Berlin: Johannisthal Airfield

Adlershof, Аэродром Берлин Йоханнисталь Адлерсхоф

For historical information only, do not use for navigation or aviation purposes!
Cold War Airfields: Berlin
by Bert Kondruss
Coordinates: N522604 E0133112 (WGS84) Google Maps

Location

Germany during the Cold War
Map

General

The Johannisthal airfield was opened in 1909. In the early days it was mainly used by flight pioneers, who tested their own aircraft. In World War I, Johannisthal was the location of numerous aircraft factories. After the war, a civil aviation was established, but in the 1920s it moved to Tempelhof Airport. Later Johannisthal became an important location of the German Aerospace Center (DVL), which operated numerous test facilities, e.g. wind tunnels and engine test stands. After the Second World War the field was occupied by the Red Army, which used it for aviation until 1951. Then industry and scientific institutes settled around the airfield. The landing field itself was used as an exercise and storage area for the two surrounding barracks. With a flight day in 1995, aviation use ended finally.

German Empire until 1918

Images

Image of the Johannisthal Air Field (Flugplatz Berlin-Johannisthal) in 1910. - Above in the air is Robert Fey in his FarmanIII, below on the ground is Amerigo with his Sommer plane before the take-off. Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R37016 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Hans Grade at take-off in Johannisthal in 1912 - Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R00490 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During the 1920s/1930s

Images

Crash landing of the LVG C.VII D 14 of D. L. R. (Deutsche Luft Reederei) in Johannisthal

Source: ETH-Bibliothek, Zürich, Bildarchiv.
In the background is the airship hangar.

The first Frenchman in Johannisthal after the war. Breguet

Source: ETH-Bibliothek, Zürich, Bildarchiv.

Aviation museum in 1932

In a large disused aircraft hangar in Berlin-Johannisthal, an aviation museum created by the unemployed has been opened. - In the background: Dornier Komet II, D-943; Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13824 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
View of the original gondola of the German airship L 14 - Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13823 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During World War II

Situation

Berlin Johannisthal Airfield in World War II on a US map from 1943 - There seems to be some inaccuracies on the map (McMaster University Library Digital Archive, License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 CC BY-NC 2.5 CA /MULDA/)

Overview

Berlin Johannisthal Airfield on a US map from 1952 - (AMS M841 GSGS 4414, Courtesy Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University /BYU/)

During the Cold War

In the 1940s

Overview

Berlin Johannisthal Adlershof on a sketch for the CIA in 1949 - (CIA)
1Motor vehicle repair shop
2Apartment and office building
3Motor vehicle repair shop
4Motor vehicle repair shop
5Apartment and office building
6Former testing station with test stands destroyed
7Administration building
8, 9Hangars
10Stone houses surrounded by fences
11Factory smokestack
12Chemical plant
13Studio of Soviet Motion Picture Association
14Two antenna masts for short wave transmitter
15Residential block for Soviet dependents
16Industrial building
17Railroad district repair shop
18Runway
19Storage building
20Fuel tanks

History

CIA report about the 18 July 1949

Although the field was servicable there were no aircraft parked at the ADLERSHOF (N 53/Z 94) airfield. The buildings on the southern border of the field were occupied to capacity by soldiers wearing black epaulets.
Comment: The above information confirms the previously reported occupation of the ADLERSHOF airfield by an army and an air force unit. The numerical designations of these units are not known.

CIA report for the 22 July 1949

The ADLERSHOF (N 53/X 04) airfield is not occupied by a Soviet Air Force unit. It is in a poor condition; the former testing installation (wind tunnel and engine test stands) are dilapidated. German workers are now engaged in erecting a board fence around the field. Air force motor vehicles were not observed at the field or in the vicinity.
Comment: The statements on the condition of the airfield are considered credible. Information on the occupation of the field is lacking. According to previous reports, a technical unit of the Soviet Air Force is assumed to be stationed in ADLERSHOF. This report does not indicate whether this unit is still there.

CIA report about the 26 July 1949

Five DC-3s were parked at the northwestern corner of the ADLERSHOF airfield. A biplane made repeated landings at the airfield. The soldiers observed at the southern section of the airfield wore red-bordered, black epaulets, while most of the officers and Enlisted Men at the northern section wore blue service color. German civilian workers did repair work on individual airfield buildings ... motor vehicles observed at the airfield.

CIA report about the 5 August 1949

The former test station at the southern edge of the field was surrounded by a new board fence. German civilians did clearing work there. A twin-engine low-wing monoplane with single rudder assembly took off at 2:35 p.m.
Comment: Another ... confirmed the existence of the new board fence around the installations of the former German test station.

CIA report for 29 August 1949

Five Dakota type twin-engine aircraft covered with tarpaulins were parked at the ADLERSHOF (N 53/Z 94) airfield on 29 August 1949. Soviet Air Force and Army officers and Enlisted Men were observed at the field. There was no flying. The guard at the gate wore blue epaulets. ...
Comment: There seem to have been no changes in the condition of the ADLERSHOF airfield since 5 August 1949. No air unit is stationed at this field. According to available information, an unidentified air force service unit is located there. The Li-2 aircraft continuously observed at the field are probably courier or transport aircraft of the Soviet army.

CIA report for the 2 September 1949

Six twin-eninge transport aircraft, probably DC-3s, were parked at the ADLERSHOF (N 53/Z 94) airfield. Another plane of the same type landed there at 2:30 p.m. Soviet Air Force soldiers and soldiers wearing red-bordered, black epaulets were observed at the field.

CIA report for the 8 September 1949

One twin-engine DC-3 and one U-2 biplane landed at the ADLERSHOF airfield at noon. No other aircraft were parked at the field ...

CIA report for the 20 September 1949

Five covered twin-engine transport aircraft were parked at the ADLERSHOF airfield. There was no flying.

CIA report for the 27 and 28 September 1949

Three twin-engine aircraft were parked at the ADLERSHOF airfield. Description: Eight windows in fuselage, detached cockpit, nose projecting beyond engines, single rudder assembly. A single-engine high-wing monoplane, similar to the Fieseler Storch, landed at the field on 28 September 1949. According to an airfield worker, some biplanes were parked in the hangars. The airfield personnel totaled about 50 air force officers and Enlisted Men.
The buildings on the southern edge of the airfield were occupied by Soviet Army troops.
The occupation of the ADLERSHOF airfield apparently has not changed since August 1949. According to previous reports, the airfield is occupied by a technical air force unit and an army unit. The observed transport aircraft are presumably assigned to the Soviet Army.

In the 1950s

Situation

Johannisthal and other Berlin airfields on a map from 1952 - (USAF)

Overview

Aerial pictures from 1953

About two years after flying has ended.
Aerial picture from 1953 - (Geoportal Berlin, Luftbilder 1953, Maßstab 1:22.000)
Northern part
Southern part
Southeast part with barracks

History

CIA report from January 1950

Four twin-engine aircraft with cabin windows were parked at the northeast corner of the ADLERSHOF (N 53/Z 94) airfield. There was no flying. Ambulance ... and passenger car ... were standing in front of the pilots' billets.
Comment: The report confirms that no air unit is stationed at the field. Transport planes of the SMA occasionally land there.

CIA report for the 23 May 1950

1. Four twin-engine transports with two radial engines and gray-green paint, presumably DC-3s, were standing in front of the hangars on the northwestern edge of the Adlershof (N 53/Z 94) airfield. There was no flying between 3 and 4 p.m.
2. A building on the western edge of the field, previously occupied by soldiers wearing red-bordered black epaulets, was evacuated for the Free German Youth. * A building block on the eastern edge of the field was heavily occupied by Volkspolizei. ** There was also a new building which, according to a plate, belonged to the general management of the broadcasting stations. The former Soviet Army motor pool was no longer occupied by Soviet soldiers, and the building was guarded by VP sentries. Disassembled army huts were lying on the southern edge of the field where motor vehicles needing repair were previously parked. There were no radio stations or AA guns at the field and no construction work was under way. Soldiers wearing green and blue epaulets were quartered in a residential block west of the field ...
* Comment: Free German Youth members were probably only temporarily quartered in a building at the field for the whitsun rally in Berlin.
** Comment: The airfield has so far been occupoed by a technical unit of the Soviet Air Force and an army unit. The information on the occupation by a Volkspolizei unit and the transfer of the Soviet Army unit was confirmed ... The report does not indicate whether the technical air force unit is still stationed at the field in its previous strength.

