BMW - History (3)
With the development of BMW the first tentative step in the direction of vehicle production was made visible. Martin Stolle, the engineer who was taken over from Rapp's company, made the first ever twin-cylinder boxer engine, the M2-B15 (see picture) with 500 cm³ and 5 kw (6,5 hp), from a Douglas. In contrast to the later, world famous models it was still a side-valve engine with a transverse crankshaft. It was built to be used in frames made by victoria.
Don't think that at this early stage, and through these modest orders, that the path to motorcycle-building was already determined. No, the company was moving in the direction of the Knorr-brakes, the orders for which could obviously be thus awarded, that BMW would profit from them. However, the awarding of these orders also meant the unreserved submission to the new partners, which was unlikely to last very long.
He had always been, at least, in contact with Franz Josef Popp and now he again appears in the history of BMW. Camillo Castiglioni unexpectedly bought the brand-name rights, a part of the machinery park not required by the new company and all the construction drawings together with the patents from the old company and founded, with reference to 1916, a new one.
Now we finally come to the Bayerische Flugzeugwerken AG (Bavarian Aircraft works AG) in the Neulerchenfeld street. It is a part of the lifetime-work of Gustav Otto. His father, the famous Nicolaus August Otto died in 1891, his son was just 8 years old at the time. In contrast to his father, he started studying mechanical engineering, did not however, finish his studies. In the field of aviation great progress had been made since the short flights of the Wright brothers and this became his obsession, after all, he did have a small fortune backing him up.
He would become Germany's first official pilot and after founding several companies he offered his services in the preparations for the First World War. In 1911 Gustav Otto was the first to be given permission to take off from the Oberwiesenfeld and to land there. This would later, also be used by BMW. Otto became a flying instructor and successfully built complete airplanes, in the beginning also the engines. What did not apparently work quite as well, was the accountancy and the operation management.
Can you imagine what happens when, in the hope of receiving large orders, someone with an open mind has to cooperate with the military authorities? Too many plans and foundations stand in opposition to a strict demand for the fulfilment of tasks and the threat that the competition could step in. The inherited fortunes are almost used up, banks and other companies must come to aid. In 1926 Gustav Otto committed suicide.
Gustav Otto's company has a major influence on the career of Ernst Udet. Too small for the army, he finances himself his pilot training after a brief time as a dispatch rider. Where? In the Otto Flugmaschinenwerken in Munich, then as a kind of lateral entrant he succeeds in a career as a fighter pilot.
The failure to build an aircraft fabrication simultaneously is the crux of a new beginning for BMW. There are dilapidated wooden buildings, in which one moves in with the employees poached by the old company. Only after years here will be created a really big factory. Newcomers, such as the newly graduated engineer Rudolf Schleicher find it still a little difficult the grandiose plans in the not very rosy reality.