Libyan rebels have secured two aircraft described as Muammar Gaddafi's palaces on wings.

The planes were parked on the tarmac at Tripoli airport.

Plane engineer turned-gun-totting rebel Mohammed Akram showed reporters a converted Airbus A340 and an A300 used by Gaddafi.

The planes look like Afriqiya airliners from the outside, but inside "they are seven-star hotels," he said.

"There are bathrooms with gold taps, bedrooms, offices, a kitchen, everything," he said.

The jets are now bedecked with green, black and red revolutionary stickers.

The rebels said that while they had secured the airport, the road into the city was still the scene of battles with Gaddafi loyalists.

In the airport's baggage hall, rebels have set up a field hospital for treating wounded fighters.

"We've been here at the airport for four days," said rebel Ahmed Mehdi, as loyalist Grad rockets from the surrounding countryside fell nearby, a plume of smoke rising from where a car had just been hit.

Huge billboards of Gaddafi have been torn to shreds, his framed portrait lies smashed on the ground.

"The airport is not damaged but there are some problems on the main road, it's not very secure," said Mehdi.

"We detained many African fighters when we arrived here, it only took us three hours to get here from Tripoli."

"We also detained five Serbs who say they are construction workers, but we think they may be pro-Gaddafi snipers. They are in a secure place, inside the airport."

The rebel in charge of the airport, Arabi Mustafa, said they were securing the area.

"They're firing Grad and Katyusha rockets around five kilometres down the main road to Tripoli, in Gasser Abu Ghasheer," Mustafa said.

"We shoot Grads back at them from time to time. We asked NATO and yesterday they hit Gaddafi's farm (on the road to Tripoli) but they haven't hit yet again today. They know."

He said the airport manager has stopped by to congratulate the rebels on taking it and to say that water and electricity would be restored as soon as possible.

"We'd like to have it ready tomorrow," said Mustafa.

The rebel leadership is encouraging workers to get back to work, including air traffic controllers, but for now the airport is far from being a welcoming workplace unless you have a gun or medical training.

Mustafa said that rebels had found a huge cache of new weapons nearby, buried in the sand, including mortars, 1,000 Grad rockets and three trucks for firing the inaccurate but deadly missiles. 

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