Tököl is a town in Pest County, Hungary. Nearby was a WWII airbase that played a modest part in the war. Today the site is still used as an airport (although on a much smaller scale) and has the airport code of LHTL.
Because the airbase is still actively used by aircraft, getting access to the site is tricky. Carlo R, who supplied us with these pictures, was invited by a tenant of one of the hangers and so had a valid reason to be on-site.
In 1943, a Hungarian aviation unit was stationed there, tasked with protecting Budapest’s airspace. In April 1944, the airbase suffered a terrible bombing run where the United States Air Force dropped around 200 tons of bombs. After that, the Tököl airbase was continually targeted.
During World War II, a company known as Danubian Aerospace also used Tököl airbase to produce planes that went on to be used by both the Luftwaffe and Hungarian Air Force.
In November 1944, the airbase was overrun by the Soviet Army. However, unlike some other aviation bases they captured, the Soviets weren’t interested in using Tököl for their own purposes until near the end of the war.
After the war, the runway was expanded to 2,500 meters (8,202 feet), and the MiG15 and the Yak-18 were stationed there (the former being a brand new plan at the time). Unfortunately, the Hungarians weren’t able to hold onto these aircraft for long because they were seized by the Soviets following the end of the Hungarian revolution in 1956.
Following this second seizure by the Soviets, the Hungarians were not permitted back onto the base until 1968. The Soviets used Tököl airbase extensively, and large aircraft hangars were constructed in the 1980s to house MiG-29 aircraft. Helicopters also operated out of this site.
When the Cold War was over, the Soviets left the base in April 1991, and the Hungarians were able to regain full possession. The Hungarians used it for some years before the military abandoned it. After that, the runway and hangars were mostly used by civilians.
The large hangar that had accommodated the Danubian Aerospace workshop was demolished and a supermarket was built in its place. Some hangars still remain, however, and urban explorers have found evidence of Russian signs inside to testify to its previous owners.
One hangar in particular is owned by a private enterprise that has restored a historical Aero L-29 aircraft. The buildings that are still standing along the service roads are in decent condition but are overgrown by vegetation.
After complaints from nearby residents about the noise from air traffic, the runway was shortened in the 1990s to only 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) so that larger aircraft could not land there. At one point, there were plans for the runway to be used for cheap international travel, but the authorities rejected such a proposal.
Although the Tököl airbase might not host as many large aircraft these days, the airbase has featured in a few movies. Most notably, Steven Spielberg used this location as a stand-in for Fürstenfeldbruck, Bavaria, in the movie Munich.
The photographer, CarloR, runs a blog about his travels. He likes to visit places that do not usually fit into typical travel plans. Before each trip, he carefully plans all the details and uncovers as much as he can about the history of his chosen location.
Afterward, he openly shares everything that he has learned as well as his experiences upon reaching his destination.
CarloR also takes many detailed photographs of his explorations and publishes them in an article. Visit his website and feel free to contact him with any questions about trips you might have.
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