Hahn's History
The Construction of Hahn!


'Life On Base!'
Hope You Enjoy Your Visit

Crane, Hahn 1952.

Building Hahn AB

The Why!

From 1945 to 1950, the primary mission of the United States military units stationed in the American zone of Germany was occupational. By 1950, however, that concept changed to emphasize the defense of Western Europe. The formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) signaled the buildup of international forces and began with the formation of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on April 2, 1951.

New Front Gate,1979.

Prior to the formation of SHAPE, the Soviet Bloc, had initiated an extensive airfield construction program in Eastern Europe during 1948. To meet that threat, the redeployment of U.S. Air Force units to sites west of the Rhine River was desired with a contemplated redeployment area in the French Zone of Germany.

Hahn's Front Gate, 1960's.

Negotiations with the French to obtain bases in their zone began in 1951. In March of that year, an agreement was reached between the Commanders In Chief of the European Command and the French Forces of Occupation in Germany, relating to the stationing of troops and the exchange of facilities in the French and U.S. zones of Germany.

Hahn's Front Gate, 1958.

On March 21, 1951, approximately 1,280 acres of land were acquired for an air base near the two small towns of Hahn and Lautzenhausen in the Hunsruck area of West Germany. The land, mostly woods and farm land, was located on a ridge, about 1,650 feet above sea level, at a northern latitude approx even with Labrador; and was about 60 miles west of Wiesbaden, 50 miles south of Koblenz and 50 miles northeast of Trier.

The Beginning!

Hahn's Front Gate, 1953.

In April 1951, the French "Mission des Grandes Traveaux Aeronautiques" began airfield construction: a 8,000 by 150 foot runway, a 50 foot concrete taxiway, 75 dispersal hard stands, alert aprons, two hangar aprons, one hangar, POL (fuel and lubrication) storage facilities for 400,000 gallons, ammunition storage, a ground controlled approach hardstand, access and interior roads and wells. All of the flat slab facilities were completed by March 1952, but the POL facilities, ammo storage and hangars were not completed until late 1952.

An American inspection team in May 1952, found that the "runway surface is the best of any of the newly constructed airfields in the French Zone, even though about half of the runway expansion joints contained structional failures." The team also stated that Hahn AB was "considered operational for a wing at the present time."

On June 2, 1952, the American and French Commanders signed another agreement which provided for the transfer of Hahn and other French zone air fields to United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and 12th Air Force control.

Gruen & Bilfinger of Mannheim
Working On Hahn's Main Street, 1952.

Preparation for the arrival of American personnel at Hahn began with the construction of 25 prefabricated barracks and other facilities by the 862nd Engineer Battalion (Aviation), while the German firm of Gruen & Bilfinger of Mannheim, Germany, began construction of electric power, water and sewage facilities.

Deep Hole Was For The Ulitities Under Main Street
AP Squadron Is Lower Right Corner. Photo 1952

The 7356th Air Base Squadron was the first United States Air Force unit to arrive at Hahn on September 9, 1952. Base facilities then consisted of pre-fabricated barracks heated by coke burning pot belly stoves, outdoor latrines, and tents for motorpool personnel to work in.

Stinson's L-5B

An L-5B was the first aircraft assigned to Hahn Air Base and was obtained by the 7356th Air Base Squadron on September 16, 1952 to fill administrative flight requirements.

Control Tower and Crash & Fire Station

Also during September 1952, the U.S. phase of construction began. Facilities constructed during that phase included: the control tower and crash and fire station.

Base Suppy Sq., Single Train Tracks.

Warehousing, motor pool, sewage, water and electrical distribution systems; interior roads, mess halls, 11, 216 airmen's barracks, BOQ, three squadron operations buildings and base accountable and cold storage buildings.

Building The 50th Wing Headquarters, 1952

Other construction included: the post exchange, auditorium, wing headquarters (shown above), air base group headquarters, Officer's Club, jet engine test block, paint and dope shop, perimeter fencing, guardhouse and NCO service club.

