The establishment of Marinefliegergeschwader 3 was ordered by Fleetadmiral Mahlke on 1st july 1964. But the origins of this dedicated subhunting unit reaches back until the very begining of modern german naval aviation.
On 20th may 1958 the first subhunting squadron was officially put into service in Eglington/Northern Ireland. The squadron consisted of 15 ASW aircraft Fairey Gannet A.S. Mk.4 and a sole Gannet T Mk.5 trainer aircraft. The squadron was part of Marinefliegergruppe I (later MFG 1) based at Jagel. In fall 1961 the squadron was incorporated into MFG 2 and moved to Westerland/Sylt about half a year later, where it operated idenpendentely from its mother airwing.
The early 1960s meant the replacement of the ageing Seahawks and Gannets with the modern F-104G Starfighter and Breguet Atlantic respectively.
As a result, MFG 2 was to become a pure jet airwing and the subhunting component was to form the core of the new MFG 3, which was to be based at Nordholz.
First parts of the squadron moved from Sylt to Nordholz in october 1964 and were officially designated as 2./MFG 3. The days of the Gannet were counted as the Atlantic was due for introduction. Subsequently the first aircrews were trained for the new aircraft by the US-Navy in Patuxent River/USA. The first prototype (UC-301) arrived at Nordholz on 15th july 1965 and was used to train groundcrews. September the same year, saw teh last participation of german Gannets in a fleet excercise.
In january 1966 the first production Atlantic was handed over to MFG 3 and given the military designation UC-310. Ironically, in the phase of its disbandment from service, the only fatal accident with a german Gannet occured, when UA-115 crashed on take-off from Kaufbeuren. The crash was deemed the result of a pilot error and cost the lives of all three crewman.
In 1967 MFG 3 received the status of combat ready and was put under official NATO command on 1st april. Three months later MFG 3 was assigned the traditionname "Graf Zeppelin" - as a matter of fact, MFG 3 is the only naval airwing to receive such a honor.
Four years after the arrival of the first Atlantic, the final aircraft (60+20) was handed over to the navy - a time when the remaining Atlantics had accumulated more than 10.000 flighthours.
The Atlantic was the only aircraft on stock after 31st december 1974, when the last Piaggio P.149D liaison aircraft was disbanded. The type had accumulated almost 5.000 flighthours within MFG 3 service.
A mere seven years later, the Atlantic was suplemented by the first Bordhubschrauber Westland Sea Lynx Mk.88, which was handed over at Yeavilton/GB on 15th june 1981. On 1st october 3./MFG 3 was officially put into service. The helicopter was to fly from the new F-122 Frigates and fullfil the role of shipborne subhunting and SAR.
A major milestone in the history of the Bundeswehr, were the deployment of MFG 3 components to the Adratic, as a result of the arising crisis in Jugoslavia. Three Atlantic crews were transferred to Sardinia to observe the embargo from the air. In addition, Sea Lynx helicopters operated of german Frigates to land boarding parties on ships enroute to Jugoslavia to enforce the UN embargo.
On 13th september 1994 again new types of aircraft arrived at MFG 3. The fixed-wing component of MFG 5 was handed over to MFG 3, which included two Do-28D-2 OU and a single Do-228-212 LM pollution detection aircraft. About a year later, the last Do-28 was retired from operational service. Until the end of 1998 the fleet of 2./MFG 3's Do-228 aircraft rose to the number of four airframes. Two of which are configured as pollution detection aircraft, while the other two airframes perform light transport duties for all navy airwings.
The future of MFG 3 is among the brightest within the Navy. The unit is the sole operator of airborne anti-submarine assets and will become the largest unit, with the introduction of the MH90 in the near future.
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