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Webra – the story

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webra300

Webra Header

 

WEBRA – an epoch in model engine construction!

Review of a historical development of WEBRA model engines in Germany and Austria. We thank Mr. Gerhard Kaineder for documenting the history of Webra. The retirement si him begrudged!

Where it all began

A number of well-known modeling companies were founded in Germany after the Second World War. Werner Martin Bragenitz, for example, founded a precision engineering company in Berlin in the post-war year (1946), where he was involved in the production of customized precision engineering components and gear manufacturing.

Gerh Kaineder

Gerhard Kaineder

 

Model engines from 0.5 to 10 cc were produced as an independent product.  With the development of a self-ignition engine, so-called “diesel” model engine*), Bragenitz tried to bring the Webra 2.46 to the market in 1948 and that with success. The trademark “WEBRA” (WErner BRAgenitz) was born.

Peter Billes

Peter Billes

It was at the beginning of the 50s where in Berlin-Schöneberg the company “Feintechnik Martin Eberth” planned to manufacture model engines. The owner, Martin Eberth, was previously engaged in the manufacture of precision mechanical parts, devices, gears, worms and so on.

Hirtenberg 1968 1.Auslieferung HP61 Silverline

Hirtenberg 1968 1.Delivery HP61 Silverline

In general, it can be said that the development of model engines was still in its infancy. It can therefore be considered a stroke of luck that Martin Eberth and Werner M. Bragenitz met in the course of 1950. Both saw a great opportunity in merging the two precision engineering companies into one.

Webra Enzesfeld Montage

Final assembly of the engines at the Enzesfeld plant

The post-war period was an economically turbulent time: distribution channels and new partners were sought. Bragenitz and Eberth merged their precision engineering companies. In the following years, after various restructurings, the company “Fein- und Modelltechnik” was founded in Berlin-Schöneberg.  Günther Bodemann was engaged as a designer and in 1956 the first glow ignition engine was presented.

Webra Enzesfeld Produktion 70iger Jahre

View of production in the 70s at the Enzesfeld plant

A series of competitive successes followed and as demand increased, capacity was reached. The seat of the company was moved to Berlin, Oranienstraße 6. More premises made it possible to increase capacity and meet demand. Bragenitz left the company. The product name “WEBRA” remains in the company. Martin Eberth is now the sole owner from 1962.

Kurbelwelle Drehen

A crankshaft is being ground

At the beginning of the 60s, the WEBRA glow ignition engines such as the 5 ccm “Big Ben”, the “Bully 2-Glo” or the 2.5 ccm “Winner 2” were presented at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. This was followed by the 3.5 cc “Glo Star” and the 1.7 cc “Sport-Glo” and consequently the “Blackhead” 6.5 and 10 cc series were introduced.

Webra Enzesfeld 1972

Company view in the seventies from the Enzesfeld plant

In the 1960s, the political situation in West Berlin became increasingly uncertain. Entrepreneurs were worried about the continued existence of their businesses. Eberth was no exception. He sought contact with one of his competitors, Hirtenberger Patronen- und Zündhütchen AG. in Hirtenberg/Austria (HP).

Bericht in d.IZ ca. 1978

Report in the newspaper 1978

In the Hirtenberg company, a production branch for model engines of the “diesel” generation (e.g. HP15) was established in the 1960s under the management of Paul Bugl. Since production was only running on a small scale, Johann Kaineder was hired in 1968 as a work technician and consequently as plant manager.

 

Drehzentrum

Rotation center in the eighties in Enzesfeld plant

Under Kaineder, the first larger series products were developed, such as the successful glow ignition engines of the HP40 and HP60 “Silverline” generation, which were more powerful with Schnürle scavenging and better suited for the emerging RC flight. Peter Billes was responsible for the design. Paul Bugel left the Hirtenberg company at this time.

Firmenansicht MK22

Company view in the seventies from the Enzesfeld plant

The first contacts of Martin Eberth with Johann Kaineder were established at the toy fair in Nuremberg in the early 70s.  It was agreed and already in 1972 the new WEBRA factory was founded in Enzesfeld (not far from Hirtenberg), about 35 km south of Vienna. Immediately after the foundation, the operation could be started.

belegschaft

Presentation of the 1st delivery of the Webra 30-2 Boxer engine

 

Johann Kaineder, himself the managing director, set up series production, with the Webra 3.5 cc Glowstar, which was fully adopted from Berlin without modification, first coming off the production line before the company switched to in-house designs without exception.

Enzesfeld became the place for technical developments in the WEBRA group. One of these innovations was the very successful series of 2-stroke glow ignition engines with the inovative Schnürle scavenging of the types

„Webra Speed“
1,8 up to 2,5 cc
3,5 up to 4,5 cc
6,5 up to 8 cc
10 up to 13 cc
15 up to 25 cc

„Webra Racing“
10 up to 26 cc

„Webra Bully“
35 cc

„Webra P5”
10 up to 16,2 cc

„Webra Boxer“
30 cc

and the  4-strokeSerial „Webra T4“
6.5 bis 15 cc

 

Here are some photos of the engine range of the 70 years of company history

hp15d bugl

webra1.5

WEBRA 1,5cc (Bragenitz)

winner2

Webra Winner 2 (Bodemann)

webra61f

Webra Speed 61F

webra61rc 06

Webra 61 RC

Motor Racing 80F

Webra Racing 80F

webra boxer 30cc

Webra Boxer 30-2 FT

space8 16

R/C transmitter Webra Space 8/16

 

In the meantime, the Berlin plant had been abandoned, and from 1975 the company in Weidenberg near Bayreuth in Germany continued with limited production of the previous older Berliner designs.