CIA report from June 1950

No aircraft were stationed at the Adlershof (N 53/Z 94) airfield. There was no flying.
The Soviet Army motor pool was still in the buildings on the southern edge of the field which were guarded by Soviet Zone German police.

CIA report for February 1951

No Soviet troops; an academy of science (optics and chemistry divisions) and Volkspolizei are quartered in the buildings.
Academy reported for the first time; no other changes
Southern part of the airfield at Adlershof / Rudower Chaussee, February 1951 - (CIA)
1New Berlin broadcasting station with television transmitter; construction proceeding very slowly
2VP guardhouse, occupied by one NCO and 6 Enlisted Men
3Billets of the presidential guard; on 10 February 1951, a guard detail of 1 platoon leader, 1 deputy platoon leader, and 36 Enlisted Men was seen returning to the quarters at 6:30 p.m.
4Filling station for Volkspolizei and Soviet civilian motor vehicles
5Garages occupied by at least 10 passenger cars
6VP kitchen
7Six new temporary buildings, each with a capacity of 40 to 45 men
8Three-story building housing VP administration on first floor; second and third floor occupied by participants of a training course until recently. Participants are now probably quartered in the six new temporary buildings (item 7)
9Two buildings housing the optics and chemistry departments of the academy of science. The academy is said to have disputed possession of the entire area with the Volkspolizei
10Watchtowers occupied by VP
11VP garages, primarily occupied by administration vehicles
12Empty three-story building, to be occupied by the academy
13Motor vehicle repair shop
14Filling station for motor vehicles parked in the garages (item 11)
15Motor vehicle dispatch offices
16VP guardhouse
17Two hangars, closed at dusk and guarded by VP

CIA report for the time between 12 and 21 April 1951

Between 12 and 21 April 1951, Adlershof airfield was not occupied by aircraft. No indications of an intended reoccupation were seen. About 1,500 to 2,000 VP-men were quartered in the barracks buildings on the southern edge of the field, where there were many motor vehicles parked in the hangars. There were no indications that the VP-men were given flight training.
No hard surface runway, but several strips with concrete and asphalt surfaces were seen on the sodded landing field. The field was intact and about 1,500 x 2,000 meters. The airfield buildings, in the northern section of the field, were located within the fence around newly established industrial plants. Most of the buildings were demolished. An intact radio installation belonged to the airfield buildings. There was a wooden hut with a tower, about 12 meters high, on top of which a rod antenna, about 5 meteres high was seen. A searchlight about 60 cm in diameter was mounted on a platform. It pointed toward the landing field.
* Comment: An air force unit is no longer believed to be stationed in Adlershof. The field is exclusively used by VP units. It has not been observed that these units are given flight training.
Rudower Chaussee, April 1951 - (CIA)
1Hangars, now used as garages
2Administration building
3Filling station
4Concrete yard; Items 1 to 4 are used by the Wilhelm Pieck Guard battalion
5Administration general of broadcasting stations
6Administration building with tower
7Transmitting rooms
8Two buildings, use unknown
9Birkenwäldchen Garden Plot
10Wood gas (Treibgas) dump of Deutsche Kraftstoff und Mineralölzentrale (German Fuel and Mineral Oil Central) (DKMZ)
11Part of the Adlershof AGA Acethylen Plant
12Area of former Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt (German Aviation Test Station) (DVL)
13Enlisted Men quarters
14Destroyed test installations
15Hangars
16Firing range
17Heinrich Hertz Institute of Academy of Science
18Area used by HVA of VP
19Administration building of HVA
20Temporary building for special purpose
21Temporary buildings
22Watchtowers

In the 1980s and early 1990s

The area of the former airfield in May 1990 - Among other things, the site served as a training ground for the surrounding barracks. Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-0510-306 / Lehmann, Thomas / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today

Situation

Orthophoto of the former Johannisthal airfield - (Geoportal Berlin / Digitale farbige Orthophotos 2016 (DOP20RGB))

Bibliography

  • Ries, Karl; Dierich, Wolfgang: "Fliegerhorste und Einsatzhäfen der Luftwaffe" Motorbuch Verlag Stuttgart, 1993 - Allied map
  • Freundt, Lutz (Hrsg.), Büttner, Stefan: "Rote Plätze - Russische Militärflugplätze in Deutschland 1945 - 1994" AeroLit Verlag, 2007 - Short description, aerial picture
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