What happened to Germany’s awesome aircraft manufacturers

Arado Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturer, originally established as the Warnemünde factory of the Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen firm, that produced land-based military aircraft and seaplanes during both World Wars.

Arado’s most celebrated aircraft of the war was the Ar 234, the first jet-powered bomber. Too late to have any real effect on the outcome of the conflict, it was nevertheless a sign of things to come.

Arado also licence-built various versions of, and components for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.

In 1945, the company was liquidated and broken up.


Hamburger Flugzeugbau (HFB) was an aircraft manufacturer, located primarily in the Finkenwerder quarter of Hamburg, Germany. Established in 1933 as an offshoot of Blohm & Voss shipbuilders, it later became an operating division within its parent company and was known as Abteilung Flugzeugbau der Schiffswerft Blohm & Voss from 1937 until it ceased operation at the end of World War II. In the postwar period it was revived as an independent company under its original name and subsequently joined several consortia before being merged to form MBB. It participates in the present day Airbus and European aerospace programs.

MBB (Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm)


Bücker-Flugzeugbau GmbH was a German aircraft manufacturer founded in 1932. It was most notable for Its highly regarded sports planes which went on to be used as trainers by the Luftwaffe during World War II.

At the end of World War II, the company’s premises fell into the Soviet occupation zone, and were seized. The company was then broken up. The Soviet army used the premises for aviation maintenance until their withdrawal from Germany in the 1990s.


The Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (German for “German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight” or “German Institute for Glider Research”), or DFS , was formed in 1933 to centralise all gliding activity in Germany, under the directorship of Professor Georgii. It was formed by the nationalisation of the Rhön-Rossitten Gesellschaft (RRG) at Darmstadt. 

The DFS was involved in producing training sailplanes for the Hitler Youth and Luftwaffe, as well as conducting research into advanced technologies such as flying wings and rocket propulsion. Notable DFS-produced aircraft include the DFS 230 transport glider (1600+ produced), the German counterpart to the British Airspeed Horsa glider, and the DFS 194 similar to the famous Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket fighter.

In 1938, following a fatal accident at the Wasserkuppe, DFS held a competition to design a more effective speed brake for gliders. The final design, produced by Wolfgang and Ulrich Hütter of Schempp-Hirth, is used to this day and generally referred to as the “Schempp-Hirth brake”.

The modern DLR still does research into gliding flight, as the DFS once did – evidence of this is their enlarged 17-meter wingspan Glaser-Dirks DG-300 Elan high-performance glider, used to precisely set and measure comparative glider performance parameters. 


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Dornier Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturer founded in Friedrichshafen in 1914 by Claude Dornier. Over the course of its long lifespan, the company produced many designs for both the civil and military markets.

After WWII aircraft production was again forbidden in Germany, and Dornier relocated to Spain and then to Switzerland where the firm provided aeronautical consultancy services until returning to Germany in 1954. Post-war, Dornier re-established itself with successful small STOL Do 27 and Do 28 transports. In 1974 it joined in a joint venture with French aircraft manufacturers Dassault-Breguet to develop the Alpha Jet.

In 1985, Dornier became a member of the Daimler-Benz group integrating its aeronautic assets with the parent company. As part of this transaction, Lindauer Dornier GmbH was spun off, creating a separate, family-owned firm, concentrating on textile machinery design and manufacturing. The rest of the company was split into several subsidiaries for defence, satellites, medtech and aircraft.

In 1996, the majority of Dornier Aircraft was acquired by Fairchild Aircraft, forming Fairchild Dornier. This company became insolvent in early 2002. Production of its 328 Jet was acquired by US company Avcraft. Asian groups continued to show interest in its 728 version in August 2004, but production had not restarted. The other subsidiaries became part of the EADS; the medtech division was sold to an investment company and now bears the name Dornier MedTech. Dornier Medtech manufactures medical equipment, such as the Dornier S lithotriptor, HM3, Compact Delta to treat kidney stones. Dornier MedTech also manufactures laser devices for a wide range of applications.

The Dornier family have a spin-off company and project, the Dornier Seastar. It is a turboprop-powered amphibious aircraft built largely of composite materials. This was developed by Claudius Dornier Jr.

Dornier GmbH built the Faint Object Camera for the Hubble Space Telescope, which was used from 1990 to 2002. The ESA funded the unit, which actually consists of two complete and independent camera systems designed to provide extremely high resolution, exceeding 0.05 arcseconds. It is designed to view very faint UV light from 115 to 650 nanometers in wavelength. It was the last original instrument on the Hubble when it was replaced by the Advanced Camera for Surveys in 2002.


In 1961, HFB and Focke-Wulf/Weserflug (VFW) jointly formed the Entwicklungsring Nord (ERNO) to develop air and space products. Work would be carried out for the Dornier Do 31V/STOL transport and, later, in direct collaboration on the Fokker F28 Fellowship.


The Gerhard Fieseler Werke (GFW) in Kassel was a German aircraft manufacturer of the 1930s and 1940s. The company is remembered mostly for its military aircraft built for the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.

The firm was founded on April 1, 1930 as Fieseler Flugzeugbau Kassel by World War I flying ace and aerobatic champion Gerhard Fieseler. Fieseler had been a manager for the Raab-Katzenstein, but when this company went bankrupt, Fieseler bought a sailplane factory in Kassel and quickly turned it to building sports planes. At the same time, Fieseler still custom-built sailplanes for some of Germany’s most prominent designers and pilots, including Wolf Hirth‘s “Musterle” and Robert Kronfeld‘s “Wien” and “Austria” (for many years the largest sailplane ever built).

