Airplane engine with a propeller


Pioneering feats and daring flights, aerial warfare and forced labor – the exhibition “From Ballooning to the Berlin Airlift” illustrates the highs and lows of German aviation. More than 40 aircraft are on display, their stories intertwined with the personal experiences of contemporary witnesses.

From Ballooning to the Berlin Airlift

The exhibition begins with a model of a hot air balloon. Based on a satirical cartoon from 1790, it shows how the first manned balloon flights fired people’s imaginations. One hundred years later, the dirigible, or steerable airship, and Otto Lilienthal’s successful glider flights touched off an age of rapid innovation in aviation technology. The exhibition explains how Lilienthal explored the principles of flying and shared his findings with aviation pioneers all over the world. In addition, it sketches the history of the Johannisthal Air Field, which opened in 1909 as one of the first centers for motorized flight in Germany. A historical workshop rounds out the early history of aviation with some curious aircraft from this period.

A glider with a wooden frame and white wings hangs in the atrium of the New Building.
Aviation’s success story began with Otto Lilienthal’s pioneering flight tests and the gliders he constructed.
SDTB / H. Hattendorf

World War I and the Interwar Period

Three children stand in front of a very large airplane in the exhibition, looking at its engine.
The Junkers Ju 52 is the largest airplane in the exhibition. On account of its reliability and smooth flight qualities, it was affectionately nicknamed “Aunt Ju.”
SDTB / N. Michalke

Airplane technology advanced during the First World War. Airplanes were produced in large numbers and used for reconnaissance and combat. The exhibition traces the introduction of aerial cameras, radio technology, and weapons to aircraft. It shows how fighter pilots were celebrated as “knights of the skies,” as well as how these heroes’ deeds were supported by “invisible” ground crews and women in airplane factories.

After the war, retired military aircraft were used to carry mail and passengers. Flying on them was an adventure. The exhibition features a converted Halberstadt Cl IV, originally an attack aircraft, and a Junkers Ju 52 from the 1930s. A direct comparison of various commercial aircraft of the age emphasizes the progress made in that sector. In addition, the exhibition explains how the limitations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles affected German aviation, and why it was impossible for women to find work in the male domain of flying.

Devastating Deployment in World War II

Frontal view of a fighter. The plane’s nose has been removed, providing a view of the illuminated interior. Another airplane hangs in the background.
A view into the interior of a Ju 88. The section of the exhibition devoted to World War II illustrates the terror that Hitler’s Luftwaffe exercised on the world – and the technology behind it.
SDTB / H. Hattendorf

Aerial warfare entered a new dimension during the Second World War. Carpet bombing destroyed European cities and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. The wreck of a Ju 87 dive bomber symbolizes the horror wrought by bombing campaigns. In addition, an exhibit devoted to V-2 production shows how forced laborers and concentration camp inmates were made to build German aircraft and rockets under inhuman conditions. Survivors tell their own stories in newspaper interviews.


The Berlin Airlift, and Aviation in a Divided Germany

There is a group of young women sitting on the floor of the New Building’s terrace. A large airplane hangs above them. In the background, there are two people standing at the terrace’s railing, looking at the panorama of the city.
A Douglas C-47 is suspended over the terrace of the New Building. The Rosinenbomber (“Raisin Bomber”), or “Candy Bomber” in American parlance, symbolizes the Berlin Airlift of 1948/49.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

A Douglas C-47, a symbol of the Berlin Airlift of 1948/49, prominently hangs outside the Technikmuseum. Transport aircraft known as “Raisin Bombers” (Rosinenbomber), or “Candy Bombers” in American parlance, kept West Berlin supplied with necessities during the Soviet military’s blockade of the city. In addition, several airplanes from East and West Germany are on display to show how differently aviation developed in the two countries. Last but not least, the Technikmuseum is currently expanding into outer space. A new exhibition devoted to space travel is now being developed.



Die Jeannin Stahltaube ist ein zweisitziger Eindecker. Sie misst 9,70 Meter und hat eine Flügelspannweite von fast 14 Metern. Die Flächen und der zweiflügelige Propeller sind orange. Der Propeller sitzt direkt am Benzintank aus Stahl, auf den der Sechszylindermotor montiert ist.

M. Knickriem

Jeannin Stahltaube, type 11

The Jeannin Stahltaube’s fuselage is made of steel tubing – hence its name, which means “steel dove.” It is not only the oldest airplane in the collection, but also the only extant plane made by Emil Jeannin, an aircraft designer in Johannisthal. Before World War I, the Taube was a standard reconnaissance and training plane. It was put to military use only at the beginning of the war, though. By 1914 it was already obsolete. 

Emil Jeannin-Flugzeugbau GmbH, 1914, on loan from the Polish Aviation Museum, Cracow

Bei diesem Wrack des Sturzkampfbombers Junkers Ju 87 „Stuka“ ist das Cockpit noch deutlich zu erkennen. Der Bug samt Propeller ist vollständig abgerissen.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

Wreck of a Junkers Ju 87, a.k.a. “Stuka”

Development of the Ju 87 began in 1934 by order of the Heereswaffenamt, the German Army Weapons Agency. It was designed as a precision dive bomber, or Sturzkampfbomber. Hence its nickname: “Stuka.” The Junkers plane was easily recognizable by its inverted gull wings, by its undercarriage, and above all by the wailing of its siren. This made it the symbol of the Luftwaffe’s war of aggression.

Junkers Flugzeug- & Motorenwerke AG, 1939

Flugzeugführerschein, aufgeklappt. Die personenbezogenen Daten wurden mit schwarzer Tinte handschriftlich auf der linken Seite eingetragen. Die rechte Seite enthält ein Schwarzweiß-Foto einer Frau vor einem Flugzeug. Unterhalb des Fotos befindet sich die Unterschrift von Frau Charlotte Möhring und ein Stempel.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

Pilot license belonging to Charlotte Möhring

Charlotte Möhring was the third of six women in Germany to get a pilot’s license before World War I. She overcame prejudice and resistance to work as a flight instructor and air show pilot. With the outbreak of war in 1914, however, women were excluded from aviation. Women began standing up for the right to fly again in the 1920s, but heavy restrictions remained on their working in aviation. Only in 1986 were woman allowed to be trained as commercial pilots in Germany.


Dreieckige Steuerflosse aus Metall, die Oberfläche weist graue und orangene Farblackierungen auf.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

Fin of a Soyuz rocket

When German astronaut Alexander Gerst blasted off for the International Space Station on June 6, 2018, this fin was attached to one of the boosters on his Soyuz rocket. The boosters were dropped at an altitude of 45 kilometers and fell back to Earth. The remaining fuel burned in the process, as can be seen by the burn marks on the fin.

Progress Rocket Space Center, 2018