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Hangar 10’s Eagle’s Nest

Hangar 10’s Eagle’s Nest

Situated at Heringsdorf airport in the north-eastern tip of Germany, near to the Polish border on the island of Usedom, is the Hangar 10 collection. Whilst not as established as some European warbird operators, it is noteworthy for operating multiple examples of the Bf 109 family alongside an FW 190 and other vintage types. Late September 2019 saw Hangar 10 host its second fly-in, offering visitors a rare opportunity to see the collection’s aircraft in their natural element.

This second event saw improvements over the inaugural event in 2018, the first of which being the time of week the event was held, with the first being over a Thursday and Friday – thankfully, Hangar 10 listened to the public’s feedback and rescheduled the fly-in to a weekend, making it more viable for visitors to attend. The fly-in offered a chance to see some interesting classic light vintage visitors, as well as some of the Hangar 10 collection getting airborne for local flights – a rare occurrence as the aircraft seldom leave the Heringsdorf circuit. The airport itself feels very remote – a flight into Szczecin-Goleniów across the border in Poland is perhaps the most straightforward travel option, but even that requires a lengthy road trip and a local ferry crossing onto the island of Usedom, or a three and a half hour drive from Berlin. All that in mind, visiting Hangar 10 does rather feel like stumbling upon a hidden gem.

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The complex where the collection resides at Heringdsdorf is most impressive. The organisation has incorporated numerous visitor attractions, including the Red Baron restaurant and café, and there are holiday apartments and even an indoor jungle gym for children on-site. But at the heart of it all is the aircraft hangar – a clean and bright space that has a retro feel to it. Walking in to find the Luftwaffe warbirds all nestled together felt very special indeed. There are some well designed display boards and cabinets dotted about, with interesting video content and memorabilia on show, although information is largely in German and/or Polish. Positioned amongst the aircraft are several vehicles from the same period and of the same nationality – a Kettenkrad, Willys Jeep, Land Rover and GAZ 64 –  and a number of national flags, corresponding with the collection’s aircraft, provide a vivid backdrop. From the ceiling hangs a German glider and a partially complete Fokker Dr.1 and in one corner lies the wreck of a Messerscmitt Bf 109E recovered from a lake.

The ethos of the collection has been to gather vintage aircraft, both lighter types and heavy warbirds, from Germany, Russia, Great Britain and the USA. The complexion of the collection has changed over the years – a Piper Cub, Tiger Moth, Stearman, Harvard, Pilatus P-2 and Yak-3 have all passed through Hangar 10’s doors, whilst Spitfire Tr.IX MJ772 was sold off following an engine failure and forced landing in the UK and P-51D Mustang Big Beautiful Doll was lost in a midair collision at Flying Legends 2011. The collection has continued to grow despite this and now has an impressive selection of German aircraft at its core. Lovely examples of Bückers Jungmeister and Jungmann have been joined by an Me 108 Taifun to complete a very nice pre-war trio, alongside a medevac Fieseler Storch. The quartet of German fighters comprises a Hispano Buchón, converted into two-seat dual control specification, along with Messerschmitt Bf 109s G-8 and G-14 and the latest resident, the FlugWerk FW 190 (the manufacturer denoting the use of ‘FW’ rather than the ‘Fw’ used for original Focke-Wulf Fw 190s). Complementing these on the Allied side are a TF-51D Mustang and Spitfire MK.XVIII, and a rare Polikarpov Po-2.

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The event was a very relaxed affair, with a reasonable area set up adjacent to the hangar for visitors and photographers to view aircraft operations. It is worth noting that the first event had a head-height fence which has thankfully now been disposed of, replaced by a more typical waist-high fence, making viewing ground operations and photography in general a lot easier. On the Saturday this area did feel a little cramped, as the good weather had obviously attracted more visitors, so perhaps this could be extended at future editions. The single cash register also struggled to cope with the footfall on Saturday, and a large queue formed for about an hour after doors opened at 10am – frustrating as some of the warbirds made local flights during this period.

A nice smattering of visiting aircraft were attracted to the fly-in, including a very smart Aero 45, a second Me 108 and a Nord Pingouin, as well as a Super Six. Saturday’s better weather saw more activity throughout the day with all of the collection’s heavy warbirds taking to the air, some multiple times, with less flying on the Sunday owing to more set-in inclement weather. North American TF-51D Mustang Little Ite flew across the weekend, both individually and alongside the FW 190 on Sunday for a photo-shoot. This Mustang still looks as immaculate as when it made its first post-restoration flight with MeierMotors GmbH at Bremgarten in 2012.

