Operation Vittles

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Operation Vittles was the first big Cold War victory for the West.  Seeking to starve the Western Allies out of West Berlin, the Soviets on June 24, 1948 cut land routes to West Berlin, a city of two million.  I assume that Stalin thought that the Western Allies could not supply the city by air.  He was mistaken.  Beginning on June 28, 1948, a huge air transport operation was begun to keep the West Berliners supplied.  The air units participating were: Airlift Task Force (Provisional); 1st Airlift Task Force; Combined Airlift Task Force; 7499th Air Division; Airlift Wing (Provisional); 60th, 61st, 313th, and 317th Troop Carrier Wings; 7150th Air Force Composite Wing; 7497th Airlift Wing (Provisional); 60th, 61st, 313th, 317th, and 513th Troop Carrier Groups; 1420th and 1422d Air Transport Groups (Provisional); 1st, 3d, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 22d, 23d, 82d, 1250th, 1251st, 1255th, 1256th, 1258th, 1263d, 1267th, 1268th, and 1273d Air Transport Squadrons; 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 20th, 22d, 29th, 33d, 39th, 40th, 41st, 47th, 48th, 53d, 54th, 330th, 331st, 332d, and 333d Troop Carrier Squadrons; and 7196th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron .


These air units transported 2.3 million tons of supplies to West Berlin, and 227,665 passengers in and out of West Berlin.  West Berlin civilians cheered the crews of the planes, amazed that in so short a time their enemies had become their allies.  The Germans called the planes “Rosinenbomber” Raisin Bomber.  The US flew 189,963 flights during the operation.  Realizing this was a propaganda disaster, Stalin reopened the land routes on May 12, 1949.  Operation Vittles continued to September 30, 1949 to build a large stockpile of reserve supplies in case the Soviets cut the land routes again.


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One Comment

  1. Interesting to take a head count of the history professoriate specializing in the 20th c Europe or 20th c North America. The culture being what it is on faculties, I’m betting the majority who offer an opinion would blame the Truman administration for the impasse or engage in a great deal of obfuscation.

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