The air base covers 3000 hectares of land of which only a third is inside the operational area marked by a 17 km long fence.
The air base was constructed during the German Occupation in 1940 under the name “Einsatzhafen Grove” (later Flieger-Horst Grove) to facilitate offensive operations against England. Later in the war, it became a base for defensive fighter planes.
Following the British advance into Denmark in May 1945, during which the airfield was surrendered to Captain Eric Brown RN, of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), a group of nine Ar 234B reconnaissance bombers were found at the base and subsequently transferred by Brown and his colleagues to Farnborough. By December 1945 the air base was taken over by the Danish Civil Air Defence, which used it as a refugee camp for 22,000 German refugees.
Control over the area was transferred to the Royal Danish Army in January 1946, continuing the use as refugee camp until 1949. In 1947 the Danish Army Air Corps established a flying school, maintenance centre and logistics office at Karup, preparing for Meteor, Oxford and Spitfire fighter planes. When the Royal Danish Air Force was established in 1950, the area was named Air Base Karup.
During the post-war years, Karup Air Base became a central part of Denmark’s NATO defence plan and played a major role in the establishment of the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF). In 1955 the Tactical Air Command was placed at Karup.
Several American produced planes were stationed at the base in the 1950s and 1960s, among them T-33, F-84, RF-84F and F-100. In 1970 the Royal Danish Air Force purchased two squadrons of Swedish Draken strike fighters and stationed them at Karup.
During the 1980s and 1990s several smaller units in the Royal Danish Air Force moved from Værløse Air Base near Copenhagen and Vandel Air Base in southern Jutland to Karup Air Base. In 1993 the Army Operational Command was placed at the air base.
RDAF F-16 Fighting Falcon, during an demonstration on Karup AF Base, Denmark – June 2011
The arms and technology company Danish Aerotech has its facilities in the air base area. It produces and maintains aeroplanes and missiles.
Karup Air Base is northern Europe’s largest air base.
Junkers Ju 88 night fighters awaiting scrapping at Grove airfield in Denmark, 2 August 1945. Junkers Ju.88 night fighters parked at Grove airfield, Denmark, awaiting disposal.
Hjøllund munitions depot (the Germans referred to it as “Feldluftmunitionslager Christianshede” and 4″Feldluftmunitionslager 6/XI”) is a depot the Germans set up during World War II at Hjøllund in Central Jutland. The depot consisted of over 100 ammunition depots, as well as two shanty camps one south of the depot itself for the crew and barracks just inside the main entrance one for the guard and one for the administration.
The depot began in the summer of 1942 and is on 700 acres, it is put into service on 30 December 1942. Ammunition depots were barracks erected on concrete foundations. On 22 November 1942, the siding to the Brande-Funder rail-line entered the depot, where two receiving points have been established, the track is referred to as Sebstrup. There was also a temporary railway stop next to the depot on the Brande-Funder line, which could be allocated to the area.
It was the depot for the Luftwaffe, which used Einsatzhafen Grove (today Air Base Karup), the reason for this location of the depot was likely due to the danger of numerous detonations by an Allied airstrike on the Grove and the possibility of rail connection to the depot, as well as the fact that the forest hid the ammunition depot.
Three officers and 141 petty officers and non-executive soldiers worked there from the start to the end of the war, when the English took over the depot and destroyed all ammunition by blasting. The British said that ‘it is the largest depot in Europe’.
Then German refugees moved into the buildings and from 1948 the place was used as a prison for the many Danes who had done German war service.
Now the area is a military area with access forbidden to unauthorized persons.
Read about WWII here