Military


Fliegerhorst Kaserne
Hanau AAF
Erlensee, Germany

Fliegerhorst currently houses aviation and maintenance facilities, government housing, and support and recreation activities for service members and their families. Fliegerhorst Kaserne is primarily made up of aviation components of 4th Aviation Brigade including the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 501st Aviation Regiment and 127th Aviation Support Battalion. Facilities located there include an Army airfield with flight hangars, a state-of-the-art flight simulator used for training, family housing and numerous morale, welfare and recreation organizations.

Fliegerhorst Kaserne was initially built for Hermann Goering's German Air Force in 1937. The construction plan provided for the project to extend over 15 years and was outlined in three phases. The project began in 1937; however, due to the outbreak of WWII, only the first phase was completed. Fliegerhorst Kaserne was forced into premature operation in 1938 with the onset of World War II before much of the construction could be completed. Nearly 20 percent of the airfield was damaged during the war. In 1945, the US Army occupied the kaserne and utilized it as a signal depot, consisting of a maintenance division and a storage division.

Ground was broken for the construction of the Langendiebach Airfield, or Fliegerhorst Langendiebach as it was then known, in the summer of 1936, after a Junkers JU-52 on maneuvers made an emergency landing in the meadows behind Reusserhof. Although it was originally intended that there should be three phases of construction, only the first phase of construction was completed, due to the outbreak of WW II. The official opening of the Kaserne on 19 March 1939 was marked by a large celebration, involving a parade from the center of Erlensee to the front gate, and a Volksfest of 25,000 German civilians, who were treated to an air show.

At first, Fliegerhorst was occupied by the 1st Group, 55th Combat Squadron, equipped with HE-111 P twin-engine bombers. These left Langendiebach on 31 August 39 to participate in the invasion of Poland. After a visit by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to Fliegerhorst on 3 March 1940, Fliegerhorst became the site of a glider school, the graduates of which went on to participate in, among other operations, the invasion of the Soviet Union. The aircraft used to tow the gliders were the Czech Aviojäger, HE 45, HE 46, and the glider itself was the DFS 230. The wartime glider training conducted at Fliegerhorst included: formation flying, precision approaches and precision landings from altitudes of 1000 to 2000 meters. In addition to gliders, there were various experimental aviation units on Fliegerhorst, including a high-altitude fighter squadron. From the middle of 1944 until the Americans succeeded in crossing the Rhine, two successive groups of Junkers JU-88 Nightfighters, the 1st then the 3rd, were stationed on Fliegerhorst. Once the Americans had crossed the Rhine, these elements of the 4th Nightfighter Squadron were withdrawn to North Eastern Germany.

The three most destructive bombing attacks on Fliegerhorst Kaserne occurred on 9 September 44, 10 November 44 and 24 December 44. The bombing raid carried out on 10 November 44 involved 229 B-24 Liberators, which dropped a total of 431.5 tons of bombs. This bombing was conducted in the light of recent intelligence, which revealed that the Fliegerhorst runway had recently been extended by some 300 meters to accommodate three ME-262 jet fighters.

In order to divert allied attacks away from Fliegerhorst, the Germans emplaced decoy airfields, consisting of wooden mock-ups of aircraft and of airfield facilities, in the vicinity of Mittelbuchen, Kilianstädten and Rossdorf. These succeeded in leading low-flying aircraft astray on many occasions, but could not prevent the comprehensive destruction inflicted upon Fliegerhorst by war's end. The buildings and facilities of the Kaserne were assessed as 20% destroyed, and the severely pockmarked runway as totally unserviceable. Furthermore, the woods were bombed from Bärensee to Rückingen, in order to eliminate the camouflaged aircraft in parking spots concealed by woods. Present-day B 40, which could be used as an auxiliary runway, was also bombed.

Fliegerhorst's facilities and airfield were totally unserviceable when the Americans occupied this Kaserne in 1945. However, after the necessary repairs had been completed, the US Army used Fliegerhorst from 1947 to 1952 in a limited capacity for courier flights. Otherwise, the facilities and buildings were used as storage and administrative sites.

In 1952 the entire depot was transferred to Pirmasens. The depot was renamed Fliegerhorst Kaserne, and assigned artillery, transportation, ordnance and aviation units of the 7th Army. In 1952, several construction projects were undertaken to give the airfield back its character as a military facility. It was during this period that the large ammunition bunkers west of the airfield were built. From 1957 to 1960, Hangars 1302, 1303 and 1304, and the control tower were converted and refitted to accommodate helicopter aviation.

Due to the troop reductions pursuant to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and the Treaty of Vienna, many battalions have been removed from Fliegerhorst since 1991. Fliegerhorst still stands as one of the most important US Army Aviation Airfields in Europe.



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