Rhein-Main Air Base bombing

The Rhein-Main Air Base bombing was a terrorist car bomb attack against the American Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt am Main in West Germany on 8 August 1985. Two Americans were killed and more than 20 people were injured.[1] The blast was powerful and caused debris and damage to the base including to 30 vehicles, trees and windows.[2]

Rhein-Main Air Base bombing
Part of terrorism in Germany
Entrance to the base, pictured 1980
LocationFrankfurt am Main, West Germany
Coordinates50°01′47″N 8°35′00″E / 50.0298°N 8.5834°E / 50.0298; 8.5834
Date8 August 1985
7:15 am (UTC+01:00)
TargetUnited States Air Force
WeaponsCar bomb
PerpetratorRed Army Faction
Action Directe

The attack was orchestrated by the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the French Action Directe groups. It was the worst attack on an American installation in Germany since Ramstein Air Base was bombed in 1981, also by the RAF. The attack came less than two months after the Frankfurt airport bombing, although the two were not related.[3]

In preparation for the attack, RAF members lured and killed American soldier Edward Pimental in Wiesbaden. They used Pimental's identification to gain entry into the air base the next day where they carried out the attack. The bomb was placed in a Volkswagen Passat with fake American military plates.[4]



One of the fatal victims of the attack was 19-year-old Airman Frank H. Scarton from Woodhaven, Michigan, who was on temporary duty in West Germany and normally serving at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina. The other victim was Becky Jo Bristol of San Antonio, Texas, the wife of Senior Airman John Bristol, who served at the Rhein-Main base.[3]



A White House spokesman called it a "shameful attack".[3]

Eva Haule, leader of the RAF, was arrested in 1986. In 1993, by now already serving a 15-year prison sentence for other terror offences, she was tried for the Rhein-Main base attack. Her defending lawyer claimed the attack was a "legitimate means of resistance against American imperialism".[5] She was released on parole in 2007.[6]

See also



  1. ^ Rhein-Main car bomb kills 2; more than 20 injured in blast. Stars and Stripes European Edition, August 9, 1985
  2. ^ "Car Bomb in Germany Kills 2 Americans". LA Times. Retrieved 2023-10-20.
  3. ^ a b c Times, John Tagliabue and Special To the New York. "CAR BOMB KILLS 2 ON A U.S. AIR BASE IN WEST GERMANY". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Car Bomb Kills 2 Americans".
  5. ^ "Terrorist Goes on Trial in Rhein-Main Air Base Bombing". Associated Press News.
  6. ^ "Germany frees terror gang member". 20 August 2007 – via news.bbc.co.uk.