If you want to know what an airbase in Central Europe was like during the Cold War, visit Weeze (ex RAF Laarbruch)

Jun 17 2012 - Leave a Comment
By Richard Clements

During early 1945 the allies were building up for the final push across the Rhine and found themselves in need of several airfields close to the front line.

Advanced Landing Ground Goch (B-100) was built about 70 km (43 miles) from Dusseldorf near the border with the Netherlands, by the British Army to perform this task. A simple 1,180 meter (3,600 feet) runway with a 983 meter (3,000 feet) grass runway as an emergency strip was all there was.

The airstrip was only used from early March until late April when all combat types had left the area and B-100 was then left abandoned.

During 1954 after the out break of the Cold War RAF Germany found itself in need of more airfields and revisited Advanced Landing Ground Goch.

It then commenced on a large scale building program and re-named the site as RAF Laarbruch. The airport, with its typical Cold War-style infrastructures and design criteria, hosted classic types such as English Electric Canberra and Gloster Meteor, saw F-4 Phantoms and BAe Buccaneers in the ’70s, SEPECAT Jaguars later replaced by Tornados in ’80s.

After the Gulf War the Tornado Squadrons were relocated and Harriers moved in after RAF Gutersloh was closed, also a Squadron of Chinooks moved in at the same time.

During 1999 both types moved on and once again the base was closed and decommissioned as a RAF base.

2003 once again saw the airfield active this time as a civilian airport used by budget airlines and named Flughafen Nierderrhein (LowerRhineAirport) and subsequently renamed as Airport Weeze after the nearest town.

Some buildings reminiscent of the Cold War period at Royal Air Force Station Laarbruch have survived along with a small but extremely interesting museum.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane, through 45 years of Royal Air Force presence in Laarbruch and the Lower Rhine area in one of the most tense periods of modern history, Weeze is the place to visit.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Giovanni Maduli