German Aircraft Production

This section of the research area contains information being gathered on German aircraft production. The information is divided into Manufacturer’s Construction Sequences and RLM Master List Reconstructions for individual types. Most of the latter need to be requested via email – please follow the instructions below. However, three samples are available for downloading below. The released files for Manufacturer’s Construction Sequences can be downloaded below and the release schedule for aircraft types yet to be released is available here Release Overview.

RLM Berlin - December 1938
The Reichsluftfahrtministerium photographed in December 1938 as seen from the corner of Leipziger Straße and Wilhelmstraße in Berlin.

Background

The Technical Department of the RLM (GL/C – TT) in Berlin and later the General der Truppentechnik in Frankfurt-am-Oder, as well as the Prüfstelle für Luftfahrzeuge at Adlershof (Berlin-Johannisthal airfield) held a detailed record for every aircraft built in every factory under German control. For example, when tailplanes began separating from early-build Bf 109 Fs, it was the Technical Department that published a mandatory Änderungs-Anweisungen (ÄA) specifying by individual Werknummer precisely which aircraft must now be strengthened. For an example see Bf 109 ÄA205 – Übersichtsliste der Änderungs-Anweisungen Bf 109, Stand 1-Jul-43 – most generously provided by Pentti Manninen. In addition, a Laufakte file containing a record of every modification and every overhaul performed accompanied each airframe and aero-engine built for the RLM through its service life. Those records are now lost, most of them probably deliberately destroyed. Consequently the everyday, all-too-mundane-to-notice, basic information regarding how many of a particular type were produced, where, in which sub-types, and when is now largely a series of blanks and question marks.

Woman assembling components for Fw 190 aircraft at the factory in Bremen.

The technique used to prepare these reconstructions is a best-fit ‘triangularization’ of individual aircraft identity data to the totals by type/sub-type (and sometimes manufacturer) given in the RLM Delivery and Procurement Plans (Lieferplänen & Beschaffungsplänen), and to whatever production statistics survive.

This project aims to reconstruct as much of that lost picture as possible, starting bottom-up with a foundation of Matti Salonen’s loss data and the records surviving in archives for aircraft repaired and overhauled in the parallel aircraft rebuilding industry so carefully set up by the RLM. This foundation is supplemented as possible by other archive sources, published texts and photographs. Where a published account is clearly wrong, a subsidiary aim is to point this out ‘for the record’ and provide a correct (or at least more accurate) statement. The hope in making this material available here is that a few others will also be interested in helping push back the boundaries of the unknown, and that by sharing this information widely and freely, in due course there will be fewer obvious published errors and more fact-based published accounts.

For some aircraft types the reconstruction may always be in part a work permanently in progress. For many types though the likelihood is that multiple future iterations incorporating new data will eventually recover a reasonably full and clear picture. For a very few types that picture already exists and these workbooks are merely confirmations that recognize what has already been achieved by the efforts of others. Overall though, what looked impossible a few years ago, became only unlikely, but now appears in the main a credible possibility.

The initial release of the reconstructed build list for each manufacturer and for each individual aircraft type will be no more than a framework version. At this point defining the overall structure of the Werknummer blocks is the overriding aim. Hence not all of the data traced will be fully elaborated in the reconstructions at this point. However, the source detail will be given for every identification. 

Assembly line for Junkers 87s
Assembly line for Junkers 87 fuselages.

The trigger for publication of each aircraft type framework is that credible archive sources or other primary source data has been identified for sufficient individual Werknummern to allow a full reconstruction that looks to be better than 95% accurate as to the total quantity completed/delivered, and that the start- and end-points of most WNr. blocks probably lie within ten of the eventual final iteration. There will still be some errors. Hopefully not too many, and hopefully also those that remain will not be large. Even with the errors the aim of these reconstructions is to take us far beyond some of the sometimes fantastical statements on German aircraft types that have all too frequently appeared in print. After releasing the framework version the aim will be to complete elaboration in full of all archive records found to date and to progressively include any newly rediscovered information, refining each reconstruction as logically appropriate.


Manufacturers’ Construction Sequences

The manufacturers’ construction sequences set out the overview information for the Werknummer blocks used to organize manufacture and delivery of the aircraft ordered by the RLM from a specific manufacturer. So each file aims to provide an evidenced overview of the types and quantities produced by a single manufacturer. However, this file series will not include detailed information on individual aircraft within a batch. For that level of data please request RLM Master List Reconstructions for individual aircraft types. (To be clear, these Manufacturers’ Construction Sequences address Werknummer assignments in the sub-10.000 ranges).

First Release

Second Release (planned for December 2019)
The second release is planned to contain the Manufacturer’s Werknummer sequences of Dornier, NDW, Arado and Gotha.


Focke-Wulf 190 A-3 aircraft during the final stages of assembly. The photograph was taken at the AGO production line in Oschersleben.

RLM Master List Reconstructions for individual aircraft types (via email request)

Nigel Moore is coordinating this reconstruction project effort. Once the release of an individual type reconstruction has been announced, to obtain a copy please send an email to inm.at.rlm—at—gmail.com following the process steps set out below (there is a maximum of five types per individual email request).

After reading these carefully, please copy/paste the text section below into an email and send your personalized request to the email address above.
Note on attachments: Emails with attachments received in this inbox are automatically deleted unopened and unread. To contribute data files to this project special arrangements will need to be set up separately.

Email Request Text (copy/paste text below)
Subject: Request for RLM Master List Reconstructions

My name is:
My physical mail address is:
I am interested in these particular type(s) because: (optional)

I – FULL NAME INSERTED PLEASE – confirm that this material is only for my personal use and my personal study and interest.
I also confirm my clear understanding that this information is provided on an “as is” basis and is and will be regarded as being part of a work permanently in progress, with further updates likely to follow irregularly in the future. (Separate requests will be required for each updated version after each has been announced.)

I further confirm that should I supply information (additions/corrections/expansions) for possible inclusion in updated versions of these RLM Master List Type Reconstructions these contributions are made available on the same basis as above, and will also be shareable with others for their own personal study and interest. I recognize that in practice some or all of this material may become incorporated into a future commercial publication by a party that has also received this shared information.

In addition, I – FULL NAME INSERTED AGAIN – confirm that I understand that for purposes of the General Data Protection Regulation and any equivalent legislation that my personal data supplied in this email is classed as relating to a purely personal activity. (See GDPR 2016 Article 2 – Material Scope, 2(c)) I understand that my data supplied in this form will not be used for any purpose other than recording, servicing and tracking my requests for the supply of specific RLM Master List Reconstructions.

Aircraft Type of Interest:
(please list – maximum five per request)

———————————————- End of Email ———————————————–

Examples of RLM Master List Reconstructions
As samples of what the type reconstructions look like and the level of detail that is being aimed at, three examples are provided below for direct download.

These lists are the result of many years of research, and the Air War Publications team is very pleased to be able to present them here.

If you have any information or data you wish to contribute, please write to Nigel Moore (inm.at.rlm—at—gmail.com) or send a message to Air War Publications via our contact form.