In 1934, the company achieved prominence when Fieseler won the World Aerobatics Championship in an aircraft his company had built, the F2 Tiger. This was followed by the highly successful F5, generally regarded as a classic among sports planes. Even greater success was to follow in 1936 when an aircraft of Fieseler’s own design won a tender over aircraft from both Messerschmitt and Siebel for a new STOL observation and liaison aircraft for the Luftwaffe. It was designated the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Stork), and the company would produce over 3,000 during World War II. In 1937 Fieseler also produced the Fieseler Fi 253.

On April 1, 1939 the company name changed to the Gerhard Fieseler Werke GmbH.

Fieseler’s other wartime production would largely consist of building other firms’ aircraft under licence, including the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190. In 1941 however, a Fieseler project for an unpiloted flying bomb (Fi 103) attracted the attention of the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium – “Reich Aviation Ministry”). This went into production as the Fieseler FZG-76 (flakzielgerät, antiaircraft targeting device), better known as the V-1.

The Fieseler factory was the target of many Allied air raids, but continued production throughout the war. Following the War, part of the factory continued in business for a few years, producing automotive components. Its most famous products, the Storch and the V1, continued to be produced by foreign companies.



Anton Flettner, Flugzeugbau GmbH was a German helicopter and autogyro manufacturer during World War II, founded by Anton Flettner.

Flettner aircraft included:

Anton Flettner’s interest in aerodynamics (specifically the Magnus effect, which produces a force from a cylinder rotating in a fluid flow) also led him to invent the Flettner rotor which he used to power a Flettner ship which crossed the Atlantic, and the Flettner ventilator which is still widely used as a cooling device for buses, vans and other commercial vehicles and which is based upon the Savonius principle.


Focke-Achgelis & Co. G.m.b.H. was a German helicopter company founded in 1937 by Henrich Focke and Gerd Achgelis.

Henrich Focke was ousted in 1936 from the Focke-Wulf company, which he had cofounded in 1924, due to shareholder pressure. There is reason to believe that Focke’s removal was to allow Focke-Wulf’s manufacturing capacity to be used to produce Bf 109 aircraft. The company was taken over by AEG, but soon after this the Air Ministry, which had been impressed by the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 helicopter, suggested that Focke establish a new company dedicated to helicopter development, and issued him with a requirement for an improved design, capable of carrying a 700 kg (1,500 lb) payload.

Focke established the Focke-Achgelis company at Hoykenkamp, Germany, on 27 April 1937, in partnership with pilot Gerd Achgelis, and began development work at Delmenhorst in 1938.


On 1 September 1945, Focke signed a contract with the French company SNCASE and assisted in development of their SE-3000 passenger helicopter, which was based on the Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 “Drache” and which first flew in 1948.

In 1950, he worked as a designer with the North German Automobile Company (Norddeutsche Fahrzeugwerke) of Wilhelmshaven.

In 1952, Focke and other members of his former design team were employed by Brazil’s Centro Técnico Aeroespacial (CTA), at the time the air force’s technical center, to develop a Convertiplane, the “Convertiplano”, which drew heavily on Focke’s wartime work on the Fa 269. Also recruited was Bussmann, a transmission specialist formerly of BMW. The Convertiplano was built using the fuselage and wings of a Supermarine Spitfire Mk 15, which was believed to be one delivered to Argentina as a sales example. Britain refused to supply the Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba engine originally selected and the design was altered to accept a mid-mounted 2200 hp Wright engine instead as used in the Lockheed Constellation, which necessitated a redesign of the transmission due to the increase in weight and vibration. Some 40 workers and US$8 million were devoted to the project, and more than 300 takeoffs were achieved.

While working at the CTA Focke also developed the BF-1 Beija-Flor (hummingbird) two-seater light helicopter from 1954, which made its first flight at Sao Jose dos Campos on 22 January 1959. The BF-1 was similar in design to the Cessna CH-1, with a 225 hp Continental E225 engine in the nose and the rotor mast running vertically between the front seats. An open structure tubular steel tail boom carried a pair of tail surfaces and a small tail rotor. The BF-2 was developed from this and first flew on 1 January 1959, and performed an extended flight-testing campaign until it was damaged in an accident. It is thought that further work on the Beija Flor was then abandoned. 

Focke returned permanently to Germany in 1956 and began developing a three-seater helicopter named the “Kolibri” (“hummingbird”) at the Borgward company in Bremen, with its first flight taking place in 1958. While working at Borgward Focke set up a wind tunnel in a disused hangar in central Bremen; this wind tunnel was rediscovered in 1997 and is today the centerpiece of a museum devoted to him.

After Borgward collapsed in 1961, Focke became a consulting engineer with Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke of Bremen and Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft-und Raumfahrt. Focke was awarded the Ludwig-Prandtl-Ring from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics) for “outstanding contribution in the field of aerospace engineering” in 1961. Focke died in Bremen on 25 February 1979.

In 1993, Focke was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.


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Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau AG (German pronunciation: [ˌfɔkəˈvʊlf]) was a German manufacturer of civil and military aircraft before and during World War II. Many of the company’s successful fighter aircraft designs were slight modifications of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. It is one of the predecessor companies of today’s Airbus.


The Entwicklungsring Nord (Northern development circle) – abbreviated ERNO – was a 1961 joint venture of Bremen-based Weserflug and Focke-Wulf with Hamburger Flugzeugbau to develop parts for rockets and get involved in space activities.

See below (Weser Flugzeugbau)

In 1961 work began on a small, jet-powered aircraft initially styled Erno-61-4. After Weserflug and Focke Wulf formally merged into Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW) in 1964, the machine was redesignated VFW 614. The draft design was amended to a STOL 40-44 passenger jet with overwing engines, for easier operation from unprepared runways. German government subsidies enabled development to start in earnest in 1966. The first prototype started in August 1968, but then VFW and Fokker of the Netherlands formed a joint transnational holding company.

