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Focke-Wulf G.m.b.H.

The work of the Foclre-Wulf Airplane Company dates back to 1907, when Heinrich Focke, a German professor, together with his brother, experimented with free-flying models with horizontal control surfaces placed at the forward end of the fuselage while the wing is farther aft. This type was by no mleans new, but goes back to the beginnings of aviation. One of the first flights in Europe was made by Santos Durnont in a biplane of the Ente type. Moreover, the airplanes of Prof. Reissner and of the Frenchman Voisin in 1910 and 1911 were of the tail-first of Ente type.

These experiments led to the construction, in the following year, of an aircraft with a 40 hp engine, which made a series of short flights at the Bornstedt Field in Potsdam in September, 1909. This work was resumed by Focke after the Great War.

The formidable extension of its interior system of air lines led Geraany to use airplanes of small capacity, thus providing for traffic under the most econonical conditions. The agreements made by the governneat with the Lufthansa provided for using suitable airplanes on each line. As a result, certain aeronautical construction firms which had hitherto been able to exploit but a fraction of the system, now found themselves in a position to compete, with their special types of airplanes, in a more rational and extensive fashion, in furnishing the various types of airplanes required by such a vast organization.

On 23 June 1924 the prototype Focke-Wulf A 16 monoplane made its first flight. Capable of carrying four passengers, it is the first product of Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH. The Focke-Yulf "A.16" limousine airplane constituted the airplane type for short distances. The !'GL.18, a model derived from the "A.16" type, embodying many improvements suggested by the two years of service, was brought out in 1926 by the Focke-Miulf Airplane Construction Company of Bremen. The Focke-Wulf A 17 Mowe was equipped with a 420 H.P. Jupiter engine and can be configured to carry up to 10 passengers.

The 1931 Focke-Wulf airplane type F19, designated by the term Ente (Duck) was characterized by the fact that, contrary to the conventional type, the horizontal control surfaces are placed at the forward end of the fuselage while the wing is farther aft. In 1925 the Fockge-Fliulf Company proposed to the D.V.L. (German Experimental Institute for Aeronautics) the construction of an Ente airplane, which, after exhaustive model tests, was built at the Gottingen Experimental Institute. The test flights in the sumier of 1927 gave excellent results. Unfortunately, the airplane crashed in Septeniber of the same year with fatal injuries to Mr. Wulf, the fellow-founder of the Focke-Wulf Airplane Construction Company. The death of Mr. Wulf, who had been very active in the solution of the ttEntett problem, was a serious loss. Nevertheless the new Ente, with the type designation "F19" was ready for its first trial flights in May, 1930.

Heinrich Focke began working on helicopters in the 1930s. Like Louis Brguet, he performed research on the problems of control of rotary winged flight and built a scale model helicopter in 1932, before Brguet flew his craft in 1933. But four years passed before Focke was to build a full-scale version of his model.

Each of the major Allied and Axis powers developed a series of effective fighter aircraft. The British Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire will long be remembered, particularly as being responsible for the air victory in the critical Battle of Britain in 1940. The famous German Messerschmitt 109 was the principal antagonist of the Spitfire and Hurricane during the Battle of Britain, and together with the Focke-Wulf 190, formed the mainstay of the Luftwaffe fighter forces until the end of World War II. Everybody remembers the Messerschmitt, the ME-109, but, in truth, Focke-Wulf was a better airplane. They just didn't build as many of them.

Aeronautical engineer Hans Multhopp worked during World War II for the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau in Bremen, Germany, first as head of the aerodynamics department and then as chief of the advanced design bureau. One of his projects at Focke-Wulf was designing, in conjunction with Kurt Tank, the Ta-183. Information on the Ta-183 design obtained by the Russians at the end of World War II greatly influenced the design of the Russian Mig-15 jet fighter. The Pulqui-II, a derivation of the Ta-183 design flown in Argentina after World War II, had been built by former Focke-Wulf employees who had fled to Argentina.

The West German government issued a directive in September 1954 that individual firms should combine into operative groups. Group II was a northern group, consisting simply of Focke-Wulf G.m.b.H., Bremen, and the engineering office at Duisburg of Professor Blume, late chairman of Arado, and designer of the most promising jet aircraft of the war, the Ar234 four engined reconnaissance bomber, which was able to photograph Britain unmolested. It was he who obtained the licence for the production by Focke-Wulf of the Piaggio 149 primary trainer-work which has not yet started.

By 1956 Focke-Wulf consisted of a humble administrative building on the edge of Bremen airport and a waste of blasted workshops, only one of which had been recommissioned. The floor space of this building occupied 12,000 square metres (129,600 sq ft), and its production consisted of Kranich III and Weihe gliders, light metal products for the shipbuilding industry, appliances and tools for the automobile industry, and hydraulic apparatus for industrial workshops - all of which were readily switchable to aircraft production. Though Focke-Wulf had a nucleus of only 200 trained workers, some 10,000 former employees were still in Bremen, employed in the automobile (Borgward) and shipbuilding ("Weser") industries. About 25 percent of the firm's capital was owned by Cafe Hag, Bremen (coffee importers), and a further 25 percent by the firm of Lorenz, Stuttgart, makers of radio amplifiers, teleprinters, telephone apparatus, etc., which in turn was owned by the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation of the USA.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:54:05 ZULU