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Pfalz Flugzeugwerke
Saarpfalz Flugwerke GmbH

Thanks to the initiative of Alfred Eversbush, who at the time was 28 years old, Pfalz Flugzeugwerke was founded in 1913. Palatinate (Pfalz) was a part of Bavaria on the left bank of the Rhine. He was the oldest son of Alfred Eversbush, who had an iron foundry in Neustadt an der Weinstrae. The company was founded due to the technical education and talent of Alfred Eversbush. The Eversbush family realized that the future lay in the growing aerospace industry - especially since the Bavarian Rheinpfalz didn't have any aircraft companies, and the transition from one-man-engineering operations to larger workshops was just taking place.

So for the Eversbusch family the risk seemed rather low, even though more and more aircraft factories were springing up in the Prussian dominated part of the remaining German empire, and the founding of more factories was only welcomed when they were large-scale companies with a lot of resources. Since the financial resources of any single person were not big enough for business on that scale, three shareholders joined the company. Not only did the whole Eversbush family - Alfred Eversbush, his brother Ernst and his brother-in-law Willy Sabersky-Mssigbrodt - take part in the business, but also the Kahn Brothers, Richard and Eugen, as well as August Khan, who was of no relation to the others.

The Pfalz triplane was a clean-looking product. The fuselage is a beautiful streamline, and the fin and wings are nicely rounded into the body. The lower wing evidently has only one spar, and while there is a double lift truss, the number of interplane struts has been reduced to minimum. When problems developed with the Fokker Dr. I Triplanes, Richthofen visited the Pfalz Aeroplane Works to test the Pfalz Dr. I as a possible replacement. His disappointment with the Pfalz Triplane is a major reason it did not go into service.

Although the Pfalz D 1II/IIIa design had its faults, the demand for fighter aircraft was great. The impressive production capabilities of the Pfalz factory (producing 793 aeroplanes in 1917 and 1850 in 1918) meant that the D IIIa would see extensive service.

Mercedes engines powered some of the best-known German fighter planes in the last two years of the war-the Albatros D.V., Fokker D VII, and Pfalz D XII. Nearly all German-designed engines were durable and dependable, with six water-cooled cylinders in line.

The Pfalz Scout was of the type that has come to be known as the plane and a half. This type is characterized by a large top plane and a smaller lower plane. In some of the previous models of this type, like the Albatross, two struts connect to the lower plane in a single point, but in this detail the Pfalz is different, there being a short horizontal distance piece between the lower ends of the two struts. The small lower plane is made with two spars instead of a single center spar, and is therefore a compromise between the single-spar type and the regular two-spar plane, in which the spars are placed the same distance apart as in the upper plane.

One feature of the Pfalz reminding one of the Albatross is that the upper wings are formed in a single piece, and are, of course, without any dihedral angle. The top planes are secured to struts sloping upward from the fuselage. A somewhat novel idea is embodied in the method of securing the lower planes to the body. At the point of attachment there is an inflexion in the curvature of the body outline, the surface of the body swinging outward and gradually merging into the wing surface. That part of the body extending toward the wing may be regarded as a wing root.

The body or fuselage of the Pfalz is of elliptical section, deep and narrow. This has the advantage that both the engine and the pilot are practically entirely within the body, thus reducing the head resistance to a minimum. The narrowness of the body also minimizes interference with the pilot's view. Body construction is of the semi-monococque type, the body being covered by two thicknesses of three-ply wood put on diagonally in long, narrow strips, one strip crossing the other at an angle of about 90 deg. The tail planes are somewhat unusual in that their top surface is flat, while the lower surface is convex. Just what the object of this deviation from conventional practice is it would be hard to say. The engine fitted to the Pfalz Scout is a 160-hp. Mercedes, and is very well housed in, only the upper ends of the cylinders projecting from the cowling.

Right after the Great War ended the remains of Pfalz-Flugzeugwerke were occupied by the French military, and the equipment and material were confiscated. On June 4th, 1919 PFW was reestablished and renamed 'A.G. Pfalz.' According to the registry of companies, the main purpose of the company was `shipbuilding, production, and the buying and selling of industrial goods. After many problems the company continuously declined. The official end was in 1932, following a compulsory auction due to open claims.

On October 1st, 1937, the "Company operational regulations of the Saarpfalz Flugwerke GmbH Speyer am Rhein" came into being. They were signed by the manager Otto Schirmmeister. Since the airfield could not be used yet by the Saarpfalz Flugwerke, the planes were initially taken to Mannheim-Neuostheim by land. For that reason the city fixed the airfield up in 1937-1938 so that the overhauled planes could land and take-off.

By the end of 1937 there were already 200 employees. Until the beginning of the War (1939) they increased to 500. Since the Saarpfalz Flugwerke didn't develop their own aircraft the company maintained and converted planes for other companies. Among them were models such as Focke-Wulf Fw 58, Heinkel He 45, He 46, He 51 and He 111, Junkers Ju 52, and Ju 88. Because of extensive work, the number of employees increased to approximately 1,500. In the middle of March 1945 American and French troops were advancing, which meant that the aircraft production in Speyer was over again.

Because of growing motorization, Prof. Ernst Heinkel expanded his company in 1954 with the 'Ernst Heinkel Motorenbau GmbH' in Karlsruhe and in 1956 with the 'Ernst Heinkel Fahrzeugbau GmbH' in Speyer. It could be assumed that the airfield played a decisive role in choosing the location in Speyer. His next goal in Germany was the production of aircraft. On October 18th the Bubblecar ('Kabine') was presented for technical inspection (TV) in Stuttgart. On February 23rd, 1956 the Federal Office of Motor Vehicles allocated the first operation permit. The company produced 3,800 Bubblecars ('Heinkelkabine') of the models 150, 153 and 154 in Speyer. In 1961 the two production lines were sold to Ireland and Argentina. The maximum output amounted to 50 cars a day.

With the merger of 'Focke Wulf', 'Weser-Flugzeugbau' and 'Enst Heinkel Flugzeugbau' into VFW in 1964, Speyer no longer was the headquarters of an independent company, but rather only a production plant for the VFW corporation. With the development of the C 160 Transall, the plant in Speyer manufactured parts for 169 of these big transport airplanes, including engine pylons, horizontal tails, and rudders. The plant also joined Dornier in manufacturing parts for 387 UH-1D helicopters.

The plant developed into a pure Airbus production plant for fuselage panels, wiring, and pipes. This meant that it was dependent on the fluctuations of the Airbus Company. The number of employees decreased below the magic number of 1,000 to 700. Because of extensive problems in the Airbus Company, the 'Dolores' program was launched. Suddenly several plants (among them Speyer) were set for closure again. For that reason DASA started to look for a buyer in the fall of 1995.

In 1996, the DASA factory was transferred into an employee-owned joint stock company. Three managers from the DASA factory took over the management. The company became a supplier for cargo loading systems, ducts and manifolds, as well as additional fuel tanks and fairings. Today the Pfalz-Flugzeugwerke is in a good position. Positive developments in the aviation industry and in Airbus are giving the company a major boost.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:55:23 ZULU