2001 the Historical Aviation Association of Tromsø (HAAT)
was established to protect the remaining buildings
and installations of the old
seaplane station of Skattøra in the outskirts
of the city of Tromsø in Northern Norway.
the area was transferred from the Ministry of Defence
to the municipality in 1966, land and buildings have
been sold to private interests and the area was zoned
for industrial development.
2001 the property, which includes a large blast wall
from WWII – built by East-European prisoners
of war - was sold to a private developer.
major task of HAAT has been to stop this development
and the destruction of the blast wall as a major historical
war site and as a central part of the still remaining
struggle for freedom in 1940 was fougt from Skattøra.
Here a captured German He 115 is being put into Norwegian
BV 138 is towed to the Skattøra-quay in 1943.
based at Skattøra.
52-passengers disembark after a flight with "Det
Norske Luftfartsselskap" (DNL).
Sandringham flyingboat from DNL.
Otter seaplane parked in front of the blast wall at Skattøra.
206 from "Widerøe´s" at Skattøra
during the 70-ies.
blast wall as historical site
1936 the Norwegian government provided funding for the establishment
of the first seaplane station in Northern Norway, providing neutrality
watch over the region. The station, which was started constructed
in 1939, was to be located at Skattøra in Tromsø,
due to its proximity to Finnmark and the Soviet border. The station
was operated by the Norwegian Navy, which had its central staff
office in Tromsø. From September 1939 the 3. Unit of the
Norwegian Fleet Air Arm started its coastal surveillance from
Skattøra covering Helgeland in south to Kirkenes in north
with Heinkel He-115s and Norwegian built MF-11s. When
war broke out in 1940 the station comprised some 60 persons and
up to 12 aircraft, carrying out a variety of functions like bomb
attacks, reconnaissance and communication flights and a major
contribution to the Norwegian and Allied operations against the
German forces in Nordland and Troms. A total of 147 operative
flights were carried out from Skattøra in this campaign – with
During the German occupation construction of the station was extended to serve
as the central seaplane base in the North during the war years providing maritime
reconnaissance, transport and rescue flights, involving a fleet of tankers, crane
ships and catapult ships for launching aircraft. At most some 1500 persons were
attached to the station, including a sea flight service operated by Lufthansa
with connections to the continent. In 1945 the station consisted of more than
60 different buildings.
the war, Skattøra became once more a regional centre for
the development of civilian and military aviation in the North.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force used the base for maritime reconnaissance,
ambulance and mail flights to Svalbard and the Arctic stations
with Norsemans and Catalinas up to 1959. In 1947 Skattøra
was designated as one of the five major airports and the only
station in Norway. Thus, Skattøra served as a weather station and as one
of the two major centres for air control in Norway covering airspace from Iceland,
Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen to the Soviet border and south to Trøndelag (transferred
to Bodø 1967).
From 1945, Skattøra was also the major station for civilian air traffic
in the North which at that time was still based on the use of seaplanes. Det
Norske Luftfartsselskap (DNL) which was emerged with SAS in 1948 used Skattøra
as its northern base (together with Sola at Stavanger) for coastal flights from
Kirkenes to Oslo, with a fleet of Junkers Ju 52.In 1947 this so-called “Flying
Fast Service” (den Flygende Hurtigruten) was extended by the use of four
Short Sandringham flying boats. In 1954 SAS transferred its operation of coastal
flights to Widerøe with Skattøra as its major base for passenger
and ambulance flights and maintenance. Widerøe maintained its activities
at Skattøra till 1971 when land based flying was taking over. A number
of other civilian companies also used Skattøra up to the mid-1970s.
has received increasing support for its protests against the
destruction of the blast wall. However, local, regional and
national authorities have so far been unable and unwilling
the last two years, probably due to the growing publicity
of the issue, the property which includes the blast wall has
been sold four times. The present owners have in meetings
HAAT, expressed willingness to relocate their project provided
they can get access to another site. The municipality owns
other sites in the area and HAAT are now cooperating with
office of the municipal administration to find a solution.
So far, local politicians have not been willing to come up
an alternative. The owners of the blast wall property cannot
delay their project for long. To ensure the protection and
development of the blast wall at Skattøra as a memorial
WWII site, depends on the public support we can get for this
story of the prisoners-of-war must not be forgotten. The blast
wall must be protected as means to preserve and tell that story
to coming generations – for people in Tromsø and
the destruction of the blast wall
protect the seaplanes at Skattøra from air attacks, the
Germans constructed two blast walls made of stones. The smallest
has been converted to a maritime repair shop. The largest – still
intact – is ca 6 m high, 70 m long with a depth of 30 m.
The walls form an enclosure facing the parking area, the beach
slips for launching seaplanes.
The blast walls were constructed during 1943-44 by East-European prisoners of
war. For this and other purposes, the Germans built a prisoner-of-war camp at
Skattøra, housing more than 200 prisoners. According to local, but so
far undocumented, knowledge, prisoners shall have been buried under the walls.
This was one of several similar camps put up in Tromsø, but very little
information has been recovered on the Skattøra camp and the people who
lived and worked there so far.
The blast wall is not only a monumental site in itself, but one of the few major
WWII sites in Tromsø. It is the only site in the region, testifying the
story of East-European prisoners-of-war in Norway. The fact that it forms a central
part of the old seaplane station of Skattøra - the most preserved and
only remaining seaplane station in Northern Europe - adds to its significance
as a possible memorial and historical site.