Evidence of the dire situation facing the Luftwaffe can be seen on coverage of Munich Riem Airfield from 24 April 1945 (Graphic 1). By that time, a new runway on the grass landing area of the former Munich civil airport was in use by Me 262s of Adolph Galland's Jagdverband 44 (JV 44) or a fighter-bomber unit, KG 51. One ME 262 was on the runway, two more were headed to the runway from the field's circular taxiway and at least four other possible Me 262s were in revetments. A review of earlier coverage revealed that work on the new runway had begun by 24 March when an east-west runway had been defined on the grass landing area. By 8 April, the turf surface was being removed, exposing a probable gravel base (Graphic 2). On 24 April the removed turf was stacked along the edges of the runway which has been resurfaced in some areas (Graphic 3). Bomb craters from a recent attack had been repaired.
By August 1944 the runways at Lübeck in northern Germany and Brieg, Silesia (Brzeg, Poland). were being extended to approximately 2100 and 1800 meters, respectively (Graphics 15 - 17). Remnants of Me 262 and Ar 234-equipped units recovered at Lübeck at the end of the war. Brieg served mainly as a reconnaissance base, suggesting it was being readied for use by Ar 234 or Me 262 reconnaissance variants. In Austria, the runway at Linz-Hörsching had been extended to about 2000 meters by September 1944 (Graphic 18). A new 1700 meter runway was laid out in the landing area of Landau-Isar Germany by April 1945 (Graphic 18); changes between 2 and 19 April revealed limited work was in progress. Me 262s of KG 51 briefly used both Linz and Landau-Isar late in the war.
Forsyth, Robert (2012). Me 262 Bomber and Reconnaissance Units. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84908-750-6.
Green, William (1959). Famous Fighters of the Second World War-1. London: Macdonald & Co. No ISBN.
Green, William (1960). Famous Bombers of the Second World War-1. London: Macdonald & Co. No ISBN.
At Landsberg-Lech, where where bunkers for Me 262 production (WEINGUT II and DIANA II) were being constructed nearby, the runway had been extended to only about 1300 meters in January 1944; however, by November a graded 250 meter overrun had been added off the runway's west end. (Graphic 6). A timeline for the runway work at Schwäbisch Hall is unknown, but the runway had probably been lengthened to about 1900 meters by war's end (Graphic 7) . Evidence that the Messerschmitt factory at Regensburg-Obertrabuling had been selected for Me 262 production could be seen on 1 September 1945, when the outline of a 2200 meter runway could be seen south of the factory's grass field (Graphic 8). For some reason, there were no runway improvements at two other Messerschmitt production facilities, Regensburg-Prüfening and Augsburg Gablingen.
Production and Developmental Airfields
Some of the first airfields to undergo runway improvement were those supporting the Messerschmitt and Arado design firms. The Messerschmitt airfields, concentrated in Bavaria, included Lechfeld, Leipheim, Schwäbisch Hall, Landsberg-Lech and Regensberg-Obertrabuling. The earliest evidence of runway improvement was seen at Lechfeld, the Messerschmitt test center, where the first part of a new 2100 meter concrete runway was laid out in early May 1943; a second section was nearing completion in July 1944 (Graphic 4). The runway was finished by November 1944. These dates coincide with the evaluation of the first Me 262 prototypes and the formation of the first Me 262 units at Lechfeld. The runways serving the Messerschmitt production facilities at Leipheim, Landsberg Lech and Schwäbisch Hall all were extended. Leiphein's runway was lengthened to about 1800 meters in two stages between July and probably November of that year (Graphic 5). A highway strip (not shown) using an 1900 meter stretch of the autobahn south of the Leipheim was probably operational by 2 June 1944, when a possible Me 262 was on the west end of the strip. A camouflaged parking/dispersal area near the highway strip could also be accessed from Leipheim.
WW2 Aerial Reconnaissance Studies
Me 262 bomber, fighter and reconnaissance units, including KG 51, JG 7 and NAG 6 were eventually based at Lechfeld, Leipheim, Schwäbisch Hall, Landsberg Lech and Brandenburg-Briest, but runways at other fields were also lengthened for jet operations. Major Me 262 bases at Rheine Bentlage and Hopsten in northwest Germany were lengthened by October 1943 and May 1944, respectively (Graphics 11 & 12). Two of three runways at Rheine were extended to approximately 1800 and 1500 meters and the one at Hopsten appeared to have been lengthend to a very long 3000 meters. Runway extension did not take place at two other operational bases in the northwest, Achmer and Essen-Mülheim. Achmer was used extensively by an Ar 234 unit, KG 76. The runway at Memmingen was extended to about 1600 meters by May 1944 (Graphic 13). Although it is not clear if the pilot school Fürstenfeldbruck (Graphic14) was ever used by jet aircraft, the school's runway had been extended to about 1800 meters by June 1944.
By the time the Luftwaffe began deploying the Messerschmitt Me 262 and Arado Ar 234 in mid-1944, it had relatively few bases for the aircraft, which required hard surface runways between 1800 and 2000 meters in length. The photographic evidence shows that runway lengthening began at selected bases in 1943 and continued through the end of the war. Available coverage of Germany, Poland and Austria revealed 16 airfields where probable jet-related runway lengthening took place.
The Arado facility at Alt Lönnewitz (Falkenberg) was used to test, produce and train pilots for the Ar 234. By late 1944 the runway had been extended to about 2100 meters had taken place and an instrument landing system installed (Graphic 9). One of the runways supporting the Arado Headquarters at Brandenburg-Briest was extended to about 1800 meters by May 1944 (Graphic 10).