Landsberg-Lech Air Base
|Landsberg-Lech Air Base|
Advanced Landing Ground R-54
|Owner||Unified Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany|
|Operator||German Air Force|
|Location||Landsberg am Lech, Germany|
|Elevation AMSL||2,044 ft / 623 m|
World War II
With the formation of the Luftwaffe in 1935, locations for air bases were selected throughout the entire country. The Penzing area was selected for one of these bases because of the suitable geographical, navigational and other technical aspects. Land was procured in 1935 and by spring of 1936 the construction of Landsberg Air Base was well underway. A small detachment of airmen arrived on 10 February 1937 and a full complement had arrived by 1 March. The Luftwaffe unit was designated Combat Wing 255.
The first assigned aircraft were Dornier Do 17E and 17M bombers. On 1 August 1939 the Do-17s were replaced by the Heinkel 111, and the unit was designated as Kampfgeschwader 51. During World War II, this unit saw combat on all war fronts. Landsberg, meanwhile, was utilized primarily for pre-flying and general training.
Late in the war, two attacks by American B-17 Flying Fortress bombers knocked out three of the base's hangars, all the runways, and damaged many of the grounded aircraft. Toward the waning days of the war, most of Germany's best radar technicians were sent to Landsberg Air Base.
In 1945, a U.S. Armored Division swept into the area. On 28 April the base was occupied.
1995 the publication "Das SS-Arbeitslager Landsberg 1944/45: Französische Widerstandskämpfer im deutschen KZ" of the Citizens´ Association “Landsberg in the 20th century” around the critical local historian Anton Posset made it known for the first time that in addition to the 11 concentration camps around Landsberg/Kaufering known to that date, there was another concentration camp in Landsberg, which was located on the Landsberg air base. It was mainly French forced labourers who were accommodated there. The camp was not subject to the Dachau concentration camp command. Among the forced laborers was Georges Charpak who later won the Nobel Prize in Physics. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of this concentration camps, a German-French commemorative plaque, donated by the Citizens´ association, was inaugurated on May 1st, 1995 by Anton Posset and Marcel Miquet, vice president of the organization "Amicale des Anciens de Dachau" at the gymnasium in the air base.
Company "C" of the Army's 843rd Engineer Aviation Battalion arrived on 17 May to rehabilitate the base. A high priority was assigned to runway repair - to make the airfield operational. With the runway project completed, an Air Depot Group moved in and began repairing buildings for living quarters, mess facilities and so forth. The personnel moved from their tents into rebuilt quarters as they were completed. In January 1946 the 862nd Engineer Battalion arrived to complete the repair of bombed out facilities.
In 1947 the USAF 7280th Air Base Group was established at Landsberg as a detached unit of Erding Air Base. In 1949, the base was designated as Landsberg Air Base and placed under the command of the 2d Air Division. On 1 May 1950 the base support unit was designated the 7030th Headquarters Support Group.
USAF Units stationed at Landsberg were:
- 6900th Security Wing (United States Air Force Security Service) (1948-?)
- 1949-1951: HQ, 2d Air Division
- 1955-1958: 7351st Fighter Training Wing
German Air Force training
The 7351st Air Base Squadron was activated in January 1953, and assumed control of Landsberg as the host unit on 1 July. On 1 April 1955 the 7351st Flying Training Group (MDAP) was activated to prepare Landsberg as a pilot training center. The group was further expanded and was designated the 7351st Flying Training Wing (MDAP) on 1 October 1955. The wing consisted of three groups, with a total of seven squadrons.
Having joined NATO in 1955, West Germany could begin to establish the German Air Force (Luftwaffe). Work soon started on the construction of airfields and training grounds and possibilities for training German pilots were investigated.
Landsberg Air Base was selected as the site for the retraining of the German Air Force. The first pilot training class of 19 German officers, all with previous flying experience, was received by 7351 PTG on 2 February 1956. There were still many World War II veterans who could, however, only fly propeller aircraft. They had not seen operational service for ten years and had absolutely no experience with supersonic jet fighters. The modern jets were not complete strangers to the former German officers, however. For more than two years it had already been quite usual for former Luftwaffe pilots to make familiarization flights on USAF jet fighters.
The new Luftwaffe began building up basic pilot training using forty Piper L-18A Super Cub trainers. Advanced training and jet transition was looked after by the USAF at Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base where the Luftwaffe could use several new Lockheed T-33A T-Bird jet-trainers. The first ten German jet fighter pilots trained by USAFE instructors received their 'wings' on 24 September 1956. Future German F-86 pilots were also trained at Nellis AFB in Nevada.
Training continued until 1958 when the 7351st FTG was discontinued and Landsberg turned over to the German Air Force. Within several years the new Luftwaffe would acquire hundreds of F-86 Sabres and F-84F Thunderstreaks via the U.S. Mutual Defense Aid Program (MDAP) so training had to be taken in hand very quickly.
- Das SS-Arbeitslager Landsberg 1944/45: Französische Widerstandskämpfer im deutschen KZ
- Die Affäre Oberst Rolf Korth - Französische Widerstandskämpfer besuchen den Ort ihrer Deportation
- Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM; Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4; Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9; USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to Present Archived 2009-01-30 at the Wayback Machine..
- "Die Lufttransportverbände der Luftwaffe". Geschichte der Luftwaffe (in German). Federal Ministry of Defence. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2013.