Berlin Airlift Map
The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948 with 32 flights by American C-47 planes into Berlin. The Americans called their effort "Operation Vittles," while the British dubbed their side of the operation "Operation Plainfare." U.S. General Lucius Clay, commander of the U.S. occupied German sector, had advocated sending supplies with an armed convoy straight into Berlin, calling Joseph Stalin's bluff. He didn't think an airlift could deliver enough supplies. Allies estimated that Berliners required 4,500 tons of supplies each day.
1. Three Air Corridors
The 1945 agreement between the Allies and Soviets specified three 20 mile wide air corridors in and out of Berlin, from the West. General Joseph Smith developed radio codes for flights to identify their direction and plane type: C-47 planes headed east into Berlin were called "Easy," C-47s headed west were "Willie," larger C-54s flying east were dubbed "Big Easy," and westbound C-54s were "Big Willie."
Originally built by the Germans in 1934, occupied by the RAF since May, 1945. The British flew Dakota planes out of here at first and after expanding the small airfield, larger York planes were able to fly out.
On July 5, 1948, the British began operations from this temporary base on the Elbe River, to fly Sunderland flying boats into Berlin. These planes were the only ones that could transport salt, as they were treated with an anti-corrosive element to protect against salt water.
Germany built the Rhein-Main airbase for commercial zeppelins, including the Hindenberg and later used it as a Luftwaffe fighter base during World War II. After the war, the U.S. used it as a gateway to Europe for both the Air Force and commercial flights.
The Germans used the Wiesbaden airbase as a Luftwaffe fighter base during World War II. The U.S. established an air force base at Wiesbaden after the war. In April 1948, the U.S. conducted a ten-day "mini-Airlift" to Berlin out of Wiesbaden.
7. Tempelhof airport
Tempelhof airport has a long aviation history -- in 1903 Orville Wright flew in to perform flight shows. Germans began a large expansion in 1936, resulting in what is still Europe's largest stand-alone structure. The division of Berlin placed Tempelhof in the American sector.