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Herman Goering's Aircraft Collection

A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters.

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Introduction

Herman Goering was the second man in the Nazi hierarchy after Adolf Hitler. He was named as the successor to Hitler in the 1941 document if the German leader was incapacitated for any reason.

Goering was not a simple Nazi leader but was a man with varied interests including art, literature, motor cars, and airplanes. The Nazi leader had a fantastic collection of airplanes from World War I. His interest in airplanes was not just a fad as he had a genuine connection with aviation. Goering was a pilot during World War I and is reported to have had 20 kills. He was not among the topmost aces in the German Air Force but he survived the war. It is to his credit that he flew along with Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen also called the Red Baron. The Red Baron did not survive the war but Goering was very much alive as the war ended.

After the war as per the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, the German Air Force was disbanded and Goering was jobless. He joined the Nazi party and rose up in the hierarchy to become the second man to Hitler.

Goring was made chief of the German Air Force and given the title of Reich Marshall. He was the only German officer promoted to this rank. Goering's interest in aviation did not end and from 1933 onwards he began to collect World War I planes some of which he had flown. In 1943 he had a collection of almost 70 planes some of them extremely rare. These were stored in an old hanger close to the Berlin railway station. Allied bombing, however, was taking a toll and when one of the bombing raids struck the hanger holding the planes, he decided to move the planes away from Berlin to a safer place that was out of range of the allied bombers.


Roland D

Roland D

Transportation

After the order was given to transfer the planes to Poland, it was realized that none of the German trains could carry the planes. A decision was taken to remove the wings of the planes which were supposed to be sent in a separate train; unfortunately, this second train was probably destroyed and there is no record of the wings being found.

The main train left Berlin and reached a forest near Pomerania (currently the northwestern part of Poland). As the train was in the deep forest it was not discovered and remained almost intact. The Polish Army discovered the trains in the spring, of 1945, near Poznan. They were surprised by what they found. They found fuselages with no wings or engines, cockpits. and other aircraft parts and surprisingly a Polish Air Force fighter that was recovered intact.

It is a miracle that the collection of planes survived for any diehard fanatic could have destroyed them. These planes were taken over by the Polish government and in 1963 they were put on display in the air museum at Krakow. About 25 aircraft of Goering's collection are displayed here but many of them are without wings. They have been carefully refurbished by experts and displayed.



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Alabatross

Alabatross

Sopwith camel

Sopwith camel

The museum

The Polish Aviation Museum at Krakow is one of the largest museums of old airplanes in Europe. The museum, houses over 140 different kinds of airplanes, helicopters, and gliders. It also has 25 planes which are part of Herman Goering's collection.

The Goering collection can be easily distinguished from the other planes. This is because almost all of them have no wings. A lot of restoration work has been done but the wings have not been replaced, probably they cannot be. Some of these planes are extremely rare and only a single model is available. I have been to the museum and it's an absolute delight to look at these old airplanes. Among the planes on display are

Sopwith Camel, 1917 (serial B7280).
This was a single-seat fighter

Roland DVIb, 1917.
The beauty of this plane is that it is made of wood.

Halberstadt CLII, 1916.
2-seat fighter/bomber.

Grigorwicz M15.
Not much is known about this plane but perhaps it was a general-purpose use.

Aviatik CIII, 1916.
This was a reconnaissance that was also used as a light bomber.

Albatros CI, 1915.
A reconnaissance plane that could operate as a fighter/ It carried a 7.9mm Parabellum machine gun.

Albatros BIIa, 1915.
This was a 2 seater reconnaissance also used as a basic trainer.

There are many more planes that are part of this display. I think one can thank Mr. Goering for having collected these planes and then transporting them to Poland. The first world war is now over 100 years back and it is to the credit of the Polish authorities that they have retrieved these planes and not allowed sentiment to come in the way and destroyed them as they belonged to the Nazi leader.

Further reading and reference

https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/history-of-the-battle-of-britain/commander-in-chief-of-the-luftwaffe/

https://www.poland.travel/en/tourist-attractions/museum-of-polish-aviation-in-krakow

© 2022 MG Singh emge

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