Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia,
This collection of airfields is ©
2010-2012 by RonaldV
RAF Brüggen - RAF Laarbruch - Krefeld Added 1 Jul 2011
Einsatzhafen Bönninghardt - Fliegerhorst Venlo-Herongen
Runway: 09/27 - 2497x45meters - Asphalt
Royal Air Force Station Brüggen, also known as RAF Brüggen (German: Fliegerhorst Brúggen, ICAO ETUR or EDUR before 1995) was one of four 'Clutch' air bases of the British air forces in Germany (RAF Germany) during the Cold War.
The base was named after the village of Brüggen, the nearest rail depot, but it is actually located next to the village of Elmpt
Construction began in mid-1952, and the station became active in 1953 during the rapid expansion of NATO forces in Europe.
The initial strike capability at RAF Brüggen was provided by the English Electric Canberra B(I).6 of 213Sqn and Canberra PR.9 of 80Sqn from the summer of 1957.
From 1969 to 1975 the Phantom FGR.2 (F-4M) of 31Sqn operated in the strike/attack role, which were replaced by the SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1 from 1975.
Other squadrons flying the Jaguar were 14Sqn, 17Sqn and 20Sqn.
RAF Canberras undergoing maintenance in a hangar at RAF Brüggen
Panavia Tornado GR.1 began replacing the Jaguars from 1984 onwards.
In addition to a Jaguar squadron (No. 20Sqn), RAF Brüggen housed at its height four Tornado GR1 squadrons (9Sqn, 14Sqn, 17Sqn and 31Sqn), and as its nearby sister airbase RAF Laarbruch housed a similar number, RAF Germany formed the largest Tornado force in NATO.
On 4 September 2007, the British military admitted that there had been an accident with a nuclear weapon at RAF Brüggen on 2 May 1984.[
The nuclear weapon (8 times more powerful than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945) fell from a transport truck, as the missile wasn't securely attached to the truck.
The weapon was undamaged, but the six people/military staff who were responsible for the accident, received a reprimand for their actions in the incident.
During the Gulf War 3 Tornado squadrons (9, 14 and 31) deployed to the Middle East
Following the unification of Germany the number of RAFG Tornado squadrons was reduced by half.
In 1996 the decision was made to gradually withdraw RAFG to the UK during the following years.
While its sister squadrons took part in the air war over Kosovo in 1999, No. 17Sqn disbanded and thus began the gradual drawdown of the base.
No. 14 Sqn relocated to RAF Lossiemouth (Scotland) in January 2001.
A formal ceremony on 15 June officially ended a continuous Royal Air Force presence in Germany since World War II.
All of the remaining Tornados had left for RAF Marham by 4 September 2001
RAF Brüggen/Elmpt Station, ca. 2008
With the Royal Air Force having no use for site of the former RAF Brüggen, the base was handed over to the British Army on 28 February 2002 to become a Garrison.
The air base is now known as Elmpt Station, Javelin Barracks.
Until early 2009 12 Flight AAC, operating 4 Gazelle AH.1 helicopters was stationed at the base.
Runway: 10/28 - 2497x45meters - Asphalt
Royal Air Force Station Laarbruch, also known as RAF Laarbruch (german: Fliegerhorst Laarbruch, ICAO ETUL or EDUL before 1 January 1995) was one of four 'Clutch' air bases of the British air forces in Germany (RAF Germany) during the Cold War.
The base was located in Germany on its border with the Netherlands, halfway between the Dutch cities of Nijmegen and Venlo
The first use of the field was in the final stages of World War II.
The Britisch army built Advanced Landing Ground Goch (B.100) in preparation for the final push across the Rhine.
It was only used between 4March and late April 1945.
The infrastructure was straightforward and simple: a 1180meter (3600feet) PSP runway with a parallel 983Meters (3000feet) grass emergency runway, refuelling was done with jerrycans, and there was enough space for two complete Wings.
The first unit to fly from the airfield was 662 (Auster) Sqn, who remained at the airfield until 24 March.
They were followed by the British 121 (Typhoon) Wing (20March).
Ten days later the Canadian No. 143Wing joined them.
