U.S. aircraft that helped deliver 296,000 tons of food to starving Germans during the Soviet blockade of West Berlin were patched up and pampered in time for Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the historic airlift.
Airmen at Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany spent the weekend restoring a Douglas C-47 Skytrain and a Douglas C-54 Skymaster housed at the Berlin Airlift Memorial near Frankfurt, according to Stars and Stripes. The planes were used to transport food, fuel and other goods to West Berlin in 1948 and had been sitting dormant for more than 30 years prior to the recent makeover.
The airmen spent four hours sprucing up the aircraft ― sealing holes, removing rust and repairing other damage from three decades of exposure to birds and rain. The goal was to protect the planes from further damage that may jeopardize their longevity.
“Here we’re not worried about strength, here the focus is keeping water from getting inside,” Tech. Sgt. Jody Bussier of the 86th Maintenance Squadron told Stripes.
“Hopefully, it will give it a longer lease on life,” added Tech Sgt. Chris Blank.
The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948, and persisted until the Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949. At the height of the humanitarian rescue mission, an Allied plane landed every 45 seconds in Berlin. By the end of the operation, American aircrews had made more than 189,000 flights, exceeding 92 million miles.