MANOWAR'S AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN WEAPONS -
Family (Last) Names in alphabetical order
DESIGNERS' & BUILDERS' BIOGRAPHIES
Georg Ritter von Dormus (1853-1940)
He was born on January 7, 1853 in Olmutz, Austria (now it is Olomuc, Slovakia). He grew up in a military family and completed his studies at the Technical Military Academy in Vienna. He reached the
rank of Field Marshall Lieutenant. During his military carrier, from 1881 Dormus started to teach in the Military Academy. In 1888 Dormus and Archduke Karl Salvator started to design a 'Mitrailleuse'
Machine Gun, which was finalized as the Salvator/Dormus M.93. Their patent was purchased by Skoda in Plzen, and manufactured these guns
for the Austro-Hungarian Army. The Skoda made guns were gradually replaced by the Schwarzlose Machine Guns starting in 1907.
The Salvator/Dormus duo also designed a less successful early self loading pistol, the "Repetierpistole Dormus". 50 pistols were made and submitted to military trials in 1897. The pistols were deemed
too complicated and also they apparently had cartridge feeding problems.
In 1902 he became the commander of the Artillery Regiment #3. 1907-11 he was the commander of the Academy. Dormus retired in 1914, and died on June 27, 1940 in Vienna at age 87.
Rudolf Frommer (1868-1936)
The most famous Hungarian weapon designer was born on 8/4/1868 in Budapest. His original trade was a banker. He was hired by the Fegyvergyár in 1896 to correct the factory's financial problems.
As Frommer become more interested in weapon design he started to work in that position in 1898. His 1st patent was registered in 1901 for a self loading pistol the
M1901. He made several improvements to the pistol: the M1906 and
the M1910 which was adopted by the Hungarian Gendarmerie.
Frommer became Business Director in 1904. Frommer designed a long-recoil self-loading 8x57mm rifle in 1910. His 1912
Frommer Stop pistol was adopted by the Honvédség, the Hungarian segment of the Army. In 1914 he was elevated to a noble rank by Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Jozsef for his weapon designing
achievments and 'Fegyverneki', (losely translated as 'Lord of Weapons') was added to his name. Also in 1914 he became the Factory Director, remaining so until his retirement in 1935.
The Frommer Baby and the Frommer Liliput followed the Frommer Stop later.
The Army adopted his Frommer 29.M in 1929. He died in 1936. His last pistol design was adopted by the Army a
year later as the Frommer 37.M. The 37.M was also manufactured for German contract as the
Frommer also designed hunting rifles, a shotgun in 1926 and the succesful Frommer Monte Carlo 1929 double barrel shotgun.
Frommer owned over 100 patents. He was a first-class engineer with an original mind, and the pistols bearing his name were successful enough to see widespread use. Some were
complicated, but their durability is implicit in their long employment by military and police forces in central Europe.
The Frommer designed firearms were manufactured by Fegyver és Gépgyár, called Fémáru Fegyver és Gépgyár after 1919, Budapest, 1901-1945. After 1945 all his
designs were abandoned by the communists for political reasons.
Austrian gun maker in Vienna. Many Austro-Hungarian guns carry his name, the most successful was the Früwirth M1872 Carbine with an
8-rnd tube magazine.
Johann Fruwirth - brother?. -- More info and photo needed!
Leopold Gasser (1836-1871)
Born in Spittal in 1836, his father was a gunsmith. Leopold Gasser started his career in 1858 in a small gun manufacturing shop in Vienna-Ottakring, owned by Josef Scheinigg. After marrying
Scheiningg's daughter, Gasser took over running the company. Soon his mastery of revolver design became evident, and he started manufacturing revolvers for the Austro-Hungarian Army from 1870.
About 30,000 Gasser M1870 revolvers were made for the Austrian Army. In 1873 Gasser introduced the solid-frame
Gasser M1873 revolver and in 1874 an improved steel framed Gasser
Soon the Gasser revolvers were manufactured for export. The factory had to use steam engine generators to satisfy the fast growing power requirements of the manufacturing.