The Hawker Typhoons of 121Wing were exchanged for the Spitfires of Canadian No. 127Wing by mid-April, but by the end of that month all Wings had left.
This ended the use of B.100 airfield.
Airfield B-100 Goch, ca 1945
Seven years later the abandoned site was chosen to build a new 'Clutch' airfield for the Royal Air Force in Germany
In 1954 RAFG opened the airbase as RAF Laarbruch.
RAF Laarbruch was home to various first-line squadrons, including II (AC) Squadron flying Phantom FGR.2 (F-4M Phantom-II); and 15 and 16 Squadrons flying the BAe Buccaneer S.2B and 25 Squadron 'C' Flight with Bloodhound surface to air missiles in the 1970s, followed by Jaguar GR.1 in the 1980s.
1971: 2 Sq: Phantom FGR2; 3 Sq: Canberra B(I)8; 15 Sq: Buccaneer S2B; 16 Sq: Canberra B(I)8
1975: 2 Sq: Phantom FGR2; 15 Sq: Buccaneer S2B; 16 Sq: Buccaneer S2B
1980: 2 Sq: Jaguar GR1; 15 Sq: Buccaneer S2B; 16 Sq: Buccaneer S2B
1985: 2 Sq: Jaguar GR1, GR1A; 15 Sq: Tornado GR1; 16 Sq: Tornado GR1; 20 Sq: Tornado GR1
Ultimately all aircraft types were replaced by Tornado GR1 (GR1A with 2Sqn) with four squadrons (2, 15, 16,and 20) resident at the air base in 1990.
After the first Gulf War, many of the squadrons were relocated, No. 2 Sqn went back to RAF Marham; and 15, 16, and 20 became reserve squadrons.
Laarbruch became home to the Harriers of 3(F) and IV(AC) squadrons when RAF Gütersloh closed, along with the Chinoook HC.1 helicopters of 18(B) Squadron.
18 Squadron returned to RAF Odiham in 1997 with the remaining Harrier squadrons departing to RAF Cottesmore in 1999.
Laarbruch was also home to 1 and 26 Squadron RAF Regiment (air base air defense).
Also on the station was a Squadron of RAF Police supplying the security and policing duties required for the Station and the surrounding area.
RAF Laarbruch, now renamed as (civilian) Airport Weeze (ex-Niederrhein), ca. 2008
After RAFG closed the airfield in 1999 it found a new civilian lease of life as a budget airline airport Flughafen Niederrhein (Lower Rhine Airport), now known as Airport Weeze after the nearest large town.
Civil operations began in May 2003.
Now known as Airport Weeze (ICAO: EDLV), it is used mostly by low-cost carriers such as Ryanair.
Its IATA-Code is NRN because of its official name Flughafen Niederrhein.
Although initially called 'Düsseldorf (Weeze)' (a name still used by Ryanair) when the first plans were drawn for the civilian use of the airport, it actually serves better the closer Dutch cities of Venlo, Nijmegen and Arnhem, the German city of Duisburg and the immediate Weeze area.
In 2008, with 1.52 million passengers, which represented growth of 80% on the previous year, it was among Europeâ€™s fastest-growing airports.
Runway: believed to be ca.1000meter/yds E/W and ca.700meter/Yds N/S
Giving a maximum run of ca.1200meter/Yds NE/SW - grass, later (ca. 1943) believed to be concrete
In 1937 the Luftwaffe surveyed lands deemed suitable to set up airfields.
One of the sites they found was the old race horse training farm 'Bandolahof'near Bönninghardt.
The civilians living at the farm were ordered to leave, and the Bandolahof was set up as the Kommandantur for the airfield that was to be constructed.
At the field revetments were constructed to house aircraft.
In spring 1939 the nearby gliderclub "National-Socialist Fling Corps Group Lower Rhine" (german: "Nationalsozialistischen Fliegerkorps Gruppe Niederrhein") was ordered to hand over its glider field (german: Segelflugplatz) to the Luftwaffe
JagdGeschwader26 used the facility for the first time in May 1939.
No photos were located
By August 1939 II.Gruppe of JG26 moved into the field with 48 aircraft to protect the Reichs western borders, the first wartime posting at Bönninghardt.
