Erprobungsstelle der Luftwaffe des Dritte Reiches – German Airforce Test location at Rechlin Lärz.
The origin of the test location dates back to 1916, the German Empire needed a location where pilots could be educated and trained. As aviation was in its infacy the idea of a central training facility with test grounds was adapted to new developments in the field of aviation. In 1918 the training center is officially opened but with the end of the first world war the institute was dismantled by the conditions set out in the treaty of Versailles.
In 1925, when the rules in the Treaty of Versailles were relaxed for Germany, the German Third Reich immediately started constructing buildings and production halls around the test site. They created four facilities around a roundly shaped airfield, North, East, South and of course West. The test site is not to be confused with Rechlin-Lärz airfield. The airfield lies south of the test facilities.
The facility in the north distinguished itself by the fact that houses were built with it for the families of the engineers and test pilots. Administrations and laboratories were located on Rechlin-North, the engine tests were located on South, ammunition and weapons on East and the technical company and barracks were located on West.
At Rechlin the engineers tested and developed to achieve the required speeds, range, ceiling height, strength, stability and controllability for new projects as well to further improve existing aircraft. Maintenance, ergonomics and ease of repair were also examined. Parachutes, ejection seats, the autopilot, radio innovations were developed on the proving grounds. In the final phase of the war, mainly jet-powered aircraft were tested, such as the Messerschmitt Me 262, Heinkel He 162 and the twin-engine Arado Ar 234 bomber / reconnaissance aircraft, even four jet-engine aircrafts (Arado AR 234 C and Junkers 287) were tested.
Already in 1939 the first operational jet aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, was tested on the almost circular airfield of Erprobungstelle Rechlin The twin-engine jet-powered Heinkel He 280 followed a year later. Many innovations that would lead to further developments in aviation originated at Rechlin, even long after the war ended.
After World War Two
At the end of the Second World War, the Allies captured German engineers and designers and added them to their own air force development departments to carry out further innovations of the Allied air forces, both Russian and American for example. Fled engineers helped to build up an air force in Brazil and so on. More Military Installations were constructed near Erprobungsstelle Rechlin. Rechlin-Lärz airfield is south of the test facilities and to the west is a left behind test location into the wood called die Weisse Häuser or the White Houses. This was a test locations for bombs and cannons. The Germans build a full sized four floors high appartment to test the devastation of pressure bombs. The stairwells of the Weisse Häuser still remain in the woods.
The Soviet army took over the site at wars end and used the buildings and airfield after the war. When the Russian occupation forces left the site was returned to Germany agian, this happened In 1993, 48 years later.
Visit Luftfahrttechnischen Museum Rechlin – Aviation museum Rechlin
The aviation museum is housed in one of the original buildings of test center Rechlin north. Luftfahrttechnischen comes more down to Aeronautical which referrers to the buildings history as mentioned above.
Information panels with original photgraphs tell the story on the period in which the test site was built and which aircraft and engines, devices were developed. There is a wide variety of aircraft engines, aircraft, items and uniforms. The exhibition ranges from the First World War up to the Russian occupation era.
In the aviation museum they have built some full scale replicas of aircraft using original parts. This allows them to show aircraft that no longer exist or are too far away for many to see. For example, you can see the Dornier Do 335, the Pfeil, only one original aircraft survives in America. Or the front part of the Focke-Wulf Ta 154 Moskito Night Fighter, of which no surviving aircraft exists. They hace rebuild two types of Argus Drones used by the Luftwaffe in World War Two.Original planes can be seen as well of course.
A small tip, we visited the museum to see the Dornier Do 335 Pfeil and an experimental Gotha aircraft. Even though the website mentioned the Gotha airplane would be on display but it was removed weeks or months before our visit. The information on the website was deprecated. Therefore send an email or get in touch with the museum if you want to avoid disappointments.