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Masters of the Sky

"From 'Master of the Sky' to 'Master of Space':
50th FW moves 'there and back again'"

An article by the 50th Space Wing's historian in the December '06 Satellite Flyer

As many of you visiting this site already know, Hahn Air Base was located in the Hunsrück region of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Largely rural and undeveloped, the Hunsrück is situated roughly between the urban centers of Mainz to the east, Luxembourg to the west, and Cologne to the north. The Hunsrück is smaller than the state of Delaware or about half the size of Yellowstone National Park. Of the nearly 60 U.S., German and French military installations that were in the area, Hahn Air Base was the largest. Roughly 25,000 U.S. military personnel (including families) lived in the Hunsrück, and the housing area at the Hahn Air Base was the largest city in the Hunsrück, with nearly 10,000 inhabitants.

Mace Tactical missiles of the 30th TMW at Hahn AB. Credit: DOD

Like many U.S. Air Bases in the Rhineland-Palatinate, Hahn AB came to life not from a former Luftwaffe Base but rather from new French construction paid for with reparation monies. Even though the Rhineland-Palatinate was in the French Occupation Zone after WWII, French Forces never operated from the base. By late 1952 the rudimentary components of an airfield were completed: 8000 by 150 foot runway, a 50 foot concrete taxiway, 75 dispersal hardstands, alert aprons, two hangar aprons, one hangar, POL storage facilities for 400,000 gallons, ammunition storage, a ground-controlled-approach hardstand, access and interior roads and wells. From late 1952 through mid 1953 U.S Engineers worked to prepare the base to recieve it's host Unit, the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing. From 1953 until 1959, the 50th moved between Hahn Air Base and Toul-Rosieres Air Base in France to accomodate work to expand the base among other reasons. The final move back to Hahn AB was most likely motivated by the change in France's relationship to NATO.

2 F-86H Sabres of the 10th FBS. Credit: USAF Wing Commander's F-86H. Credit: Maj. Gen. F. Ascani

The Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany was the largest concentration of U.S. personnel and aircraft outside of the United States. The United States' other major German Air Bases of Zweibrucken, Ramstein, Sembach, Bitburg, Spangdahlem, and Rhein-Main are all within 60 miles (100 Kilometers) of Hahn.

F-100D of the 50th TFW. Credit: Michel Klaver

When the Cold War threat of an invasion of West Germany subsided, the United States was left with a huge excess capacity of expensive air fields. In 1991, the Air Force announced it would make major reductions in Germany. Many of the 50th TFW aircraft returning from the Desert Storm conflict returned straight to the United States after completing their mission in the Persian Gulf. On September 30, 1993, most of the facility was returned to civil German authorities. The United States continued to operate a very small ammunition dump, two radio stations, and some recreational facilities in one corner of the sprawling base, but the ammunition dump closed in 1995.

The 50th Fighter Wing was inactivated on 30 September 1991. In January of 1992 the Wing was redesignated as the 50th Space Wing and activated at Falcon AFB, later to become at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. The Wing operated satellites for the Defense Support Program, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Navstar Global Positioning System, Defense Satellite Communications System, and NATO III Fleet Satellite Communications System, as well as supporting space operations of allies, NASA, and other U.S. agencies. Changes in heraldry rules in 1992 led to the 50th Space Wing adopting the 50th Fighter Group emblem used in World War II.
The History of the 50th Space Wing


While at Hahn AB, many aircraft operated under the 50th Fighter Wing including the: F–86 Sabre, F–100 Super Sabre, F–102 Delta Dagger, F–104 Starfighter, F–106 Delta Dart, F–4 Phantom II, and finally the F–16 Fighting Falcon. (sources)

F-16s of the 50th TFW break for landing over Hahn AB. Credit: General Dynamics

Craving another look at Hahn since you left so long ago...
Check out Sean White's Webshots of Flughaven Hahn

March 2004

June 2004

Here are some more Hahn AB related links...

The Village of Hahn
The Village of Hahn

USAF History of the 50th Wing

Brief History Of Hahn Air Base, Germany (1945-1979)

Hahn AB & 50TFW
History Links

Martin Aguera's 50TFW
Home Page

Metro Tango Alumni Website

Global Security Hahn AB Page

For more links to Hahn AB or 50th Fighter Wing related sites,
visit our Links Hub by using the Eifel Nav Menu.

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Information Sources
Brief History Of Hahn Air Base, Germany (1945-1979)
MCC Occasional Papers - Entering Samaria: Peace Ministry among U.S. Military Personnel in West Germany
Global Security Hahn AB Page

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