by Horst Zoeller, 1996 - 2017, 63rd Edition, 8 December 2017

Junkers Russian Fili Joint Venture

The Fili Production Facilities in 1922

 

Junkers Joint Venture in Russia

After WW I Germany and Russia were isolated from the worldwide trade. The Allied Western countries tried to isolate the Communists at Moscow and kept them short of any new weapon development. On the other hand they also forced the German industry to drop any major industrial development or production after WW I. Especially the German aircraft industry was faced with a lot of bans and restrictions on their developments. At the same time, the German Militaries were minimized and future development of the German Army was strictly limited.

Within that situation German and Russian officials began negotiations about some industrial and trade agreements early in 1921. As a first step, on May, 6th 1921 both countries signed a trade agreement, which offered the German industry an opportunity for a knowhow transfer to Russia and help the Russians to develope an own industrial plattform. Already in April 1921 the "Reichswehr" (German Army) had agreed to Blohm+Voss, Krupp and Albatros as possible German companies, which might transfer knowledge to the Russian industry.

The "Reichswehr" was thinking of Albatros Flugzeugwerke as a state-owned company, which should set up a new production facility in Russia for simply structured aircraft designs. Due to the large experience of aircraft production at Albatros, the "Reichswehr" thought, that Albatros would be able to set up such a production in Russia very quickly. However, the Russians were not only interested in the setup of a new aircraft industry, but they also wanted to participate from Germany's aircraft design knowledge. Therefore Russia was not interested in Albatros, which still designed conventional wooden structured aircraft in the early 20s. Instead they figured out their interest in the all metal aircraft designs of Junkers, which was accepted from the "Reichswehr" as well.

Junkers himself was already negotiating Russian cooperations since September 1920, when an emigrated Russian officer, named Doloukhanow asked Junkers for the setup of a Russian airline operation with up to twenty aircraft after the Soviets should have been defeated. Negotiations about this theme continued through 1920 and Junkers was already thinking about a possible initialization of an aircraft production line in Russia, when 11 F13 for John Larsen were confiscated in Hamburg harbour by the Allied Control Commission. Since September 1920 the Junkers aircraft production at Dessau had to be decreased to prevent further aircraft confiscations. From November 1920 to March 1921 the number of employees at Dessau decreased from about 880 to less than 450. Again, the Junkers aircraft production came to a sudden end. Studies for possible alternate production countries showed, that any transfer to a Western country would increase production cost, as loans were much higher in Netherlands, Belgium or the U.S. than in Germany. Therefore Junkers interest oriented towards Russia in Summer 1921.

In January 1922 a German team under the leadership of Oberstleutnant Schubert and Major von Niedermayer went to Moscow for further discussions. They were joint by Junkers director Spaleck and Sachsenberg. The German-Russian meetings upon the construction of an aircraft plant in Russia were strictly confidential. No protocols are available about that theme. Finally, on February 6th, 1922 an initial agreement between Junkers (not the German government) and the Soviet government was signed. Due to this agreement, Junkers was allowed to built a Junkers facility in Russia. He became the first and only western industrial, which was allowed to built an own facility in Russia.

Junkers' plans for the setup of an aircraft production in Russia saw two steps.


Phase I saw the quick setup of a provisional production facility at Fili near Moscow. At this facility Junkers should train Russian engineers and mechanics for metal construction productions. Also on request of the Soviets, this facility should be used as a repair shop for the conventional wooden structured Russian military aircraft, which were urgently required at the fronts at Poland.

Phase II was the extension of Fili towards a fully capable aircraft production facility, as well as the setup of a sister facility at the Petersburg based Russo-Polish Automobile Plants. At the end of Phase II the two Russian based Junkers facilities should be capable for an aircraft production of about 100 aircraft per month. The total cost for both programmes were calculated to about 1000 million Reichsmark, which should supplied by the German "Reichswehr".

 

During Summer 1922 detailled plans for the cooperation were developed by Russian and German officials and finally November 26th, 1922 Junkers signed the final agreement, which was ratified by the Soviet government on January 29th, 1923. According to the contract, Russia and Junkers agreed, that

 

1.      Russia will offer a facility building near Moscow for the new joint venture.

2.      Junkers will supply tools and technologies for that facility and provide training for Russian workers.

3.      Russia will place an order for 300 aircraft and 450 engines a year

4.      Junkers will provide new aircraft designs for the Russian Army

5.      Both parties initially will concentrate on a facility near Moscow, but further facilities at Petersburg will follow

6.      Junkers was also allowed to built up an intra-Russian airtransport service and an aerial photo service

 

 

The Fili Production Site

The Russian Government offered an existing industrial plant of the Russko-Baltiiskii Vagonnyi Zavod at Fili, a small suburb west of Moscow, for the new joint venture company. This plant was set up in April 1916 near the Intercession Church of Fili and was intended as an automobile production line. But due to the Russian Revolution and the Russian-Polish War the facility does not start with any production until 1922. When the Joint Venture contract was signed with Junkers, the facility was converted into an aircraft production facility and was named State Aircraft Factory (GAZ) No. 7.  At the near river Moskva a flat area was prepared as an airfield for the factory. In Moscow Downtown two houses were rented for the administrative organisations of the socalled Junkers Zentrale Russland. These houses were located at the Petrogradski Chaussee 32 and at the Nikolsker Street 7. The Director of the Fili Plant was Dr. Wilhelm Schubert, the former military attache of the German Embassy in Moscow, Dr. Otto Gessler was the Assistant Director. Paul Spalek from Junkers Dessau was appointed as the Technical Director of the plant.