Its commander was Herwig Knüppel, a veteran of the Condor Legion in Spain.
A second unit of JG26 was stationed in Odendorf near Euskirchen.
World War II began on 1 September 1940 with the invasion of Poland.
Because the neutral countries of Belgium and the Netherlands were effectively blocking missions from England and France in their area of responsibility JG26 did not see much action.
In fall JG126 (Bf.109D) joined Bönninghardt.
In the winter of 1940 I./JG20 took residence at the field.
Because JG20 had only one group, it resided under the command of JG51, whose staff and a handful of Messerschmidt 109s also flew in.
Early May 1940 several Jagdgruppen flew into Bönninghardt in preparation for "Case Yellow" (german: 'Fall Gelb'), the invasion of the low countries, and "Case Red" (german: 'Fall Rot'), the invasion of France.
So many Gruppen were brought in that three Staffel (squadrons) of JG27 had to temporarily relocate to the glider fields at Wesel (Wesel-West and Wesel-Flüren).
When fighting broke out on 10 May 1940 the airfield became filled with battle damaged Ju52s that returned from operations over the Netherlands.
When the invasion of the Low Countries and France was over, all units returned to Bönninghardt to provide "Heimatschütz" (Homeland Defense), and the airfield became known as Einsatzhafen I. Ordnung "Brausebad".
Bönninghardt on an Allied map, ca. 1943 (source)
After the Battle of Britain the missions at Böninghardt became more and more Homeland Defense orientated.
It lost in importance to Fliegerhorst Venlo-Herongen, although this did not prevent aerial attacks from allied bombers.
The last attacks occurred in 1944, after which the airfield was taken over by Allied forces.
Fliegerhorst Venlo-Herongen was located on the border between the Netherlands and Germany.
As the runways and most of the flight infrastructure were on Dutch soil, this airfield is descibed in this section of the Netherlands
runway: ../.. - ...x..m - grass (?)
Air field Krefeld (german: Flughafen Krefeld) was an airfield in Krefeld, Germany.
The airfields construction began, after much debate, as a military air field in 1916
It consisted of 8 Hangars, a maintenance hangar, a fuel depot and a railway connection.
In 1917 it was completed, and leased to the German Reich at no cost.
A provision was made however that the airfield would be returned to its original owners if the airfield did not exist anymore in 30 years time.
The provision ran from 1 April 1916 until 31 March 1945.
Flughafen Krefeld in the late 1920s
After World War I ended the airfield was occupied by Belgian and French military forces.
Eight years later 1500 square meters of hangars were taken apart and transported to Belgium.
After the occupying forces had left the city of Krefeld took control over the airfield, and on 2 February 1926 the first German aircraft landed at the airfield.
By the middle of May the service Krefeld-Essen-Berlin was started, and soon the services from Krefeld were taken over by Lufthansa.
Connections to Essen and Cologne ensured connections to 93 airfields.
Traffic developed: in 1926 135 passengers and 850 kilos of freight were transported, but 4 years later this had increased to 960 passengers and 32,559kilos of freight.
Short video of an early Junkers at Krefeld in 1925 (Stadtarchiv Krefeld, via Youtube)
During the war Krefeld was home to JG1 and JG52.
After the war the airfield was occupied by the British, who found the airfield of little use.
The rise of the jet engine meant the airfield was not large enough, and it had no room for expansion.
They only used parts of the terrain as a braacks, the rest was returned to agricultural use.
In 1947 a request was made with the Allied military to release the terrain for civilian use.
The argument for release was "the terrain is almost completely surrounded by houses, making it only fit for the construction of new homes".
In 1950 the northern part of the former airfield was released for civilian use.
As almost three quarters of all homes in Germany were war damaged and a large number of refugees from Eastern Europe needed homes, the obvious choice was to built it up.
The airfield was ultimately completely built over by Krefeld Gartenstadt.
A small memorial in Gartenstadt reminds of the former airfield.
Memorial of Flughafen Krefeld in Gartenstadt (Panoramio).
If you have any information about airfields (listed and unlisted) in Germany, email RonaldV.