Shipping Chinooks to Sandhofen
The Sandhofen Airfield started life as a commercial air field on the 25th May 1925. At the beginning of World War II, the III/JG 53 (3rd Group, Jagdgeschwader 53) fighter unit "Pik-As" (Ace of Spades) was based here, commanded by one of Germany's top combat pilots Werner Molders. This unit operated 43 new Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 fighter aircraft at the start of the war. Also stationed at the airbase on the first day of the war was one Staffel (squadron) of JG 72 operating 16 of the older Arado Ar 68 biplane fighters then being used as a primitive night fighter. In September 1944 a concentration camp was installed on the site which was operated and guarded by the SS, holding 80 POW's from Poland, Luxembourg and Russia. At the end of World War II the American Army took over the barracks, giving it the temporary name of "Y-79" For the storage/ collection point for unserviceable vehicles and also surplus storage. In 1951, a replacement depot was established at Coleman Barracks and served as the staging area for all troops arriving in Germany. Throughout its operation by the U.S. Army, rumours circulated of an extensive set of tunnels beneath the airfield. Some of the rumours concerned tunnels under the base and a number of underground hangars behind the barracks of the Signal Corps units. The tunnels and other underground facilities were supposedly flooded after the war. There were reports of an alley that ran behind a cluster of barracks located next to a pronounced slope where numerous bunker entrances were located, all of which were rumoured to be locked. Despite any hard evidence, these rumours persisted over the years and stories of hidden Nazi bunkers and underground tunnels were passed on from one generation of soldiers stationed at Coleman to the next. When it was the only maintenance base for Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters in Europe, Coleman Airfield had more take-offs and landings than any other US Army airfield in Germany. Sometime later in the future the Sandhofen airfield / Coleman barracks became a Chinook helicopter staging point. Brand new US Army Chinooks were brought by ship up the Rhine to Lampertheim (a little north of Sandhofen) from where they would be unloaded and towed by trucks to the airfield using public roads? Once at Sandhofen airfield they would be completed (the rotor blades were conveniently stowed inside for transport) and tested by Boeing mechanics who were on site. Then finally flown to the destinations from unloading to departure it would only take a day I would like to thank Walter H Zuleger for the photographs and his extensive knowledge.
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