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BMW 003 / 109-003

Bramo 109-003



The practicality of jet propulsion had been demonstrated in Germany in early 1937 by Hans von Ohain working with the Heinkel company. Recognising the potential of the invention, the Reich Air Ministry (German: Reichsluftfahrtministerium, abbreviated RLM) encouraged Germany's aero engine manufacturers to begin their own programmes of jet engine development.

The BMW 003 began development as a project of the Brandenburgische Motorenwerke (The Brandenburg Motor Works, known as "Bramo ") under the direction of Hermann Östrich and assigned the RLM designation 109-003 (using the RLM's "109-" prefix, common to all jet and rocket engine projects). Bramo was also developing another axial-flow turbojet, the 109-002. In 1939, BMW bought out Bramo, and in the acquisition, obtained both engine projects. The 109-002 had a very sophisticated contra-rotating compressor design intended to eliminate torque, but was abandoned in favour of the simpler engine, which in the end proved to have enough development problems of its own.

Construction began late in the same year and the engine ran for the first time in August 1940, but produced less than half of the thrust expected, 2.5 kN instead of 6.3 kN. The first flight test took place in mid-1941, mounted underneath a Messerschmitt Bf 110. Problems continued, however, so delaying the program that while the Me 262 (the first aircraft intended to use the engine) was ready for flight-testing, there were no power plants available for it and it actually began flight tests with a conventional Junkers Jumo 210 piston engine in the nose. It was not until November 1941 that the Me 262 V1 was flown with BMW engines, which both failed during the test. The prototype aircraft had to return to the airfield on the power of the piston engine, which was still fitted.


Heinkel He/219TL with BMW003 turbojet


The general usage of the BMW powerplant was abandoned for the Me 262, except for two experimental examples of the plane known as the Me 262 A-1b. The Me 262 A-1a production version used the competing Jumo 004 whose heavier weight required the wings to be swept back in order to move the center of gravity into the correct position. Work on the 003 continued anyway, and by late 1942 it had been made far more powerful and reliable. The improved engine was flight tested under a Junkers Ju 88 in October 1943 and was finally ready for mass production in August 1944.

The only production aircraft to use the 003 was the Heinkel He 162, which fitted a modified "E" version of the engine. This version was modified with ventral mounting points to allow it to be mounted atop the fuselage of an aircraft.

One late version of the engine added a small rocket motor (BMW 109-718) at the rear and usually just above the exhaust of the engine, which added some 9.8 kN (2,200 lbs/f) of thrust for take off and short dashes. In this configuration, it was known as the BMW-003R and was tested, albeit with some serious reliability problems, on single prototypes for advanced models of the Me 262 (Me 262 C-2b Heimatschützer II), and He 162 (He 162 E). Both prototypes flew under hybrid jet/rocket power during March 1945, though records do not indicate the results of testing with the 162 E.

The BMW-003 was intended for export to Japan, but working examples of the engine were never supplied. Instead, Japanese engineers used drawings and photos of the engine to design an indigenous turbojet, the Ishikawajima Ne-20.

Following the war, two captured BMW-003s powered the prototype of the first Soviet jet, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-9. Blueprints for BMW engines had been seized by Soviet forces from the Basdorf-Zühlsdorf plant near Berlin and from the Central Works near Nordhausen. Production of the BMW 003 was set up at the "Red October" GAZ 466 (Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or "Gorky Automobile Plant") in Leningrad, where the engine was mass produced from 1947 under the designation RD-20 (reactivnyi dvigatel, or "jet drive").

Herman Östrich's team in charge of the development of the BMW 003 engine had moved to the town of Stassfurt, near Magdeburg, in February 1945. An underground production factory was being set up in a salt mine outside town by C.G. Rheinhardt in a desperate attempt to continue engine production in face of the now overwhelming Allied air campaign. This mine is well known historically as it was also being used for the storage of uranium compounds as part of the Nazi atomic bomb program.

