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|Industry||Aircraft building company|
|Predecessor||Blohm & Voss|
Hamburger Flugzeugbau was an aircraft company, located in the Finkenwerder quarter of Hamburg, Germany. The company was established in July 1933 as a subsidiary of the Blohm & Voss shipyards as part of the German Nazi re-armament program. It has managed to survive under different names as part of different consortia, and became part of the present day Airbus and European aerospace program.
Following the establishment of a German fascist regime in 1933 the ruling Nazi party massively increased the interwar re-armament program which included the complete overhaul of the aircraft industry. In particular, the Nazis wanted the technical capacities to quickly build large numbers of warplanes for the new Luftwaffe. Therefore, technical expertise was not as important as production capacity and letters of intent were sent out to all bigger production facilities to probe their interest in building airplanes.
Blohm & Voss shipyards in Hamburg rose to the challenge and founded an aircraft factory, with the intent to build long-range passenger seaplanes for Deutsche Luft Hansa. It was at that time commonly perceived that trans-atlantic air transport would soon take over the role filled by the luxury liners of that time. It was however also commonly perceived that those planes would be seaplanes and flying boats as they could use the infrastructure and capacity of the seaports already in place. By building seaplanes, Blohm & Voss wanted to make sure it stayed on the forefront of the developments and also keep a safeguard in case seaplanes would render their own shipbuilding business obsolete.
An unofficial part of the intentions for the new factory however was that it would also be ready to compete in every military contract the, then still clandestine, Luftwaffe would ask for, either with its own designs or as a subcontractor. This was immediately illustrated by the choice of Richard Vogt as chief designer. Vogt at that time had just returned from Japan where he served as a designer and consultant for the modernization of the Japanese air forces. As a result, the aircraft produced from 1933 to the end of world war II prove an interesting mix of passenger planes, armed civil airplane designs used as military transporters and purebred warplanes.
The first airplanes were produced under the name of 'Hamburger Flugzeugbau' and therefore according to the naming system of the German air ministry were given the company designation Ha, and the number range 137 to 144. A couple of years later however, the Fieseler aircraft factory in Halle became an independent aircraft manufacturer under the name of Flugzeugbau Halle and by orders of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, Hamburger Flugzeugbau was renamed Blohm & Voss Flugzeugbau and given the company designation BV, so the old designation Ha could now go to the new Halle factory.
Some of the models built before and during the war were:
- Blohm & Voss BV 40 - a project for an attack glider (1945)
- Blohm & Voss Ha 137 - a dive bomber landplane
- Blohm & Voss BV 138 Seedrache - a trimotor maritime patrol flying boat
- Blohm & Voss Ha 139 - a four engine passenger/transport seaplane
- Blohm & Voss Ha 140 - a fighter/bomber seaplane.
- Blohm & Voss BV 141 - an experimental asymmetrical reconnaissance airplane
- Blohm & Voss BV 144 - a land version of the HA139.
- Blohm & Voss BV 222 Wiking - a six engine maritime patrol flying boat
Of these aircraft, only the BV 138 Fliegende Holzschuh (flying clog) attained serial production. All other aircraft either remained prototypes or were limited to a small number of preseries/purpose build machines. Nevertheless, work on the prototypes and series production of the BV 138 kept the plant busy throughout the war.
In the mid 1960s Hamburger Flugzeugbau worked on a design for a twin-jet HFB 314 aimed at medium-haul market that the Caravelle was enjoying a success in. The design did not get off the drawing board with the company becoming involved in the production of the French-German Transall C-160 military transport. It also developed and built a private jet aircraft called the HFB-320 Hansa Jet which first flew in 1964. This aircraft did not bring in many orders either, but the company survived as subcontractor for various German – and increasingly European co-production – aircraft project.
In May 1969, Hamburger Flugzeugbau was acquired by Messerschmitt-Bölkow. The company then changed its name to Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB).
In the late 1970s, the company became involved in subcontracting for the new pan-European Airbus. In the 1980s, after much political games between Germany and France, it became Airbus' second final assembly wharf (after Toulouse) for the smaller models A310 and A320.