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Cold War Chipmunk Air Reconnaissance around Berlin

15 June 2018

In the second in our 2018 Cold War Lunchtime Lecture Series, Group Captain Andrew Pennington (ret’d) will speak on Allied intelligence gathering operations by the British Commanders’ in Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (BRIXMIS) during the Cold War period.

Chipmunk over Brandenburg Gate

15 June 2018 12:30pm - 2.00pm

Immediately after the Second World War the Soviets and the western allied occupying powers formally agreed to guarantee access to Berlin by British, US and French aircraft through three air corridors and a 20-mile radius Berlin Control Zone, the BCZ. This covered both East and West Berlin and some surrounding areas.  

Taking advantage of this, from the mid-1950s the British exercised their right of access on a regular basis by flying Chipmunk training aircraft over all areas of the BCZ, which included many important Soviet military bases housing a wide variety of units, vehicles and aircraft.  The Chipmunk crews used hand-held cameras to discretely photograph these targets, resulting in comprehensive order of battle information and outstanding technical-quality images which were highly prized by the allied intelligence agencies.  

The Chipmunk operations were carried out by members of BRIXMIS - the British Commanders’ in Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany. This was a part of the intensive intelligence collection operations by BRIXMIS and its associated French and US Military Liaison Missions throughout the Soviet Occupied Zone of Germany, otherwise known as the German Democratic Republic.  
This lecture will look at the historical context of Allied intelligence collection operations by BRIXMIS both on the ground and in the air, discuss the operational and political limitations of Chipmunk reconnaissance operations in the BCZ and show examples of the imagery collected by BRIXMIS during its operations between 1946 and 1990, but concentrating on the 1980s.

This lecture will be held in the Museum lecture theatre at our Cosford site at 12:30pm on Friday 15 June 2018.

This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited. Booking is quick and easy.


Andrew Pennington served in the RAF between 1968 and 2005, specialising in intelligence duties.  These included imagery analysis, intelligence in support of tactical air reconnaissance in West Germany, intelligence staff duties and signals intelligence.  After training in Russian language, he worked in 26 Signals Unit on Teufelsburg in West Berlin, and subsequently trained military attaches before spending 3 years as a member of the British Commanders’ in Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (BRIXMIS), again based in Berlin.  
He has commanded the Joint School of Photographic Interpretation and the Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (Northern Ireland) as well as graduating from the RAF Advanced Staff Course.  He retired from the RAF as a Group Captain in 2005 after a tour in the Defence Intelligence Staff as Assistant Director (Intelligence) – Geographic and Imagery Management.   

The Cold War Lunchtime Lectures are delivered by emerging and established researchers. They explore key events and air power developments from the Cold War period. The series forms a part of our Research Programme for 2018. The programme also consists of the Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies, First World War lunchtime lectures at our London site and other events such as conferences. For further details about the RAF Museum’s Research Programme please contact us.

Please note that lectures are subject to change.

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