”Operation Vittles“ – The Airlift Begins
The American and British supply flights left for West Berlin from nine airfields in the Western zones of occupation. More than 2 million inhabitants had to be provided with 1,500 calories a day each. During the first few weeks a lack of transport planes and experience with airlifts proved problematic. The appointment of US General William H. Tunner as commander of the American and British transport fleet marks the beginning of the success story of “Operation Vittles.” Tunner planned the logistics while the US military governor General Lucius D. Clay was responsible for political support and additional aircraft. The daily cargo tonnage rose steadily during the early months, and even the coming of winter did not endanger the provisioning of the city from the air. Coal represented the bulk of cargo, but flour, powdered milk, gasoline and all of the other necessities of life were also flown to Berlin.