Validation date: 12 06 2011
Updated on: Never
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51°14'60"N 014°17'43"E

Runway 08/26 - 2,360x60meters - concrete (CLOSED)
Runway 08/26 - 2,200x30meters - grass (emergency use only - CLOSED)

Airfield Cottbus (German: Flugplatz Cottbus, ICAO ETCB (until 1990), then EDPC, then ETHT) was an airfield on the northwestern edge of the city of Cottbuss in Brandenburg, Germany.
The airfields aviation history began in July 1912 when a local pilot received permission from the city council to operate at the Cottbuss horse race track. Just before World War I (1914) an airfield developed at the same race track. Construction f the military airfield began in 1916, and it became operational in 1917. At the time it was home to the Flieger Ersatz Abteilung 12 (operational pilot unit 12) and the observer training (German: Beobachterausbilding). The airfield was demolished in 1920 and the barracks were converted into homes.

Five years later the Cottbus Magistrate ordered the construction of a military airfield. At the same time the Union to the promotion of aviation (Verein zur Förderung des Flugwesens e.V.) was founded. In 1926 Cottbuss was already a full member of the "Union of German Airport owners" (German: Verband Deutscher Flughavenbesitzer). In May 1927 the airfield became a military airfield. Luft Hansa brought Cottbus into her network on the line Cottbuss-Schkeuditz.
Middle 1933 Hangars and barracks were built for the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule (German Air Traffic Pilots School). The school began training pilots for the Luftwaffe in 1934.

Between 1939 and 1941 the Fliegerausbildungsregiment 82 (FAR 82) was stationed at the airfield, along with the maintenance facilities of dive bomber wing (Sturzkampfgeschwader) 2 "Immelman".
In the fall of 1942 the Focke-Wulf company moved parts of their production to Cottbus. The assembly of the FW-200C now took place here. For the production of parts the cities textile industry had to move. From 1944 the production of FW-190A and Ta-152H also took place at Cottbus. In February 1945 the factory was taken apart and moved to the west.
The airfield was attacked by the 8th Air Force in February 1945, destroying the cities railway station and the nearby city burrough. During the battles during the spring of 1945 the airfield was used by two fighter wings. On 23 April 1945 the airfield fell to the Red Army, who used its three runways until 1952.

In August 1952 the first East-German Police unit became operational, based at Cottbus. They were followed by the first NVA-Air Force unit (Jadgfliegerjagdgeschwader 1 (JG-1) "Fritz Schmenkel") in March 1956. The airfield hosted an airshow with jets from the USSR, the Czechoslovakian Air Force and the Peoples Republic of Poland on 1 September 1957.
JG-1 gained the East German Air Forces first jets (MiG-15s built in Czechoslovakia) in September 1956, switching to MiG-17s (built in Poland) only one year later. Another year later they received upgraded MiG-17PFs, allowing them night time operations because of their on board targeting radars.
In 1967 the transition to MiG-21s meant a remarkable incident occurred at Berlin Tegel. A Soviet ferry pilot landed his unmarked but brand new MiG-21 at Tegel, because the Tegel radio beacon operated at nearly the same frequency as the one Cottbus. He realised his mistake only after he had come to a full stop, but managed to restart his aircraft and take off before the runway could be blocked by a fuel truck. The mistake could happen because the Cottbus pilots knew about the interference and had learned to live with it, but the Soviet ferry pilots were unaware.
JG-1 moved to Holzdorf in November 1982, and were replaced by the helicopters of Attack Helicopter Wing 67 (Kampfhubschraubergeschwader 67) a month later.
After the political changes of 1990 a Piper Cheyenne landing at the air base inaugurated the civilian use of the airfield.

During the early years of JG-1 the unit had the first (and only) female fighter pilot of the East German Air Force: Iris Wittig (09 Apr 1928 - 30 Sep 1978).
She was a remarkable woman, with a keen interest in techical equipment.
Having good personal relations with General Inspector Heinz Kessler, she managed to get a posting with the Peoples Police (german: Volkspolizei).
(Both their mothers had become close friends in the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp during World War II)
Because of her abilities she soon climbed ranks, making it to officer in 1953.
With a Soviet instructor she flew her first MiG-15U by the end of April 1953.
As a result of an accident she had to stop (for medical reasons) flying fast jets in 1954, but continued to fly as an instructor on gliders and Yak-18s.
In 1978 Iris Wittig, first (and only) female military pilot, wife of NVA pilot Hans Köhler and mother of two, died aged only 50 years old.

Yak-18 of JG-1 landing at Cottbus on 18 Feb 1957

Factory fresh MiG-15s being delivered to Cottbus airfield, while still in their Soviet colours

JG-1 MiG-17s receiving their nationality markings on the Cottbus platforms in August 1958

Cottbus airfield circuits as shown on a Soviet map of the airfield

Aerial view of the Cottbus platforms (including the old Luftwaffe runways), presumably late 1980s

Mi-8 landing next to a Mi-24 Hind at Cottbus in the 1980s

The German Federal Army (german: Bundesheer) took control of the flying units and the airfield in October 1990.
Attack Helicopter Wing 3 was transformed into several Heeresflieger (Army Aviation) squadrons.
The support units became responsible for the 'Germanification' of former East-German MiG-29s.
The base was last used during the floods of 1997, when search and rescue helicopters used the air field for repairs and refuellling.
During the operation soldiers were stationed and housed at the base.

Overview of Cottbus shot in 2000 (Google Earth)

Cottbus closed somewhere around 2000.

A few years later a unique World War II-era transportable Luftwaffe hangars was sold, disassembled, and transported to Virginia Beach (USA).
There it is in the process of getting restored and rebuilt to become part of the Luftwaffe section of the Military Aviation Museum.
A more detailed description of that operation can be found at the Museums website (PDF, page 3), an interesting find during the restauration work can be read about here (PDF, page 1).
Otherwise the airfield is still intact, although plans exist to convert the area into an industrial estate.
The airfield is deemed to close to residential areas.
On the south side of the former airfield an aviation museum is located.
Several former East German Air Force aircraft (mainly different types of MiGs) are placed in an outdoors setting.
The museums website can be found here (in German).

An old World War II Hangar at Cottbus was dismantled and moved to Virginia Beach for restauration and reassembly (photo courtesy of Military Aviation Museum, Virginia Beach, USA).