Hopsten Military Airfield
Hopsten (Rheine) fighter base
Opened before 1945. GAF fighter base
Now - GAF fighter base (Bundeswehr Luftwaffe).
In the history of military aviation, Hopsten AB has been well known for
more than half a Century. The area was used long before the Second World
War as an airfield for the locally based fighter and bomber units. In
1938, the military leadership ordered the construction of a small airfield
- then only measuring 200 hectares - in the vicinity of Dreierwalde. The
construction on the state-owned land was managed and surveyed by the Luftbauamt
6 in Münster. Known under the designation "Rheiner Bauabschnitt
2", the airfield project was to receive three runways. The paved
main east-west runway had a length of 1.800 meters. The other two runways
run from north to south and from southwest to northeast, each of these
was 1.000 meters and destined for use mainly by fighter units. After the
completion of the new airfield in 1939, it was difficult to choose a name
for the base as the Citizens of Dreierwalde refused to allow the use of
their village name for the installation. Only after a further extension
of the area between 1940 and 1944, lengthening the main runway to 3.000
meters into the boundary of the village of Hopsten, was the name Hopsten
AB adopted and remains to this date. The map shows the east-west direction
of the main runway between the villages of Hopsten and Dreierwalde as
well as the other two runways running north to south and southwest to
northeast. On official opening day of the airfield, October 25, 1939,
the 1. Gruppe, Jagdgeschwader 27 (lead by Hauptmann Riegel) transferred
48 Me 109E-1 from Münster-Handorf to Hopsten. Led by its first Kommodore
- Oberstleutnant Max Ibel, the unit was ready for the so called "Reichsverteidigung",
(i.e. the defence of the Reich). Because of political and Strategic changes
Hopsten AB played only a secondary role as an operational base for the
Luftwaffe in the opening stages of the Second World War. In the years
between 1939 and 1944, the base was used only for short periods by different
day and night fighter units as well as various bomber wings. This time
was used to further extend the air base. During this phase expropriations
took place in the nearby villages of Hopsten and Hörstel. In the
northern part of the airfield, between Dreierwalde and Hopsten, new housing
for the base administration was set up, as well as additional ramp space
and taxiways for aircraft.
When the NAZI-Regime became was forced on the defence, the tranquility
of the first years of the war was to change for Hopsten. In Summer 1944
it became clear that the location of Hopsten AB was an asset in the air
defence of the Reich. From fall of 1944 onwards, Hopsten AB became a hub
for a multitude of Luftwaffe activity. Daily operations were conducted
with famous aircraft such as the Bf 109. Bf 110, Heinkel He 111, He 219
and Focke Wulf 190. Starting in September 1944, the Me 262 equipped Kampfgeschwader
51 "Edelweiß" was based at Hopsten and flew among other
missions, against the allied occupied air base of Ath-Chievrés
near Mons, Belgium, where the unit had been based just weeks before. From
December 1944 the 6. Kampfgeschwader 76 with the Reconnaissance Group
"Sperling" equipped with Arado Ar 234 jets was also based at
Hopsten. At first, the unit was mainly used in the reconnaissance role
but later they were also used on attack missions on the bridge over
the Rhine near Remagen. The almost complete air superiority of the Allies
over German air defences made even these technically advanced flights
very risky. In the end, the take-offs and landings of the jets had to
be covered by large numbers of conventional fighters to guarantee minimum
chances of success. A number of fighter units were used to protect the
jets in their most critical flying phases of take-off and landing against
allied fighter and bombers. Employed units were:
- II./Jagdgeschwader 1 from Drope near Lingen.
- III./Jagdgeschwader 1 from Rheine-Bentlage AB.
- Stab and I./Jagdgeschwader 26 from Drope and Fürstenau,
- II./Jagdgeschwader 26 from Nordhorn,
- III./Jagdgeschwader 26 from Plantlünne,
- Stab and l./Jagdgeschwader 27 from Rheine-Bentlage,
- II./ Jagdgeschwader 27 based locally at Hopsten,
- III./ Jagdgeschwader 27 from Hesepe,
- IV./ Jagdgeschwader 27 from Achmer and
- III./ Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grünherz" with its JG 190D-9
from Varrelbusch, Vörden and Fürstenau.
The end of the Luftwaffe could be seen to emerge after the January 1,
1945. With the remaining pilots and aircraft “Unternehmen Bodenplatte”
was launched. The objective of the Operation was to decimate the allied
aviation units on the ground within the liberated parts of Western Europe
with fighter-bombers, during on early morning massive air strike. The
allied numeric air superiority, inexperience of the young German pilots
and the lack of advance knowledge of the Operation being given to German
anti-aircraft defence units made this insane Operation a huge failure.
