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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.
Born in Rheydt, Rhine Province, Junkers was a professor of mechanical engineering at Aachen between 1897 and 1912. 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. During World War I the government forced him to focus on aircraft production. In 1915, he developed the world's first practical all metal aircraft design, the Junkers J1 "Blechesel" (Sheetmetal Donkey), which survived on museum display in Berlin until World War II, and later in 1918 his firm created the world's first low-winged single seat fighter aircraft, the Junkers D.I. However, the D.I would not enter production until 1918. He also produced a two seat fighter (pilot and rear gunner), the Junkers CL.I. and an armored-fuselage two seat all metal sesquiplane, the Junkers J.I, considered the best German ground attack aircraft of the war. The J.I's pattern of an armored fuselage that protected the nose mounted engine, pilot and observer in a unitized metal "bathtub", was the possible inspiration for Sergei Ilyushin's later IL-2 Shturmovik (conceivably appropriate as Junkers did have a manufacturing plant in the Soviet Union in the 1920s) with a similar armored fuselage design, and Andrei Tupolev and William Stout each owed much to Hugo Junkers in the designs of their earlier aircraft, which benefitted from Junkers' corrugated light metal construction philosophy.
After the war, several business ventures failed from wider economic or political problems that scuppered sound engineering plans. But Junkers always had more ideas: the massive four engined G38, nicknamed "Der Grosse Dessauer", delivered to Lufthansa made no commercial trips for many months as he repeatedly recalled it to the factory for improvements.
During the 1920s 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 leadership. In 1917 the government forced him into partnership with Anthony 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 after that he was dead.
- 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 RWTH Aachen University in Aachen
- 1908 Hans Reissner with Junkers' help starts work on all-metal aircraft
- 1910 Patents Nurflügel concept
- 1913/14 uses wind tunnel
- 1915 J1 metal monoplane aircraft flies (world's first practical all-metal aircraft to fly)
- 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, Hünefeld and Fitzmaurice in Junkers W33
- 1930 receives Siemens-Ring for his scientific contributions to combustion engines and metallic airplanes
- 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 his other assets
- 1933 Nazi Government demands control of Junkers patents and companies under threat of high treason charges (see Horst Zoeller's timeline in external links).
- 1934 Junkers placed under house arrest at Bayrischzell and founds Research Institute Prof. Junkers GmbH.
- 1935 Dies under house arrest during negotiations to cede remaining stock and interests in Junkers.
- 1935 Therese Junkers cedes control of interests to Third Reich at a fraction of their true worth.
- 1995 Junkers Thermotechnik, sold to Robert Bosch in 1932, celebrates 100 years of business
- Detlef Siegfried. Der Fliegerblick: Intellektuelle Radikalismus und Flugzeugproduktion bei Junkers 1914 bis 1934. (Historisches Forschungszentrum der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Reihe Politik- und Gesellschaftsgeschichte, nr. 58) Bonn: J.H.W. Dietz 2001 ISBN 3801241181
- ↑ Junkers factory designations for their aircraft in the World War I period used Arabic numerals, as in the J.1 Blechesel, while the later armored J.I all metal sesquiplane was so designated because the Kaiser's Luftstreitkrafte used the letter "J", followed by a Roman numeral only, to designate all armored, infantry co-operation and ground attack aircraft, which were also designed by the Albatros and AEG firms in World War I.
- www.junkers.de.vu Horst Zoeller's comprehensive Junkers encyclopedia
- Junkers biography on WWI aviation site
- Major historical/factual european airlines overview site - many specific Junkers articles.cs:Hugo Junkers
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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hugo Junkers".