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BMW was created in 1916 through the merger of an aircraft maker and a manufacturer of aircraft engines. More BMW history...


The inspiration for the BMW Roundel came from BMW's aircraft legacy

The company traces its origins to 1913, when a Bavarian named Karl Rapp began an aircraft-engine shop in Munich named Rapp Motoren Werke. In 1917 Rapp resigned and the company, led by Austrian engineer Franz-Josef Popp, changed its name to Bayerische Motoren Werke. That same year chief engineer Max Friz designed the company's first aircraft engine, the six-cylinder Type IIIa, which created strong demand for BMW engines.

During World War I, BMW aircraft engines founded a tradition of excellence and reliability. It was Baron von Richthofen, the "Red Baron", who praised the BMW engines that powered the legendary Fokker Triplane of 1917. In 1919 an aircraft fitted with a BMW engine gained the world altitude record.

Snoopy and the Red Baron
Snoopy's battle with the Red Baron

Baron von Richthofen
Learn more about the Red Baron

After the war, the Versailles Treaty prohibited German firms from producing aircraft and aircraft engines, so BMW looked for other opportunities including making air brakes for railway cars.

During World War II, BMW made engines for the German air force including the high performance Focke Wulf FW190. It also made one of the first operational jet turbine engines.

In 1990 BMW formed a joint venture with the British aerospace company Rolls-Royce PLC to produce aircraft engines for business jets.

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