Luftwaffe Over Ohio!
By Paul F. Straney and Robert Sacchi
Part of a display of captured aircraft, this Me-109G, White "15" of JG 53, was probably captured in North Africa, and is equipped with a sand filter. [NASM]
The ATSC was not the only organization to hold German warplanes in America. Some German aircraft came to this country under the aegis of the Navy, and were tested at the Navy Air Test Center at Patuxent River NAS, Maryland. Enemy aircraft in various states of repair also trickled into this country from various agencies for propaganda purposes. For example, the British Information Service sponsored many displays of "war relics."
At the end of the Second World War in Europe, Colonel Harold E. Watson, Chief of Air Technical Intelligence (ATI) in Europe, was directed to prepare at least one example of each German aircraft then in service for shipment to America. This operation, code named "Lusty," was accomplished in good order. Operation Lusty's story has been well-covered elsewhere. Suffice it to say ATI Europe, based in London, soon had a sizable collection of ex-Luftwaffe aircraft for shipment to America.
During the war, captured enemy equipment was put on public display to boost morale and promote War Bond drives, which in turn helped finance the war effort. This consisted primarily of wrecks, as most of the flying examples were needed for testing. Most of these did not survive the advent of peace. [NASM]
The ATSC now faced the prospect of a flood of aircraft from Germany, with the promise of more from Japan as the war ground down. To handle the large inventory of Luftwaffe aircraft expected, Freeman Field in Indiana had come under ATSC command on 15 June 1945. Wright Field continued technical evaluation, while Freeman Field was used as a repository and testing center for enemy aeronautical equipment. General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, then Commanding General of the Army Air Force, took a personal interest in the enemy aircraft collection being put together, and specified aircraft should be put aside for eventual display. Freeman Field, to quote the base history, " . . . was established with the mission of receiving, reconditioning, evaluating, and storing at least one each of every item of enemy aircraft material . . . The field will also assemble and catalogue US equipment for display at the present and for the future Army Air Force museum, the site to be determined at a later date." Clinton Field was designated for evaluating of German glider aircraft, including cargo gliders.
The British Auxiliary Carrier H.M.S. Reaper carried the major shipment of ex-Luftwaffe aircraft to America. It arrived at Port Newark, New Jersey, in late July 1945. Those aircraft put on the Reaper were assigned a one- or two-digit number in order to make reassembly easier. At Port Newark, the aircraft were split up between the ATSC and the Navy Air Test Center at Patuxent River. The aircraft under ATSC charge were then either flown or shipped by rail to Freeman Field. Upon arrival at Freeman Field , several advanced aircraft were hurriedly overhauled to join the ATSC flight test program.
Many of the flyable aircraft at Wright Field spent much of their time doing flying demonstrations at public events. Here a Focke-Wulf Fw-190D-9 is run up prior to take-off. [NASM]
Paul F. Straney and Robert Sacchi © 1990