Bundeswehr Museum of Military History Berlin – Gatow
At the Bundeswehr Museum… an RF-4E, RF-84F and an SU-22M4, all capable of Photorecon missions!.
The Bundeswehr Museum of Military History Berlin – Gatow in western Berlin Germany is a
large impressive complex with more than 200 aircraft, helicopters and missiles. The physical
structures consist of nine hangars and a control tower. Currently the permanent indoor
exhibition is housed in Hangar 3. Future plans call for the museum to utilize the additional
hangars and infrastructure found on site. For example Hangar 4 is destined to cover the ‘Cold
War’ with the development of the East German NVA and the West German Bundesluftwaffe, as
well as the Bundeswehr, which relates to the Post Cold War era. Hangar 7 has been completely
renovated and will soon be open via guided tours. Realistically it will probably be another
decade before all the design and refurbishment of the remaining hangars are completed.
Former tower building is now part of the Museum
The museum site is located at the former National Socialist School for Aerial Warfare in
Gatow, originally constructed in 1934-1935. Airborne flying training during World War II ended
at the base in October 1944 due to fuel shortages. After World War II the British Royal Air
Force took over the airfield. During the Cold War, Gatow accounted for one
third of all British flights for the Berlin Airlift. When the Allies withdrew their forces in the
1990’s the Bundeswehr took over the premises.
Aircraft on display in Hangar 3
Early days of German aviation are seen at the museum with an original Halberstadt CL.IV. from
the final weeks of World War One. This aircraft is currently on loan from the German Museum
of Technology in Berlin.
From the World War Two period, one can see a Heinkel HE 111, Focke-
Wulf Fw190 and a Messerschmitt 163. From the Cold War Era one can view a MIG-15 and MIG-
29 from the East German Airforce. RAF Gatow is represented by a DHC-1 Chipmunk which was
used for air surveillance over Berlin until 1994.
Hangar 3 was extremely well done and stocked with very interesting aircraft and
exhibits, but in truth I spent the bulk of my time enjoying and photographing the aircraft on
display outdoors at Gatow.
IL-28 light bomber
Outdoor aircraft display
Sadly many of the aircraft sitting outside exposed to the elements are in desperate need of
restoration and paint, but nevertheless an amazing collection it is and ample time should be
allocated to appreciate these aircraft and the important role in history they played.
SU-22M4 in commemorative colors
Former opponents from the East German NVA and the West German Bundesluftwaffe stand
next to one another on display. There are multiple versions of MIG-23’s, along with a MIG-21
and SU-22’s. The Blue/Yellow/Red SU-22 M4 Fitter prominently on display was in service at
Naval Pilot Squadron MFG-28 in Laage. The aircraft received a special last flight paint scheme
with colors of the province Mecklenburg-Vorpommern blue/yellow/red.
Canberra B.2 former target tug
Some of my favorite aircraft from the outdoor display were the German Armed Forces
Canberra B-2, it was used for target towing as well as a flying testbed. In addition, a French
developed Nord Noratlas, which began arriving in the West German Air Force in 1956.
Last existing West German RF-4E Phantom II
An Ex West German RF-4E which began service in the Luftwaffe in 1971 and
served until 2003. It is the only surviving Luftwaffe RF-4E. An Ex East German Air Force Ilyushin
IL-28B. A rare East German Air Force MIL Mi-4, of which only four remain in Germany.
Antonov AN-26 transport
The most important of all transport aircraft for the East German Air Force, an Antonov
An-26 SM. Also calling attention to RAF Gatow and its role in the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949, an
Ex RAAF C-47B is on display.
One more fascinating display is a Lockheed F-104G from the West German Air Force. Fitted
with a Rocketdyne motor, this configuration named ZELL (Zero Length Launch System) provided
a means for dispersing Luftwaffe F-104’s into the countryside to be mounted on pre-positioned
ramps, allowing the aircraft to be launched under the power of the huge rocket motor.
Retired RAAF C-47B Dakota
When in Berlin I recommend that you take a short 20 minute cab or car ride to Gatow to view
the current collection. Keep in mind that the hangars and base infrastructure along with the
aircraft inventory continue to be developed, therefore one never knows what new treasures
are to be found for visitors. Admission is free and the museum is open Tuesday – Sunday
10:00am – 6pm.