Base Hospital, During The Flood of '63.
The Rain Ran Down From The Flightline And Flooded It!

Historical Background

The 50th Civil Engineer Squadron was activated as the 50th Installations Squadron on Jan. 1, 1953, and assigned to the 50th Air Base Group.

Stationed at Clovis Air Force Base, N.M., the squadron, with other units of the 50th Fighter Wing, immediately began preparing for movement to Hahn Air Base, Germany, in response to a Soviet buildup of air combat forces in Eastern Europe. The units of the 50th Wing remained at Clovis for only a few months, departing for Germany in late July 1953.

Upon arriving at Hahn Air Base, the 50th Civil Engineering Squadron took over management of continuing construction activities associated with the beddown of the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing.

While the French had completed some facilities, the 50th's engineers oversaw construction of the base's control tower, fire station, warehouses, roads, mess halls and dormitories, as well as operations and headquarters facilities.

For the next 38 years, the men and women of the 50th Civil Engineering Squadron supported Hahn Air Base and the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing with necessary facilities, infrastructure maintenance and repair, fire protection and a host of other activities.

Additionally, the squadron provided the wing, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and NATO with combat-ready forces needed to perform rapid runway repair and other PRIME Base Engineer Emergency Force services.

In its 38-year history at Hahn Air Base, the unit earned seven Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and participated in countless exercises, evaluations and deployments, including Desert Shield - Desert Storm.

Inactivated with the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing Sept. 30, 1991.

A 75-bed hosptal, central heating plant, additional alert apron, parachute building, post office, chapel, photo lab and three 100x140 foot squadron hangars.

50th FBW F-86 Sabres, 1953!

With most of that construction completed by mid 1953, the primary mission of Hahn Air Base in 1953 was the reception of the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing. The arrival of the 50th and their F-86F aircraft from Clovis AFB, New Mexico, during August, marked the first mass flight of an entire tactical wing from the United States to Continental Europe.

Base Housing, 1950's.

During the next few years, additional construction at Hahn included seven military family housing facilities, five troop facilities, hangars, covered revetments, alert taxiway and other miscellaneous structures.

50th FBW Sabres, Hidden In The Woods.
Before They Had The Covered Revelments, 1953.

Operating Location Number 1 (Victor Alert Area) of the 50th TFW was completed and occupied on February 13, 1960. That area was the first in USAFE to be built specifically to house the Victor Alert capability. Also, during 1960, an asphalt overlay of 4.7 inches was added to the existing runway.

New facilities added during 1976 and 1977 included a main base exchange and an 18-lane bowling center as well as additions to the base's Junior High School that allowed it to become accredited and be used for Senior High School classes. Additionally during 1977, Hahn became the site for USAFE's first contingency launch / recovery runway with its completion during December.

Significant facility project during 1978 included the completion of the High School Sports Field in September 1978 and the renovation of the Galaxy Inn Dining Hall during October. Major projects in progress during 1979 were comprised of the renovation of the NCO Club and the start of Hahn's Build - Lease Housing Project. The latter involved the construction of 300 housing units (both two and four bedrooms) in three towns near Hahn.

Steam Train, Looking Towards The Chapel.

The United States Air Force investment continued throughout the life of the base. For instance, the huge commissary, the base chapel, and parts of the high school were built in the 1980's, the new kindergarten was completed in 1990 and the new Burger King Restaurant was only open for several months before the base closed.

Acknowledgement: We wish to thank USAFE History, for all the early photographs of Hahn Air Base and the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing. Also Dave Johnston for the photos of the Base Hospital and the Hahn steam train.

Hahn's New Front Gate, 2000.
Sign Reads: "Air Industrial Park, Hahn"

1951 - 1991

Visit The 2nd Section To See What
'Life On Base'
Was Like In The Sixties!
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