 

Following an extensive renovation of the Fili plant, tools and installations were imported from Dessau. Several hundred engineers and mechanics from Dessau joint the new aircraft factory at Fili. An employees’ city was erected next to the plant. In October 1923 a total of 549 people worked at the Fili facility, in December 1924 this number was increased to 1165. But in 1925 the relationship between Junkers and the Russian Government became worse, as the Junkers aircraft did not match the expectations of the Russian Army regarding performance and output. Most of the German employees returned to Germany. The production of Junkers aircraft at Fili decreased further and finally the plant was taken over by the Soviets.

 

In 1927 the former Junkers facility at Fili was renamed  Zavod No. 22 Ten Years October Plant  and later it was named after S.P. Gorbunov. Fili became the initial Soviet Research Center for the new Russian Aviation Industry. .Tupolev, Arkhangelsky and Petlyakov worked here. In 1941 the plant was closed due to the approach of the German forces for Moscow. Zavod No. 22 was transferred to Kazan, where it still exists today as the KAPO – Kazan Aviation Production Association. Zavod No. 22 also absorbed the dismounted Heinkel Facility from Elsnitz in 1946. x


 
Aircraft Production at Fili

According to the contract the Fili plant should be capabale for at least 400 to 450 aircraft. About 50% of these aorcraft should be bought by the Soviet Air Force, while the remaining aircraft might be sold by Junkers on the free market. Shortly after Junkers had signed the agreement, the Soviet government ordered about twenty Junkers Ju 20, a derivate from the A20, about fifty Ju 21, also known as H21 and thirty fighter aircraft Ju 22 on December 4th, 1922. The development work for those aircraft types immediately was started at Dessau.

Ju 20 (converted from A20)
The Fili production started with the Ju 20, which was converted from the civil Junkers A20. The development of the conversion was performed at Dessau. Two prototypes were also built at Dessau under the development designator J20 in spring 1923. Shortly afterwards production details were transfered to Fili, where the initial production aircraft was built. The first Fili-built Ju20 flew first at Leningrad in November 1923. The complete line of 20 J20s were delivered to the Russian Air Force until April 1924. Parts and material for the aircraft came from Dessau while Fili performed the final assembly of the aircraft. The initial 20 aircraft were delivered to the Soviet Navy, which used them until 1930. Later these aircraft were transfered to the Artic Flight Command. A further 20 Ju 20 were ordered later on, so that a total of about 40 aircraft were built at Fili for the Soviet forces. Several more were also built for export to Turkey and Spain.

Ju 35 (converted Ju 20)
In 1925 the first Ju 20 was equipped with a Junkers L5 engine. By that modification the Ju 20 became the military variante of the Junkers A35. At Limhamn in Sweden the military variante of the A35 was called K53. In Russia the K53 was called Ju 35 as well as Ju 20. The exact number of conversions is not known.

Ju 21 (converted from T21)
Meanwhile the second reconnaissaisance type J21 was developed at Dessau from the experimental T21 aircraft and in summer 1923 the first J21 aircraft from Dessau production went into the air. Production of the Ju 21 started at Fili in 1923. A total of 122 Ju 21 were built until 1926. The Ju 21 was built exclusively at Fili.

Ju 22 (converted from T22)
The fighter aircraft J22 followed in November 1923. It was developed from the experimental T22 aircraft at Dessau. But this fighter aircraft showed an unsatisfactory performance and was not accepted by the Russian Air Force. Also did the second prototype, which first flew in April 1924. Finally the Soviet government changed the order to the additional 20 Ju20s and 80 Ju21s, dropping the Ju22 order.

Ju 13 and PS-2 (Russian built F13)
Some of the successfull F13 passenger airliner were also built at Fili. Parts and material were prebuilt at Dessau, while the final assembly was performed at Fili. A few Ju 13, also called PS-2, from the Fili production were equipped with a machine gun behind the pilot's seat. They were intended as a light bomber aircraft or military transport aircraft. But the Russian Army showed little interest in such an aircraft. Therefore these military converted Ju 13 went to Persia. Nevertheless Fili performed the final assembly for several Ju 13s, which were used by the newly formed Russian airlines, such as Dobrolet. The total number of Ju 13s built at Fili is not clear as the Russian airlines received F13 from German production lines at Dessau as well as Ju 13s from Fili. A major business of Fili was the maintenance of the Russian F13 and Ju 13 later on.

