HISTORY OF TULLN AIR BASE, AUSTRIA

Tulln 1945 Tulln 2004
Tulln Air Base 1945
Tulln Air Base 2004 (Fligerhorst Brumowski)

ceremony
Roof Uniformity Festival
The construction of Tulln Air Base was started in June 1938. The first work to be accomplished was mainly in surveying, drilling of water wells, connection of temporary water lines and the erection of a water pumping plant. German engineers and Austrian laborers accomplished this work. At the same time, construction was started on the streets, the barrack buildings, two aircraft hangers, channels, house keeping buildings, Headquarters building, shops for the motor pool, and the guardhouse. In October 1938, the house for the building management was completed and occupied. Prior to this the building management, had their offices in the high school located in the city of Tulln. There were approximately 2000 laborers working both night and day. Due to a mild winter in 1938, the project progressed rapidly and on 3 March 1939, the festival of the roof uniformity was celebrated. Laborers and office workers of the building management as well as many private concerns were invited to this festive party.
party graphic
The Festival Roof Uniformity Dinner Party

Oh this occasion, one of the two hangers was decorated and speeches, a dinner, artistic productions, and a complete show were presented. Souvenirs of this occasion were given to every laborer and office worker employed. They received a leather pocket book with the following dedication, "Building Management for Tulln Air Base - Completion 3.3.1939". The two construction directors, Wirth and Nedding, did everything possible to make the party a success.

On 1 October 1939, the first military personnel moved into the barracks making it necessary to construct a temporary heating plant because the permanent plant wasn’t completed. Work had started on the second group of barrack buildings, aircraft parking ramp, and the weapons repair shop. The transformer house and water plants were completed and the roads surfaced with concrete. Construction of officer and laborer quarters near the base, and three hangers were initiated. The transmitter, receiver sites, and the Radio Range were put into operation. Construction of the fuel storage dump was then started.

cadets
Luftwaffe cadets

There was a shortage of laborers because of the induction of civilians into military service. Belgian and French POWs were used as laborers, and later, Russian POWS were used.

The German Air Force first used the Base. When the war with Yugoslavia started in 1941, Tulln Air Base served as a jumping off point for aerial attacks against that country. The Air-war School VII, commanded by Major General Volkmann, was established in the summer of 1942. The last group of buildings was completed in 1943. The German work services crews moved out of the wooden barracks and were filled with French, Russian, and Hungarian Jewish prisoners from 1943 until 1945.

Tulln Air Base was known as the Aerial-War School. Base strength was about 2000 personnel, including 120 cadets and about 60 officers. The Germans were trained only in light aircraft called A and B classes. Aircraft based at Tulln included Klen 35s and Gotha 145s; double wing Arado 66s, Blue 131s, HE 72s; single wing FW 140s; 2 and 3 engine 34s, JU 52s, JU 87s, JU 88s, and HE 111s. The runway was also used for gliders based at Moosbierbaum, approximately 35 miles from the Base. Ground gunnery ranges were located in the town of Tulbing and in wood areas near the Base. Gunnery practice took place once a week. Hungarian fighter planes used the Base, and Italian aircraft were at Tulln for a short time.

When aerial attacks against the Base increased, anti-aircraft gun emplacements were improved. In 1943 delayed action bombs were stored in the cellars to be blown up at a later date.

In the first week of April 1945, the Russians were moving into Austria and the German troops started pulling out of Tulln, taking most of the prisoners with them. They shot the Hungarian Jews between the base and the town of Tulln. The buildings on the west side of Headquarters, part of the buildings on the north side, all of the barracks on the south side, the weapons shed, three hangers, and the oil dump were blown up by the Germans as they left. Some of the French prisoners left behind prevented destruction of other buildings by cutting fuses to bombs that had been in place.

The Russians occupied the base until 26 July 1945. the Americans took command of the Base on the 27th.

