William H. Tunner
William H. Tunner: the man who organised the Berlin Airlift
US Major General William H. Tunner (*1906 †1983) was posthumously inducted into Logistics Hall of Fame in 2006 in recognition of his outstanding organisational achievements in supplying resources to the population of Berlin during the Berlin blockade in 1948 (the Berlin Airlift), for founding modern air transport operations and for being the first person to establish the airplane as a practical means of transport within the logistics chain.
|July 4, 1906 in Elisabeth, New Jersey, USA
|April 6, 1983 in Gloucester, Virginia, USA
|Induction into the Logistics Hall of Fame
1906 Born on July 14 in Elisabeth, New Jersey (USA)
1928 Graduates from the military academy and one year later from the Advanced Flying School in Kelly Field, Texas
1942 to 1945 During the Second World War, Tunner heads the India-China Division of the Air Transport Command, transporting soldiers and resources from India over the Himalayas to China; this is the first time that large volumes of goods and heavy loads are transported by air
1948 Takes on responsibility for organising the Berlin Airlift to supply the population of Berlin: in the period from June 1948 to October 1949, roughly 2.1 million Berliners are supplied with around two million tons of food, industrial goods and coal by aircraft carrying out around 280,000 trips along the air corridor
1950 Heads the airlift to support US armed forces in the Korean War
1953 Chief of the US Air Force in Europe; Tunner is also responsible for the development of the NATO air force in Europe
1958 Commander of the Joint Military Air Transport Service in the USA
1960 Retires from military service with the rank of Lieutenant General
1983 Tunner dies on April 6 in Gloucester, Virginia (USA)
2006 Induction into the Logistics Hall of Fame
- He is one of the few logisticians to have a street named after him. His achievements changed history and laid the foundation for methods that are still used in modern aviation today. US Major General William H. Tunner was the organiser of the Berlin Airlift, via which over two million Berliners were supplied with food in 1948/49.
- Thanks to the way in which William H. Tunner restructured the process, volumes reached over 2,000 tons a day by the end of July 1948. The record volume of 11,740 tons of freight was reached on April 16, 1949, transported by 1,398 flights. Alongside building materials, the pilots mainly transported wheat, coal, petrol and medications. The Berlin Airlift became a worldwide symbol for freedom and signalled an historic emotional defeat for the Soviets. The Russians ended the blockade on May 12, 1949 after almost a whole year.
- In 1948, Tunner's job was to plan and implement the traffic in the air corridors to Berlin in such a way that the maximum number of planes could pass through the corridors with the highest possible level of safety. In order to achieve this goal, the starting times were defined with a maximum tolerance of one minute. Precise speeds, altitudes, ascent rates and flight directions were also stipulated and the passing of control stations exactly monitored. It was the first time in aviation history that exact calculations of flying time were performed for each flight.
- The system of aircraft servicing introduced by Tunner was also of a mould-breaking nature and was later adopted by two civilian airlines. Before the new system was launched, a fixed team used to examine and repair each plane, which meant that each mechanic had to be multi-skilled. With the new system, the plane passed through multiple stations – as on a conveyor belt – manned by technicians specialised in electrics, turbines or some other technical field.
Photos: U.S.Army, 360-berlin.de