The prototype flew on 14 July 1971 but crashed next February. Two more prototypes flew in 1972. German, FAA, and French DGA certifications completed in 1974, 1975, & 1976 respectively. The collaborative production arrangements involved Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) in Germany, Fokker VFW in the Netherlands and SABCA and Avions Fairey in Belgium. The first sale was to Cimber Air, which started commercial flights in November 1975.

The VFW-Fokker alliance affected the VFW 614 negatively, as Fokker needed to sell its competing F27 and F28. National subsidies were diverted to the Airbus program, and the end came for the VFW 614. On 19 August 1977 the nineteenth (including prototypes) and last machine was completed.

Few VFW 614 aircraft remained in use: The German Luftwaffe (Koln/Bonn Flugbereitschaft) continued flying VFW 614 until they finally ceased in 1998. The Luftwaffe machines went on to serve EADS/Airbus at Bremen (one aircraft for fly-by-wire development for the A380), and DLR in Braunschweig for development and research duties – the final flight of the last airworthy VFW 614 was on 7 December 2012.


The European Space Agency ESA in June 1974 named a consortium headed by ERNO-VFW Fokker (Zentralgesellschaft VFW-Fokker GmbH) to build pressurized modules for Spacelab. British Aerospace, under contract to ERNO-VFW Fokker, built five 10-foot (3.0 m)-long, unpressurized, U-shaped pallet segments.

West Germany provided 53.3% of Spacelab’s cost and fulfilled 52.6% of all Spacelab work contracts. ERNO VFW Fokker, in competition with MBB, submitted the winning design, and became the prime contractor for Spacelab. MBB in 1981 took over VFW Fokker. The ERNO plant in Bremen continued as the headquarters for Spacelab design, production management, component testing, and assembly. It became a part of EADS Astrium Space Transportation, then Airbus Defence and Space, then Airbus Safran Launchers, and now ArianeGroup.


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Gothaer Waggonfabrik (Gotha, GWF) was a German manufacturer of rolling stock established in the late nineteenth century at Gotha. During the two world wars, the company expanded into aircraft building.

Following the war, Gotha once again returned to its original purpose, building trams and light rail vehicles in the former East Germany.


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Heinkel Flugzeugwerke (German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪŋkəl ˈfluːktsɔʏkˌvɛʁkə]) was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by and named after Ernst Heinkel. It is noted for producing bomber aircraft for the Luftwaffe in World War II and for important contributions to high-speed flight, with the pioneering examples of a successful liquid-fueled rocket and a turbojet-powered aircraft in aviation history, with both Heinkel designs’ first flights occurring shortly before the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

Following the war, Heinkel was prohibited from manufacturing aircraft and instead built bicyclesmotor scooters (see below), and the Heinkel microcar. The company eventually returned to aircraft in the mid-1950s, licence building F-104 Starfighters for the West German Luftwaffe. In 1965, the company was absorbed by Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW), which was in turn absorbed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in 1980 and later became part of EADS.

The company designed a VSTOL aircraft called the Heinkel He 231 (VJ 101A), intended to protect West Germany’s airfields against Soviet attack.



Göbler-Hirthmotoren GmbH is an aircraft engine manufacturer based in Benningen, Germany.

The company was founded by Hellmuth Hirth in 1920 as Hellmuth Hirth Versuchsbau, renamed Leichtmetall-Werke GmbH and finally Elektronmetall GmbH as a manufacturer of light alloy engine components, including parts for aircraft engine components. In 1927, Hirth separated this part of the business, renaming it as Hirth Motoren GmbH, with the remainder becoming Mahle GmbH.

The first Hirth Motoren GmbH engine, the 4-cylinder inverted in-line HM 60, was released in 1931 and was fairly successful. An upgrade in the form of the HM 60R improved efficiency, and was followed by 6, 8 and 12-cylinder versions based on the same machinery. Over the next decade, Hirth became one of Germany’s leading aero engine manufacturers.

Following Hirth’s death in an aircraft crash in 1938, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (“Reich aviation ministry”) nationalised the company, and in 1941 it was merged with Heinkel to make Heinkel-Hirth. Although the existing engine series were continued, Heinkel also used the Hirth production facilities as a basis for work by Hans von Ohain on a series of jet engines as well under the new name of Heinkel-Strahltriebwerke, although for various reasons none was widely used. Their final design, the Heinkel HeS 011, for which only 19 testing prototype powerplants were ever built, was intended for use in a proliferation of German jet combat aircraft design proposals late in the war.

Following World War II, this merger was dissolved, and Hirth was independent once again. Because of the prohibitions on German aviation during the Allied occupation, Hirth manufactured small stationary engines, as well as motors for snowmobiles. Eventually, Hirth returned to aircraft engine manufacturing in 1965, but in 1974 went into voluntary liquidation. The company was acquired by Hans Göbler, who returned it to making small two-stroke engines.

The beginnings of ultralight aviation in the 1980s created another opportunity to re-enter Hirth’s original marketplace, and the company has been a notable builder of engines for these aircraft ever since.


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Henschel & Son (GermanHenschel und Sohn) was a German company, located in Kassel, best known during the 20th century as a maker of transportation equipment, including locomotivestrucksbuses and trolleybuses, and armoured fighting vehicles and weapons.

Georg Christian Carl Henschel founded the factory in 1810 at Kassel. His son Carl Anton Henschel founded another factory in 1837. In 1848, the company began manufacturing locomotives. The factory became the largest locomotive manufacturer in Germany by the 20th century. Henschel built 10 articulated steam trucks, using Doble steam designs, for Deutsche Reichsbahn railways as delivery trucks. Several cars were built as well, one of which became Hermann Göring‘s staff car. In 1935 Henschel was able to upgrade its various steam locomotives to a high-speed Streamliner type with a maximum speeds of up to 140 km/h (87 mph) by the addition of a removable shell over the old steam locomotive. In 1918, Henschel began the production of gearboxes at the Kassel plant. In January 1925, Henschel & Son began building trucks and buses.

Early in 1935, Henschel began manufacturing Panzer I tanks. During World War II, the firm was responsible for license production of the Dornier Do 17Z medium bomber, and in 1939–1940 it began large-scale production of the Panzer III. Henschel was the sole manufacturer of the Tiger I, and alongside Porsche the Tiger II. In 1945, the company had 8,000 workers working in two shifts each of 12 hours, and forced labour was used extensively. The company’s factories, which also manufactured narrow-gauge locomotives, were among the most important Allied bomber targets and were nearly completely destroyed.


Henschel Flugzeugwerke aircraft and missiles included:

Manufacturing began again in 1948. In 1964, the company took over Rheinische Stahlwerke and became Rheinstahl Henschel AG (Hanomag). The truck production of Henschel was merged with that of Hanomag that spun off to form Hanomag-Henschel in 1969, this later went to Daimler-Benz, which discontinued the brand name Hanomag-Henschel in 1974. The production was switched to commercial vehicle axles, in this area it is the largest factory in Europe. In 1976 Thyssen-Henschel, and 1990 ABB Henschel AG. In 1996, the company became ABB Daimler Benz Transportation Adtranz. The company was subsequently acquired by Bombardier (Canada) around 2002. The Kassel facility still exists and is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of locomotives.


See above (Gothaer Waggonfabrik)

Gotha’s main contribution to the new Luftwaffe was the Gotha Go 145 trainer, of which 1,182 were built. The firm also produced the Gotha Go 242 assault glider and licence-built Messerschmitt Bf 110. Perhaps the most famous Gotha product of World War II, however, was an aircraft that never entered service, the Horten Ho 229. This was an exotic jet-powered, flying wing fighter aircraft designed by the Horten brothers, who lacked the facilities to mass-produce it. Two prototypes flew, the second (powered) version lost in an accident on its third flight. the third prototype- built to a modified design – was almost complete and four more were in various stages of manufacture before the end of the war. The Ho 229 V3 ended up in American hands, and is currently at the NASM‘s Udvar-Hazy Center, under evaluation for restoration.

On 22 February 1944, a squadron of American bombers was sent from Britain to bomb the factory, but due to bad weather, the mission was cancelled before they reached Gotha. On the way back, the Dutch border city of Nijmegen was bombed instead as a ‘target of opportunity’, killing hundreds of civilians.

On 24 February 1944. 239 American B-24s are dispatched to the primary target at Gotha, Germany (169 bomb Gotha); the lead bombardier from 2AD suffered from anoxia due to a faulty oxygen mask and mistook Eisenach as the primary target, 43 other B-24s released on his mistake (44 bomb Eisenach); they claim 50-10-20 Luftwaffe aircraft; 34 B-24s are lost and 29 are damaged; casualties are: 3 KIA, 6 WIA and 324 MIA.)


The Horten brothers: Walter (left) and Reimar (right)

Walter Horten (born 13 November 1913; died 9 December 1998 in Baden-BadenGermany) and Reimar Horten (born 12 March 1915; died 14 March 1994 in Villa General BelgranoArgentina), sometimes credited as the Horten Brothers, were German aircraft pilots and enthusiasts. Although they had little, if any, formal training in aeronautics or related fields, the Hortens designed some of the most revolutionary aircraft of the 1940s, including the world’s first jet-powered flying wing, the Horten Ho 229.

As the war ended, Reimar Horten emigrated to Argentina after failed negotiations with the United Kingdom and China, where he continued designing and building gliders, one experimental supersonic delta-wing aircraft and the four-engined flying wing DINFIA IA 38 Naranjero, intended to carry oranges for export. Walter remained in Germany after the war and became an officer in the post-war German Air Force. Reimar died on his ranch in Argentina in 1994, while Walter died in Germany in 1998.

In the late 1940s, the personnel of Project Sign, the U.S. Air Force‘s flying saucer investigation, seriously considered the possibility that UFOs might have been secret aircraft manufactured by the U.S.S.R. based on the Hortens’ designs.


The Horten HX-2 is a two seat flying wing or “Blended Wing Body” aircraft powered by a Rotax 912 iS2 engine. It was built and first flown by Horten Aircraft in 2018 as an experimental aircraft with additional flights in 2019 as part of its flight testing at the Kindel Airfield near Eisenach in Germany.

Design and development 

The first designs for flying wings were made at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1910, Hugo Junkers received a patent for his work on flying wings. The Horten name honors the visionary aircraft designer Reimar Horten (1915-1994). He is regarded as a pioneer in the field of these aircraft and made the most significant contributions to the development of the precursor prototypes PUL-9 and PUL-10 [de].

The HX-2 has a two-seat enclosed cockpit in the centre of the carbon-fibre and glass-fibre honeycomb structure, reinforced to provide roll-over protection. The undercarriage comprises a retractable tricycle landing gear, with a ballistic parachute for emergencies.

By June 2019 there were no published performance specifications for the design, but the company claimed that it would be faster and with greater range that comparable aircraft due the lower drag of its no-fuselage design.

The manufacturer claimed that the design was intended to accept new technology propulsion systems, as they become available.

The HX-2 was exhibited at AERO Friedrichshafen, 2019, and also at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019.

Specifications (HX-2) 

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
  • Wingspan: 10 m (32 ft 10 in)
  • Gross weight: 600 kg (1,323 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 240 l (63 US gal; 53 imp gal)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rotax 912 iS2 4-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston engine, 75 kW (100 hp)


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Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG (JFM, earlier JCO or JKO in World War IEnglishJunkers Aircraft and Motor Works) more commonly Junkers, was a major German aircraft and aircraft engine manufacturer. It produced some of the world’s most innovative and best-known airplanes over the course of its fifty-plus year history in Dessau, Germany. It was founded there in 1895 by Hugo Junkers, initially manufacturing boilers and radiators. During World War I, and following the war, the company became famous for its pioneering all-metal aircraft. During World War II the company produced some of the most successful Luftwaffe planes, as well as piston and jet aircraft engines.

The Junkers company survived the Second World War and the formation of East Germany, and was reconstituted as Junkers GmbH and eventually merged into the MBB consortium (via joint venture Flugzeug-Union-Süd between Heinkel and Messerschmitt in 1958). Messerschmitt ended the joint venture in 1965 by acquiring control of JFM AG and absorbing it within Messerschmitt in 1967. Within West Germany, Junkers GmbH was engaged in research on the future of aerospace transportation during the fifties and early-1960s. During this period, Junkers employed the famous Austrian engineer and space travel theorist, Eugen Sänger, who in 1961 completed work for the design of an advanced orbital spacecraft at Junkers. Junkers GmbH was absorbed within MBB and the Junkers name disappeared in 1969. 

MBB (Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm)

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Saenger or Sänger was a West German concept design for a two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane. It is named after Eugen Sänger, who had been a key figure in the development of the concept for aerospace company Junkers.


The Klemm Leichtflugzeugbau GmbH (“Klemm Light Aircraft Company”) was a German aircraft manufacturer noteworthy for sports and touring planes of the 1930s.

The company was founded in Böblingen in 1926 by Dr. Hanns Klemm, who had previously worked for both Zeppelin and the Daimler Aircraft Company.

Klemm suffered a setback in 1935 when the prototype Kl 35 crashed during testing at Rechlin. This was explained as a material defect, but was more likely due to overstressing of the wings. Klemm revised and brought the Kl 35 up to the required specifications and manufacturing began. Around 2,000 of the aircraft were built, both at Klemm’s plant, and by Fieseler, and later by the Czech company Moravan Otrokovice, for the Luftwaffe as a trainer. During World War II Klemm produced and designed a range of aircraft, such as the Klemm Kl 105, Kl 106 and Kl 107, as well as the Klemm Kl 151 and Kl 152.

The Klemm Aircraft Company was refounded in 1952 after the post-war ban on aircraft construction was lifted. Klemm himself by this time was semi-retired, and the company was run by his son Hanns-Jürgen Klemm. This company’s first model, Kl 107-A, made its maiden flight in mid-1956. In April 1959, Bölkow took over Klemm, and with the successor of the Kl 107-C named the Bölkow 207, the name of Klemm disappeared from the list of aircraft manufacturers.


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Messerschmitt AG (German pronunciation: [ˈmɛsɐʃmɪt]) was a German share-ownership limitedaircraft manufacturing corporation named after its chief designer Willy Messerschmitt from mid-July 1938 onwards, and known primarily for its World War II fighter aircraft, in particular the Bf 109 and Me 262. The company survived in the post-war era, undergoing a number of mergers and changing its name from Messerschmitt to Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm before being bought by Deutsche Aerospace (DASA, now part of Airbus) in 1989.

For ten years after World War II, the company was not allowed to produce aircraft. One alternative the company came up with was the three-wheeled motorcycle/bubble car or Kabinenroller (cabinscooter) KR175 / KR200, designed by an aircraft engineer, Fritz Fend.

The cars were actually made by Fend’s own company in the Messerschmitt works at Regensburg, and Willy Messerschmitt had very little to do with the vehicles other than ruling that they carried his name. Production of the KR200 ceased in 1964.

The Messerschmitt factory also produced prefabricated houses, which were designed as “self-building-kits” mainly based on an alloy framework.

On 6 June 1968, Messerschmitt AG merged with the small civil engineering and civil aviation firm Bölkow, becoming Messerschmitt-Bölkow. The following May, the firm acquired Hamburger Flugzeugbau (HFB). The company then changed its name to Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB). In 1989 MBB was taken over by DASA. DASA later operated as “EADS Germany”, which is now Airbus.


DASA (officially Deutsche Aerospace AG, later Daimler-Benz Aerospace AG, then DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG) was the former aerospace subsidiary of Daimler-Benz AG (later DaimlerChrysler) from 1989. In July 2000, DASA merged with Aérospatiale-Matra and CASA to form EADS.

DASA (from Deutsche Aerospace Aktiengesellschaft) was founded on 19 May 1989 by the merger of Daimler-Benz’s aerospace interests, MTU München, and Dornier Flugzeugwerke. In December 1989, Daimler-Benz acquired Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm(MBB) and merged it into DASA.

In March 1990, Daimler-Benz initiated a major restructuring of the new group, integrating the previously separate companies into five product groups; Aircraft, Space Systems, Defense and Civil Systems/Propulsion. Several companies continued to exist under their own names but by 1992 most (including MBB and TST) were fully integrated. In 1992, the helicopter division was joined to Aérospatiale‘s helicopter division to form Eurocopter.

On January 1, 1995, the company changed its name to Daimler-Benz Aerospace AG. With the 1998 merger of Daimler Benz and Chrysler Corporation, the company was renamed DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG on November 7, 1998.

Defence consolidation became a major issue in 1998, with numerous reports linking various European defence groups — mainly with each other, but also with American defence contractors.

On July 10, 2000 DASA (minus MTU) merged with Aérospatiale-Matra of France and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) of Spain to form the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). The former DaimlerChrysler Aerospace operated first as EADS Deutschland GmbH, now Airbus Defence and Space GmbH.