PS-4 (Russian built W33)
The PS-4 was not really a Fili aircraft. This type designator was used for Russian built W33. Several dozens of the W33 were ordered by the Soviet government in 1928. By this time the Fili facility was already closed. Therefore the final assembly of the parts, which were preproduced at Dessau, took place at the homebase of the Russian Dobroljot airlines in Moscow as well as in Irkutsk. The Russian built PS-4 was mainly used in Siberia and the Artic regions for transport missions until 1941. In contrast to the W33 the PS-4 had no windows.

JuG-1 (Russian built K30, converted from G24)
In 1925 the Soviet Army showed some interest in a heavy bomber aircraft. Therefore Junkers developed a military derivate of the G24 airliner. About 20 to 25 of this military K30 variante were ordered by the Russians. But the Fili production facilities were to small for the serial assembly of a large bomber aircraft. Finally the production assembly of the K30 was transfered to Limhamn in Sweden and designated R42. The Swedish built R42s were flown to Fili and got there their final military equipment. In Russia the R42 was designated as JuG-1. A total of 23 JuG-1 were delivered between 1926 and 1927. The JuG-1 was used by the Soviet Airforce until 1931. By then it was transfered to Aeroflot. None of the JuG-1 was really assembled at Fili. Only the military equipment was added there. The JuG-1 was the last Junkers aircraft handled by Fili. After completition of the delivery of the K30s Junkers retreated from Fili.

 

Fili Aircraft Production Figures 1923 to 1926

 

1923

1924

1925

1926

Total

Junkers Ju20

40

 

 

 

40

Junkers Ju21

40

53

26

3

122

Junkers F13

29

6

6

 

41

Junkers JuG1

 

 

3

12

15

Total

109

59

35

15

218

Plus some BMW III engine completion

 

 

 


Final Steps at Fili

Several approaches for better aircraft designs were discussed between Junkers and the Soviets during 1924 without success. Discussions were held about a major modification of 60 J21 aircraft, but did not came to an end. Only a single prototype was modified at Fili. In August 1924 Junkers offered two prototypes of the Ju25 to the Soviet Air Force, which was interested in the BMW IV engines. But the Russians were not interested in that aircraft as well as in the Ju28 fighter aircraft.

Since April 1924 the cooperation began to slow down. The Soviet authorities were not satisfied with the performance of the Fili aircraft. Next, they pointed out, that the delivery sequence was to slow, as all of the 100 aircraft ordered, should be delivered until April 1924 but only about 75 were actually delivered. Also they called attention to the fact, that most parts of the aircraft were built at Dessau and were only assembled at Fili, while the contract saw a Fili part construction facility. The engine facilities at Fili never came into being and all engines were imported from Germany. Therefore Fili only became an assembly facility but no knowhow transfer plattform.

The Soviet government announced, that no further orders will be given to Fili until Junkers has fullfilled his part of the contract. On the other hand Junkers was not interested in investing more money into the Russian plant, while being unsure about further Soviet orders. Also the German government made an advanced payment for fifty aircraft, which should be built at Fili, in summer 1923 the German defense ministry decided to order fighter aircraft from Fokker in Holland. Therefore the only remaining customer for Fili might have been the Soviet Air Force.

In December 1924 Junkers put an ultimatum to the Soviet government for further orders for the Fili production plants. No action was undertaken by the Soviets and so the Fili production was suspended in March 1925. Of the 1165 men, working at Fili in December 1924, only a small staff of 30 Russians remained at Fili for maintenance works. The 154 Germans returned to Dessau.

By 1925 Germany started to recover from the isolation after WW I. Consequently the political orientation to Russia was reduced. Also in 1925 the German government stopped paying subsidies for the Fili facilities. By then the Fili facilities were financed by the Soviet government, who changed the Fili director to a Soviet named S.P. Gorbunov. He prepared the Fili facilities for the production of the Tupolev ANT-4 bomber.

As soon as the last K30 was delivered, Junkers retreated from Fili in March 1927. The Fili production plant was integrated into the Soviet aircraft facilities as GAZ No. 7 and by February 8th, 1928 it was named Zavod No. 22 The remaining Junkers owned machinery and materials were returned to Germany in summer 1927 finishing the Junkers ventures in Russia.

In total Junkers suffered massive losses from his Fili engagement. He was unable to built up a successfull production plant and to achieve enough Soviet orders. The change of the political orientation in Germany finally forced Junkers to retreat from Russia and due to the fact, that only Junkers had made agreements with the Soviet government but not the German government, he finally was forced to accept  the complete financial losses.

Further Reading at other Sites:
German Air Combat School at Lipsek with comments on Fili aircraft types
Khrunichev Center (developement of Fili)
Khrunichev Enterprise History

Soviet Air Power (Backgrounds on the Rapallo Treaty)

 

 

introduced Jan 2004, transfered Dec 2017
http://hugojunkers.bplaced.net/
contents last updated 28 Feb 2004