Continuing on from my previous post of my 2015 visit to the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung (WTS – Defence Technology Study Collection) in the city of Koblenz, which has a focus on military technical aspects to be used as an aid in the training of members of the Bundeswehr (Federal Defence, the armed forces of Germany), the following post highlights the former East German (GDR) aircraft along with an overview of the various vehicles, weapons and equipment that fill the halls of the WTS collection. Although the WTS is technically not a museum, the public are allowed to visit but as it is on a military base you need to bring your passport to be allowed to enter the buildings.
Please also be aware that generally all the information at the WTS is presented is in German (it is first and foremost a functional place for the German military). A basic knowledge of the language helps a lot but regardless you can still enjoy all that the WTS has to offer.
Remnants of East Germany (GDR)
The East German Air Force (Luftstreitkräfte der Nationalen Volksarmee – LSK) operated as a well-trained and well equipped air division of the National People’s Army (NPA or Nationalen Volksarmee – NVA) from 1956 through to their final year of operation in 1990 following the reunification of Germany in October 1990. The last official day of the LSK was October 2nd, 1990 but flight operations ceased on September 30th, 1990.
Following reunification some of the LSK aircraft and personnel were incorporated into the German Luftwaffe. Given that many of the aircraft although well maintained, were either nearing obsolescence or were not compatible with NATO aircraft operations, mostly only transport aircraft and helicopters plus MiG-29 fighters were retained. Numerous Tupolev/Antonov transport aircraft along with Mil Mi-8 transport helicopters and Mil Mi-24 Hind gunships were operated until the mid to late 1990’s.
A number of the other LSK combat aircraft were used for a period following the German reunification for testing and evaluation purposes only by the Bundeswehr Technical and Airworthiness Center for Aircraft (WTD 61) at Manching Air Base until 1998. Some of these aircraft can be seen at WTS including a Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21bis Fishbed N fighter and the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23BN Flogger H attack aircraft. They are displayed with numerous Soviet era weapons options.
The LSK received 14 MiG-21bis-Lazur Fishbed L in 1975 equipped with the Lazur Ground Control Interception system and 32 MiG-21bis Fishbed N in 1976 equipped with the Polyot Instrument Landing System and designated MiG-21bis-SAU in the GDR (SAU referred to Sistema Avtomaticheskovo Upravleniya = “Automatic Control System”). 41 MiG-21bis remained in service with the LSK until 1990.
Around 1980 the East German Air Force increased its ground attack capability with the delivery of the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23BN Flogger H ground attack aircraft (the more capable variant of the MiG-27 export). 18 MiG-23BN were in operation with the LSK in 1989, serving with JBG-37 at Drewitz.
The former East German Mil Mi-24P Hind F at WTS displays the fearsome firepower that the gunship could bring to bear on an enemy force. Fitted with the massive fixed twin-barrel GSh-30K 30mm autocannon (with 750 rounds of ammunition) amongst numerous Soviet era weapons systems deployed on the aircraft it was one mean machine! It bears the emblem of WTD-61 but a number of the 51 (of an original 68) Mil Mi-24’s that remained in LSK service in 1989 continued to be operated in Germany until 1993.
Vehicles & Weaponry
The WTS displays vehicles and weaponry covering the history of the German Army, Navy and Air Force from imperial times, through World War One, World War Two, the Cold War and the modern era. The Cold War displays include both East and West Germany.
There is much to see in Koblenz but I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung for any military history enthusiast. For much of the time I was in the museum, I pretty much had the place to myself and to be honest I was in my element!