Collection of historic military aircraft in Germany

70 years after the end of World War II, collecting wartime memorabilia and showing enthusiasm for historic military technology is no longer regarded as a dubious preoccupation in Germany. A new generation is taking over and continues to preserve the heritage from this period in all its facets. This includes keeping alive the memory of the enormous technological achievements and the examples of individual bravery that could be witnessed on all sides during these dark times.

This approach is followed very consequently by “Hangar 10”, a rather new museum in Germany that houses an impressive collection of military aircraft from the four main parties involved in the conflict in the European theatre: Germany, the U.K., the U.S.A. and Russia. The museum is located in a restored aircraft hangar from 1935 on the beautiful island of Usedom at the Baltic Sea.

Video tour through the collection (German language, only):

Source: YouTube © Copyright: Mein Land Mein Sender

German aircraft on display

The German military aircraft on display include three Messerschmitt Bf 109 – the most common fighter plane of the Luftwaffe during World War II. One was built in 1954 under license in Spain and is equipped with a Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 engine with 1,600 hp. Actually, most of the Me-109s that are still airworthy are such hybrids which served in the Spanish air force, as very few Daimler-Benz powered 109s built in Germany have survived the war. So it is little wonder that also the second one is not a genuine wartime aircraft. However, it is a precise replica of a well-documented plane that got lost in May 1944 in Austria. The plate with the original frame number could be retrieved from the wreck and was re-used for the replica together with a reconditioned Daimler-Benz DB 605 V12 engine with 1,475 hp. The rebuilt was executed by Meier Motors GmbH who have obviously done an excellent job.

While the two Me-109s mentioned are airworthy, the third one is a wreck of an original wartime Messerschmitt that got shot down in November 1944 fighting against Boeing B-17 bombers attacking Hannover. The pilot who was only 19 years old did not survive the crash. His remains were unearthed only in 1997 together with the wreck that today is displayed in Hangar 10.

Also not airworthy but hugely impressive is the Focke-Wulff Fw-190 D “Dora” 9 from 1944/45. This fearsome version of the Fw-190 was equipped with a Junkers V12 engine with 1,750 hp enabling a maximum speed of more than 700 kph. While the Messerschmitt is better known, the Focke-Wulff is deemed the best piston-engined fighter of the German Luftwaffe and was still highly competitive at the end of the war. The plane on display is a partial reconstruction using an original fuselage. Last but not least the German air force is also represented by two airworthy biplanes manufactured by Bücker. These were built in large numbers and were used as military trainers and aerobatic aircraft – even a long time after the war.

R.A.F. planes in the collection

Of course, any serious collection of warbirds cannot do without the legendary Supermarine Spitfire. While the rugged Hawker Hurricane actually bore the brunt of the fighting during the Battle of Britain in summer 1940 the Spitfire is still regarded by many as the plane that saved England from a German invasion. Be it as it may, the sleek fighter was undoubtedly one of the most advanced and successful aircraft designs of World War 2 – renowned for its unique beauty, power, and handling. The Spitfire displayed in Hangar 10 is an airworthy Mk IX version built in 1943 that saw 390 sorties. It is equipped with a Rolls-Royce V12 engine with 1,650 hp that featured a specifically designed two-stage supercharger enabling fights against the newly introduced Focke-Wulff 190 in high altitude.

Once also a common sight in the R.A.F., was the De Havilland 82A “Tiger Moth” biplane displayed in Hangar 10. It wears the typical colour scheme of a military trainer of the late 1930s and early 40s and is equipped with the original straight 4 engine with 130 hp.

Aircraft used by the USAF

Among the four American aircraft shown in Hangar 10, the most notable certainly is the P-51D “Mustang” which was built in 1944 and served as a trainer in the USAF until 1950. Following a major overhaul, the plane is airworthy and still capable of showing the stunning performance of its 1,750hp V12 engine built by Packard under license of Rolls-Royce. Furthermore, the U.S. section of the collection includes a Piper Cub reconnaissance plane with a 90 hp flat-4 engine, a Boeing Stearman biplane trainer, and a North-American AT-6, the latter two with powerful radial engines by Continental or Pratt & Whitney, respectively.

Soviet military aircraft

Probably a rare sight on air shows in the U.K. and the U.S. are the two Russian aircraft in the collection. The first one is Polikarpov PO-2 biplane trainer from the 1930s with a Shwezov 5-cylinder radial engine with 125 hp. The plain and simple design was hugely successful in the East and roughly 40,000 PO-2s were built between 1928 and 1954. The plane on display was built in Poland under license but is wearing wartime colour schemes. Despite its vulnerability it was used by the Soviets to attack German forces and saw its last action during the Korean War in the mid-fifties. The second one is a replica of the Yakovlev YAK-9 fighter which was built using several original parts. The plane is equipped with a modern Allison V12 engine with 1,600 hp (comparable to the original) and wears the colour scheme of a Russian reconnaissance unit from World War 2. The YAK-9 was built rom 1942 and 1948 and was one of the most common and versatile Russian combat airplanes.

Collection of military vehicles

A nice supplement of the aircraft collection is a number of classic military vehicles. These include –among others – a NSU Kettenkrad (gun carrier with tracks), a Zündapp KS-750 (heavy motorcycle with sidecar and all-wheel drive), a Willys Jeep, a Land Rover Lightweight (no WW2 vehicle, of course), and a GAZ Z67 (Russian all-terrain vehicle from 1941-44).

All in all, Hangar 10 on the island of Usedom is a must-see for all those who are into historic aircraft and wartime technology. The collection is open to the public from spring to autumn. For more details see the museum’s website (available in English).

Perhaps less well-known among foreign travellers than other tourist regions of Germany, Usedom has the reputation of being the sunniest place in Germany with an average of more than 1900 hours of sunshine per year. Usedom also boasts one of the most spectacular beaches in Europe stretching for 40 km from Peenemünde (former V2 rocket launch site) to Swinemünde (once an important naval port) near the Polish border. Thus, visiting the Hangar 10 museum could be just one part of a journey to one of Germany’s most picturesque landscapes oozing history.

Source: Michael Schlenger