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Budapest Airlift Operations 28 Dec 1944 to 15 Feb 1945

24 Dec 1944 – Budapest was finally surrounded by Russian forces.

Within the Budapest enclave Obergruppenführer Karl von Pfeffer-Wildenbruck[1] commanded 33,000 Germand and 37,000 Hungarian troops.[2]

It was decided that the enclave would be re-supplied by air. The German army required that 80 tons of supplies were to be delivered daily – 60 tons to be landed each day, plus another 20 tons to be airdropped. This was based on the principal that the available transport facilities would be sufficient and that the required amount of ground transport was available to deliver the supplies to the take-off bases.

The main items to be delivered were – ammunition, fuel, food, medical supplies and flour. It was expected that, on return journeys, the planes would fly out wounded personnel – no able-bodies males (regardless of rank) were allowed to leave.

27 Dec 1944 - Budapest's main airport captured by Soviet forces. Supply landings were then made at the racetrack. However, this was under constant artillery fire.

29 Dec 1944 - Generalleutnant Gerhard Conrad (commander Luftflotte 4 troops) was given the task of organising the supply operation.

Units allocated to the air supply operation included:-

III./TG 2 ( Maj. Reimann) plus 5./TG 2 (Ju 52/3m)

III./TG 3 (Maj. Penkert) plus elements of I./TG 3 (Ju 52/3m)

The Ju 52/3ms were to use Papa and Szombathely in western Hungary as take-off bases.

I and II./ KG 4 (He 111Hs) based at Wiener-Neustadt (Austria) and Nowy Dwor (Poland).

I./ Schleppgruppe 2 (Hptm. Fae and equipped with Do 17s and DFS 230 gliders) was also available. However, this unit was of limited usefulness as operations were expected to be flown at night and , therefore, the usual towing method) using a 40nm cable) could not be used. In addition the Do 17s were not equipped with the 2m long rigid tow bar. Some of the KG 4 He 111s were equipped with the rigid bar and also a number of that unit's crews were experienced in these towing techniques. So when these KG 4 crews completed their supply or bombing sorties for the day they were seconded to the Schleppgruppe.

9 Jan 1945 – The racetrack, used since 27 Dec as a makeshift airport, was overrun by Soviet forces. The Germans then converted the Vérmezö, an eight-hundred-yard-long park, into a landing zone. This narrow park drew constant fire as light aircraft and gliders continued to attempt to land by night.

17 Jan 1945 - Owing to narrow streets and transfer of personnel to cellars and sewers, a main defence line could not be maintained. Supply situation critical but eased by well aimed continual supply drops that day.[3]

9 Feb 1945 – the last supply operation, to the enclave, was flown.

12 Feb 1945 – At 1653 Radio communication with the surviving surrounded troops was lost. Later that day it was reported that the survivors of the defending force had succeeded in breaking out of the encirclement.

13 Feb 1945 – 3,000 men, from a total of 16,000 troops who had tried to force a break-out, were located in woods west of Nagykovacsi (NW of Budapest) by reconnaissance aircraft.

14-15 Feb 1945 - The soldiers in the wood were supplied by a small number of Ju 52/3ms and He 111Hs.

14 Feb 1945 – Air drop of supplies to the troops in the wood carried out by nine He 111Hs during the night.

15 Feb 1945 – A further air-drop took place on this night, carried out by nine He 111Hs and three Ju 52/3ms.

Of the original 16,000 in the attempted break-out only 785 troops eventually reached German lines.[4]

Generalleutnant Conrad's Staff

Maj. Hornung - Operations Officer

Maj. Heck – Signal Communications Officer

Dr. Heim – Meteorologist.

Hptm. Thomas – Liaison Officer

Lt. Rehbehn – Operations

Lt. Kraft – Operations

Lt. Arnold – Operations.

Supplies flown into Budapest

During the operation that concluded on 9 Feb 1945 the Transport units (excluding KG 4) flew in 1515 tons of supplies to the enclave. This amounted to approximately 36 tons per day, well below the 80 tons required by the German Army.

Losses incurred by the Transport units

36 Ju 52/3ms

7 He111Hs

1 Ju 87

1 Do 17

12 Gliders plus 36 abandoned after landing in the enclave (either at the racetrack or at the park).

Personnel losses incurred by the transport units included: 13 dead, 17 seriously wounded, 12 slightly wounded and 96 missing in action (this probably included a large number of the Glider pilots who landed in the enclave).[5]

Ju 52 Losses[6] included:-

Date Unit Aircraft Type Code Wkr.No. Notes
06 Jan 1945 III./TG 3 Ju 52/3m Crashed at Budapest and suffered a fire on impact.

Fw. Alfred Edelmann (F) and Fw. Erich Ulbrich (Bw) both KIA.

Fw. Martin Frerichs (B) and Ogefr. Rudolf Siebert (Bf) both WIA

14 Jan 1945 II./TG 2 Ju 52/3m 130735 Crashed at Papa due to technical problems, 70% damage sustained.

Ofw. Dietrich (F), Ofw. Brübach (Bf ), Ofw. Kalnischke (Bm) and Fw. Walter (Bs) all WIA

16 Jan 1945 II./TG 2 Ju 52/3m 641033 Ofw. Otto Tielemann (F), Ofw. Gottfried Pfeiffer (Bf), Ofw. Oskar Scherer (Bm), Gefr. Hatmut Gronerst (Bs) and Ofhr. Georg Becher (F) all MIA
16 Jan 1945 III./TG 3 Ju 52/3m Enemy attack.

