Luftfahrttechnisches Museum Rechlin e.V.
Am Claassee 1
In 1941 Ernst Udet’s office as Generalluftzeugmeister (GLZ) was expanded. Among the departments it now controlled was the Technisches Amt (GL/LC), to which was subordinated the Kommando der Erprobungsstellen (KdE: Test Centre Command). These test centres played an important role in the development of new German aircraft and equipment. Some were small specialized establishments. The facility at Dorpat in Estonia, for example, carried out cold weather trials under harsh winter conditions, while hot weather tests were conducted at Castel Benito in Libya. The site at Münster-Nord undertook trials with poison-gas weapons. But by far the greater part of all test and evaluation activity took place at the major Luftwaffe E-Stellen, the most important of which was situated at Waren, on the shores of Lake Müritz, to the north of Berlin.
In June 1917 it was decided to build a modern flight centre, called Flieger-Versuchs- und Lehranstalt (FVLA: Aviation Experimental and Test Institute) in Mecklenburg. But Germany’s defeat in the First World War meant the first attempts were not carried out until the end of 1918. In 1927 the aircraft manufacturer Albatros Flugzeugwerke rented the ground and began erecting the first two of three large hangars, though the third hangar was not completed until after 1933. In 1931 the Reichsverband der Deutschen Luftfahrtindustrie (RDL: Reich Association of the German Aviation Industry) took over the Albatros works. It also managed a few development sites at Staaken near Berlin and at Rechlin, as well as a few other places in Germany. Both major sites grew in size and the number of test flights increased. As it grew, the E-Stelle Rechlin incorporated an airfield at Rechlin along the shores of Lake Müritz, another one near Roggenthin, and a third one at Lärz.
Nearly all important German aircraft were evaluated at one of the airfields mentioned above. Additionally, various captured enemy planes found their way to Rechlin. The E-Stelle was also equipped to test advanced jet engines and jet aircraft when these began to be introduced. On 25 August 1944 E-Stelle Rechlin was severely hit by American bombers, destroying major parts of the facility. The final objects of evaluation were the Ar 234, Me 163, Me 262 and He 162. Early in April 1945 the E-Stelle was dismantled and partly transferred to Bavaria, with first sections arriving at Lechfeld on 7 April 1945.
This site was used for testing seaplanes. One of Germany’s minor aircraft manufacturers, the Caspar Flugzeugbau AG, was based on the Priwall, a small promontory at the mouth of the River Trave, east of Lübeck on the Baltic coast. Late in 1926 this site was extended to accommodate a large airfield, plus a seaplane base suitable for the development of all kinds of floatplanes and flying boats. Some of the first seaplanes to enter service, including the He 59 and He 60, underwent trials at Travemünde. Because of the floating dock available there, huge flying boats such as the Do X were sometimes present at Travemünde. Military evaluation of various modern flying boats like the Do 18, 24 and 26 was also undertaken there; and of the new and very important designs of Blohm & Voss, the BV 222 at least was evaluated there. Furthermore, several other land-borne maritime combat aircraft and helicopters were flown from Travemünde over the Baltic Sea. On 5 May 1945 the undamaged E-Stelle was surrendered to advancing British ground units.
The armaments testing facility at Tarnewitz, an artificial peninsula situated on the Baltic coast between Lübeck and Wismar, was established in 1935. Because of the excellent natural firing ranges between Tarnewitz and the offshore Poel Island, this EStelle quickly gained great importance in the testing of all kinds of aircraft armament. Nearly all guns, together with all kinds of ammunition being developed were sent to Tarnewitz and tested on special stands and under war conditions. Up to 1939 various combat planes were evaluated at Tarnewitz, with their fixed and moveable machine-gun installations, simultaneously being tested under realistic conditions. Additionally, trials with different types of Sonderbewaffnung (special armament), for example all Rauchzylinder (smoke cylinders – 65 mm to 1,000 mm rockets) and Sondergeräte (special devices) were carried out, with these being installed in Bf 109, Bf 110 and Ju 88 aircraft. The E-Stelle was also responsible for testing many gunsights, both German ones and captured examples. Until March 1945 many different heavy gun systems up to 75 mm calibre, capable of destroying both armoured ground targets and aircraft, were also tested. Evaluations of the armament of new pointdefence fighters, such as the Ba 349 Natter and He P 1077 Julia, were among the last tasks undertaken. The facilities at Tarnewitz were captured nearly intact on 2 May 1945 when Allied soldiers arrived on the peninsula.
Luftwaffe Versuchsstelle/E-Stelle Peenemünde-West
Initially known as the Versuchsstelle (V-Stelle: Experimental Centre) Peenemünde-West, this modern Luftwaffe test facility was established close to the Heeresversuchsanstalt (HVA: Army Experimental Institute) on Usedom Island on the Baltic coast to the north-west of Stettin. It was later upgraded and redesignated to become a fully-fledged Erprobungsstelle. Aircraft capable of carrying air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons as well as all kinds of offensive missile systems were tested by department E2 at Peenemünde. Department E3 was responsible for powerplants and solving all questions relating to the use of aircraft fuel; specialists of E4 worked intensively on radio and remote-controlled weapons. Tests with rocket-assisted take-off (RATO) systems, with PC 1400 X bombs and X-4 anti-aircraft and X-7 anti-tank missiles were carried out from 1944 onwards. The E-stelle was a centre for rocket-propelled aircraft evaluation, especially for the Me 163 and Me 263. It was reported that the OKL was especially interested in the BV 143 and BV 246 automatically controlled missile systems, and the complete spectrum of glide-bombs and anti-aircraft missiles constructed by Henschel, such as the Schmetterling (Butterfly), and also Messerschmitt’s Enzian. The E-stelle ceased to exist on 7 May 1945 when a contingent of Scottish solders occupied the region.
At Udet-Feld in Upper Silesia all kind of bombs were evaluated together with different detonators, but also Abwurfbehälter (jettisonable munitions/stores containers), Bomben-schüttbehälter (fragmentation bomblet containers) and incendiary bombs. The E-Stelle was closed after the arrival of Soviet troops in January 1945.
The technically well-equipped airbase of Werneuchen, situated east of Berlin, was responsible for testing of all kinds of radio and radar systems assisted by the Flugfunk-forschungsanstalt (Air Radio Research Institute) at Oberpfaffenhofen (FFO). Beside the practical development of various modern systems, the evaluation of airborne radar types from FuG 212 to 220 was done. Finally the first two-seat Me 262 B nightfighters fitted with Jumo 004 B engines were tested at Werneuchen into early 1945. Due to the fast Soviet advance, the OKL was forced to withdraw the complete E-Stelle to Stade in northern Germany, where it was captured by British forces during the closing days of the war. A camouflaged V1 and an incomplete Ju 248 fuselage were found by British specialists.