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After an original idea by Paul Freeman.
First published 7 Nov 2010. This collection of airfields is © 2010 - 2018 RonaldV
pl

Gdansk-Wrzeszcz

04-12-2011


1972

54°23'46"N 018°36'09"E

runway: 03/21 - 1700x55m - concrete/asphalt

Air field Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz (Polish: Lotnisko Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz, German: Danzig-Langfuhr) was an airfield northwest of Gdansk (Danzig) in Poland.
The airfield was built in 1910 in the German burrough of Langfuhr (today, Polish Wrzeszcz) as the first airfield of Danzig, Pommern. Initially the airfield saw only military use. In 1914 a second hangar, the 'Prinz von Preußen Halle' was built next to the railway, to be used as a flying school. The German Imperial Navy (german: Kaiserlichen Marine) founded a fighter school at the airfield in 1915.
After the Versailles Treaty the military units were disbanded and the airfield was put to civilian use in 1919. The airfield was owned and operated by the Free City of Danzig.

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Hussars in front of the Prinz von Preußen Halle during World War I.

At the airfield the airline DLR (Danziger Luftreederei) was founded on 5 February 1919. The airfield featured a 1400x1700 meters grass field and was located between the Baltic Sea and the railway line Langfuhr-Zoppot.
After an initial period with short flights the airfield developed into an international airfield after 1920. Airline DERULUFT (german: Deutsch-Russische-Luftfahrtgesellschaft, or German-Russian Aviation Society) was one of the airlines operating services between Germany and Russia.Other services included routes to Stockholm, Warsaw, Berlin and Leningrad (St. Petersberg). Between 1922 and 1935 the average number of passengers was about 1500 a year.
In the 1930s the airfields runway was adapted to facilitate night flying.
The Free City of Danzig, governed by the League of Nations, became more and more under the influence of Nazi-Germany in the 1930s. Ultimately the Wehrmacht invaded the city in 1939, kicking off World War II.

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A German Ju52/3m at Flughafen Danzig-Langfuhr in the early 1930s.

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Station bulding of Flughafen Danzig-Langfuhr in the 1920s. The flags are the flags of the Free City of Danzig.

During World War II the airfield was used by several Luftwaffe units. The airfield was used as a training airfield by Flugzeugführerschule A/B 52 (Flying school A/B 52, later Flugzeugführerschule A 52). Operational units included Stab/, I./ and IV./Jagdgeschwader 51.
The airfield was badly damaged by Allied air raids and later by the Red Army during the Soviet offensive of March 1945.

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Map of Danzig-Langfuhr in 1940.

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Piles of wrangled Luftwaffe aircraft at Danzig-Langfuhr in March/April 1945.

After the war the airfield was rebuilt and expanded. It became a joint military/civilian airport called Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz. The airport had services to Berlin, Budapest, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. It had its a rail station named after the airport, although it was nearly impossible to get from the railway station to the airports station building. As a result of the degrading runway lights night flying ended in the late 1960s.
The city of Gdansk expanded rapidly after a land reform in 1973, and it was decided to relocate the airport. This was also neccesary because the airport lacked room to expand, being locked in between the coast, Gdansk and the railway line. There was no room for a desperately needed expansion of the runway to allow large jet operations.

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Two Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT (LOT Polish Airlines) Il-14 ('Crate') aircraft at Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz in the 1960s.

Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz airport ceased to exist in 1974, when the land was used to build a large residential complex called Zaspa. It was replaced by the new Gdańsk Airport, later which was later named after Lech Walesa. 
There are still a lot of traces of the old airport in Zaspa. One of the traces is the shopping center ETC, which is actually a converted hangar building. Another former hangar building is located further east. Until very recently there were also two former military hangars, but these were demolished to make room for a residential complex. Before they were torn down they were used as a pizzeria and a furniture shop.
Another leftover is the former runway, which was partially cut in the early 1980s to facilitate the construction of a tram line. The runway was used by Pope John Paul II for a mass on his first trip to Poland in the late 1970s. Today it is part of the John Paul II Avenue (Polish: Aleja Jana Pawla II). Until recently the former runway was used by motorcyclists and people learning to drive a car, but this is now hindered by rows of concrete plant filled cylinders.

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Former hangar converted to shopping mall east of the former runway (Wikipedia).

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A second former airfield building northeast of the converted hangar above (Panoramio).

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Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz in 2008 (Google Earth).



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