©bern75 53

Hanno Prettner mit Curare Bern 1975

Over the years, Enzesfeld became more and more the center of WEBRA engine production. There was no new design of a WEBRA engine anymore that did not come from Austria.

bern75 57

Wolfgang Matt, Bern 1975

Hirtenberger Patronen- und Zündhütchen AG. ceased its engine production in 1986. One year earlier there was a change in the management at WEBRA Enzesfeld, Johann Kaineder retired for reasons of age and his son Gerhard Kaineder took over his duties.

gorizia 02

Jim Withley with Daddy Rabbit

The social conditions in the WEBRA Group also changed and Horst Eberth (son of Martin Eberth) took over the management in Weidenberg where the company increasingly specialized as a contract manufacturer and supplier for the automotive industry.

wolfgangmatt81

Wolfgang Matt with Arrow 1979 in Southafrika

Enzesfeld was smart enough to immediately join the proliferating competition circuit after production of the Hirtenbergs ended and develop other engines needed by competition model pilots. The Austrian Hanno Prettner, seven-time world champion in motorized aerobatics en suite, and the Liechtensteiner Wolfgang Matt and others, of course, achieved their successes with engines of the Webra brand.

gorizia 09

Wolfgang Matt with Superstar 1973 Gorizia / Italien

Model helicopters also benefited from the development work of WEBRA technicians. They created engines that were especially adapted to the operation of rotorcraft. Among other things, with higher engine power, better efficiency, more effective cooling and, above all, reduced noise development. WEBRA was also allowed to describe design technology, general running behavior and stability as “above average”.

werion wc197910

Mark Radcliff mit seinem Flugzeug EU-1

This resulted in a close cooperation between helicopter manufacturers and proficient helicopter pilots. Webra-Enzesfeld has always taken its own steps towards developments and improvements. One never oriented oneself to the technology of the competitors, but without exception to the newest technical achievements and tried to improve these still single-handedly.

hoppe75

Günter Hoppe 1975 in Bern

Gerhard Kaineder with his designer Peter Billes were the driving force in the further development in the sector of engine technology. WEBRA Enzesfeld had in any case become an independent Austrian company.

stevens wc197930

Arrow 1979

Since 1972, development and production took place in Enzesfeld. The unshakeable mainstay was still refinement and production of combustion engines, even if WEBRA occasionally entered peripheral areas such as electric drives, servos, receivers and radio remote controls. WEBRA also took on the four-stroke engine, but had to recognize that there was still a lot of development potential in the two-stroke.

GuenterHoppeSultan6

Günter Hoppe`s Sultan 5 Acapulco 1981

To get the engine noise somewhat under control, the engine speeds were lowered (long-stroke engine) without sacrificing torque and the previously somewhat neglected sound damping was addressed. The result was surprising. WEBRA engines with matching mufflers were among the quietest units in model aviation. And with that, the two-stroke was back in a big way.

gorizia 12

Bruno Giezendanner`s Salamander 1973 in Gorizia

What has changed as a result is the interest in helicopters, which gave more and more competition to the fixed-wing models. WEBRA has also adapted to this. In Enzesfeld, the engine requirements of the latest helicopter models have been addressed and engine performance, engine cooling, materials, running behavior and design technology have been adapted to the special characteristics of this type of model aircraft.

stevens wc197931

Tony Frakowiak`s Tipoare 1983 Pensacola

Although WEBRA was still particularly fond of model flying, other areas also established themselves on an electronic basis. Especially in the sector of industrial electronics, the company developed into a much respected specialist. The experience gained in the field of radio remote control is naturally also reflected in the field of model flying. It is not surprising that, in addition to the mainstay of motor production, particularly powerful and safe transmitters and receivers in various radio frequencies rolled off the production line. In other words, the company did not buy knowledge from others, but developed it itself.

wc 85hoppeschweiker

Team Germany Günter Hoppe und Werner Schweiker 1981 in Acapulco

This new market segment has become another mainstay for WEBRA, which easily compensated for the sometimes fluctuating demand for leisure products (model flying). Incidentally, the fact that the entire production was 90 percent export-oriented and found buyers in Germany, the rest of Europe, the USA and Asia is reassuring. Even the Japanese market was not uninteresting. “Made in Austria” had long had a certain status there.

f3ax lemgo 1981045

Günter Hoppe`s Cap

In the 90s, more and more model building products from China came onto the world market. Originally of low quality at sublime prices.  At the high production costs prevailing in Europe against the production costs given in China, many European model manufacturers could no longer be competitive. One adjusted to market segments which demanded innovation, performance and above all quality. Here WEBRA could also further develop and market its products.

extra fink

Stefan Fink`s Extra 300

Due to the world financial crisis in 2008, the WEBRA Enzesfeld plant was also affected in 2010. The company had to file for insolvency, a continuation of the company was no longer considered by the shareholders, so the WEBRA model engine era of more than 70 years came to an end.

stefanfink1983

Stefan Fink`s Dalotel

The design principle of the “Diesel” model engine consisted of an aluminum injection-molded crankcase which accommodated the cylinder liner at the upper end of which sat a counter piston. In the mounted cooling head, a toggle was inserted via a thread which served to adjust the compression. The fuel used was a mixture of ether, kerosene and castor oil.

 

marabu article02

Bruno Giezendanner and Wolfgang Matt

 

josefbrennsteiner

And one must certainly not be missing: The former F3C helicopter world champion Sepp Brennsteiner

 

Thanks to Gerhard Kaineder

© Hornig Classicpattern.com

Images: Gerhard Kaineder, Classicpattern stock

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