Luftwaffe Over Ohio!
By Paul F. Straney and Robert Sacchi
At Park Ridge, most aircraft were stored indoors. A Tank Ta-152H fighter aircraft is in the foreground, with a Heinkel He-219 to the right. This was only a temporary stop for these aircraft. When war broke out in Korea in 1950, the Park Ridge facility was re-activated by the military, and this collection of aircraft traveled east to Silver Hill (now the Paul E. Garber storage facility.) [NASM]
Much was learned from both the aircraft and the research data gathered in Germany. Overnight, the entire air fleet of the USAAF was rendered obsolescent. New aircraft under design, such as the North American F-86 Saber, were redesigned because of this new technology (the F-86 was originally a straight-wing design but, as a result of the learned technology, it was given swept-wings and leading edge slats). As time progressed, the shine wore off the apple. At Wright Field, testing was hampered by both demilitarization, and the difficulty of maintaining aircraft which had been manufactured under the poor conditions that existed in Germany at the end of the war. After many equipment failures and the loss of at least two aircraft, testing was for the most part brought to a close. Air testing was officially terminated in November 1947, and the aircraft remaining were declared surplus and disposed of. Some aircraft went to technical schools for airframe instruction. Others ended up as static displays and war memorials. With the ravages of time, most eventually disappeared, though some were rescued by aviation enthusiasts.
With the start of the Korean War in 1950, Orchard Place Field was reactivated, and the Smithsonian's National Air Museum collection was moved, for the most part, to unused government hangar space at Silver Hill, Maryland. Aircraft which were not transferred ended up as landfill for what is now O'Hare International Airport, which Orchard Place Field was eventually incorporated into. The storage facility at Silver Hill was later renamed the Paul E. Garber Facility, in honor of the man whose untiring efforts to preserve the history of aviation are well-known.
Silver Hill was a much smaller facility, and with storage space at a premium, some of the larger aircraft had to be stored outside for a time. As more storage space has become available, everything has now moved indoors. [NASM]
When WW2 ended, there were many German aircraft in this country outside the control of the ATSC. A lucky few ended up in museums, such as the Ju-87B at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It came to the museum as part of a war relics display in 1945 and was simply left there, the British Information Service donating it to the museum in 1946. Other aircraft ended up in the hands of private individuals, or were returned to their controlling agency for preservation or disposal. The leftovers, forgotten in the postwar euphoria, ended up in scrapyards throughout the country.
The US Navy received part of the Reaper booty and did limited flight testing on these aircraft at the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River NAS. Two ex-Luftwaffe aircraft ended up on display at Willow Grove NAS. The rest went into surplus storage as the Navy Air Test Center finished with them. Some aircraft were later removed from storage and given to various museums for displays, while the majority ended their days ignominiously as landfill.
This Dornier 335, with the last three digits of its works number in white ("102") was photographed at Patuxent Naval Air Station, Maryland. Originally taken by the Navy, this aircraft made it's way into the National Air Museum in 1947. [NASM]
All flight test and inventory records for aircraft at Freeman Field were scattered to various agencies as they were declassified. Some ended up in the National Archives, National Air and Space Museum Library, USAF Research Center, or one of over a dozen other governmental institutions. Most of these facilities, under-funded and understaffed , had to put them into storage as-is, most being un-indexed and unreferenced. This has served to render these records almost inaccessible to all but the most diligent and persevering researchers. The authors are aware of individual pieces of information coming to light, but until some hardy soul has the time and financial resources to take on the awe-inspiring task of locating flight and inventory records from Freeman and Wright Fields, the bulk of these records will remain lost among the millions of document pages in storage.
Paul F. Straney and Robert Sacchi © 1990