Berlin Airlift.

The C-54 Skymaster is a modified version of the Douglas DC-4.

Introduced in 1942, the Skymaster would become the workhorse of the Berlin Airlift.

It would remain popular well into the Cold War, staying in service until 1975.

This particular C-54 was one of 330 used in the Berlin Airlift of 1948 - 49.

It was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the US Army Air Force in 1945.

The US effort during the Berlin Airlift was known as "Operation Vittles."

On June 12, 1948 the Soviet Union closed the Autobahn leading into West Berlin from West Germany, within 3 days traffic between the sectors was halted.

On June 24th rail traffic into or out of West Berlin was halted.

With West Berlin blockaded, the Soviets were closer to their goal of gaining control over all of Berlin.

The Western Allies formed the Berlin Airlift to supply the city.

C-54s would spend the next year delivering coal, milk, flour and everything else necessary to sustain the lives of millions of Berlin civilians.

Aircraft were scheduled to take off every three minutes, each plane flying 500 feet higher than the previous one. This pattern began at 5,000 feet and was repeated five times.

On June 25, 1948 Operation Vittles was launched.

On August 10, 1948 Soviet fighters began their harassment of Operation Vittles.

They buzzed aircraft, flashed spotlights and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

By spring of 1949 the airlift was clearly succeeding.

On April 21, 1949 a point was reached at which the amount of supplies flown into the city exceeded that which was previously brought in by rail.

The Berlin Airlift had finally succeeded, and it appeared to be able to operate indefinitely.

The Soviet blockade of Berlin was lifted at one minute after midnight on May 12, 1949.

In 322 days 277,569 missions had been flown and 2.3 million tons of food had been delivered to the 2.5 million civilians of Berlin.