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The twin-stick Buchón was active multiple times throughout the Saturday, one occasion seeing Klaus Plaza taking Luftwaffe veteran Erich Brunotte airborne for a short flight – no mean feat for a man in his mid-90s! Whilst it may be an ungainly machine, with the angular rear canopy metalwork interrupting the lines of its canopy and fuselage, the aircraft is expected to be a very valuable asset to the German warbird scene. It was announced recently that the aircraft had been sold to EADS/Messerschmitt Stiftung, though it will continue to be operated by Hangar 10, for the organisation to use as a training aircraft for its single-seat Bf 109s. In recent years EADS/Messerschmitt Stiftung have been plagued by a series of incidents with their 109s, caused by both mechanical issues and the Messerschmitt’s challenging handling characteristics, and at present none of its three 109s are airworthy. It is hoped that the addition of the Buchón and cooperation between the two operators will see the Bf 109s enjoying better reliability in future.

Hangar 10 has operated its two Daimler-Benz powered Bf 109s with great success in recent years. Private operators have struggled to operate DBs reliably and indeed, Hangar 10 had its own struggles during its formative years, but with support from Rinner Performance Engines, they have been able to identify and overcome the persistent engine issues to keep both aeroplanes running smoothly. The care and attention furnished on each aircraft is clear to see, with the Bf 109s receiving extensive pre and post-flight maintenance. Notably, systems are utilised to pre-oil the engines with warmed oil which can then be drained after each flight, avoiding oil pooling at the bottom of the engine. The effect this is having is clear to see, as the DBs started on the button first time, every time, across the weekend. The guttural burble and whine of the DBs was a sound to behold – well worth the long trip to experience firsthand.

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The collection’s Bf 109 G-6, Black 8, is a restoration based around the wreck of Wk. Nr.440738. The aircraft had originally been built in the Wiener Neustädter Flugzeugwerke and was delivered to the Luftwaffe in 1944, entering service with 1/JG27. The aircraft was being flown by Lt. Friedrich Wilhelm Schulte when it crashed at Matzleinsdorf, near Melk, in Austria on 29 May 1944. Michael Rinner began the restoration in 2007 and sold the project to Hangar 10 in 2013, MeierMotors completing the project on its behalf and the Bf 109 taking to the air again in 2016. The other Bf 109 is a later G-14, Black 2, incorporating some parts from a 14/JG300 machine, Wk. Nr.462707, that crashed near Hanover on 21 November 1944. The aircraft was downed after being hit by the defensive fire of the B-17s it was attacking, killing its pilot Obfhr. Karl-Heinz Schirmacher.

On the Saturday afternoon, after a heavy downpour had moved across the island and given way to broken cloud and sunshine, several of the warbirds got airborne for a photo-shoot. The Bf 109s were photographed first and returned to the airport as a pair, sounding sublime as they made a number of passes together – something which cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world at current. They left the FW 190 and Spitfire aloft for some more photos before they too returned to base.

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The new jewel in Hangar 10’s crown is its recently delivered FlugWerk FW 190A-8, which arrived at Heringsdorf by road in the weeks before the event after completion of post-restoration test flying at Bremgarten. This particular aircraft was initially owned by French warbird collector Christophe Jacquard, and ditched into the Mediterranean following engine issues in 2010. The aircraft emerged from MeierMotors’ workshop wearing the distinctive markings depicting a I./JG1 machine from 1943, with a bold white and black striped cowling and red fuselage band.

The FW 190 was joined by the Spitfire Mk.XVIII TP280, an aircraft that returned to Europe following its purchase from US collector Rudy Frasca in 2015. TP280 was one of the first Spitfires restored by Historic Flying Ltd at Audley End, flying again in 1992. Following the aforementioned photo-shoot the pair returned to Heringsdorf; what a sight it was to see the late-mark Spitfire being chased down by the unmistakable shape of the FW 190 as the late afternoon cumulus bubbled in the early autumn sky – one of those moments that just stays with you.

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For anyone wishing to explore a new warbird experience in Europe – something a little different from the excellent fayre offered by the likes of Flying Legends, Duxford’s Battle of Britain Air Show, the Shuttleworth Collection’s numerous displays, La Ferté-Alais and the like – Heringsdorf comes highly recommended. Numerous lesser-seen warbirds and exclusive opportunities, such as seeing a pair of Daimler-Benz powered Bf 109s in the air at the same time or the late-war combination of Spitfire Mk.XVIII and FW 190, make it a unique experience. A weekend trip via the Polish route can be arranged at a very reasonable price. Make some new warbird memories.