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Naval Air & The Berlin Airlift

Waring Hills Nov 09, 2011

Douglas R5D-2 (C54) Skymaster. This airplane is a Navy MATS aircraft, serial number 90394 (Photo US Navy).

The Navy transferred two of its MATS (Military Air Transport Service) squadrons to assist in Operation Vittle on 09 November 1948. The Navy played a vital role in the Berlin Airlift, Operation Vittles,  with the transfer of the two VR squadrons.  VR-6 was attached to the 513th Troop Carrier Group and VR-8 was attached to the 61st Troop Carrier Group.  The Air Force had 250 men in any given squadron while the Navy had 400.  In their eight months in Germany, VR-6 and VR-8 flew 45,900 hours carrying 130,000 tons of cargo to Berlin.

Cockpit view of the Navy MATS bird (Photo US Navy)

Month after month, the two Navy VR squadrons routinely bested Air Force squadrons in cargo statistics.  During the first two months in Germany, naval aviators flew a total of 3,036 trips.  On 16 December 1948, VR-8 flew 51 trips to Berlin, achieving an efficiency of 222 percent or 122 percent over the squadron’s officially rated capacity.  VR-6 was always on VR-8’s heels and, in the final summation, both squadron’s out flew every Air Force unit there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navy VR squadrons had a long way to go to get to West Germany in 1948. (http://www.billvons.com)

 

Navy VR aircraft on short final at Tempelhof Airport.

Read additional detail and more stories on the Navy’s participation in the Berlin Airlift in the following link from the Naval History and Heritage Command: US Naval Aviation Participation

 

German children watch a C-54 land at Tempelhof Airport in West Berlin, 1948. Crew members would drop candy to the hungry youngsters.

Here’s an ABC story on the beginning of the candy bombers! Great story for Veterans Day this week!

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6 thoughts on “Naval Air & The Berlin Airlift

  1. Mike Burke says:

    My Father, Jerry Wayne Burke, served with VR-8 from 1956-59. I believe he was a hydraulics Mech. He would like to get all the info from these years and the patch that was on his “long Lost ” flight jacket. The Patch seems to be his biggest want. The patch was a white wall tire with wing in the middle and a sailor’s cover on the tread side of the tire.

    Respectfully,
    Mike Burke

  2. My father, Wayne T. Baker, was in VR-3, VR-10, and VR-7. I found in his papers a citation letter for his participation in the Berlin Airlift signed by Harry Truman, yet according to history of Operation Vittles only US Navy squadrons VR-6 and VR-8 were involved. Were personell from other squadrons utilized for this mission? He was assigned to VR-3 at this time, Patient River.

  3. My father, Wayne T. Baker, was in VR-3, VR-10, and VR-7. I found in his papers a citation letter for his participation in the Berlin Airlift signed by Harry Truman, yet according to history of Operation Vittles only US Navy squadrons VR-6 and VR-8 were involved. Were personell from other squadrons utilized for this mission? He was assigned to VR-3 at this time, Patuxent River.

  4. Louise McClain Reeves says:

    My brother, Cmdr. Joseph Samuel,Reeves, 92 this month, flew many Berlin. Airlift missions from Westover Field. Mass. He retired after 22 years. Deep feeling for Navy and flying. He graduated from Highschool in 1943, in a class of about 20. (It took about 8 towns to get that many students together). He came from a town of 300. As an award for being top in his class, he received a subscription to the “Readers Digest”.
    No money, no scholarships. Life was so simple then and that was all OK. Besides, he got further education in the Navy.

    Sincerely, Louise Reeves

  5. VR-3 was assigned to teh Westover-Rhein Main Route in support of the other two squadrons. Does your dad’s logbook (If you have it) show an R5D with BuNo 90414?

  6. Warren L. Blackwell says:

    My favorite uncle,Lewis Alton June,Jr.,was a Navy pilot that took part in the Berlin Airlift.He spoke of it when I was just a kid,so I don’t remember any details.Is there an existing roster of pilots and crew from that time? Commander June went on to fly F4U Corsairs off of the USS Phillipine Sea
    during the Korean War .After retiring from the Navy he worked for. The FAA training pilots on the 747’s and also was a crash investigator.He passed away in 1986.
    Any leads on a list of Navy pilots would be greatly appreciated.

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