Ex-Prince Bernhard Taifun flies in Germany

March 2019 News

Test pilot Klaus Cordes brings Messerschmitt Bf 108D-1 D-EHAF in to land at Bonn-Hangelar on 15 November. The machine has been associated with this airfield for more than 60 years.
VIA DR HEINZ-DIETER SCHNEIDER

Messerschmitt Bf 108D-1 Werknummer 5253, once owned by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, took to the air for the first time in nearly 50 years at Bonn-Hangelar airfield on 15 November following restoration with Dirk Bende GmBH. The machine, registered D-EHAF, was originally based at Bonn way back in the mid-1950s, before being badly damaged in a start-up accident on 25 July 1971. After several subsequent changes of ownership, the current custodians engaged Dirk Bende to rebuild the Taifun in 2017. Bende had previously restored former Swiss Air Force Bf 108 A-212/ D-EOIO, which is also currently based at Hangelar.

D-EHAF was originally built by Nord at Les Mureaux in France during 1944, and given the military codes GS+EZ. Postwar the aircraft was used by the French Air Force until being donated by the French government to Prince Bernhard and registered to him as PH-PBC in September 1947.

He flew it frequently until 1955, when it was sold and saw use in the film Operation Amsterdam, masquerading as a Bf 109 fighter. It went back to Germany in June 1957 and was registered D-EHAF to Frankfurt-based Christina Weber, who was rumoured to be romantically involved with Prince Bernhard. The following April it was acquired by the Schneider Machine Factory of Siegburg, and based just south-west of Siegburg at Bonn airfield as a corporate aircraft.

The regular pilot was Josef Beier, who had been a Bücker factory pilot from 1936-43. Over the next few years D-EHAF made 1,091 flights all over Europe, carrying a total of 2,126 passengers, until being sold on in 1970.

There are now seven original Bf 108s flying worldwide, with D-EBFW, D-ESBH, D-EOIO, D-EBEI and now D-EHAF in Germany, HB-HEB in Switzerland and N2231 in California.