An airbridge is the means by which an airhead is kept supplied by flying over enemy held territory. An airlift over an airbridge can also be used when the most convenient means of transport is by air, or as an additional supplement to other forms of transport.
During the Second World War, the Germans used air bridges in two major battles: the Demyansk Pocket and the Battle of Stalingrad. As Demyansk turned into a German victory with the success of the bridge, Hermann Göring convinced Hitler a similar method could be used to supply the Sixth Army at Stalingrad. However, the Luftwaffe was never able to send in the necessary 800 tons of supplies per day.
Two of the largest airbridges in history were: The Hump, (the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew from India to China to resupply the Flying Tigers and the Chinese Government of Chiang Kai-shek) and the Berlin Airlift, to overcome the Berlin Blockade from 24 June 1948 through to 11 May 1949.
- Blockade runner, a means of delivering material by ship to a port in naval blockade.
- Airlift, an organized delivery of supplies or personnel primarily via aircraft.
- House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 9 Mar 1999 (pt 7) " Mr. Doug Henderson: The reduction in the number of RAF Tristar Airbridge flights to the Falkland Islands by one flight per calendar month was one of a range of efficiency proposals identified by the Strategic Defence Review. It represents a rationalisation of the use of Tristar aircraft, following technical improvements that allow them to carry an increased payload, rather than representing any significant reduction to the overall capacity of the Airbridge. Final arrangements for the implementation of this measure are still under consideration."
- Hayward, Joel S. A. (1998). Stopped at Stalingrad: the Luftwaffe and Hitler's defeat in the east, 1942-1943. University Press of Kansas.