|Warplanes of the Second World War preserved in Switzerland
Warplanes of the Second World War preserved in Switzerland
The aim of this website is to locate, identify and document Warplanes from the Second World War preserved in Switzerland. Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these aircraft to provide and update the data on this website. Photos are as credited. Any errors found here are by the author, and any additions, corrections or amendments to this list of Warplane Survivors of the Second World War in Switzerland would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Data current to 17 Nov 2018.
Switzerland during the Second World War
At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Switzerland immediately began to mobilize for a possible invasion. The entire country was fully mobilized in only three days. The Swiss government began to fortify positions throughout the country. The total strength of the army and militias grew to exactly 498,327 men.
In the course of the war, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the German military command, such as Operation Tannenbaum, but Switzerland was never attacked. Switzerland was able to remain independent through a combination of military deterrence, economic concessions to Germany, and good fortune as larger events during the war delayed an invasion. Under General Henri Guisan, a massive mobilization of militia forces was ordered. The Swiss military strategy was changed from one of static defence at the borders, to a strategy of organized long-term attrition and withdrawal to strong, well-stockpiled positions high in the Alps known as the National Redoubt. This controversial strategy was essentially one of deterrence. The idea was to cause huge losses to German forces and render the cost of invading too high. During an invasion, the Swiss Army would cede control of the economic heartland and population centres, but retain control of crucial rail links and passes in the National Redoubt. Switzerland was an important base for espionage by both sides in the conflict and often mediated communications between the Axis and Allied powers by serving as a protecting power.
Although Switzerland remained neutral throughout the Second World War, it had to deal with numerous violations of its airspace by combatants from both sides – initially by German aircraft, especially during their invasion of France in 1940. Zealous Swiss pilots attacked and shot down eleven German aircraft, losing two of their own, before a threatening memorandum from the German leadership forced General Guisan to forbid air combat above Swiss territory.
Nazi Germany repeatedly violated Swiss airspace. During the Invasion of France, German aircraft violated Swiss airspace at least 197 times. In several air incidents, the Swiss (ironically using 10 Messerschmitt Bf-109D and, 50 Bf-109E-1 and 30 Bf 109E-3 fighters bought from Germany prior to the war and some 290 licence-built Morane-Saulnier M.S.406s built under license in Switzerland (82 designated D.3800 and 207 as D.3801 with a larger engine), shot down 11 Luftwaffe planes between 10 May 1940 and 17 June 1940. Germany protested diplomatically on 5 June 1940 and with a second note on 19 June 1940 which contained clear threats. Hitler was especially furious when he saw that German equipment was shooting down German pilots. He said they would respond “in another manner”. On 20 June 1940, the Swiss air force was ordered to stop intercepting planes violating Swiss airspace. Swiss fighters began instead to force intruding aircraft to land at Swiss airfields. A few Bf 109Fs were interned and then added to active squadrons. The Swiss bought a few Junkers Ju 52s in 1943 that flew with their air force until 1969, and in 1944 they bought a dozen Bf 109G-6s. The Swiss also built some of their own designs, including the EKW C.3600 series of single engine light reconnaissance bombers.
Anti-aircraft units still operated. Later, Hitler and Hermann Göring sent saboteurs to destroy Swiss airfields, but the sabotage team was captured by the Swiss army before it could cause any damage.
Allied aircraft also intruded on Swiss airspace during the war, mostly Allied bombers returning from raids over Italy and Germany that had been damaged and whose crews preferred internment by the Swiss to becoming prisoners of war. Over a hundred Allied aircraft and their crews were interned. They were subsequently put up in various ski resorts that had been emptied from lack of tourists due to the war and held until it ended.
Later in the war, the Allied bomber offensive sometimes took US or British bombers into Swiss airspace, either damaged craft seeking safe haven or even on occasions bombing Swiss cities by accident. Swiss aircraft would attempt to intercept individual aircraft and force them to land, interning the crews. Only one further Swiss pilot was killed during the war, shot down by a US fighter in September 1944. From September red and white neutrality bands were added to the wings of aircraft to stop accidental attacks on Swiss aircraft by Allied aircraft.
From 1943 Switzerland shot down American and British aircraft, mainly bombers, overflying Switzerland during the Second World War: six by Swiss air force fighters and nine by flak guns, and 36 airmen were killed. On 1 October 1943 the first American bomber was shot down near Bad Ragaz: Only three men survived. The officers were interned in Davos, airmen in Abelboden. The representative of the U.S. military in Bern, U.S. military attaché Barnwell R. Legge, instructed the soldiers not to attempt to escape, in order to allow the U.S. Legation to coordinate their escape attempts. The majority of the soldiers thought it was a diplomatic ruse or did not receive the instruction directly.
Switzerland, surrounded by Axis-controlled territory, also suffered from Allied bombings during the war; most notably from the accidental bombing of Schaffhausen by American planes on 1 April 1944. It was mistaken for Ludwigshafen am Rhein, a nearby German town, 40 people were killed and over 50 buildings destroyed, among them a group of small factories producing anti-aircraft shells, ball-bearings, and Bf-109 parts for Germany. The bombing limited much of the leniency the Swiss had shown toward Allied airspace violations. Eventually, the problem became so bad that they declared a zero-tolerance policy for violation by either Axis or Allied aircraft and authorized attacks on American aircraft. Victims of these mistaken bombings were not limited to Swiss civilians, however, but included the often confused American aircrews, shot down by the Swiss fighters as well as several Swiss fighters shot down by American airmen. In February 1945, 18 civilians were killed by Allied bombs dropped over Stein am Rhein, Vals, and Rafz. Arguably the most notorious incident came on 4 March 1945, when both Basel and Zurich were accidentally bombed by Allied aircraft. The attack on Basel’s railway station led to the destruction of a passenger train, but no casualties were reported. However, a B-24 Liberator dropped its bomb load over Zürich, destroying two buildings and killing five civilians. The aircraft’s crew believed that they were attacking Freiburg in Germany.