Gasser operated two factories, one in Vienna-Ottakring with up to 500 employees and in St. Polten after 1870, with 300 workers. Leopold died in 1871. His younger brother Johann continued the business
for many years. Due to their service to the Empire, Emperor Franz Joseph honored Johann Gasser with the 'Knight's Cross' in 1893. The Gasser factories turned out 100,000 revolvers annually during the
1880s and 1890s. These Gasser revolvers were adopted by the Austro-Hungarian Army and were widely distributed throughout Central Europe and the Balkans, the most common models being the
M1870/74 Montenegrin Gasser and the M1880 2nd Model Montenegrin Gasser
In 1903 Leopold sold the company to Michael Gasser and August Rast became a partner in the company, so the factory's new name was 'Rast & Gasser'. The factory also manufactured tools, various weapon
parts and high quality shotguns. The original Gasser designs were reworked by August Rast, who was an engineer. Their most famous revolver model was the Rast & Gasser M1898 Army/Navy service revolver. Soon Gasser wanted out of gun manufacturing and Rast bought him out in 1904. Gun manufacturing was continued under Rast until the end
of WW1 in 1918. Post-war gun manufacturing restrictions forced Rast to close the factory.
Ferenc Gebauer (1888-1958)
Ferenc Gebauer (Franz Gebauer) weapon designer was born in 1888 in the Austro-Hungarian town of Gross Herlitz. After finishing his schooling there, he went to work for a German car manufacturer.
Later he worked for the Puch factory in the Austrian city of Graz. During WW1 he served in the Austro-Hungarian Air Force (KuK Luftfahrtruppen) as a Waffen Meister, from 1914-18
on the Fischamend Military Airport. During WW1 the Schwarzlose Machine Gun Model 07/12 was the standard aircraft weapon.
The aircraft M07/12's were internally modified and aircooled to increase the gun's cyclic rate up to 700 rnd/min. Two machine guns were used synchronized. Although the Schwarzlose
was an excellent infantry weapon on the ground, its aircraft use had problems. At 3-4 km, above the Alps the cartridge oiling system frequently froze-up, causing many
Austro-Hungarian casualties during the air battles with the British Royal Air Force. Gebauer came to a conclusion, that the common practice of converting infantry machine guns
(including the Schwarzlose, Maxim, Vickers and Browning) to aircraft use are outdated. The most common problem with these converted infantry weapons was that the position of the
propeller controlled the time of the firing only. The rest of the gun's operation depended on the force of gunpowder gases. A late firing cartridge could damage the propeller blades.
Misfires stopped the operation.
Gebauer's idea for an aircraft machine gun firing through its propeller was to run the whole operation of the gun off the propeller's main shaft and independently of the gunpowder
gases. This forced operation system simply ejected a mis-firing cartridge and loaded the next one. He called it 'direct driven motor machine gun'.
In 1917 Gebauer submitted his first motor driven machine gun design to his Air Force Field Colonel. He received the approval to make prototypes. The first two variants were not
succesful, but the third improved design performed flawlessly during its trial in June, 1918, on the Aspern Airport.
The Gebauer 1918.M shot through a 4-blade propeller 25 rounds per second at 1500 motor rpm. or 1500 rounds/min., which
was 4 times faster than the Schwarzlose. The first 100 guns were ordered by the military in September 1918, and were completed in October. The end of the war prevented
After the end of WW1, and the separation of Austria and Hungary, Gebauer lived in Budapest, Hungary. In 1920 he unofficially worked for the Technical Experimental Weapon Division
of the Hungarian Honvédség. He received funding from the military to continue improving his motor driven machine gun design in secret from the Allied inspectors.
