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Henschel Wehrtechnik

The war years were spent manufacturing large quantities of goods destined for the war effort - a period that would result in a great deal of hardship. The plant manufactured tanks, making it a prime target for the Allied bomber groups. When the US army occupied Kassel in 1945, 80 percent of the plant lay in ruins, although it still had 15,000 staff on its books. Following the end of the war, Henschel was licensed to repair locomotives, trucks, buses and coaches, but could no longer manufacture commercial vehicles for the time being.

By 1943 the Wehrmacht had begun to be armed with new tanks of the "Panther" and "Tiger" class and assault guns of the "Ferdinand" class. Overall, from 1943 to 1945, some 6000 Panthers were produced by Maschinenfabrik-Augsburg-Nuremberg (MAN) in Kassel and Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) in Hannover, along with Daimler-Benz, Henschel and Demag.

In 1937 the entire heavy tank program, soon to be known as the Tiger Program, was given a high priority by the Army and Hitler. Two firms, Henschel and Porsche, competed for the design and development of the future heavy tank. Ultimately, the automotive design office of the Army Ordnance Department awarded Henschel the contract for the chassis and Krupp the contract for the turret that together made the Tiger. The Tiger was a heavy tank in both weight and in doctrinal purpose. It weighed fifty-seven tons and was armed with the eighty-eight-millimeter Kwk 36 L/56 gun. The eighty-eight-millimeter Kwk 36 L/56 gun mounted in the Tiger I did not meet the requirement, with the standard ammunition available (Pzgr. 39), put forth by Hitler. Ultimately, Krupp developed the eighty-eight-millimeter Kwk 43 L/71 gun that had similar penetrative capabilities to the eighty-eight-millimeter Flak 41 L/74 gun. This was mounted on a chassis developed by Henschel, making the Tiger II.

After the war, Oscar Henschel, leading German industrialist, sole builder of Tiger Tanks: "Bombing caused our production figures to drop considerably. The Henschel factories produced only 42 Tiger Tanks (Tiger Royal) in February 1945 instead of the 120 they had been ordered to build. "Allied attacks of September 1944 were the most effective, I believe. If the bombers had kept up their attacks on my plants for two or three successive days, they would have been put out of commission for months."

In 1974 August Thyssen-Hütte AG took over Rheinstahl AG and thus Rheinstahl Henschel AG, and in 1976 the company Rheinstahl Henschel AG operated under Thyssen Henschel AG Henschel.

Since the early 1980s Henschel Wehrtechnik had developed, as a private venture, a family of wheeled armored vehicles that can undertake a wide range of roles on the battlefield. These are the TH 200 (4 x 4), TH 400 (6 x 6) and the TH 800 (8 x 8). Early in 1998, Henschel Wehrtechnik stated that all development work on the TH 200 (4 x 4) and TH 800 (8 x 8) had stopped but that the TH 400 (6 x 6) was still being marketed.

In 1984 the US Army initiated Concept Exploration to assess the possibility of a mobile chemical agent detection system. As a result, a prototype of the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier was developed and the German Fuchs NBC Reconnaissance System was tested against this prototype. This comparison test marked one of the most revered foreign comparative tests, whereby a U.S.-developed prototype was competing against a foreign system. By October 1987, the Army decided to cancel the NBC version of the M113 vehicle and purchase 48 German Fuchs vehicles from the original manufacturer, Henschel Wehrtechnik of Kassel, Germany. The German Fuchs vehicle was seen as amore expedient and cost-effective method of equipping U.S. forces with this capability.

In 1995 Thyssen Henschel was broken down into independent decentralized product divisions: Magnetic propulsion technology, industrial technology, defense technology, forging technology. In 1996 the separate company divisions were merged back into Thyssen Henschel GmbH with independent product divisions for aerospace technology, scrap processing plants, mixers and plants, handling technology, drive technology, boilers, Thyssen Transrapid Systems and Henschel Wehrtechnik GmbH.

At the end of 1999, Rheinmetall DeTec acquired the defence technology assets of IWKA Aktiengesellschaft of Karlsruhe. These include KUKA Wehrtechnik GmbH of Augsburg and Henschel Wehrtechnik GmbH of Kassel, both leading suppliers of wheeled armored vehicles. The hitherto independently operating companies Henschel Wehrtechnik, KUKA Wehrtechnik and MaK System Gesellschaft mbH are merged to form Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:54:16 ZULU