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Henrich Focke (October 8, 1890 - February 25, 1979) was a Germanmarker aviation pioneer from Bremenmarker. He was a co-founder of the Focke-Wulf company.

Early life

Born in Bremen on 8 October 1890, Focke studied in Hanovermarker, where he became friends with Georg Wulf in 1911. He had already constructed a glider in 1909, and his first motorised plane, the Kolthoff-Focke A III, a year later. The A III was too underpowered to be airworthy. His next model, the A IV allowed his first motorised flight in 1912. In 1914 he and Georg Wulf built the Focke-Wulf A VI

In 1914 he and Wulf both reported for military service and Focke was deferred due to heart problems, but was eventually drafted into an infantry regiment. After serving on the Eastern front he was transferred to the Imperial German Army Air Service.

Focke graduated in 1920 as Dipl.-Ing (MS) with distinction. His first job was with the Francke Company of Bremen as a designer of water-gas systems. At the same time he continued his aeronautical experimentation, he and Wulf building the new A VII around the engine from the A VI.

Focke-Wulf

In 1923, with Wulf and Dr. Werner Naumann, Focke co-founded Focke-Wulf-Flugzeugbau GmbH. Wulf died in an accident in 1927 in the F19 "Ente" canard monoplane

In 1930 Focke was offered a chair at the Danzigmarker Institute of Technology, an honour which he declined. In 1931 the city of Bremen awarded him the title of Professor. The same year, Focke-Wulf was merged with the Albatros Flugzeugwerke company.

Focke-Wulf constructed Juan de la Cierva's autogyro under license from 1933, and Focke was inspired by it to design the world's first practical helicopter, the Focke-Wulf Fw 61, which first flew on 26 June 1936.

In 1936 Focke was ousted from the Focke-Wulf company by shareholder pressure. Though the ostensible reason was that he was considered "politically unreliable" by the Nazi regime there is reason to believe it was so that Focke-Wulf's manufacturing capacity could be used to produce Me 109 aircraft. The company was taken over by AEG, but soon after this the Air Ministry, which had been impressed by the Fw 61 helicopter, suggested that Focke establish a new company dedicated to helicopter development and issued him with a requirement for an improved design capable of carrying a payload.

Focke-Achgelis

Focke established the Focke-Achgelis company on 27 April 1937 in partnership with pilot Gerd Achgelis, and began development work at Delmenhorstmarker in 1938.

Postwar

On 1 September 1945 Focke signed a contract with the French company SNCASE and assisted in development of their SE-3000 passenger helicopter, which was based on the Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 "Drache" and which first flew in 1948.

In 1950, he worked as a designer with the North German Automobile Company (Norddeutsche Fahrzeugwerke) of Wilhelmshavenmarker.

In 1952, Focke and other members of his former design team were employed by Brazil's Centro Técnico Aeroespacialmarker (CTA), at the time the air force's technical center, to develop a Convertiplane, the "Convertiplano", which drew heavily on Focke's wartime work on the Fa 269. Also recruited was Bussmann, a transmission specialist formerly of BMW. The Convertiplano was built using the fuselage and wings of a Supermarine Spitfire Mk 15, which was believed to be one delivered to Argentina as a sales example. Britain refused to supply the Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba engine originally selected and the design was altered to accept a mid-mounted 2200 hp Wright engine instead as used in the Lockheed Constellation, which necessitated a redesign of the transmission due to the increase in weight and vibration. Some 40 workers and US$8 million were devoted to the project, and more than 300 takeoffs were achieved.

While working at the CTA Focke also developed the BF-1 Beija-Flor (hummingbird) two-seater light helicopter from 1954, which made its first flight at Sao Jose dos Camposmarker on 22 January 1959. The BF-1 was similar in design to the Cessna CH-1, with a 225hp Continental E225 engine in the nose and the rotor mast running vertically between the front seats. An open structure tubular steel tail boom carried a pair of tail surfaces and a small tail rotor. The BF-2 was developed from this and first flew on 1 January 1959, and performed an extended flight-testing campaign until it was damaged in an accident. It is thought that further work on the Beija Flor was then abandoned.

Focke returned permanently to Germany in 1956 and began developing a three-seater helicopter named the "Kolibri" ("hummingbird") at the Borgward company in Bremen, with its first flight taking place in 1958. While working at Borgward Focke set up a wind tunnel in a disused hangar in central Bremen; this wind tunnel was rediscovered in 1997 and is today the centerpiece of a museum devoted to him.

After Borgward collapsed in 1961, Focke became a consulting engineer with Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke of Bremen and Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft-und Raumfahrt.

Interesting information about Henrich Fockes last lab can be found under Fockes historical flight-lab

Notes

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