Tuesday, 7 January 2014


To celebrate 5,000 page views of this here blog since it began in February, we go for the usual selection of eye candy aviation-themed posters, but this time, posters from the other side of the Wire (? of the Hill? of the Clouds??) - Germany.

Straubing is in eastern central Bavaria. The Volksfest was first held in 1812, following a decree by King Maximilian I Joseph, as a festival organised by the agricultural societies of the kreis. It declined in the course of the century, but was revived in 1898. It is now one of the biggest fairs in Bavaria outside Munich.

Sad to relate, the 1912 centenary event was completely rained off, so no-one will have seen the action depicted in the poster (designed by Edwin Hedel).

What a striking, unearthly image (by Ernst Riess)! The pilot with helmet, goggles and protective clothing hardly revealing any skin at all; above him flies a Taube, with another large biplane in the distance. The Prinz Heinrich event was a trial for prototypes, set up in 1911, but named after one of the Kaiser's sons in 1913 (who was a career naval officer, but an enthusiastic aviator). That year's route was Wiesbaden – Kassel – Koblenz – Karlsruhe – Stuttgart – Straßburg. The participants included the airship LZ 17 'Sachsen' under the command of Hugo Eckener. The winner of the competition was Lieutenant Ernst Canter (1888-1956), who would later achieve fame for his aerial reconnaissance work during the battle of Tannenburg in 1914.

Perhaps the last view that many had of a Fokker Monoplane. Antony Fokker began his manufacturing company at the Johannisthal airfield on the south-east side of Berlin in 1912, but it rapidly became too busy to accommodate his factory. So, at the end of the following year, he moved lock, stock and barrel to the northern coastal town of Schwerin, in Mecklenburg. Amazingly some of the original hangars still exist, on Bornhövedstraße, and are the subject of a restoration effort by the Fokker In Schwerin Foundation. In 1919, he moved again, this time to the Netherlands.

The Blue Max at top left must surely celebrate the pilots who flew Fokker's machines - Boelcke? Immelmann? It doesn't really look like either man.

The Motorenfabrik Oberursel was founded in 1891 in the central German town of Oberursel (!), near Frankfurt. Willy Seck, the company's founder, invented a light rotary engine that he named the Gnom. He licensed it for manufacture in France under the name Gnôme, where it powered many pre-war aircraft. Its success outstripped its originator's company, and Oberursel began building licensed versions of the French engines. The Gnôme Lambda 80hp rotary became the Oberursel U.0, and powered the first versions of the Fokker E.I. A 100hp engine, the Rhône Delta, became the Oberursel U.1, and was used in most of the Fokker and Pfalz monoplanes. In 1916, Fokker bought the company to ensure the supply of engines, but rotaries could not develop the same power as the latest in-line engines. The company survived both world wars (just) and now makes aircraft engines for Rolls Royce.

The artwork is by the distinguished graphic artist Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949), who did a number of posters for the company.

Another Hohlwein poster, advertising the famous Albatros works. The aircraft itself is something of a hybrid, with a tail that resembles those of the D-series of fighters, but with the double interplane struts of the C-series of two-seaters. But I suppose this was just to give a flavour of the company's products, not to provide an aircraft recognition class.

Albatros was also based at Johannisthal, where it remained throughout the war. In April 1914, it opened a second factory in Schneidemühl (now Piła in Poland), and in 1916 a third in Friedrichshagen (now the Berlin suburb of Köpenick, and close to Johannisthal). In 1931, it merged with Focke-Wulf.

LVG (Luftverkehrsgesellschaft) started life in 1911 as a passenger and freight company using Parsifal airships. The company moved into aircraft manufacture in the following year, likewise at Johannisthal (no wonder Fokker moved away!). Their C-series of two-seaters was one of the mainstays of German cooperation squadrons during the war, and they produced more aircraft than any other firm except Albatros. This poster, signed F. Neumann, appears to depict a post-war civilianised version, perhaps with Deutsche Luft-Reederei (a forerunner of Lufthansa), or one of its competitors.

BFW was founded in 1909 by Albrecht Otto. He dealt initially in the products of the French company Blériot and the Alsatian Aviatik company. After the outbreak of war, the company made Albatros aircraft under licence. But Otto got into financial difficulties, and in 1916, the company was renamed Bayerische Flugzeug Werke. They continued to produce Albatri, and this is what the poster, signed H.L. Braune, depicts.

After the end of the war, the firm could not survive, and in 1922 was bought by a Camillo Castiglione, who amalgamated it with an engine company he already owned, and turned to making motor cars, under the name Bayerische Motor Werke, usually abbreviated to BMW (wonder what happened to them?).

A second Bayerische Flugzeug Werke was created in 1926 from the remains of the old Rumpler concern. Soon afterwards they became part of Messerschmitt.

Thanks to everyone who has visited. Here's to the next five thousand!

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