On 2 June 1945, General Snavely left Florence, Italy on a secret mission to inspect air facilities in the Vienna area and make recommendations for an air base best suited to serve U.S. interests. Representatives of the Four Powers held preliminary conferences on the 4th and 5th of June in which air needs of each power in Vienna were discussed. The Soviet representative proposed that Tulln Airfield should be inspected first, and that if it proved satisfactory, no other fields need to be visited. General Snavely requested a clearance to inspect all airfields in the Vienna area and additional request for clearance for courier service between Vienna, U.S. fields in Austria, and Italy. Reconnaissance of fields in the Vienna area was limited to those West of the Danube River as results of technical difficulties in gaining approval of the Soviet Government to inspect those airports East of the river. Tulln, Schwechat, Zwolfaxing, Munchendorf, Ebergassing, and Gutzendorf Airfields were inspected and a detailed report drawn by General Snavely in which he recommended Tulln as suitable for United States needs and that the U.S. claim sole control of Tulln, the British at Schwechat, and the French at Zwolfaxing. General Snavely also made recommendations in a meeting with General Gruenther, Deputy Commanding General, USFA, on 9 July for the purpose of making arrangements for troops arriving at zone boundaries in Austria and allocating air facilities among the occupying powers.

On 1 July 1945, a cadre was selected and formed at the 1407th AAF Base Unit located in Wales, England for the purpose of establishing a Base Unit at Tulln Air Base,Vienna, Austria. Twenty-four enlisted men and one officer were selected to form the cadre and proceed to Vienna via 1402nd AAF Base Unit. The cadre of men was assigned PCS to 1408th AAF Base Unit and from there proceed to Vienna for a period of 45 days. The cadre left for Orly by plane on 7 July and had to be sent to Paris when there were no billets available on the airfield. They stayed in Paris a couple of days and then on to Metz, France by convoy where they picked up more vehicles to take to Vienna. They found Metz facilities for maintenance, housing, and food excellent. Proceeding onward to Munich, they had difficulty in finding the Air Transport Command (ATC) airfield, and had to spend the night in a bombed out hotel. The next morning they were given directions to the ATC airfield and arrived there for noon mess. After a short rest, they headed for Linz, Austria. Getting there in the evening and learning no one knew of their coming, they located the manager of the Black Bear Hotel and talked him into providing mess and housing. The men enjoyed cruises on beautiful luxury boats on the Danube, and all of them visited Berchtesgarten, Hitler's former retreat.

Six men were added to the cadre, 3 ATC communications, 2 draftsmen, and 1 administration specialist. Major. Stuart, Major Farrell, Captain Kelly, and Captain Harris joined the cadre at Linz too. They made the trip to Vienna on 24 July and were given temporary quarters at the Vienna Area Command at 9 Boltzmanngasse. The building was in deplorable condition and was just being cleaned after being vacated by Russian troops. First Lieutenant Derby arrived in Vienna by plane and joined the cadre.

The cadre was finally ready to make the short trip to Tulln, 13 air miles northwest of Vienna on the morning of 25 July. However, the agreement between the Russian and American forces could not be reached. They were finally permitted to travel on 27 July 1945.

Upon their arrival at Tulln, the cadre found Russian troops billeted on the Base. The field was a mess. The German demolition crews had done their job well. One hanger was in pretty good shape except for the windows and other minor damage. All others were demolished. Bomber and fighter planes were scattered all over the field and all salvageable parts were removed. The major portion of the Base was blown to rubble, but one barracks, the headquarters building, the vehicle garages and repair shop and a few other buildings were intact. The usable buildings were a mess with rats, vermin, excrement, and bullet holes everywhere. It was a souvenir day for the Americans with German rifles, steel helmets, service caps, etc., strewn all over the buildings. During the next few days, the Russian soldiers continued to haul materials of all descriptions off the Base. The cadre enlisted stayed in the German garage building and were kept busy cleaning and repairing and living on K-rations until mess supplies could be brought in from Vienna. It was a far cry from the life they had in Wales, but the weather was nice and they had the comradeship of working as a small group. Things didn’t seem as bad as they were. First Sergeant Pace had his troubles selecting volunteers to pull guard duty for Sergeant McManus.

Rebuilding the airstrip and doing manual work on the Base are no longer the responsibility of Tulln GI's. POW SS troops, guarded by the Rainbow Division, were brought in to do the cleaning up of rubble and house keeping duties. The ex-SS, Hitler's fair-haired troops, were billeted in a wired-in wing of the barracks and did their own house keeping too. When asked how long the POWs would be attached to the Base, Captain Skillen replied, "When the last Tulln Air Base GI leaves the Base, hand the SS guard the key."

