Photocalling at Wittmund

A visit to JG 71, German Air Force, 4 August 2004


Tasked with the air defence of the northern part of Germany, Jagdgeschwader 71 (JG 71) "Richthofen" is based at Wittmund. This base is situated in the region of Ostfriesland, in the extreme north of the country. At 4 August 2004 the base kindly invited aviation enthousiasts inside it's gates for a look at some of the hardware flown by today's German Luftwaffe. Not only the Air Force gave acte de presence, the Aviation Branches of the Navy and Army also flew in some aircraft.

As is seen more often in Germany, the barracks housing the administrative and medical units have been detached from the actual air base. Inside the barracks compu8nd, two historic aircraft of Fighter Wing 71 "Richthofen can be seen. First is this Canadair CL.13 Sabre Mk.6. This was one of the predecessors to the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter in German Air Force service.


The Fliegerkaserne grounds also house this Starfighter, 20+86. The Starfighter was the immediate predecessor to the Phantom in the air defence role.


Today's JG 71 "R" has been flying the F-4F Phantom for nearly 30 years now. Despite the ICE (Improved Combat Efficiency) update program completed during the 1980's and 1990's, the Phantom is now in need of replacement. Fortunately, the Eurofighter Typhoons are now finding their way into Luftwaffe squadrons.

F-4F 37+79 looks well worn in it's two tone grey camouflage scheme..

..whereas 38+67 apparantly has just been resprayed. Modified F-4F ICE Phantoms may be recognised by their grey radomes. Sister unit JG 72 at Hopsten, now the FLZ (Fluglehrzentrum) used to fly some unmodified Phantoms with black radomes until quite recently.

The German Luftwaffe has a tradition of spraying it's combat jets in commemorative colour schemes every now and then. Tornado 43+70 from Jagdbombergeschwader 33 at Büchel was given this scheme, presumably for the unit's 45th anniversary in 2003.

Another Tornado from another wing. 44+08 from Wittmund's next door neighbours, JBG 38 from Jever, was given this scheme in 2003 for 20 years of Tornado operations. Sadly however, JBG 38 is to be disbanded in September of 2005.

A classic among helicopters is the Bell UH-1. This UH-1D serialled 71+69 was one of three helicopters sent to Wittmund for the 4 August enthousiast day. 

It came along with this newest of German Army's helicopters, the Eurocopter EC.135. This type has been selected as the training helicopter of the German Army and flies exclusively with the Army's Aviation School, Heersflieger Waffenschule at Bückeburg.

Third of the German Army's contingent was the Sikorsky CH-53G. It too came from the HFWS at Bückeburg. Germany is one of the few export customers for this model and procured more than 100 in the early seventies. The type is expected to soldier on for another 10 years at least.

Soon to be replaced with Dutch Navy P-3C Orions is this Breguet Atlantic, flying with MFG 3 at Nordholz. Still an Atlantic Mk.1 introduced during the 1960's, the Br.1150 is now getting a bit long in the tooth. During the 1980's, the fleet had been given new avionics, but still replacement with the much more modern P-3C must be quite welcome to the German Navy.

 The little nimble Westland Sea Lynx forms the Marineflieger's shipbased  air arm and is also part of MFG 3. 83+23 is one of the original batch of 24 which has been given updated avionics, as is testified by it´s under nose radar fairing.



Most unusual of all tenants at Wittmund is the Douglas A-4N Skyhawk. Four of these ex Israeli Air Force jets fly out of the base with BAE Systems on target towing duties for the German Luftwaffe. They replaced ex-Danish TF-100F Super Sabres some time ago. N432FS carries a Dornier SK10 target beneath it's port wing. 


Thanks go to all involved at Wittmund in making this such a succesful day, during which a nice cross section of today´s Bundeswehr hardware could be seen together.

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink