1940's German Jet Technology 2

Part 2

BMW-003 Turbo Jet Engine

During the mid 1930’s the Bramo Company in Spandau Germany, began design and development work on ‘axial flow’ turbo jet engines at the request of the Luftwaffe and the German Air Ministry [ReichsLuftfahrtMinisterium]. Bramo’s work followed with two prototype engines for testing, the advanced 002 model used a twin axial design with a contra-rotating compressor and turbine in an effort to reduce torque and vibration, and the 003 model a simpler single axial version with out the contra-rotating assembly.

BMW-003A axial flow turbo jet engine
The sleeker looking BMW-003A axial flow turbo jet engine on display at Rolls-Royce heritage
centre Sinfin site in Derby, England.

BMW-003A axial flow turbo jet engine
Hidden inside the sliver nose cone on the BMW-003A engine can be found a small 2 stroke
petrol starter motor.

In the middle of 1939, BMW bought out the ‘Bramo Werk’ and obtained the two prototype axial flow engines as part of the deal. BMW were them selves already working on turbo jets engines, but these were based on the centrifugal configuration. BMW soon realised the potential of these prototype engines and abandoned there own earlier attempts in favour of these new designs. The 002 engine proved to be too complex for current development needs leading to the project being abandoned by 1942 without a single flight. However the 003 engine proved to be ideal with building starting late 1939 and by August 1940 test runs were already taking place with the engine being designated as the BMW-003.

Front air intake of the BMW-003A showing stage one of the 7 compressor fans.
Front air intake of the BMW-003A showing stage one of the 7 compressor fans.

Front air intake of the BMW-003A showing stage one of the 7 compressor fans.
With the outer engine wall removed you can see some of the 16 burners within the combustion chamber.

A view of the BMW-003A compressor blades and stator guide vanes.
A view of the BMW-003A compressor blades and stator guide vanes.

The BMW-003 engine contained a 7 stage compressor, 16 burners mounted in an annular shaped combustion chamber and a single turbine mounted on a single axial that developed 1,700 pounds of thrust by the end of the war. BMW encountered many problems which dogged the early days and delayed the intended idea of fitting the engine to the new Messerschmitt Me262 jet fighter which was under development at this time. However by November 1941 the engine was deemed ready and the first test flight took place on the 25th March 1942 using 2 of BMW’s 003 turbo jet engines to provide the power.

Unfortunately the engines still lacked the sufficient thrust requirements hoped for in the Me262 and proved to be hopelessly unreliable almost killing the test pilot if it had had not of been for the back up piston engine when both jet engines failed shortly after take off. Finally for BMW with most design issues solved full production began in early 1944, as the BMW-003A with this unit being fitted to various German warplanes of the time including some later versions of the Me262, and most notably Heinkel’s He 162 Volksjäger fighter plane would be the main benefactor of the engine. Before the end of the war some 3500 engines would be produced.

The single turbine fan viewed from inside the BMW-003.
The single turbine fan viewed from inside the BMW-003.

Makers code stamped into the engine case of the BMW-003 Unknown
Makers code stamped into the engine case of the BMW-003 Unknown

The Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger fighter plane
The Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger fighter plane with the BMW-003A turbo jet engine mounted above the fuselage
in an effort to simplify and quicken production.

 

 

facebook instgram flickr

Information

Articles