Concept

RAF Gatow

Résumé
Royal Air Force Gatow, or more commonly RAF Gatow, was a British Royal Air Force station (military airbase) in the district of Gatow in south-western Berlin, west of the Havel river, in the borough of Spandau. It was the home for the only known operational use of flying boats in central Europe, and was later used for photographic reconnaissance missions by de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunks over East Germany. Part of the former airfield is now called General Steinhoff-Kaserne, and is home to the Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr, the German Air Force Museum. Also on the site of the former Royal Air Force station, but not part of General Steinhoff-Kaserne, is a school, the Hans-Carossa-Gymnasium, as well as houses for government employees of the Federal Republic of Germany. This part of the former airfield has since 2003 been part of the district of Berlin-Kladow. The airfield was originally constructed in 1934 and 1935 by the Luftwaffe as a staff and technical college, Luftkriegsschule 2 Berlin-Gatow, in imitation of the Royal Air Force College at RAF Cranwell. The initial personnel came partially from the Naval Academy Mürwik. Opened on 1 April 1936, the air force college was renamed Luftkriegsschule 2 on 15 January 1940. Its satellite airfields were Güterfelde and Reinsdorf. Airborne flying training ended in October 1944, due to fuel shortages. From 5 March 1945, aircrew officer cadets were retrained as paratroops, for ground operations which had very high casualties. Clues to the airfield's original use survive in the barrack block accommodation, each block of which was named after a famous German airman of the First World War, with the airman's bust above the entrance door. The architect was Ernst Sagebiel, an architect who worked full-time for the Luftwaffe and also designed Tempelhof Airport. Other surviving features during the entire period of the airfield's use as RAF Gatow (1945–1994) included light bulbs in the main hangars, many of which dated from the 1930s.
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