BMW-801 Designer?

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Rocket Man

Jan 13, 2007
New Jersey
Does any one know the name of the engineer that designed the BMW-801 engine?

How about the engineer that designed the Kommandogerat (automatic engine control) used with the BMW-801?
I am not sure who the chief designer was but the history of the BMW-801 is as as follows.

BMW was building a liscensed built version of the Pratt and Whitney Hornet engine and later designed an improved version called the BMW-132. Later in 1935 the RLM put out a request for a larger radial engine. BMW came up with the BMW-139 and Bramo came up with the Bramo-329.

Soon thereafter BMW bought Bramo and the the BMW-801 came out of develeopment from the Bramo-139 and the BMW-132 and codesigned by BMW and Bramo (who had been incorporated into BMW when Bramo was bought) engineers.
Thanks for the information. I have found the details that you mentioned on various web sites, but no disigner / engineer names. My Grandfather used to work for BMW before and during the war. From what I have been able to gather from relatives and from his obituary from 1971, he was a primary contributor to both the BMW-801 and the Kommandogerat.

I just ordered a copy of the book "American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets". My Grandfather is mentioned in that book, and I hope to find out more about his contributions.

Munich. My Grandfather and his family were brought to the US in 1945 (Project Paperclip). His brothers and their families stayed in Germany.
Very cool. I live about an hour and half from Munich.
My grandfather was a Major in the German Army in WW2 and fought through the French Campaign all the way to Stalingrad where he was captured, and my other Grandfather was a combat engineer for the US Army and landed in Normany on June, 6, 1944.
His name was Dr. Rudolph "Rolf" Ammann. I have seen film of him at Fort Bliss, Texas (USA) in 1945, standing with a group of scientists along with Wernher von Braun. It's strange seeing him 'alive' again.
The following is an account from my uncle (oldest son of Dr. Ammann)...

"At BMW his functions were actually more than Prokura, the right to sign binding contracts for the firm. Of eleven departments at BMW, Vater (Father) ran nine. From 1943 on he was responsible for the production of all fighter engines in Germany. He was chief of development from 1935 on, spent much time on the test stands.

Vater was head of testing, development, and his specialty the Reglerabteilung, the control device department. That was before electronics came in, and his "Kontrollgeraet", the device managing all functions for the pilot, such as RPMs, prop settings, compressor loads, and targeting, were all done by this mechanical gizmo.

Vater also ran design. His baby was the BMW 801 engine, the first to have 2000 hp at 30,000 feet. His first jobs at BMW were to develop the license–built Pratt and Whitney radial engines. He tweaked them from 700 hp to 1400 hp. These were 7 cylinder radials. His 801 was a fourteen cylinder radial engine. It powered the Focke Wulf 190, the Dornier 218, the Arado 134, and it was used in tandem – only two nacelles – in the Heinkel 177."
I spent yesterday morning at the University of Pennsylvania library, browsing through the weekly Aviation News magazines from 1946 1947. I was looking for a specific article, and I found it!

The article was in the December 9, 1946 copy of Aviation News magazine. The article is titled "German Scientists Working for AAF". The article mentions Dr. Alexaneder Lippisch, Dr. Rudolph Hermann, Dr. Theodor W. Zobel, Fritz Doblhoff, Dr. Rudolph Ammann, and Dr. Heinz Schmitt.

Under Dr. Rudolph Ammann (my grandfather), it states that he is "the designer of the BMW-801 engine used in the Focke-Wulf 190 fighter. This is confirmation from the era (1946) that he was the designer.

Also, I received a copy of a newspaper article from one of my aunts. The article was written upon my grandfather's retirement from Wright-Patterson Air Force base. One paragraph states; "He conceived a unique single lever master control (kommandogerat) for the 14 cylinder radial engine (BMW-801) used in the Focke-Wulf fighter plane and increased the output of the engine from 1,350 to 2,400 horsepower".

It's great to find documentary evidence that my grandfather (Dr. Rudolph "Rolf" Ammann) was the designer of the BMW-801 aeroengine and the Kommandogerat. As described on the Focke-Wulf FW 190 - White 1 web site, the Kommandogerat is "the master control unit-actually a mechanical computer- for the engine which regulates rpm, prop pitch, timing, blower speed all in relation to altitude. It is an engineering marvel!"
No disrespect here, but isn't this giving the man a bit too much credit? I mean, increasing the power from 1350 HP to 2400 HP? That's almost as if he was working night and day on it, and got it to 2400 HP himself. He was responsible for a team who got it there... and it was over a period of 6 years... which makes it less extraordinary.

While surfing for info regarding the development history of the 801, I happened upon a google books preview. It's an excerpt attributed to the often cited, Karl von Gersdorff. (Hohun, Henning, at LEMB frequently cites this work) Apparently this previewed book contains english translations of at least parts of the "von Gersdorff et al." work. The name "Martin Duckstein" is cited in this text as being the initial developmental engineer on the 801 project, following the merger with Bramo. Link provided:Aeronautical Research in Germany ... - Google Book Search

I am doing this research for an alternate history novel that I'm working on. Specifically, I'm trying to get a functional Fw190A1 into OCU squadron service by the start of 1941. (I'm fully aware of the scope of the work required to get from the V1 of June 39 to the A1 of 1940, and all the attendant redesign work: 801 teething troubles, 139 > 801 C of G issues and cockpit relocation, wings, fin/rudder and forward fuselage redesign, weapons proving [MG151/15] etc...) Does anyone think that a more focused effort could have been made in this direction, (within the given timeframe) if changes were made within the Technisches Amt at RLM?


Cheers, Ron
I have some updated information. This comes from my uncle; Rolf "Rudolph" Amman's oldest son.

"The BMW-801 was my father's idea, his concept. He wanted a radial engine that would fly higher than most, and still give 200o hp at 40,000 ft altitude. He made it. Duckstein was the "Konstrukteur", the designer. My father ran the overall program. The (blueprint) drawings were done by Duckstein.

Duckstein was killed by a fighterbomber along with his family, as they were bicycling home after swimming in Starnbergersee. Duckstein ran one of my father's 11 departments at BMW."
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Very cool. I live about an hour and half from Munich.
My grandfather was a Major in the German Army in WW2 and fought through the French Campaign all the way to Stalingrad where he was captured, and my other Grandfather was a combat engineer for the US Army and landed in Normany on June, 6, 1944.

Chris, did they meet each other after the WW2?
Rocket Man, how's your uncle's book project on Ammann going? He wrote me an email about two years ago with questions about Ammann and the picture from our archives. Now that our BMW aero engines book is complete, I'd like to know. Did he get his "Spruchkammerakte" from the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Munich?

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