Operation Vittles Begins

General Curtis LeMay appointed Brigadier General Joseph Smith as the project commander for the Berlin Airlift Operation. General LeMay anticipated that the operation would not exceed 45 days.

General Smith commanded the airlift for its first month of operation. In that time, decisions he made shaped the footprint of the entire airlift. Smith consolidated Rhein-Main as a dedicated C-54 operating location that included the planes’ maintenance. Most importantly, Smith established the “block system” that coordinated and timed the different flight profiles of aircraft delivering supplies to Berlin.