Berlin was completely cut off from the western zones except through the three "air corridors" (direct flight roots from Hamburg, Hanover and Frankfurt) which Russia could only shut by shooting down the planes.
The west faced some hard decisions. The options were:
To give in would be a political climb-down and Russia could celebrate a victory, forcing access could risk war so the airlift was decided.
- To give in to Russia
- To force access to Berlin along the road with tanks
- To use the three air corridors in a costly and difficult airlift
The airlift (codenamed operation "Vittles") delivered 4500 tonnes of supplies each day. Planes landed every 30 seconds and if a plane missed its slot if would have to return. There were also accidents in which 70 allied airmen in total died.
The End of the Blockade
This came when Russia suddenly lifted the restrictions in May 1949. Russia accepted it could not keep the west out of Berlin and the event had given Russia a poor image throughout the world. Russia had also developed an atom bomb so felt at less of a military disadvantage than it had before.