Written by Peter Mueller
Translated into English by Christian A. Wimmer
During the last years of World War II, the Allied bombing of Nazi Germany increased to such a point that German industries critical to the war effort were being destroyed. Among the favorite targets of the Allies were German aircraft factories, especially the ones producing defensive fighter aircraft. The worsening war situation led the Reichministerium fuer Ruestungs und Kriegsproduktion (Ministry of Arms and War Production) in cooperation with the Reichsluftfahrtsministerium (Reich Aviation Ministry) to move factories to central and southern Germany where more concentrated protection could be offered and the completion of wonder weapons, among them the Messerschmitt Me-262 jetfighter, could be finished without a great deal of interruption. Twenty-seven major aircraft factories were broken up into 300 little workshops and distributed throughout central and southern Germany. They were hidden in street- and train tunnels as well as in mountains. Naturally, this led to supply problems in both the delivery of raw materials and the deliverance of the final product. To solve this problem, it was decided to centralize aircraft production into six specially constructed, half-submerged (in earth) bunkers.
First, however, suitable sites had to be found. There were four major considerations. Firstly, the selected area was to be rich in gravel that could be used for construction purposes. Second, the chosen site was ideally to have a nearby water supply (also for construction purposes). Third, a heavily forested area was preferred as it could offer a natural camouflage against enemy aerial activity. The last consideration called for a suitably located train station for supply reasons.
The following sites were deemed suitable and selected: Landsberg am Lech (in which three factories were to be built, the former Sudetenland, a site in the Rhineland and the a forest in Muehldorf am Inn.
The Allied invasion of Normandy in early June of 1944 caused a change in plans, and as a result, the Germans focused on finishing only two bunkers: Landsberg and Muehldorf. The conditions around Muehldorf were especially ideal for the project.
With the increased activity of Allied bombing, the Germans were forced to concentrate on fighter aircraft. All factories that were still producing bombers were ordered to immediately begin production of defensive fighter aircraft. All across Germany, aircraft factories began retooling and switching their production to fighter aircraft. This became known as the Jaegerprogramm.
Under the Jaegerprogramm plan, it was envisioned that the bunker in Muehldorf, once completed, would produce over 900 of the new Messerschmitt Me-262 jetfighter per month. To ensure this figure, the production of various Me-262 parts were to be divided amongst local workshops within the region. For example, the bunker in Mettenheim was tasked with producing the engines and airframes while the final production and assembly would take place in the Landsberg bunker. From there, the aircraft could use the makeshift runway to take off and fly to their destination.
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