The town of Stassfurt surrendered to US forces on 12 April 1945, and Östrich hid much of the technical data in a local cemetery. The next day a ten-man team made up primarily of engineers from Pratt & Whitney arrived, and he handed the data over to them. Production restarted for US use while the war ground to a close, and the US forces cleared out the factory while they waited to turn the area over to the Soviets.


Östrich had by this time moved to Munich for further interrogation, and from there to England at the request of Roy Fedden. He had them work on the design of a turboprop engine for a proposed C-54 Skymaster-class four-engine transport. While working on this design, Őstrich was secretly approached by French DGER agents with an offer to take up further design of the 003 in France. The French forces had found a number of 003 engines in their occupation zone after the war, and were interested in setting up a production line. These discussions had not progressed very far when Őstrich was allowed to return to Munich, only to be brought back to England in late August, then returned to Munich again where the US offered him and a hand-selected team jobs in the US, but without their families.


Östrich instead accepted the French invitation, and by September had been set up at the former Dornier factories in Rickenbach in the French Zone. Here they were soon joined by other former BMW engineers, as well as those from a number of other German firms, bringing the team to about 200 members. The group was named the Atelier Technique Aéronautique Rickenbach, or ATAR. They worked on a new design that was based on the BMW layout, but considerably larger and more powerful. They completed the preliminary design of the ATAR 101 (model R.101) in October, and granted a production contract on the proviso that actual production would be carried out in France.


Some 500 BMW 003 engines were built in Germany, but very few were ever installed in aircraft.


BMW 003 A1 (TL 109-003)
Prototype, 5.87 kN (1,320 lbf) / 8,000 rpm / sea level.

BMW 003 A2 (TL 109-003)
Initial production variant, 7.83 kN (1,760 lbf) / 9,500 rpm / sea level.

BMW 003 C (TL 109-003)
Improved design, reduced weight A2, 8.81 kN (1,980 lbf) / 9,500 rpm / sea level

BMW 003 D (TL 109-003)
Improved design C, 8.81 kN (1,980 lbf) / 9,500 rpm / sea level.

BMW 003 E
With ventral mounting points for use on the Heinkel He 162 and Henschel Hs 132.

BMW 003 R (TLR 109-003)
An A2 with a BMW 718 (R 109-718) booster fixed permanently above the jetpipe, running on R-stoff (a.k.a. Tonka or TONKA-250, 50% triethylamine and 50% xylidine) and SV-Stoff (aka RFNA: 94% HNO3, 6% N2O4). The R delivered a combined thrust of 20.06 kN (4,510 lbf) for 3 minutes.

Arado Ar 234
Heinkel He 162
Messerschmitt Me 262 (A-1b test version, and Heimatschützer II experimental interceptor only)


BMW 003A-2
Type: Axial flow turbojet
Length: 3,632.2 mm (143 in)
Diameter: 690.9 mm (27.2 in)
Dry weight: 623.7 kg (1,375 lb)
Compressor: 7-stage axial compressor
Combustors: 1 annular combustion chamber
Turbine: Single-stage axial
Fuel type: J-2 diesel fuel or gasoline
Oil system: Pressure feed at 586 kPa (85 psi), dry sump with 4 scavenge pumps with annular tank and cooler, using oil grade 163 S.U. secs (35 cs) (D.T.D 44D) at 38 °C (100 °F)
Maximum thrust: 7.83 kN (1,760 lbf) at 9,500 rpm at sea level for take-off
Overall pressure ratio: 3.1:1
Turbine inlet temperature: 770 °C (1,418 °F)
Specific fuel consumption: 142.694 kg/kN/hr (1.4 lb/lbf/hr)
Thrust-to-weight ratio: 0.0125 kN/kg (1.282 lbf/lb)
Normal, static: 6.89 kN (1,550 lbf) / 9,000 rpm / sea level
Military flight: 6.23 kN (1,400 lbf) / 9.500 rpm / 2,500 m (8,202 ft) / 900 km/h (559 mph; 486 kn)
Normal, flight: 2.85 kN (640 lbf) / 11,500 rpm / 11,000 m (36,089 ft) / 900 km/h (559 mph; 486 kn)



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