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Hugo Junkers

Hugo Junkers (3 February 1859 - 3 February 1935) was an innovative engineer, as his many patents in varied areas (gas engines, aeroplanes) show.

The name Junkers is mainly known in connection with aircraft, which were produced under this name for the Luftwaffe during World War II. By then, however, the Nazi government was running his businesses, and Hugo Junkers himself was gone.

Working as an engineer, Junkers devised, patented, and exploited gas engines, heaters, a calorie meter and other inventions. His aeronautical work began in earnest only at the age of fifty. He had far-seeing ideas of metal aeroplanes and flying wings, but always realities of war dragged him back. World War I meant the government forced him to focus on production. Several business ventures failed from wider economic or political problems that scuppered sound engineering plans. He always had more ideas; the G38 delivered to Lufthansa made no commercial trips for many months as he repeatedly recalled it to the factory for improvements.

During the 1920's Junkers' employees represented a wide spectrum of views. There were left wing cultural revolutionaries and National Socialists. There were pacifists and World War I veterans who were convinced Germany would remilitarise following the ideas of such as Ernst Jünger. Some preferred pure scientific research, others focused on mass production. About every aspect of the business, and of its environment, there were differing opinions.

For members of all the many groups represented in Junkers, aviation offered hope for national renewal. Their varied views led to lively internal corporate politics until the Nazi government interfered. Junkers claimed affinity with Hitler's nationalist commitment, but ultimately had little sympathy with the requirements of mobilization for total war.

Junkers was a socialist and a pacifist; perhaps for these reasons, he had several occasions to cross swords with German leaderships. In 1917 the government forced him into partnership with Fokker to ensure wartime production targets would be met. In 1926, unable to make government loan repayments after a failed venture to build planes for the USSR, he lost control of most of his businesses. In 1933, the Nazi government, on taking power, immediately demanded ownership of Junkers' patents and control of his remaining companies. Under threat of imprisonment he eventually acquiesced, to little avail; a year later he was under house arrest; a year later he was dead.


  • from 1878 Studies at technical high schools Charlottenburg[?], Karlsruhe and Aachen
  • 1888-1893 work with Dessauer Continental-Gasgesellschaft
  • 1892 Patents calorie meter
  • 1895 Founds Junkers & Co in Dessau to build gas engines & heaters
  • 1897-1912 Professor at the Technical High School in Aachen
  • 1908 Hans Reissner with Junkers' help starts work on all-metal aircraft
  • 1910 Patents Nurflugel concept
  • 1913/14 uses wind tunnel
  • 1915 J1 metal monoplane aircraft flies
  • 1917-1919 Partnership Junkers-Fokkerwerke AG; mass production of 227 J4 aircraft
  • 1919 Junkers and Fokker part ways, company renamed Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG
  • 1919 First civilian all-metal aircraft F13 flies
  • 1919 Starts work on "Giant" JG1, to seat passengers within thick wings
  • 1921 Allied Aeronautical Commission of Control orders JG1 destroyed (exceeds post-war size limit)
  • 1921 Founds "Abteilung Luftverkehr der Junkerswerke" (later part of Lufthansa)
  • 1922 Starts military aircraft production near Moscow, financed by German government loans
  • 1922 Proposes 100-passenger J-1000 aircraft - never built
  • 1925 Russian project fails, German government demands repayments
  • 1926 Legal battles end with Junkers losing several companies
  • 1928 First East-west transatlantic flight by Köhl (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Köhl), Hünefeld and Fitzmaurice in Junkers W33
  • 1931 Junkers G38 34-passenger airliner delivered - largest in world - only two built
  • 1932 After great crash, saves Junkers Flugzeugbau and Motorenbau from bankruptcy, by selling virtually all other assets
  • 1933 Nazi Government demands control of Junkers patents and companies
  • 1934 Junkers placed under house arrest
  • 1935 Dies under house arrest
  • 1995 Junkers Thermotechnik (http://www.junkers.com/de/de/ek/unternehmen/historie/index), sold to Robert Bosch in 1932, celebrates 100 years of business

External Link


Detlef Siegfried. Der Fliegerblick: Intellektuelle Radikalismus und Flugzeugproduktion bei Junkers 1914 bis 1934. (Historisches Forschungszentrum der Feridrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Reihe Politik- und Gesell- schaftsgeschichte, nr. 58) Bonn: J.H.W. Dietz 2001 ISBN 3801241181 (http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/ASIN/3801241181/) 335pp.

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