In 1993 MiG Aircraft Support GmbH was established with DaimlerChrysler Aerospace holding a 50% stake. The company undertook the upgrade of the 24 MiG-29s to NATO standards. The aircraft were inherited from the former East Germany after the reunification of the country.

As part of the Eurofighter consortium, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace manufactured the centre fuselage sections of all the development aircraft, (DA) beginning with DA1 which made its first flight from DaimlerChrysler Aerospace’s Manching facility in March 1994. DaimlerChrysler Aerospace was responsible for the mid life upgrade (MLU) of the German fleet of Panavia Tornados, similar to the RAF’s GR4 upgrade.

Owing to its expertise with German and NATO aircraft DaimlerChrysler Aerospace became an expert in upgrade of many allied aircraft, including the F-4 Phantom II and the E-3 Sentry.


Siebel was a German aircraft manufacturer founded in 1937 in Halle an der Saale.

It originated in the Klemm-Flugzeugwerke Halle that had been founded in 1934 as a branch of Leichtflugzeugbau Klemm in Böblingen. Its name changed to Siebel Flugzeugwerke when it was taken over by Friedrich Siebel in December 1937.

After World War II the company was revived as Siebel Flugzeugwerke ATG (SIAT) in West Germany in 1948, with its headquarters in Munich. In 1956, its headquarters were moved to Donauwörth and the company became WMD-Siebelwerke ATG (WMD/SIAT) in 1958 in cooperation with Waggon- und Maschinenbau GmbH Donauwörth (WMD). In 1968 the company was absorbed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm after MBB became the major shareholder.


Albert Kesselring in his Siebel Fh 104


File:Junkers Ju 87Ds in flight Oct 1943.jpg

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka

Weser Flugzeugbau GmbH, known as Weserflug, was an aircraft manufacturing company in Germany.

The company was founded in 1934 as a subsidiary of the ship and machine company Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG (DESCHIMAG). It began production that year at Berlin Tempelhof, and in Bremen.

In 1935, Dr. Adolf Rohrbach became technical director of a new Weserflug factory at Lemwerder, near Bremen, which opened in 1936. He had been working on ideas for VTOL (Vertical TakeOff and Landing) aircraft since 1933, and now developed them further.

Dipl.-Ing. Simon in 1938 developed a VTOL plane christened the P1003/1. It had 4 m diameter propellers that swivelled between horizontal and vertical, and could fly up to 650 km/h. The 1989 Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft uses essentially the same concept. It requires very complex gearing to tilt the wings without varying the power to the propellers.

World War II 

During World War II Weserflug had another factory in Liegnitz. It built Ju 188 and Ju 388 bombers, one of which survives in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Perhaps foreseeing the end of the war, the management of Weserflug transferred in 1944 from Berlin to Hoykenkamp, 15 km west of Bremen. It took over buildings previously used by Focke Achgelis. 

During 1940-5, Weserflug built 5215 Junkers Ju 87 Stuka planes at Tempelhof. This plant also constructed Fw 190 fighters. Forced labour was used; on 20 April 1944, 2,103 of the 4,151 Tempelhof workers were foreign forced labourers.

Ju 86 aircraft were manufactured at Lemwerder.

After the war 

At the end of the war, all aircraft production in Germany halted for several years. In 1948 a trustee, Horst Janson, was appointed to collect the assets of Weser AG, to which Weserflug belonged. He was responsible for some postwar reindustrialization in Bremen, such as reactivating the shipbuilding industry, and joined the board of Weser AG. Production of motorized aircraft was forbidden in Germany from 1945 until 1955. In the 1950s the Hoykenkamp area was used for small businesses.

In 1960, while retaining his other commitments to the reindustrialisation of Bremen, Janson became chairman of Weser AG. In 1961, Weserflug joined forces with Focke-Wulf – also of Bremen – and Hamburger Flugzeugbau in the Entwicklungsring Nord (ERNO) to develop rockets. Focke-Wulf and Weserflug formally merged in 1964, becoming Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW). Janson retired as chairman of Weser AG in 1969.

See above (Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau)


Heinkel, He 162, Spatz Volksjager (7585406720).jpg

Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger


With German rearmament in the 1930s, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. In 1939, BMW bought Brandenburgische Motorenwerke, also known as Bramo, from the Siemens group of companies and merged it with its aircraft engine division under the name BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH. A new factory at Allach, outside Munich, began production of aircraft engines later that year. Over 30,000 aero engines were manufactured through 1945, as well as over 500 jet engines such as the BMW 003. To enable this massive production effort, forced labor was utilized, consisting primarily of prisoners from concentration camps such as Dachau. By the end of the war, almost 50% of the 50,000-person workforce at BMW AG consisted of prisoners from concentration camps. 

Among its successful World War II engine designs were the BMW 132 and BMW 801 air-cooled radial engines, and the pioneering BMW 003 axial-flow turbojet. Towards the end of the Third Reich, BMW developed some military aircraft projects for the Luftwaffe— the Strahlbomber, Schnellbomber and Strahljäger— but none of them reached production.


Aircraft engines, motorcycles, and automobiles would be BMW’s main products until World War II. During the war, against the wishes of its director Franz Josef Popp, BMW concentrated on aircraft engine production, with motorcycles as a side line and automobile manufacture stopped altogether. BMW’s factories were heavily bombed during the war and its remaining West German facilities were banned from producing motor vehicles or aircraft after the war. Again, the company survived by making pots, pans, and bicycles. In 1948, BMW restarted motorcycle production. BMW resumed car production in Bavaria in 1952 with the BMW 501 luxury saloon. The range of cars was expanded in 1955, through the production of the cheaper Isetta microcar under licence. Slow sales of luxury cars and small profit margins from microcars meant BMW was in serious financial trouble and in 1959 the company was nearly taken over by rival Daimler-Benz. A large investment in BMW by Herbert Quandt and Harald Quandt resulted in the company surviving as a separate entity. The BMW 700 was successful and assisted in the company’s recovery.