The Swiss, although somewhat skeptical, reacted by treating these violations of their neutrality as “accidents”. The United States was warned that single aircraft would be forced down, and their crews would still be allowed to seek refuge, while bomber formations in violation of airspace would be intercepted. Danger from U.S. bombers came not only from accidental bombings, but from the aircraft themselves. In many cases, once a crippled bomber reached Switzerland and was out of enemy territory crews would often bail out, leaving the aircraft to continue until it crashed. In spite of these incidents, Switzerland also acted as a refuge for Allied prisoners of war who escaped, including those from Oflag IV-C (Colditz).
On 1 October 1944 Switzerland housed 39,670 internees in all: 20,650 from Italy, 10,082 from Poland, 2,643 from the United States, 1,121 from the United Kingdom (including five Australians), 822 from the Soviet Union and 245 from France. In September the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was commissioned by the U.S. supreme command to organize the escapes of 1,000 American internees, but the task was not effectively accomplished before late winter 1944/45. Soldiers who were caught after their escape from the internment camp, were often detained in the Wauwilermoos internment camp near Luzern.
Official Swiss records identify 6,501 airspace violations during the course of the war, with 198 foreign aircraft landing on Swiss territory and 56 aircraft crashing there. (Wikipedia)
Aviation Museums in Switzerland:
Fliegermuseum Altenrhein, Flugplatz Sankt Gallen, Postfach CH-9423, Altenrhein.
Fliegermuseum Bäretswil, Im Tisenwaldsberg 2, 8344 Bäretswil, ZH.
Flieger Flab Museum, Air Force Center, Uberlandstrasse 255, Dubendorf, CH-8600.
Verkehrshaus der Schweiz, Swiss Museum of Transport, Lidostrasse 5, CH-6006, Lucerne.
Clin d’Aile, Musee de l’Aviatino Militaire de Payerne, Base Aerienne, 1530 Payerne.
Militaer Museum Wildegg, Peter Fischer, Ammerswilerstr. 63, 5600 Lenzburg.
Swiss Transport Museum or Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (Transportation House of Switzerland) in Lucerne. Opened in July 1959 and exhibits all forms of transportation including aircraft.
Flieger Flab Museum (Swiss Air Force Museum), Canton of Zurich, is locatedon the grounds of Dübendorf Air Base. The collection was founded in 1972 by the Office for Military Airfields and dedicated to the history of Swiss military aviation and air defence.
Beechcraft Model 18 (C-45F, C-18S) as used by the Swiss Air Force and the Swiss Federal Office for National Topography from 1948 to 1967. Flieger Flab Museum.
Bücker Bü 131-B trainer aircraft, flown by the Swiss Air Force from 1936 to 1971. Flieger Flab Museum.
Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann, Reg. No. HB-URF.
EKW C-35 (Serial No. 180). 1930s Swiss two-seat reconnaissance biplane aircraft built by the Swiss Federal Construction Works (Eidgenoessische Konstruktionswerkestaette), K+W, Thun. Flieger Flab Museum.
(Hornet Driver Photos)
(Hornet Driver Photo)
EKW C-36 (Serial No. C-534). Swiss multi-purpose combat aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s, built by the Eidgenoessische Konstruktionswerkestaette. It was a single-engined monoplane with a crew of two. It entered service in 1942, and despite being obsolete, remained in front line use until the early 1950s, and as a target tug until 1987. Flieger Flab Museum.
Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Wk. Nr. 4299), built in 1939, Swiss Air Force (Serial No. A-96). Flieger Flab Museum.
Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Wk. Nr.), Swiss Air Force (Serial No. A-98), Dittingen.
(Hornet Driver Photo)
Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Wk. Nr.), Swiss Air Force (Serial No. A-99), Payenne.
(Julian Herzog Photo)
(Hornet Driver Photo)
Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Wk. Nr.), Swiss Air Force (Serial No. HB-YKQ), Payenne.
Messerschmitt Bf 108 (Wk. Nr.), (Serial No. A-209), Swiss Air Force trainer. Flieger Flab Museum.
(Andre Wadman Photo)
(Hornet Driver Photo)
Messerschmitt Bf 108 (Wk. Nr.), (Serial No. A-201), Swiss Air Force trainer. Flieger Flab Museum.
Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 (Wk. Nr. 2242), Swiss Air Force (Serial No. J-355), 1939-1948. Flieger Flab Museum, Dubendorf.
(Hermann Keist Photo)
Morane Saulnier MS.406 (EKW D-3801), (Serial No. J-276). Flieger Flab Museum.
North American P-51D-25NA Mustang (Serial No. 44-73349), Swiss Air Force (Serial No. J-213), Flieger Flab Museum, Dubendorf.
(Hornet Driver Photo)
North American P-51D Mustang (Serial No. J-901).