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Gustav Otto Flugzeugwerke , Founded in 1910 by Gustav Otto, was one of the pioneering aircraft producers at the turn of the 19th Century. It was eventually merged into BFW, the company that eventually became BMW AG.

Otto Flugzeugwerke 1914

In 1910, Gustav Otto founded the "Aeroplanbau Otto-Alberti" workshop at the Puchheim airfield, where Gustav, along with a few others, flew machines made of wood, wire, canvas and powered by an engine.[1] Through their passion for these flying machines, they helped transform aviation from a do-it-yourself hobby to a genuine industry vital to the military, especially after the breakout of World War I. Interestingly, Ernst Udet, the second highest scoring German flying ace of World War I (second only to the Red Baron), earned his pilots license from private training with Gustav at this time.[2]

Gustav Otto Flugmachinenfabrik

Gustav moves the company 1911 and renames it "Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik". The official entry appears as No. 14/364: "Gustav Otto in Munich, flying machine factory, office at 72 Karlstrasse." Shortly afterwards, Otto moved the workshop from its original location at 37 Gabelsberger Strasse to a new premises at 135 Schleissheimer Strasse.

Biplane produced by Gustav Otto Flugzeugwerke in 1914

In 1914 construction started on a new factory at 76 Neulerchenfeldstrasse (later Lerchenauer Strasse). Gustav moved the company to the new factory on Lerchenauer Strasse just east of the Oberwiesenfeld troop maneuver area in the Milbertshofen district of Munich (this area later became Munich's first airport). He wanted to be closer to the German government's procurement process for military sale. In 1915, the company is renamed to "Gustav Otto Flugzeugwerke". Shortly thereafter, Otto established another company named AGO Flugzeugwerke at Berlin's Johannisthal Air Field. The designs by Gustav Otto were initially successful, but Otto was continually experiencing problems related to cost-effective production, as well as generating profits. At the start of the war, Otto-Flugzeugwerke was supplying the German Air Force, but the production problems ended up being so great that the government agencies urged the company to nationalize its production. The stress of wartime seemed to prove too great a burden for Gustav, who suffered health issues as well as financial problems with the company. At the insistence of the Bavarian and Prussian War Ministries (and in particular the Inspectors of the Engineering Corps) the unprofitable aircraft manufacturer was taken over, and Otto was forced to resign from the business. The consortium of banks took over the assets of the company, then incorporated them into Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG on 19 February 1916. Gustav Otto no longer had a stake in this company. He turned his attention instead to Otto-Werke Flugzeug-und Maschinenfabrik GmbH , which was founded (1 February 1916) just before Otto-Flugzeugwerke was taken over by the consortium. This new company was not in any way connected with the newly established company.


  1. BMW Group Archives
  2. Wikipedia Ernst Udet

See also

History of BMW

External links