Dr. Günther Quandt

In 1954, BMW formed BMW Studienge-sellschaft für Triebwerkbau GmbH as part of West German efforts to resume aircraft engine production. The company was renamed BMW Triebwerkbau GmbH in 1957, and began producing General Electric J79-11A turbojets for the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter program.

In 1960, MAN AG acquired 50 percent of BMW Triebwerkbau GmbH. MAN AG purchased the remainder of the company in 1965, and merged it with MAN Turbomotoren GmbH to form MAN Turbo GmbH.

In Autumn 1968, MAN Turbo and Daimler-Benz formed Entwicklungsgesellschaft für Turbomotoren GmbH (Motoren- und Turbinen-Union München GmbH from 1969) as a 50/50 joint venture, combining their aircraft engine development and manufacturing interests. MAN Turbo remained a separate company under MAN AG.


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Messerschmitt Bf 110 of Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (1943)

Industriewerke Ludwigsfelde is an automotive factory in Ludwigsfelde in Brandenburg, just south of Berlin in Germany. The factory is part of Daimler-Benz AG and since 1991 it has made Mercedes-Benz vans.

The Daimler-Benz company established the Ludwigsfelde factory in 1936 to make DB 600 aero engines for new Luftwaffe bomber- and fighter-aircraft. In the course of German re-armament and the Second World War the factory went on to make Daimler-Benz DB 601, DB 603 and DB 605 engines for various Luftwaffe aircraft.

During the Second World War (1939-1945) the factory used at least 10,000 prisoners of war, forced labourers and concentration-camp prisoners to work in the factory. From 1943 to 1944 it used the forced labour of about 1,100 women prisoners from the Ravensbrück concentration camp north of Berlin. Ludwigsfelde lies at least 60 miles (97 km) from Ravensbrück, so the forced labourers were housed near the factory in a subsidiary concentration camp called the Deutschlandhalle.

Early in 1945 the United States Army Air Forces bombed the factory. Then, after the surrender of Germany in May 1945, what remained of the works was dismantled and taken to the Soviet Union as part of the Allies’ programme to take reparations from Germany and reduce German industrial capacity.

Brandenburg was part of the Sowjetische Besatzungszone (SBZ or Soviet occupation zone) from 1945 and the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR or German Democratic Republic) from 1949. The Volkseigener Betrieb Industriewerke Ludwigsfelde was founded on 1 March 1952. Initially it made marine diesel engines, machine tools and machine elements. Assembly of Multicar M21 Diesel-Ameise (“diesel ant”) vehicles was transferred to Ludwigsfelde from the Schmiedewerk Roßwein (“Roßwein Forge Works”) in Saxony. In 1953 IWL became involved in the development of motor scooters, which entered production in 1954. 

In 1958 IWL began production of drop forging, precision-casting, jet engines, agricultural machinery and one-off special machinery. The jets were 32.3 kN (7,300 lbf) Pirna 014 engines for the Dresden 152 airliner, whose first prototype made its first test flight in December 1958. In 1960 VEB Flugzeuge Dresden was building 20 aircraft to enter service with Deutsche Lufthansa der DDR (which in 1963 became Interflug), for which IWL had begun series production of the Pirna 014.

However, the first 152 prototype crashed in March 1959 killing its crew, and the second prototype was grounded after a fuel tank malfunction caused a dangerous reduction in fuel supply to the engines. During ground testing in September 1960 the third prototype also suffered a fuel tank fault, and its ground tests were ended in December. In February 1961 the SED Politbüro decided to terminate aircraft production, which brought Pirna 014 production to an end at IWL. One engine was tested on an Ilyushin Il-28 aircraft until June 1961 but this did not lead to the Pirna 014’s further use or production. In about mid-1961 all Dresden 152 aircraft were scrapped.

Cancellation of the 152 left IWL with 30 completed jet engines and a gap in planned industrial production. The engines were later used to power minesweepers for the Volksmarine. 

From 1947 IFA concentrated production of large trucks at the former Horch factory in Zwickau in Saxony. In 1958 VEB Waggonfabrik Werdau at Werdau in Saxony (the former Waggonfabrik Schumann) took over as the main IFA truck factory, leaving the VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau to expand production of the new Trabant small car. In 1966 truck production was moved again, from Werdau to IWL at Ludwigsfelde.

On 5 October 1990 Mercedes-Benz and the Treuhand reached an agreement on the future of the IWL factory.

Between December 1999 and 2001 DaimlerChrysler (the parent company between 1998 and 2007) invested in the order of 500 million Deutsche Mark to redevelop the Ludwigsfelde plant and prepare it to make the W414 Vaneo. Ludwigsfelde made the Vaneo from 25 September 2001 until 8 July 2005. Since 2006 the plant has made NCV3 Sprinter vans, and major elements of the VW LT3 Crafter.


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Messerschmitt Bf 109 with Mercedes Daimler-Benz DB 600 powerplant.


Although Daimler-Benz is best known for its Mercedes-Benz automobile brand, during World War II, it also created a notable series of engines for German aircraft, tanks, and submarines. Its cars became the first choice of many “Nazi”, Fascist Italian and Japanese officials including Hermann Goring, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hirohito, who most notably used the Mercedes-Benz 770 luxury car. Daimler also produced parts for German arms, most notably barrels for Mauser Kar98k rifles. During World War II, Daimler-Benz employed the use of over 60,000 concentration camp prisoners and other forced laborers to build machinery. After the war, Daimler admitted to its links and coordination with the NS government

In 1966, Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH merged with Mercedes-Benz Motorenbau Friedrichshafen GmbH to form Maybach Mercedes-Benz Motorenbau GmbH, under partial ownership by Daimler-Benz. The company is renamed Motoren und Turbinen-Union Friedrichshafen GmbH (MTU Friedrichshafen) in 1969.


Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-680-8282A-06, Budapest, Panzer VI (Tiger II, Königstiger).jpg

During the Second World War, Maybach produced the engines for most of Germany‘s tanks and half-tracks. These included almost all the production tank engines through Panzer I, II, III, IV and V, the Tiger I and II (Maybach HL230) and other heavy tanks: and also engines for half-tracks such as the Sd.Kfz. 251 personnel carrier and prime movers like the Sd.Kfz. 9. The engine plant was one of several industries targeted at Friedrichshafen.

After WW II, the factory performed some repair work, but automotive production was never restarted, and some 20 years later, the company was renamed MTU Friedrichshafen. Daimler-Benz purchased the company in 1960. Post-1960, the company was mainly used to make special editions of Mercedes cars in the W108 and W116 model range, which were virtually hand built. These cars however carried the Mercedes badge and serial numbers.


MTU Headquaters Munich.jpg

MTU Aero Engines AG is a German aircraft engine manufacturer. MTU develops, manufactures and provides service support for military and civil aircraft engines. MTU Aero Engines was formerly known as MTU München.

While Rapp Motorenwerke and then BMW had produced aircraft engines since 1913, the modern company regards as milestone in its history the formation in 1934 of BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH as a spin-off from BMW. During World War II it developed and produced the BMW 801, an aircraft engine used in the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter aircraft. At the conclusion of the war in 1945, American troops occupied the factory grounds in Allach and aircraft engine production was halted for 10 years. Meanwhile, the factory served as a U.S. Army vehicle and artillery repair shop. 

On January 22, 1954, BMW recommenced aircraft engine development. In 1957, BMW engine production returned to Allach with licensed production of American engines. Two years later General Electric‘s J79-11A engine for the Luftwaffe‘s Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was being produced under license by BMW Triebwerkbau GmbH. In the 1960s, the Rolls Royce Tyne engine was produced under license for Germany’s Breguet Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft and C-160 Transall transport aircraft. The company moved beyond license production in 1969, when development commenced on the Turbo-Union RB199 aircraft engine for the Panavia Tornado multirole combat aircraft in cooperation with Rolls-Royce and FiatAvio. 

In Autumn 1968, MAN Turbo GmbH and Daimler-Benz formed Entwicklungsgesellschaft für Turbomotoren GmbH as a 50/50 joint venture, combining their aircraft engine development and manufacturing interests. 

In July 1969, the joint venture was superseded by Motoren- und Turbinen-Union GmbH (MTU), which took over the aircraft engine and high-speed diesel engine activities of MAN Turbo and Daimler-Benz. MTU München was responsible for aircraft engines, while MTU Friedrichshafen was responsible for diesel engines and other gas turbines.

In 1985, Daimler-Benz bought MAN’s 50% share in the company, and made MTU part of its aerospace subsidiary DASA. In 2000, when DASA was merged with other companies to form the European aeronautics and defense systems company EADS, MTU was split from DASA and stayed part of DaimlerChrysler. In 2003, MTU was sold to private equity firm KKR. Two years later, KKR sold all its shares at Germany’s stock exchanges. 

The company has other locations around the globe, including Rocky Hill, Connecticut; Vancouver, British Columbia; Rzeszów, Poland; Zhu Hai, China and Dallas, Texas.

In 2019. it is announced that Serbia would be a centre for aeroplane motors repairment, after MTU Aero Engines signed a memorandum on understanding with Serbia’s Economy Ministry. New location will be in the northern town of Stara Pazova, in the vicinity of Belgrade. 




  • PW4000Growth, partner to Pratt & Whitney.
  • PW1000G, partner to Pratt & Whitney.
  • PW2000, partner to Pratt & Whitney.
  • PW6000, partner to Pratt & Whitney.
  • PW300, partner to Pratt & Whitney.
  • PW500, partner to Pratt & Whitney.
  • JT8D, partner to Pratt & Whitney.
  • GP7000, partner to Engine Alliance.
  • V2500, partner to International Aero Engines.
  • GEnx, partner to General Electric.
  • GE90, partner to General Electric.
  • GE9x, partner to General Electric.
  • CF6, subcontracting to General Electric.
  • CFM56, subcontracting to CFM International.
  • LM 2500, LM5000 , LM6000 , LMS100
  • ASE class , ETF TF




Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1975-117-26, Marschflugkörper V1 vor Start.jpg

V-1 flying bomb


Volkswagen (“People’s car” in German) was founded on 28 May 1937 in Berlin as the Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH (“Limited Liability Company for the preparation of the German People’s Car”, abbreviated to Gezuvor) by the National Socialist Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front). The purpose of the company was to manufacture the Volkswagen car, originally referred to as the Porsche Type 60, then the Volkswagen Type 1, and commonly called the Volkswagen Beetle. This vehicle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche‘s consulting firm, and the company was backed by the support of Adolf Hitler. On 16 September 1938, Gezuvor was renamed Volkswagenwerk GmbH (“Volkswagen Factory limited liability company”).

Shortly after the factory near Fallersleben was completed, World War II started and the plant primarily manufactured the military Kübelwagen (Porsche Type 82) and the related amphibious Schwimmwagen (Type 166), both of which were derived from the Volkswagen. Only a small number of Type 60 Volkswagens were made during this time. The Fallersleben plant also manufactured the V-1 flying bomb, making the plant a major bombing target for the Allied forces.


Read about WWII here



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