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English   Henschel Kassel plant
19.08.2010 von admin

Motorway coaches with a drop-shaped design

The streamlined motorway coaches made a truly spectacular statement: based on the aerodynamic know-how of the day, the drop shape was seen as the ideal design to keep drag down to a minimum. In 1936, the German National Railway set up its first motorway coach route between Frankfurt and Darmstadt. A year later, 32 routes had already sprung up. In 1938, the operator's fleet included 120 high-speed touring coaches with the drop-shape-like design, including the rounded Henschel 38 S 3 N and 40 S 3 N models. But the problem of high-speed touring could not be resolved solely by modifying the shape. Rather it was the engines that proved the weak point: the seven-litre units on the high-speed coaches produced a mere 95 hp.

Henschel had three solutions up its sleeve: in 1935, the plant launched its first 15-litre eight-cylinder diesel unit developing 170 hp; 1936 saw a 31-litre 12-cylinder twin engine developing 330 hp unveiled at the International Car and Motorcycle Exhibition (IAMA) in Berlin. The third unit in the line-up proved more modest: the six-cylinder unit with a displacement of 15.5 litres and an output of 150 hp presented in 1938, which was primarily designed for the six-tonne 6 U 20. This truck was normally used for long-distance haulage, configured to tow a three-axle trailer.

Streamlined Omnibus by Henschel

Target for Allied bombers

The next few years were spent manufacturing large quantities of goods destined for the war effort – a period that would result in a great deal of hardship. The plant manufactured tanks, making it a prime target for the Allied bomber groups. When the US army occupied Kassel in 1945, 80 percent of the plant lay in ruins, although it still had 15,000 staff on its books. Following the end of the war, Henschel was licensed to repair locomotives, trucks, buses and coaches, but could no longer manufacture commercial vehicles for the time being.

Meanwhile the company faced the threat of a break-up. Commercial vehicle production ended up – under government control – as part of "Hessische Industrie- und Handel-GmbH" (Hessia). This company converted many of the military trucks remaining in Germany from petrol to diesel engines. The full-blown Henschel relaunch came about in 1949: Oscar Robert Henschel regained control of the company, starting off with the six-tonne HS 140 and the legendary Bimot coach (two facing engines, each developing 95 hp), with a Bimot semitrailer tractor soon to follow.

Henschel Bimot-Bus

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