During the eighties R.A.F. Gütersloh, situated in North Rhine Westphalia near the city of Bielefeld, was one of the most interesting airbases in terms of visiting aircraft, based aircraft and the fact that it was situated about 150 kilometres from Twente. More than once I took the opportunity to visit Gütersloh. But first.... a brief lesson of history.

Gütersloh was newly opened as a Luftwaffe air base in 1937. Stationed where Junkers Ju-88 bombers. On the outbreak of the second World War units from Gütersloh took part in the attacks on Poland and subsequently France. Because of the increasing appearance of British bombers during the night the units at Gütersloh where also forced to conduct their first night-operations with the Ju-88 in the night-fighter role. The Junkers where equiped with the famous "Cat's Cradle" radar. Luftwaffe fighter-ace Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer (121 victories) was also stationed at Gütersloh. The war ended for the station with the surrender to the US 651st Mechanized Cavalry Group on 2 april 1945. Situated in the British sector of Germany Gütersloh was handed over to the Royal Air Force. In November of 1945 the first Mosquitos of No 140 Wing flew in. In the years that followed tensions between East and West rised into a cold war. The result was a blockade of Berlin by the Soviet-Union. Because the citicens of Berlin where in urgent need of supplies the Berlin Airlift was conducted out of the RAF stations of Wunstorf, Celle and Fassberg with Gütersloh as a weather diversion and detachment of many personell involved in the operation (Gütersloh was actually the closest to the eastern border or Iron Curtain). 1949 saw the arrival of the jet age with the Vampires of Nos 3, 16 and 26 Squadrons. In 1954 Canberra's of No 551 Canberra Wing where stationed. Two years later they allready left to be replaced by Hunters. In 1961 the runway was lengthened and strengthened because Gütersloh had a new role, that of air trooping. Approximately 150.000 passengers passing through each year. 1962 marked the arrival of No 18 and No 230 Squadron flying their Whirlwinds choppers. In 1966 they where joined by the English Electric Lightning flying with Nos 19 and 92 Squadrons. In 1977 the Harrier, which subsequently characterized Gütersloh, arrived. The Harriers flew with No 3(F) Squadron and No 4(AC) Squadron. They where joined by Puma's in 1980 and Chinooks in 1983.

This includes our historylesson. Let's focus on the eighties, the decade that I frequently visited Gütersloh. To get there I often begged my father for a ride. Off cource he obliged cause he also likes planes and especially Gütersloh due to the fact that there always was plenty activity on and around the airbase. Gütersloh had also a large spottercommunity. At least for German standards. Also other fathers drove, I ocassionally went with a moped and I even went by bike once (how crazy can you be ?). Famous was the annual exercise "Berlin Corridor" (a.k.a Bold Encounter) for which many Twentespotters went to Gütersloh. This exercise always took place in May. The three Western allies France, United Kingdom and the United States did sent some of their units to this exercise like French Mirage 3's and Mirage F1's, USAFE F15's and F16's, RAF Phantoms and Jaguars etc. Although not attended by me but still worth mentioning is the fact that the resident Tigers of No. 230 Squadron played host to the Tiger Meet in 1982 which also included an Open House. A normal day at Gütersloh in the eighties meant usually a lot of visiting aircraft from most NATO-allies and off course a lot of English aircraft. Frequent visitors where for example Danish Starfighters, Drakens and F16's, Norwegian F5's and F16's, all USAFE aircraft one possibly can think off, French Mirage F1's, Mirage 3's, Jaguars and Mirage 2000,s, the complete inventory of the Belgian, and Dutch Air Forces, and off course all sorts of English and German aircraft. The local boys of Nos 3 and 4 Squadron did also their best with their Harrier GR3/T4's as well as the chopperboys from Nos 18 (Chinook HC1) and 230 Squadron (Puma HC1). Photo opportunities where great on the west-side of the base (The Runway was 09/27). One stood on a Bailey Bridge over the Ems river overlooking the runway. Some aircraft came in as low as 3 feet over the allready very low fence ! A few aircraft did even crash during landing in the eighties like Dutch F-104G D-6670 in 1981, Belgian Mirage 5BA BA-19 in 1985, fatal crash of local Harrier GR3 XV809/AF from 3 Squadron in 1988 and French Mirage 5F 54/13-PL in the same year. Also in 1988 a third crash, this time another local Harrier GR3 XW921/E belonging to 3 Squadron. The last year in the eighties brought another two crashes: Harrier GR3 ZD668/J and another fatal one with Harrier T4 XW925. Both where belonging to 4 Squadron. Harrier T4 XW925 came to a stop in the Ems river ! The other side (Runway 27) was not as good as the 09-side in terms of photographing the aircraft but provided also some good photo opportunties mainly during landing.. Unfortunately the Royal Air Force withdrew from Gütersloh in 1993 and moved to R.A.F. Laarbruch creating a void in which the Army Air Corps jumped in with their Lynx Helo's renaming the base "Princess Royal Barracks". Stationed till present-time is the 1. Regiment with Nos 651, 652 and 661 Squadron flying the Lynx AH9.