Weser Flugzeugbau GmbH, known as Weserflug, was the fourth largest
aircraft manufacturer in World War II Germany.
The company was founded in 1934 as a subsidiary of the ship and machine
company Deutschen Schiff-und Maschinenbau AG (DESCHIMAG). It began
production that year at Berlin Tempelhof, and in Bremen.
In 1935, Dr. Adolf Rohrbach became technical director of a new Weserflug
factory at Lemwerder, near Bremen, which opened in 1936. He had been
working on ideas for VTOL (Vertical TakeOff and Landing) aircraft since
1933, and now developed them further.
Dipl.-Ing. Simon in 1938 developed a VTOL plane christened the P1003/1. It
had 4m diameter propellors that swivelled between horizontal and vertical,
and could fly up to 650 Km/h. The 1989 Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft uses
essentially the same concept. It requires very complex gearing to tilt the
wings without varying the power to the propellers.
During World War II Weserflug had another factory in Poland, at Liegnitz.
It built Ju 188 and Ju 388 bombers, one of which survives in the National
Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Perhaps foreseeing the end of the war, the management of Weserflug
transferred in 1944 from Berlin to Hoykenkamp, 15km west of Bremen. It
took over buildings previously used by Focke Achgelis.
During 1940-5, Weserflug built 5215 Junkers Ju 87 Stuka planes at
Tempelhof. This plant also constructed Fw 190 fighters. Forced labour was
used; on 20th April 1944 2,103 of the 4,151 Tempelhof workers were foreign
Ju 86 aircraft were manufactured at Lemwerder.
At the end of the war, all aircraft production in Germany halted for
several years. In 1948 a trustee, Horst Janson, was appointed to collect
the assets of Weser AG, to which Weserflug belonged. He was responsible
for some postwar reindustrialisation in Bremen, such as reactivating the
shipbuilding industry, and joined the board of Weser AG. Production of
motorised aircraft was forbidden in Germany from 1945 until 1955. In the
1950's the Hoykenkamp area was used for small businesses.
In 1960, while retaining his other commitments to the reindustrialisation
of Bremen, Janson became chairman of Weser AG. In 1961, Weserflug joined
forces with Focke Wulf - also of Bremen - and Hamburger Flugzeugbau in the
Entwicklungsring Nord (ERNO) to develop rockets. Focke Wulf and Weserflug
formally merged in 1964, becoming Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW).
Janson retired as chairman of Weser AG in 1969.