Germans in 737 series and Derivatives


In April 1899, the German Gustav Weisskopf became the first person to fly a steam-powered monoplane in the USA. On his first flight in Pennsylvania, the plane was only 25 feet (7.5 metres) off the ground and crashed into a three-story building in its path. Undeterred, Weisskopf made four flights in Connecticut on 14 August 1901, this time with his Number 21 monoplane and steam-powered heavier-than-air model. The most successful of these flights, one in the morning and the other three in the afternoon, covered 2500 metres at an altitude of 61 metres above the ground. Not content with this, on 17 January 1902 he attempted two flights with his aircraft number 22 (the Americans still call this German Whitehead with the English translation of his name), this time using carnosine fuel. The first flight reached 3200 m and the second 11,300 m. The German Gustav Weisskopf, who never became an American citizen, died of a heart attack in 1927.

German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin founded the world's first commercial airline on 16 October 1909. His balloons, which he named in 1914, travelled 172,535 km and carried 34,028 passengers. In 1936, the first transatlantic flight took 60 hours from Frankfurt to New Jersey and 50 hours from New Jersey to Frankfurt. In those years, 1,300 passengers and several thousand tonnes of cargo were carried across the Atlantic by balloon.

Antony Herman Gerard Fokker, a Dutch-born German, founded Fokker Aviation in Berlin on 22 February 1912 with a capital of 20,000 marks, immigrated to Germany to develop his aviation ideals and built his first aircraft, the Spider-1, in Germany in the 1910s.

The first German cargo flights began on 6 February 1916 with regular cargo flights between Berlin and Weimar by the Deutsche Luft Reederei, later followed by passenger flights.

Boeing and Westervelt built their first aircraft in 1916. The name of the company became Pacific Aero Products Co. with the first aircraft.

Their story is remarkable.

Wilhem Edward B÷ing is a German mining engineer.

For many years he worked with his father in the lumber business.

Wilhem Edward B÷ing studied in Vevey, Switzerland and then went to Yale University.

His name was changed from Wilhem Edward B÷ing to William Edward Boeing when he became a US citizen. However, he left Yale University without a degree because in 1909 he went to the Alaska Exposition in the Pacific and he was very impressed by a machine he saw there. What he saw was a manned flying machine. William Edward Boeing then bought an aeroplane from Martin and began to take flying lessons from him. Glenn Luther Martin, who was also of German origin, was one of the first pilots to build his own aircraft, producing his first plane in 1912. The company he founded would go on to become Lockheed Martin after a series of mergers.

But one day, when William's plane broke down, he asked the company he had bought it from to come and inspect it. The officials who come to inspect the plane said that a part of the plane needs to be replaced. William asks when the part can be delivered. When William hears that the part cannot be fitted for another month, he gets angry and argues with Martin.

When the replacement date for the part is not changed, William decides to build his own aeroplane with his friend Westervelt. George Conrad Westervelt, of Dutch origin, was an engineer in the navy at the time. Boeing said to Westervelt:

"Let's build our own aeroplane and build it fast".

Boeing and Westervelt agreed and formed the B&W Flying Boat Company. They set out to find a site for the factory and found one in Seattle. Boeing and Westervelt produced their first aircraft in 1916.The name of the company was changed to Pacific Aero Products Co. with the first aircraft.

In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, the name was changed again to Boeing Airplane Company and the company received an order for 50 aircraft. The order came from the US Navy. Delivering the order on time and successfully, the company signed contracts with commercial airlines after the war. Boeing later built planes for the US Postal Service.

When he first mail flew from Vancouver, Canada to Seattle in 1919, he discovered a new use for his aircraft. His pioneering work in this field paved the way for his company. In 1927, when the US Postal Service invited bids to provide scheduled air service between Chicago and San Francisco, Boeing's low prices were ridiculed by competitors and met with scepticism by the Postal Service. Nevertheless, Boeing won the contract when it offered 25 factory-fresh planes capable of carrying both passengers and 500 kilos of mail. He went on to buy Pacific Airlines and in 1925 added the Seattle-Los Angeles route, making the company the largest aircraft company in the US with 800 employees. Boeing converted his company into a joint stock corporation to increase its financial power. He merged his factories with other companies under the name United Aircraft and Transport Corporation and became chairman of the board of the new aviation empire.

William Boeing retired at the end of the Second World War and died on 28 September 1956.

There are not many people who have left their mark on the history of USA aviation. In second place is Donald Wills Douglas, born to a Scottish father and a German-Scandinavian mother.

Third is James Smith "Mac" McDonnell, an engineer from a Scottish family who worked for the Great Lakes Aircraft Company and then the Glenn L. Martin Company from 1931 until he formed his own company, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, in 1939.

James Howard Kindelberger, of German origin and nicknamed "The Dutchman", who worked as chief designer for Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company and then Douglas Aircraft and was the creator of the DC-1 and DC-2 series. The 1950s ushered in the jet age with the de Havilland Comet (British), Boeing 707 (US), Douglas DC-8 (US) and Sud Aviation Caravelle (French). For the Germans, American and British pilots in the West and Russian pilots in the East shared the cockpit with German pilots (Germany was divided into East and West). Deutsche Lufthansa was founded in 1953 and renamed Lufthansa in 1954.