Ofw. Weissert (Bf), Ogefr. Kappenhagen (Bm), Uffz. Giesemann (Bs) and Fw. Meyer (Bs) WIA

16 Jan 1945 III./TG 4 Ju 52/3m G6+DU 640612 Flak hits Damage 100%. Ofw. Josef Rupp (F), Ofw. Rudolf Lechelt (Bf), Uffz. Helmut Grunert (Bm) and Ofw. Hermann Meinecke (Bs) all MIA.
17 Jan 1945 III./TG 3 Ju 52/3m 10015 Crash, fire on impact 100%

Uffz. Glatter (F) WIA. Uffz. Müller (Bf), Uffz. Wölfer (Bm) and Gefr. Wehler (Bs) all KIA

18-01-45 SchleppStzbV Reich DFS 230 Missing near Gran, Fw. Kurt Kappacher (F) MIA
18-01-45 SchleppStzbV Reich DFS 230 Missing near Budapest. Fw. August Schilling (F) MIA
18-01-45 SchleppStzbV Reich DFS 230 Missing near Budapest.Ogefr. Jakob Spichtinger (F) MIA
19 Jan 1945 II./TG 2 Ju 52/3m 7230 Destroyed at Papa in a fighter attack. Stfw. Heinrich Geißler (F), Uffz. Roman Weidinger (Bw) and Ogefr. Gerhard Winterberg (Bs) all WIA with Uffz. Josef Lowinski (Bf) KIA
19 Jan 1945 SchleppStzbV Reich DFS 230 A-2 122163 Forced landing near Gießen, poor weather 25% damage.
24 Jan 1945 III./TG 2 Ju 52/3m 7168 35% Damaged at Papa due to engine trouble.
27 Jan 1945 III./TG 2 Ju 52/3m 8T+AR 5542 Aircraft missing.

Fw. Josef Kreymeier (F), Ogefr. Mathias Wyers (Bf), Uffz. Werner Burmeister (Bm) and Fhr. Anton Christian (Bs) all MIA

27 Jan 1945 III./TG 3 Ju 52/3m G6+AP 3259 Shot down by Flak.

Oltn. Johann Czirz (F) and Fw. Schramm (B) both KIA, Uffz. Rieser (Bf) MIA

28 Jan 1945 II./TG 2 Ju 52/3m 501434 Budapest Flak hits 10% damage, Uffz. Herbert Holder (Bf) WIA


The following is a list of Wk.Nr of DFS 230s lost by Schleppgruppe zbV Reich in the vicinity of Budapest. These losses occurred during the period 18 Jan 1945 to 04 Feb 1945. The exact date is not reported. The source is the Genst.Gen. Qu. 6. Abt.returns.0086, 0108, 0424, 2086, 21279, 21293, 21349, 21352, 22143, 22156, 22166, 22179, 22200, 22203, 22213, 22346, 22857, 22902, 25128, 25259, 25293, 25358, 25362, 25364, 25506, 25509, 25510, 27040, 27058, 27085, 27213, 27282, 27345, 27407, 27462, 27518, 27589, 120151, 120161, 122814, 122888, 127225, 170003, 170004, 170005, 170006, 220406 and 221288.[7]

The following glider pilots were reported missing in action by SchleppGrpzbV Reich during the same time period. Possibly lost with the above gliders, used in ground fighting with infantry or did not survive the final catastrophe when the enclave collapsed.

Ltn. Wachter, Ofhr. Müller, Fhr. Dörner, Fhr. Reinholdt, Ofw. Filins, Ofw. Haupt, Ofw. Kleinke, Fw. Jung, Fw. Kazzacher, Fw. Lindemann, Fw. Schilling, Fw. Tiethmüller, Uffz. Berger, Uffz. Busch, Uffz. Drescher, Uffz. Held, Uffz. Herda, Uffz. Irion, Uffz. Itter, Uffz. Jäger, Uffz. Kröger, Uffz. Kusserow, Uffz. Lienemann, Uffz. Martin, Uffz. Mayer,Uffz. Noack, Uffz. Ochsenfatth, Uffz. Petri, Uffz. Pickard, Uffz. Roholick, Uffz. Savenburg, Uffz. Schwarze, Uffz. Schödel, Uffz. Steinbart, Uffz. Thicke, Uffz. Toth, Uffz. Verpott, Uffz. Veit Hans, Ogefr. Günther, Ogefr. Hess, Ogefr. Hoffmann, Ogefr. Keck, Ogefr. Körner, Ogefr. Rüdel, Ogefr. Schäfer, Ogefr. Schirmeier Ogefr. Schlöppmann and Ogefr. Spichtilger.[8]

External Links

1.Wikipedia - The battle of Budapest

2. The Siege of Budapest at the Open Society Archives


  1. Commander of IX SSS Gerbirgskorps – Transporter v2, Pegg page 165.
  2. Nowarra – Ju 52, Aircraft and Legend page 162
  3. Ultra T.434/57
  4. Nowarra – Ju 52, Aircraft and Legend page 162
  5. Morzick – German Airforce Airlift Operations page 266
  6. Norbert Schuchbauer 10th July 2005 posting to TOCH, source is the Genst.Gen. Qu. 6. Abt
  7. Norbert Schuchbauer 10th July 2005 posting to TOCH, source is the Genst.Gen. Qu. 6. Abt
  8. Norbert Schuchbauer 10th July 2005 posting to TOCH, source is the Genst.Gen. Qu. 6. Abt

Pegg, Martin - Transporter 1943-45 v2 (Classic)

Morzik, Fritz - German Air Force Airlift Operations, ARNO Press

Nowarra, Heinz - Ju 52 Aircraft and Legend.