Hangar 6 at Gütersloh Airfield – a short history

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View of the apron ca.1946 © Stadtarchiv Gütersloh

Hangar 6 was built with the five other aircraft hangar at the Gütersloh airfield between 1935 and 1936. In the aftermath the German Luftwaffe of the Third Reich housed several combat and dayfighter units inside this Hangar. In the years between 1941 and 1944 the Fliegerhorst (Airbase) Gütersloh served mainly as a repair and support base for the German nightfighter wings of the Third Reich. Hangar 6 was probably aassigned to accommodate and tasked with deep maintenance service of Messerschmitt Bf 110 and Junkers Ju 88 Nightfighters. On 19 April  1944, the first air raid on the airfield by allied bombers of the 8th USAAF took place. The 62 Boeing B-17 „Flying Fortress“ and B-24 „Liberator“ aircraft dropped a total of 247 high-explosive and 267 fire bombs. Two people were killed.

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The wreck of a Dornier Do 335 “Pfeil” (Arrow) at Gütersloh © Stadtarchiv Gütersloh

In Spring 1945  the German Luftwaffe of the Third Reich wanted to blow up all Hangars at Gütersloh, so as not to leave them to the approaching American Troops. The mayor of Gütersloh Mr Bauer could finally stop the Commander of the airfield to execute the Luftwaffe plans. Hangar 6 was slightly damaged from previous attacks by British and US Forces but was provisional repaired again several times from spring 1945 onwards. Shortly after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945 the US Army Air Force occupied Gütersloh airfield. The American armed forces occupied Gütersloh airfield officially on 6 April 1945 by the vanguard of 851st Engineer Aviation Battalion. The Americans found 16 Junkers Ju 88, seven Messerschmitt Bf 109, five Heinkel He 111, four Messerschmitt Me 110, three Focke Wulf 190, a Focke Fw 200, as well as the wrecks of a Messerschmitt Me 262 and a Dornier Do 335. The USAAF stationed Lockheed P-38 F-5E Lightning and North American Mustang P-51D aircraft in Gütersloh. Shortly after that the Royal Air Force took over and Gütersloh aifield became known by it‘s allied code Y-99. After the Royal Air Force moved in, Hangar 6 was home to a part of the  No. 140 Wing which was equipped with three Squadrons of deHavilland Mosquito aircraft.

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Hawker Hunter FR. Mk 10 of No IV (AC) Sqadron © G. Kipp

In December 1948 the Communications Flight of No.2.Group, headquartered at RAF Sundern (Mansergh Barracks),Verlerstrasse, moved into Hagar 6. The flight remained there until September 1951. It operated a colorful mixture of different aircraft types, such as the Avro Anson C. Mk 19, deHavilland Vampire T. Mk 11, Gloster Meteor T. Mk 7, deHavilland Chipmunk T. Mk 10 and deHavilland Vampire FB. Mk 9. The Flight also used the apron and surrounding areas of Hangar 6 for their operations.

By November 1951 No. 79 Squadron moved into Hangar 6, using it for exactly three years with it‘s 16 aicraft strong fleet of Gloster Meteor FR. Mk 9 and T. Mk 7. The Squadron simultaneously used the neighboring Hangar 7 due to the large number of jets, pilots and maintenance crews assigned.

Little is known of the use of this Hangar between 1954 and 1958. Between September 1958 and December 1962, No. 14 Squadron was based inside Hangar 6 equipped with Hawker Hunter F. Mk 6 dayfighter aircraft. At the same time, No. 26 Squadron using the Hangar on the east side of Hangar 6. Due to the close location of their offices, the pilots were able to see directly into the Scramble Room on the first floor of Hangar 6. More than once did the crews of No 26 Squadron start a joke on No 14 Squadron by calling the serving Warrant Officer or pilots on duty on the phone, and then interrupt the connection shortly before they could pick up the phone.

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Tiger Meet 1982 © G. Wann

No. 14 Squadron operated first with 12 aircraft, by the end of 1960 after the disbandment of No. 20 and 26 Squadron it‘s number of aircraft increased to 18 Hawker Hunter F. Mk 6. These were also maintained and stored in Hangar 7 next door.

After the disbandment of the last Royal Air Force Germany Hunter unit, there was not much time for necessary renovations. As early as January 1963, No. 230 Squadron equipped with Westland Whirlwind HAR. Mk 10 transport helicopters called the hangar their home for almost two years. The Squadron moved after this period via the United Kingdom to it‘s new base on the pacific island of Borneo.

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Westland Wessex HC. Mk 2, No 18 (B) Squadron © G. Grondstein

In January 1965, another helicopter unit move to Gütersloh and was based in Hangar 6. No. 18 (B) Squadron moved in with initially 12 and later up to 16 Westland Wessex HC. Mk 2 medium transport helicopters. Until December 1967 the Squadron was based here including all crews and technicians. At the end of 1967 the unit was replaced by No IV (AC) Squadron equipped with eight Hawker Hunter FR Mk.10 reconnaissance aircraft. The helicopters of No 18 (B) Squadron finally moved to RAF Acklington, but returned in August 1970, and used the Hangar again after No IV (AC) Squadron had disbanded. In June 1970 No II (AC) Squadron also equipped with Hawker Hunter FR. Mk 10 aircraftused the neighboring hangar number 7. No 18 (B) Squadron with it‘s 14-16 Westland Wessex, used the hangarson the eastern side of the airfield for ten years. On 18 September 1975, No 18 (B) Squadron invited a number of NATO helicopter units to a helicopter meeting in their Hangars 6 and 7.

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View of crowded hangar 6 with Puma HC. Mk 1. © B. Taylor

Another change took place in November 1980, when No 230 Squadron moved in equipped with 14 Aéropatiale / Westland Puma HC .Mk 1 medium transport helicopters.  On 26 August 1982 No. 230 Squadron played host to the NATO Tiger Meet and Hangar 6 was specially decorated for this event. The squadron organized it‘s popular „Families Day“ several times over the years, inside and outside Hangar 6. On 29 August 1986 and also on 29 July 1988 (the 70th anniversary of No 230 Squadron), the Squadron organized specially large family days.  The „Tigers“ were finally the last flying unit based in Hangar 6. They left in April 1992. On the last flying day 30.04.1992 a large part of the Puma fleet flew to it‘s new base RAF Aldergrove, Northern Ireland.

From June 1993 onwards, various units of the British Army were using Hangar 6. 6 Regiment of the 102 Logistic Brigade was based inside and used it to store and maintain their trucks. The Royal Logistics Corps left Gütersloh in 2016. The Base was handed over to the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 November 2016.