Naval Air & The Berlin Airlift

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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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