74 years ago, on June 24, 1948, one of the most dramatic episodes of the Cold War began: the complete blockade of West Berlin by Soviet troops. Berlin survived thanks to an unprecedented operation by the Western Allies on air supply, the so-called Berlin Air Bridge, which operated from June 23, 1948, to May 12, 1949.
In the western sectors of Berlin lived about 2.2 million people who were cutterlydependent on food supplies from outside. Initially, the daily volume of cargo to Berlin was 750 tons. But thanks to the reorganization carried out by General William Tanner, since the end of July 1948, more than 2,000 tons of cargo were delivered to Berlin daily by air. On April 15-16, 1949, a record was set: 1,398 flights were made in 24 hours and 12,849 tons of cargo were transported! In addition to food (milk powder, mashed potatoes, and flour), the planes also delivered coal for heating and electricity production, gasoline, medicine, and other necessities.
Berliners have named American planes Raisin Bombers because crews began dropping small packages of sweets for Berlin children on small homemade parachutes on their initiative. The raisin bombers landed at Tempelhof Airport every 3 minutes, the time the aircraft was on the ground did not exceed 30 minutes.
Photo – Raisin bombers waiting for unloading at Tempelhof airport. 1948 National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.