This fascinating, silent 16mm home movie — shot by an unknown American who was almost certainly a military officer — shows a trip to Europe in 1949 and includes stunning footage of the end of the Berlin Air LIft. At 7:22, you will see dignitaries gather as a C-54 airplane with the “Last Vittles Flight” leaves Rhein Main Air Base, Frankfurt, Germany headed to Berlin Tempelhof Airport. At 1845 hours on September 30, 1949, sister C-54 planes of the airlift flew overhead in formation, marking the end of a dramatic chapter in Cold War history. As the painting on the aircraft shows, “1,783,572.7 tons to Berlin.” (Note: the final RAF airlift flight was on 5 September 1949.) The pilot of the “Last Vittles” was Perry Immel, flying his 403rd mission, and the 276,926th mission overall.
The film begins with the person who shot it in transit, landing at the 18 second mark at Harmon Field in Newfoundland. The net shots at :28 are in London and show the Thames, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and there’s also a spot of tea served at the 2:35 mark. At 3:22 you’ll see downtown London including Big Ben and the House of Parliament. At 3:38, an important personage possibly the Queen, is seen in a black car as photographers shoot pictures. At 4:27 the Savoy Hotel is seen along with London traffic — cabs and double decker buses. At 4:47, a military flight crew is seen on the tarmac before the film (at 5:00) transitions to Paris. You’ll see Notre Dame Cathedral, cafes at 6:10, the Louvre entrance at 6:20, plus the Museum itself, the Seine at 6:30, newsstands at 6:40, and Paris Orly Airport at 6:55, with some Gendarmes out front.
At 7:00, Operation Vittles and the C-54 “Last Vittles Flight” is loaded at Rhein Mein, while a band plays. A large group of military officers is seen on the tarmac in front of the plane and remarks are made. (We’d love some ID on these men!) At 9:05 aircraft fly in formation as the last C-54 to Berlin takes off. It’s unclear but it looks like the shooter got to travel aboard the aircraft to Berlin. At 9:40 a military officer is shown, and then the film shows block after horrific block of destruction in Berlin. At 11:00, you will see the burned out Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, as well as a Soviet war monument under construction. The film predates the construction of the Berlin Wall so you will see traffic passing through the Gate.
At 13:30, you will see three boys posing in front of a “You are Leaving the American Sector” sign. There is very little traffic in this area but at 13:55 you will see a Berlin tram whisk past.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit