Rhein-Main Air Base



435th Tactical Airlift Wing

Rhein-Main Main Gate

Rhein-Main Main Gate

Rhein-Main Berlin Airlift Support

Workers service an engine on the engine buildup line at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany in 1948. Here the engines used on C-54 Skymasters flying the airlift to Berlin were disassembled, checked, worn parts replaced, reassembled and returned to service on the aircraft.

Rhein-Main 1985 Bombing


Originally opened as a German commercial airport in 1936, Rhein-Main served as the main port for the Graf Zeppelin, her sister ship the LZ-130, and until May 1937, the Hindenburg.

In May of 1940, the airships were dismantled and the hangars leveled to make way for the military base conversion the airport would undergo. During World War II, the Luftwaffe conducted fighter sorties and Jet aircraft experimentation at Rhein-Main.

USAF World War II

In April 1945, after the US 7th Army had moved through the Frankfurt area, the 826th Aviation Battalion arrived at Rhein-Main and it was classified as Advanced Landing Ground(ALG) Y-73. Initially the Rhein-Main Airfield served as home for the Ninth Air Force as a forward tactical fighter base.

Cold War

Though initially intended as a bomber base by USAFE, after the Berlin Airlift, Rhein-Main became the primary passenger and transport hub for Europe. In 1966, with the closure of USAFE bases in France, increased cargo movement through Europe utilized Rhein-Main extensively. In 1969, control of the air base was passed to the 435th Tactical Airlift Wing, to later be redesignated the 435th AW

1985 Bombing

On Aug. 8, 1985, a car bomb exploded outside the headquarters building, killing two Americans and wounding about 20 people, both Americans and West Germans.

Kurt Rebmann, the West German Prosecutor, said the attack bore "the handwriting of the Red Army Faction," a terrorist group that appears to have succeeded the Baader-Meinhof Gang of the 1970's. The incident at the air base, which is near Frankfurt, was the first major attack on an American installation in West Germany since the bombing of Ramstein Air Base in 1981, in which 18 people were wounded. It was the latest of a series of assaults on military targets in Western Europe, apparently in response to the deployment of United States medium-range missiles.

One killed was Airman Frank H. Scarton, 19 years old, of Woodhaven, Mich., who was serving with the 437th Military Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., and was on temporary duty here. Airman Scarton was thought to have been killed immediately.

The 2nd killed was Becky Jo Bristol of San Antonio, the wife of Senior Airman John Bristol, who was with the Medical Airlift Squadron at the base. She died while being flown for treatment to the burn center of the Landstuhl Army Hospital.

Operation Provide Hope

Operation Provide Hope, a US and NATO joint operation, a momentous airlift was staged February of 1992 from Rhein-Main. For almost two weeks, USAF C-141's and C-5A's provided several hundred tons of emergency food, medicine, and medical supplies to all twelve former Soviet satellite countries, now independent states, to not just capitals, but major cities as well.


23 December 1999, the US and German government agreed to close the facility. The last passenger and cargo flights took place in September 2005 and the formal closing ceremony taking place on 10 October 2005, though the final handover to the German government wasn't until 30 December 2005. All of the airlift functions of Rhein-Main were taken over by both Ramstein and Spangdahlem Airbases.

Since its closure, the German Airport Authority has leveled nearly all of the base to build a third passenger terminal for Frankfurt am Main Airport.

Page Updated: 2012-12-15 08:16:56
Submit your biography or log in to comment.