After this operation the remainder of Kampfgeschwader 51 “Edelweiß”
with its Me 262 aircraft was transferred from Rheine-Hopsten to Giebelstadt
on March 30, 1945. Until the occupation of the base in early April 1945,
Jagdgeschwader 26 with its late Version Bf 109G/K and Jg 190A, Jagdgeschwader
27 with Messerschmitt Bf 109G/K and parts of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 equipped
with Bf 110 and He 219 were also based at Hopsten.
Towards the end of the war, Hopsten Air Base was a frequent target for
allied air raids. But due to the extremely heavy air defence - with up
to 500 AAA guns based in the vicinity of the base - and the fast repairs
done to the runways, it remained relatively intact. Good camouflage and
widely dispersed aircraft parking kept the airfield operational until
the occupation by British troops. During the last days of the war, German
units destroyed the infrastructure and made the airfield useless. The
hand-over of Hopsten AB to advancing allied troops happened without further
fighting on April 6, 1945. The Allies decided to abandon the area, as
it could no longer be used for flying activities and handed it back to
the local population for agricultural use.
After the complete collapse of the regime of the so-called "Third
Reich", and the subsequent division of Germany among the victorious
nations, the territories of the three western occupied zones saw the formation
of the Federal Republic of Germany with a liberal and democratic fundamental
order and the GDR (German Democratic Republic) ruled by a social-communist
government intensively linked to the Soviet Union. Ten years after the
war, the young Federal Republic, under the control of the Western Powers,
formed its own Armed Forces to defend the democratic principles and freedom.
In 1956, only a few months after the establishment of the Bundeswehr,
the new Luftwaffe began to set up new units and therefore needed airfields.
In 1959, three years later, the German Defence Ministry decided to use
the area of the former Hopsten AB to build the youngest base of the Luftwaffe
on an area of land measuring 306 acres.
Paid with NATO funds, specialized companies from the region were tasked
to build a completely new air base to modern NATO Standards, The north
to south runway was 3.000 meters long and 30 meters wide, was constructed
between the villages of Dreierwalde and Hopsten in the North and Hörstel
in the South. Ramp space, airfield infrastructure and roads, as well as
a housing and administration complex in the city of Rheine eight kilometers
away, were completed to new NATO Standards for Western Europe. The old
name of Hopsten Air Base was maintained.
In April 1961, Jagdbombergeschwader 31 (Fighter Bomber Wing 31) at Nörvenich
AB was tasked to provide a detachment of 40 men with the necessary equipment.
These “men of the first hour” of Jagdbombergeschwader 36 were
to work hard to improvise, under the command of the first CO Major Wilhelm
Meyn. Improvisation was the rule of the day. For instance, as only one
tool kit was available it was soon found out that certain screws on the
F-84F "Thunderstreak" could also be turned with coins.
Images and information placed above are from http://www.sideka.de/referenzen/hopsten.html
We thank them for the data!
52° 20' 19.20" N
007° 32' 28.80" E
||000° E (01/05)
||GERMAN AIR FORCE
||SEE REMARKS FOR OPERATING HOURS OR COMMUNICATIONS FOR POSSIBLE HOURS
|International Clearance Status
||Airport of Entry
|Daylight Savings Time
||Last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October
(123.3 Rhein-Bentlage APP)
||8005 x 98 feet
2440 x 30 meters
||Distance From Field
||Bearing From Navaid
||JP-8, SemiKeroscene MIL Spec T-83133, without icing inhibitor
||O-133, 1010, jet Engine Oil (MIL l 6081)|
O-147, MIL L 6085A Lubrication Oil, Instrument Synthetic
O-148, MIL L 7808 (Synthetic Base), Turboprop/Turboshaft Engine
O-156, MIL L 23699 (Synthetic Base)Turboprop/Turboshaft Engine
||LHOX, Low and high pressure oxygen servicing|
LOX, Liquid oxygen servicing
75kva AC 115/200v 400hz AIR 145-155lb/min at 47-51 psi
||Apch end engagement O/R.
||Gldr act only in VMC 0800Z++-SS+30, 3 NM rad of Rheine-Eschendorf, pilots are advs to avoid this area. Rwy, twy and apn S of ARP are camouflaged green colored.
||Fone C05971-9107, extn 2372.
||Opr 0700-1600Z++ Mon-Thu, 0700-1100Z++ Fri, clsd hol.
8005 x 98 feet
2440 x 30 meters
52° 19' 39.60" N
007° 32' 21.60" E
52° 20' 58.20" N
007° 32' 36.00" E
52° 20' 42.00" N
007° 32' 23.40" E
Thanks to: www.worldaerodata.com
The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2005.
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