By 1964, Lufthansa had become a giant company with a profit of DM 36.9 million, 42 aircraft carrying 2.5 million passengers, with planes landing or taking off around the world almost every 3.5 minutes.

In the 1960s, the newest and best-selling aircraft were the DC-9, BAC 1-11 and the B-727, which had just started production. Lufthansa had the B-707 and B-727 in its fleet, and although Lufthansa was heavily involved in the development of the B-747, it was a short-haul aircraft needed to fly in Europe. The 50-seat F-28, built by Dutch, German and Northern Irish partners, was not enough for Lufthansa. The fact that a new type of aircraft seemed to be competing with the DC-9, BAC 1-11, Caravelle and B-727 scared the manufacturers, and Boeing, which had already invested heavily in the B-707 and B-727, considered a new type unnecessary. Germany was a prisoner of war of the USA and less than 20 years after the war, Germany wanted to design and produce an aircraft. In addition, this plane would be simple, cheap to operate, close to the ground, so that maintenance could be carried out directly, the time spent on the ground would be reduced and there would be no problems with tariff changes, which were not possible.

Boeing rejected the offer.

A plane with a wide fuselage, a steep tail and engines under the wings is just a dream.

The wide fuselage and steep tail strut were still of interest in this design.

Boeing assigned several engineers to work on this concept. The first prototypes look interesting.

The prototypes they built did not give Boeing what it wanted. Stability, weight and cargo capacity were not adequate and passenger capacity seems to be limited.

The Germans have insisted that Boeing build their design. What they want is a wide-body aircraft with 85-100 passenger capacity, 100-1000 nm range, 35% load factor. All they want is such a simple aircraft type. That's all they wanted!

After long negotiations, they asked that at least the relevant engineers be sent to Germany to see their work on the ground. Boeing agreed. As a result, they sent two engineers with the idea that technological development could be useful to them. The two engineers, Joe Sutter and Jack Steiner, were accommodated in the facilities of Hamburger Flugzeugbau. In fact, Hamburger Flugzeugbau is a Blohm & Voss shipyard that was founded in 1933 and survived the war with various productions. Today it is an important part of the European aviation programme and Airbus. Their host, Prof. Gerhard Holtje, member of the board of directors of Lufthansa, is also the head of the company's engineering department and the creator of the instrumental design of the new aircraft.


Sutter and Steiner, who had also worked on the B.727 and B.747, returned home very impressed and thoughtful. They set to work immediately. Steiner formed a "Red Team" and Sutter a "Blue Team" and began a two-month study. Within two weeks, the studies were completed. The answer was clear. Professor Gerhard Holtje's design was exactly what he said it would be. Placing the engines under the wing creates a centre of gravity that can carry six more passengers, improves aerodynamics and makes the passenger and cargo cabins more spacious. Professor Holtje sent German engineers to Seattle to work out the details. Finally, the aircraft was ready.


After these studies, the model was given the name Lufthansa City Jet and the code name B-737.

Prof. Gerhard Holtje cannot be thanked enough for designing such a magnificent aircraft. After all, this design will be the world's best-selling aircraft (not to mention the 757-767-777 series, etc.).

The engineering is good, but the Boeing board, which has invested heavily in the B.727 and B.747, considers this model unjustified and risky. When it came to money, the Germans had plenty and were prepared to pay the highest price at the time ($190 million in 1965). Boeing turned up its nose again. In the end, they put the order on hold, saying that they wanted to buy an amount that would cover the investment costs. The Germans immediately guaranteed to buy 21 planes. In the end, the number of seats was set at 100. Boeing intends to produce a total of 30 aircraft.

It took 6 months from the submission of the design to Boeing (11 May 1964) to the acceptance of the project (09 November 1964). Acceptance by the Board of Directors took 3 months (19 February 1965). It took United Airlines 45 days to hear about the project and immediately place an order (40 aircraft). Boeing immediately announced this order as the B.737-200. After all, selling a Lufthansa City Jet to a US company was not in anyone's interests.

The first B.737 Lufthansa City Jet made its maiden flight on 9 April 1967 and the B.737-200 made its maiden flight on 8 August 1967. On 15 December 1967, the FAA announced the certification of both types.

- We went to Boeing's United Air Lines simulator in Seattle for basic training, everything Lufthansa had ordered, every button in the cockpit, everything was working in reverse. Everything that was "on" in the simulator was "off" in the aircraft.

Cpt. Dieter ("Didi") Krauss.

On 28 December 1968, Lufthansa takes delivery of its first aircraft.

The first commercial flight of the B.737 takes place on 10 February 1968.

On 29 May 1969, at the Le Bourget Airshow, Jean Chamant, the French Minister of Transport and Karl Schiller, the German Minister of Economics, agreed to lead the aeronautics industry with an aircraft model. The first model was to be called the A-300, a wide-body, multi-passenger, twin-engine aircraft. On 3 September 1970, France placed an order for 3 A-300s. In the meantime, the United Kingdom and Spain had also signed up. This was now a European project.

In 1974, the first A-300 was approved by the French and German authorities and took off on the Paris-London flight on 23 May 1974.

(Originally was published on in Turkish Language on 150126)