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Lufttransportgeschwader 62; Wunstorf, June 28, 2012

The Future of the C-160 Transall; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

On Thursday June 28, 2012, I had a visit at Lufttransportgeschwader 62 (LTG-62) on the German airbase Wunstorf in the northern part of the country. LTG-62 is currently equipped with the C-160 Transall. This will change in the near future, because Wunstorf will become the home base of the German Airbus A400 fleet.

The German airbase Wunstorf is the largest transport base in Germany. The airbase is located in the province of Lower Saxony in the northern part of the country. The German airbase Wunstorf was founded by the German army in 1934. In the early years there was not much to do on this basis. There were several transport aircraft stationed on the airfield during the Second World War. From 1945 Wunstorf was an RAF base. The British flew the Spitfire XIV and Typhoon IB from this airfield. These aircraft were moved to RAF G├╝tersloh in 1946. The no 123 Squadron was stationed at Wunstorf and flew until 1948 with the Tempest V and later the Spitfire XXIV. The no 80 Squadron arrived in 1948 and was the first unit which would fly with jets from this airbase. This unit was equipped with the Vampire F1. Both squadrons were moved from Wunstorf to RAF G├╝tersloh in 1949. In the summer of 1949, the first transport aircraft were stationed at Wunstorf. The Avro York flew missions from Wunstorf during the Berlin Airlift. When the Cold War broke out, 2 units with Vampires were stationed at Wunstorf. These units changed the Vampires soon for the Venom FB1. From 1958, the German Luftwaffe received the airbase back from the RAF. Wunstorf became a training base for the Noratlas N2501 and the C-160 Transall. LTG-62 flies from Wunstorf using the C-160 Transall from 1978 until now. This unit is one of the 3 Transall units in Germany.

On October 1, 1959, the unit LTG-62 was formed at the Army Airfield Celle. The unit was equipped with the Noratlas N2501 in 1960. LTG-62 was quickly deployed after an earthquake at Agadir in Morocco on February 29, 1960. The squadron transported victims of the earthquake to safer grounds. Later in the same year, the unit moved to Cologne-Wahn. The next move took place in April 1963 when the unit moved to Ahlhorner heath. The first C-160 Transall entered service at the German Luftwaffe in April 1968. On September 30, 1971, LTG-62 was permanently moved to the Northern

German airbase Wunstorf. The airbase Ahlhorner Heath became the new home of Hubschraubertransportgeschwader 64 (HTG 64). HTG-64 was abandoned in 1994 and the helicopters were at that moment divided over LTG-61, LTG-62 and LTG-63. On October 1, 1978, the flight school for transport pilots was established as part of LTG-62. The unit received a new squadron badge because of this; the badge contained the raven Hans Huckebein. The raven was created in the past by the famous poet artist Wilhelm Busch. The raven was blinded on the image. This means the student pilots learn to deal with flying on instruments. One of the main tasks of LTG-62 is to train pilots in the fourth phase of their pilot training. The pilots in training have overcome a long trajectory at the Lufthansa Pilot School in Bremen before they arrive at Wunstorf. LTG-62 has also a normal transport task next to the training task. From October 1, 2010, the helicopters of the 3 German transport units are reverted again to one squadron. HTG-64 is re-established at the German airbase Holzdorf.

The C-160 Transall is a transport aircraft which is powered with turboprop engines. The aircraft was developed in the 60s by a German-French consortium for military operations. Currently, the Transall is still used by Germany, France and Turkey. The purchase of the Transall was decided after consultation of a Denfense Committee. The German-French cooperation decided to start designing an aircraft which had to replace the Noratlas 2501. Another option of the alliance was the purchase of a license-built version of the C-130 Hercules. Negotiations with the U.S. aircraft manu- facturer Lockheed were stopped in 1963. The Americans could not deliver quickly enough, because the country was involved in the Vietnam War. The prototype of the Transall was already developed in the meanwhile. The final decision to build the C-160 Transall instead of the C-130 Hercules was made for political reasons. The C-160 V1 was the first of three prototypes and it made its first flight of 55 minutes on February 25, 1963. It flew from Melun-Villaroche in France. On May 25, 1963, the second prototype the C-160 V2 flew for the first time in Lemwerder near Bremen. The C-160 V3 made its first flight on February 19, 1964, from Hamburg-Finkenwer- der/Waltershof. The first official delivery of a production aircraft, took place on August 2, 1967, in Lemwerder. The aircraft was built for the French Air Force. The first Luftwaffe Transall was delivered on April 30, 1968. During the first delivery batch, a total of 169 Transalls were built. The first 50 were delivered to the French Air Force. The second series consisted of 110 aircraft which were all built the German Luftwaffe. Additionally, 9 aircraft were delivered to South Africa.

Through the years, the C-160 Transall is now an outdated aircraft. The German C-160 Transall fleet will be replaced by the Airbus A400 Atlas in the future. Due to drastic cuts in funds, 2 of 3 transport airfield will close down in Germany. Wunstorf will remain the only active transport airbase in Germany. This means Hohn and Landsberg will close when the Atlas enters service. The entire A400 fleet will therefore be based at Wunstorf. The first A400 will be delivered at Wunstorf in 2014 according to the expectations. The delivery of more than 40 aircraft will take place between 2014 and 2020. Originally, the German government had plans to purchase 60 A400s. Due to budget cuts this number was reduced to 40 aircraft. The French Air Force will fly the first operational A400 in 2013; Germany and Great Britain will quickly follow in 2014. The basic pilot training for the A400 of these 3 countries will be based at Wunstorf. The tactical training on this type will take place at the French base Orleans-Bricy. The Airbus A400M has a much bigger load capacity compared to the C-160 Transall. The aircraft has also a larger operational range than its predecessor. This is a great advantage for the Luftwaffe, because they are now able to operate much quicker.

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