AMERICAN UNITS STATIONED AT TULLN AIR BASE

The original Tulln Unit was the 501st Air Service Group, commanded by Major George W, MacDonald. The Unit was activated in Bensheim, Germany 6 June 1945, with personnel transferred from the disbanded 319th Air Service Group. The Unit arrived 26 August 1945.

When the European Air Transport Service (EATS) assumed command in September 1945, it was designated the 516th Troop Carrier Group, commanded by Colonel William G.Curry. On 11 May 1946, the 81st Airdrome Squadron was activated with Lieutenant Colonel Harry Robb as commanding Officer. Personnel were acquired from the 10th Airdrome Squadron. The 1848th Labor Supervision Company was activated under the provision of General Order 4, Headquarters, European Air Transport Service, 10 July 1946 and assigned to the 10th Airdrome Squadron Tulln Air Base General Order 30 Headquarters, EATS, 31 May 1946.

Detachment "A" 1058th Military Police Company was activated under the provisions of General Order 4, Headquarters EATS, 31 May 1946. The 1848th Labor Supervision Company re-designated the 2043rd Labor Supervision Company, General Order 19, Headquarters, EATS, 9 August 1946. Colonel Clinton W. Davies assumed command of Tulln under General Order 14, Headquarters, Tulln Air Base, 21 August 1946, relieving Colonel William Curry. The Unit was re-designated the 313th Troop Carrier Group 30 September 1946, General Order 114, Headquarters, EATS 27 September 1946.

Units assigned to Tulln at this time were: 313th Troop Carrier Group, 10th Airdrome Squadron, 81st Airdrome Squadron, and Detachment "A" 1058th Military Police Company. The 10th Airdrome Squadron,less men and equipment, was transferred to Pisa, Italy under General Order 16, Headquarters, EATS, 30 April 1947. On 15 May 1947, Detachment "A" 14th Troop Carrier Squadron was activated at Tulln under General Order 20, Headquarters, EATS, 11 May 1947. The same day the 313th and 10th were absorbed by the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron and the 81st Airdrome Squadron. Colonel Davies was transferred to the Zone of Interior (ZI) and Colonel Dale D. Fisher assumed command of Tulln Air Base 7 September 1947. On 20 December 1947, the 7909th Air Base Unit was activated at Tulln, Colonel Fisher in command. At this time, the European Air Transport Service Headquarters and Tulln Air Base came directly under Headquarters United States Air Force Europe. Detachment "A", 14th Troop Carrier Squad deactivated 19 February 1948 as per UK directive 995529, Headquarters, USAFE, 11 February 1948 and personnel into the 7909th Air Base Unit and the 81st Airdrome Squadron. On 1 July 1948, under General Order 48, Headquarters, USAFE, 24 June 1948, the 61st Troop Carrier Wing was assigned to Tulln for Command Jurisdiction, activated 7360th Air Base Group, deactivated the 81st Airdrome Squadron, the 1058th MP Company 7909th Air Base Unit, and the 2043rd Labor Supervision Company, and Personnel were transferred into the 7360th Air Base Group. Colonel Dale D, Fisher,who was TDY to the Berlin Airlift operation as changed to PCS and Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Sawyer became commander of Tulln Air Base, General Order 7, Headquarters, Tulln Air Base, 10 September 1948. The next change was the release of Tulln from command jurisdiction of the 61st Troop Carrier Wing, General Order 109, Headquarters USAFE, 10 December 1948 General Order 56, Headquarters, USAFE, 14 April 1949 re-designated 7360th Air Base Group to be 7360th Base Complement Squadron, and General Order 2, Headquarters, Tulln, 6 July 1949 made Lieutenant Colonel James B. Morris Base Commander replacing Lieutenant Colonel Sawyer. Colonel John F. Guillett became Commander of Tulln on 5 September 50, General Order 1 Headquarters, Tulln, when Colonel Morris was transferred to USAFE Headquarters.

signpost
Cpl. Robert D. Dake on the left and
S/Sgt. Oisby Garner, Jr. on the right
The primary mission 7360th: (A) To maintain an aerial port of entry in support of Headquarters, USAFE, to include maintenance of a pool of aircraft to be used in the mission of the U.S. High Commissioner, Austria. (B) To maintain an aerial port of entry for American International air carriers as may be designated by competent authority.

Secondary mission 7360th:Without interference with the primary mission and in accordance with directives relative to the operation of military installations,

(A) Exercise command jurisdiction over Tulln Air Base and operate it in accordance with applicable directives. (B) Maintain air travel and Base security to a degree necessary as an aerial port of entry and exit, with customs responsibility to be performed by USAF. (C) Insure that all personnel assigned or attached thereto for training, including maintenance of flying proficiency meet prescribed standards of training as set forth in existing regulations. (D) Carry out any other directives or Orders that may be issued my Headquarters, 12th Air Force.

panam
First Pan American Airways Flight
into Tulln Air Base
Initiation of American operations started at Tulln Air Base August 1945. The first weather detachment stationed at Tulln was Detachment "C", 21th Weather Squadron. The 21st had moved moved across Europe in support of Paton and the Allied ground forces. The Weather Squadron's mission was then in accordance with existing regulations: to furnish weather service to all Base units, USFA Headquarters, Headquarters, Vienna Headquarters Area Command, Vienna Engineers, Armed Forces Radio Service, U.S. and allied military aircraft, PAN American World Airways, and other airlines in transit status. This unit was of the 21st Weather Squadron, then the 19th, and finally the 18th Weather Squadron. These were administration re-designations rather than actual changes of units. The original 5th Weather Group, the continental parent weather unit, became the 2105th Air Weather Group.

From a start characterized by a variety of reporting systems, non-standard equipment, and rapid changes of personnel, this unit became one of the best and most efficient in Europe. The detachment had Austrian weather civilian personnel in training to re-establish the war-disorganized Austrian Weather Service. These trainees continued to work in conjunction with the Weather Detachment until relieved in early 1950. There were few significant changes in the basic mission of the Weather Detachment over the years. Signed by Jerome Reiss, Captain, USAF Detachment Command.

The 116th Army Airways Communications System (AACS) Squadron was the original AACS unit located in Tulln in 1945 and it had six detachments. These were Tulln Air Base, Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Rumania; Prague, Czechoslovakia; Horsching, Austria; and Salzburg, Austria. Their responsibility was for operations and maintenance of Radio Ranges, Weather relays, blind landing aids, radio stations, and control towers at each detachment. Tulln had a control tower, radio range, point-to-point radio circuits, radio and landline Teletype, and the Squadron’s only code room. Horsching operated a radio range, point-to-point radio circuit, air to ground radio, radio and landline Teletype and a control tower. Salzburg had a control tower, an operations office to service transient aircraft, and a Teletype maintenance section. Bucharest had a homing beacon, air to ground radio, control tower, and served EATS by scheduling flights for the military mission to Rumania. Budapest had point-to-point radio circuit, air to ground radio, control tower, and served EATS special VIP flights into and out of Hungary. Prague's detachment was on a caretaker status and most of the equipment was turned over to the Czech government. In October 1947, the units at Bucharest and Budapest were discontinued, leaving only Tulln, Horsching, and Salzburg operating. The unit was re-designated the 1948th AACS Squadron on October 1948 and its mission was to operate a system of airways communications and ground electronic aids to air operations to meet the requirements established by its headquarters, the 1812th AACS Group and other higher headquarters.

After signing of the Peace Treaty between Austria and the Four Powers, Great Britain, France, Soviet Union, and the United States in 1955, Tulln Air Base was handed over to the Austrian police (B-Gendarmerie), because there were no Austrian military services at that time. The Russians did donate four YAK-11 and four YAK-18 planes to the New Austrian Air Force for the training of new pilots.

TODAY

heliocoptersFliegerhorst Brumowski (Tulln Air Base) is primarily a helicopter and light fixed wing base for reconnaissance search-rescue, and firefighting. The structure of the Base has changed considerable since the Americans were there. The barracks, Officers Mess, and Headquarters Building are now painted in a light yellow or a light green. The trees have grown so large that a full view of most buildings is not possible. Those trees were only about seven years old when the Americans first arrived. They are now upwards of sixty feet. The runway and taxiways are the same except with a better-paved surface. The control tower is still on top of the hanger but has been rebuilt and is better insulated than the old one. The A.A.C.S Communications Station, located on the second floor of the hanger building, is no longer there. On the ground floor, below the old station, is an air traffic control radar room. The Servicemen's Club has been removed. Many new buildings have been added,including buildings where the old destroyed buildings were located. Americans who were stationed there between 1945 and 1955 will find many changes today. Yet they will find it still the same in a strange and ghostly way.