Airborne assault on Sola Airfield 1940
- Published: 04 September 2011 04 September 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
Sola airfield was the newest and most modern airfield in Norway 1940. It was built in 1937 and was the only airfield in south-western Norway with concrete runways. This airport represented a very valuable objective during the Weserübung. The distance to Scapa Flow is only 500 km. This meant that Sola could be used as a base for attacking the northern parts of Great Britain.
The following facts tell how the first airborne assault in history was carried out:
At 05:30 in the morning 9.April 1940, 12 lonely Ju 52 from 7./KGzbv1 left the airfield at Stade in Germany.
Onboard were 135 paratroopers from 3./FJR1. 10 minutes later, 53 more Ju52, carrying 2 companies from 193. Infanterie-Regiment of 69. Infanterie-division and 2 companies of Luftwaffe ground personell, followed.
The distance to Sola is 630 km and the flying time was estimated to 3 hours and 12 minutes. They were not allowed to fly over Denmark, as the attack there would be carried out as they passed.
12 Ju88 left the airfield at Lünebeck. Their mission was to reach Sola at the same time as the paratroopes. 8 Me110 from 3/ZG76 left Sylt a bit later. Their mission was to provide air support for the paratroopers. For the Messerschmitts, this was a one way ticket, as their fueltanks didn`t allowe them to get back.
Their destiny was in the hands of the paratroopers...
51 more Ju52`s left Utersum at 08:00. They were carrying I/193 Infanterie-Regiment.
The 12 first Ju52 met heavy fog in Skagerak. They wanted to turn, but knew if they didn`t take the airport, the following troops would be in great danger. They decided to continue, and only 100 km from the coast, they were again able to see the ocean. The formation was spread over a wide area, so they circled for a few minutes to wait for the rest.
Only 11 planes had made it trough the fog (the last had landed in Denmark).
The 8 Me 110 got more serious problems. 2 of the planes crashed into each other, and Oberleutnant Gollob decided to abort the mission. When they landed in Denmark, only 4 planes were left. The last two had not heard the radiomessage and had continued to Sola.
Due to all these reports of bad weather, General Hans Geisler decided to call back all planes. The paratroopers heading for Oslo (exept 4) and Trondheim turned, but the message was not recived by the forces bound for Sola.
The 11 Junkers were getting low on fuel. They were 45 minutes delayed and didn`t know exactly where they were.
Suddenly the 2 Me 110 joined the formation, and they hit shore just south of the airport. The flight towards the airport was drilled on scale models in Germany, so Hauptmann Capito knew exactly where he should go.
Meanwhile the 8 Ju88 had started their attack on the airport. Most of the Norwegian planes were destroyed on the ground, the rest escaped, as their planes were too old to take up the fight. The Junkers were ordered northwards to help a German merchantman which were under attack by a Norwegian destroyer. The 2 Me 110 strafed the airport at 10 meters above the ground. The Nowegian soldiers on the airfield fired all their weapons until they got so hot that they jammed.
Suddenly the 11 Ju 52 were over the airport. All 135 paratroopers lead by Oberleutnant Freiherr Von Brandis jumped out within seconds. The Norwegians thought they were getting bombed and escaped from most of the positions near the runway. The paratroopers gathered and opened heavy fire against the Norwegian forces.
The Norwegian Commander gave orders to withdraw from the airfield. Some of the Norwegian soldiers took the commanders car and drove off! In the end of the runway some Norwegian soldiers gathered around the only pillbox present at the airfield. They opened heavy fire on the German forces but were soon silenced by a German handgrenade.
The first of the 53 Junkers with I./193. Infanterie-Regiment reached the airport. The first planes to land were set under heavy Norwegian fire. The Ju88s returned after sinking the Norwegian ship, and opened fire on the remaining Norwegians. The Norwegian commander decided to surrender the airport, as it seemed hopless to fire on the planes with rifles and machineguns.
The German fire stopped at once when they saw the white flag. Oberleutnant Freiherr Von Brandis came over and saluted the Norwegian commander. The Norwegian commander gave his pistol to Brandis, but he returned it immediately. 90 Norwegian soldiers surrendered, and they were ordered to tear down the fences to prepare for a massive airborne landing. Within the first day, 2000 soldiers were transferred to Sola.
180 bombers and fighters were also brought in from Germany.
The first airborne assault in history was a fact.
18 soldiers from 3./FJR1 killed in ground combat, ca. 30 wounded.
2 Me110 crashed in air
3 Ju 52 from 7/KG zbv 104 crashed during take-off in Germany.
2 Ju52 from KG zbv 106 lost over Skagerak
1 HE59 crashed during landing
1 Ju87 Crashed during landing
1 He111 crashed during landing