals
  • The Big Lift
    The Big Lift
    The Big Lift is a 1950 drama film shot on location in the city of Berlin, Germany, that tells the story of "Operation Vittles", the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift, through the experiences of two U.S...

    , a 1950 film
    1950 in film
    The year 1950 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* February 15 - Walt Disney Studios' animated film Cinderella debuts.-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :Academy Awards:*Ambush...

     about the experiences of some Americans during the airlift.
  • Deutsche Mark (Section 'Currency reform of June 1948')
  • East German mark
  • History of Germany
    History of Germany
    The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

  • Medal for Humane Action
    Medal for Humane Action
    The Medal for Humane Action is a military decoration of the United States armed forces which was created by an act of by the United States Congress on July 20, 1949. The medal recognizes those military service members who performed extended duty in support of the Berlin Airlift...

     American medal for the Airlift
  • Heinrich Rau (Section '1945–1949' shows the East German view.)

External links

– A PBS site on the context and history of the Berlin Airlift.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK