Henrich Focke

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Henrich Focke (8 October 1890 – 25 February 1979) was a German aviation pioneer from Bremen and also a co-founder of the Focke-Wulf company.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Aviation Design, development, production, operation and use of aircraft

Aviation, or air transport, refers to the activities surrounding mechanical flight and the aircraft industry. Aircraft includes fixed-wing and rotary-wing types, morphable wings, wing-less lifting bodies, as well as lighter-than-air craft such as balloons and airships.

Bremen Place in Germany

The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany, which belongs to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, a federal state of Germany.


He is known for having developed the turbo shaft propulsion system used by the majority of all the world's helicopters.


Early life

Henrich Focke was Born in Bremen on 8 October 1890, Focke studied at University of Hanover, where he became friends with Georg Wulf in 1911. In 1914, he and Wulf both reported for military service and Focke was deferred due to heart problems, but was eventually drafted into an infantry regiment. After serving on the Eastern front, he was transferred to the Imperial German Army Air Service.

University of Hanover public university located in Hannover, Germany

The University of Hanover, officially the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover, short Leibniz University Hannover, is a public university located in Hannover, Germany. Founded on May 2, 1831, it is one of the largest and oldest science and technology universities in Germany. In the 2014/15 school year it enrolled 25,688 students, of which 2,121 were from foreign countries. It has nine faculties which offer 190 full and part degree programs in 38 fields of study. The University is named after Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the 18th century mathematician and philosopher.

Georg Wulf was a German aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer.

<i>Luftstreitkräfte</i> Air warfare branch of the German Empire

The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte —known before October 1916 as the Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches or simply Die Fliegertruppe—was the World War I (1914–18) air arm of the German Army, of which it remained an integral part. In English-language sources it is usually referred to as the Imperial German Air Service, although that is not a literal translation of either name. German naval aviators serving with the Marine-Fliegerabteilung remained an integral part of the Imperial German Navy. Both military branches, the army and navy, operated conventional aircraft, observation balloons and Zeppelins.

Focke graduated in 1920 as Dipl-Ing (MS) with distinction. His first job was with the Francke Company of Bremen as a designer of water-gas systems. At the same time he continued his aeronautical experimentation, he and Wulf building the new A VII around the engine from the A VI.

Focke-Wulf and Focke-Achgelis

Henrich Focke with Hitler Henrich Focke with the Fuehrer.jpeg
Henrich Focke with Hitler

In 1923, with Wulf and Dr. Werner Naumann, Focke co-founded Focke-Wulf-Flugzeugbau GmbH. In 1927 Wulf died while test flying the Focke-Wulf F 19 canard monoplane.

Focke-Wulf F 19

The Focke-Wulf F 19 Ente was a German experimental "canard" aircraft in the late 1920s.

Canard (aeronautics) aircraft wing configuration with a small wing ahead of the main wing, or such a forewing

A canard is an aeronautical arrangement wherein a small forewing or foreplane is placed forward of the main wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The term "canard" may be used to describe the aircraft itself, the wing configuration or the foreplane.

In 1930 Focke was offered a chair at the Danzig Institute of Technology, an honour which he declined. In 1931 the city of Bremen awarded him the title of Professor. The same year, Focke-Wulf was merged with the Albatros Flugzeugwerke company.

Albatros-Flugzeugwerke GmbH was a German aircraft manufacturer best known for supplying the German airforces during World War I.

Focke-Wulf constructed Juan de la Cierva's C.19 and C.30 autogyros under license from 1933, and Focke was inspired by it to design the world's first practical helicopter, the Focke-Wulf Fw 61, which first flew on 26 June 1936 by Hanna Reitsch in the Deutschland Hall Stadium in the 1930s.

Cierva C.19 two-seat autogyro

The Cierva C.19 was a 1930s British two-seat autogyro, designed by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva. It was built by Avro as the Avro Type 620. It proved to be the most successful and widely produced of the early de la Cierva designs.

Cierva C.30 aircraft

The Cierva C.30 was an autogyro designed by Juan de la Cierva and built under licence from the Cierva Autogiro Company by A V Roe & Co Ltd (Avro), Lioré-et-Olivier and Focke-Wulf.

Autogyro rotorcraft with unpowered rotor

An autogyro, also known as a gyroplane or gyrocopter, is a type of rotorcraft that uses an unpowered rotor in free autorotation to develop lift. Forward thrust is provided independently, typically by an engine-driven propeller. While similar to a helicopter rotor in appearance, the autogyro's rotor must have air flowing across the rotor disc to generate rotation, and the air flows upwards through the rotor disc rather than down.

In 1936 Focke was ousted from the Focke-Wulf company by shareholder pressure. Though the ostensible reason was that he was considered "politically unreliable" by the Nazi regime there is reason to believe it was so that Focke-Wulf's manufacturing capacity could be used to produce Bf 109 aircraft. The company was taken over by AEG, but soon after this the Air Ministry, which had been impressed by the Fw 61 helicopter, suggested that Focke establish a new company dedicated to helicopter development and issued him with a requirement for an improved design capable of carrying a 700 kg (1,500 lb) payload.

AEG 1883-1996 electrical equipment and aircraft manufacturer of Germany

Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AG (AEG) was a German producer of electrical equipment founded as the Deutsche Edison-Gesellschaft für angewandte Elektricität in 1883 in Berlin by Emil Rathenau. After World War II its headquarters moved to Frankfurt am Main.

Focke established the Focke-Achgelis company on 27 April 1937 in partnership with pilot Gerd Achgelis, and began development work at Delmenhorst in 1938. The new company built the experimental Fa 225 using the fuselage of a DFS 230 glider and a rotor from a Fa 223. Another project was the Fa 330 kite with rotor, capable of being deployed by a submarine at a moments notice and then used as a towed spotter. It was stored in a watertight container on the deck of the U-boat and was used during the war. A powered version of the kite would have been the Fa 336 which was in the design phase when the war ended and built in France postwar for testing.

Focke subsequently manufactured the heavy-lift transport helicopter Fa 223, and designed the Fa 224, Fa 266, Fa 269, Fa 283, Fa 284, and the Fa 336 during World War II. Only a few of the large Fa 223 Drache ("Dragon") helicopters actually were produced, but even the prototype set a new helicopter speed record of 182 km/h (113 mph) and climb record of 8.8 m/s (1,732 ft/min) in 1940. Subsequent war models were primarily used as mountain troop transport, rescue, and crashed aircraft recovery. The helicopter had provision for a nose-mounted machine gun, and could carry one or two bombs, but the Drache was never used for combat.

Towards the end of the Third Reich Focke started design work on the Focke Rochen, also known as Schnellflugzeug.


On 1 September 1945, Focke signed a contract with the French company SNCASE and assisted in development of their SE-3000 passenger helicopter, which was based on the Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 "Drache" and which first flew in 1948.

In 1950, he worked as a designer with the North German Automobile Company (Norddeutsche Fahrzeugwerke) of Wilhelmshaven.

In 1952, Focke and other members of his former design team were employed by Brazil's Centro Técnico Aeroespacial (CTA), at the time the air force's technical center, to develop a Convertiplane, the "Convertiplano", which drew heavily on Focke's wartime work on the Fa 269. Also recruited was Bussmann, a transmission specialist formerly of BMW. The Convertiplano was built using the fuselage and wings of a Supermarine Spitfire Mk 15, which was believed to be one delivered to Argentina as a sales example. Britain refused to supply the Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba engine originally selected and the design was altered to accept a mid-mounted 2200 hp Wright engine instead as used in the Lockheed Constellation, which necessitated a redesign of the transmission due to the increase in weight and vibration. Some 40 workers and US$8 million were devoted to the project, and more than 300 takeoffs were achieved. [1]

While working at the CTA Focke also developed the BF-1 Beija-Flor (hummingbird) two-seater light helicopter from 1954, which made its first flight at Sao Jose dos Campos on 22 January 1959. The BF-1 was similar in design to the Cessna CH-1, with a 225 hp Continental E225 engine in the nose and the rotor mast running vertically between the front seats. An open structure tubular steel tail boom carried a pair of tail surfaces and a small tail rotor. The BF-2 was developed from this and first flew on 1 January 1959, and performed an extended flight-testing campaign until it was damaged in an accident. It is thought that further work on the Beija Flor was then abandoned. [1]

Focke returned permanently to Germany in 1956 and began developing a three-seater helicopter named the "Kolibri" ("hummingbird") at the Borgward company in Bremen, with its first flight taking place in 1958. While working at Borgward Focke set up a wind tunnel in a disused hangar in central Bremen; this wind tunnel was rediscovered in 1997 and is today the centerpiece of a museum devoted to him. [2]

After Borgward collapsed in 1961, Focke became a consulting engineer with Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke of Bremen and Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft-und Raumfahrt. Focke was awarded the Ludwig-Prandtl-Ring from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics) for "outstanding contribution in the field of aerospace engineering" in 1961. Focke died in Bremen on 25 February 1979.

In 1993, Focke was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. [3]

See also

Focke's wind tunnel


  1. 1 2 Kovacs, Joseph (April–September 2003). "Uma Breve História das Atividades do Prof. Focke no Brasil". ABCM engenharia. Associação Brasileira de Engenharia e Ciências Mecânicas. 9 (2): 17–22.
  2. Gerling, Wigbert (10 October 2001). "Den Wind machte der Chef persönlich" (PDF). Weser-Kurier (in German). p. 13.
  3. Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN   978-1-57864-397-4.

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