From 1924 Gebauer started to work together with Danuvia R.T. Factory, which cooperation lasted for the next 20 years. Danuvia RT took over funding and marketing. Gebauer
developed the famous 26/31.M GKM (Gebauer Kényszermeghajtású Motorgéppuska). His various designs were used in
airplanes (7.92x57), fighters (12.7mm and .50cal), reconnaisance planes, tanks (8x56R), speedboats.
Gebauer became member of the Danuvia RT board of directors in 1926. He became the Technical Director in 1937. When the Soviets invaded Hungary before the end of WW2,
Gebauer escaped to Sweden. There he worked for Bofors until he died in 1958. [Need a photo!]
Karl Holub (1830-1903)
Holub was born on January 26, 1930 in Stradonitz, Bohemia. After training as an armorer and completing his military service, Holub started to work for Josef Werndl in 1857.
He became a Foreman at Steyr in 1861 and started to design breech-loading rifle systems. By 1866 he developed a breech loading system which became the
Werndl-Holub M1867 Austrian military rifle. Holub's contribution of designing the Steyr made rifles were well rewarded. He was well
paid and promoted to be a Technical Director. He was awarded the Knight's Cross by Emperor Franz Josef in 1874. Died on May 23, 1903 in Steyr.
See full photo of Michail Kalashnikov in 1947
More info about Michail Kalashnikov on Wikipedia
József Kameniczky (1923-1997)
Born on 3/31/1923 in Nagyszöllös, now called Vinogradov in Slovakia. After finishing a technical high school, he was hired by Fémáru Fegyver és Gépgyár in 1941. For the next 3
years he worked as fixture designer, pre-manufacturing setup provider. During this time the Fegyvergyár was manufacturing the
35.M and, the 43.M rifles, the Femaru 37.M and
German Contract P.37 pistols, 50mm M.39 grenade launchers and 1907/31.M
Schwarzlose and M.36 20mm machine guns. In 1945, under the Soviet occupation, Kameniczky became the Fegyvergyár's translator, because he spoke Slovak, which is close to Russian.
In 1946 the first request to the Fegyvergyár for a new weapon came from the National Police. They wanted a Walther PP type 7.65mm service pistol. An older experienced weapon
designer named Lajos Elödy was called back, and Kameniczky became his apprentice. The police pistol was designated as 48.M
[factory code: BR1], and the order was fulfilled by 1950. Next, they were setting up manufacturing the 48.M Tokarev TT-33
7.62x25mm pistols, the 48.M [GL1] M1891/30-type Mosin Nagant Infantry rifle, the 48.M [GL1M] M1891/30-type Mosin Nagant Sniper rifle
and the 48.M Mosin Nagant Carbine.
In 1953 Kameniczky went to study at the Budapest Technical University, and received his Engineering degree in 1960.
In 1957 the Fegyvergyár received two Egyptian contracts, one for 9mm Browning PP-type pistol called Walam (Walter Lampart), which became
Kameniczky's 1st project, and a 9mm Parabellum Tokarev type pistol called Tokagypt 58. In 1959 the new
RK-59 Police pistols were manufactured, but experienced significant problems with the new aluminum frame. After a 2-year
research, a new Titanium enhanced alloy was introduced succesfully for the R-61 Police Pistol and for the
PA-63 Army Pistol.
In 1957 the Fegyvergyár started to re-tool for the AK-55 Kalashnikov and in 1962 for the
AKM Machine Carbine. From 1967 variants of the PA-63 were developed by Kameniczky and offered under the name 'Attila Pistol' for export
in .32acp as the AP7,65 Pistol and in .380acp as the AP9 Pistol.
Steel-framed versions also were offered as 'AP7,65S' and 'AP9S'.
Kameniczky started to develop Browning P35 style pistols, the Model P9 in 1971 and the
Model FP9 in 1975.
In 1978 he developed the R78 new Police Pocket Pistol. In 1980 he introduced the P9 variants in several calibers and barrel
lengths. He retired in 1983. In retirement he still designed a high powered pistol in 5.6x50-Magnum caliber, named 'NP'.
To Kameniczky's satisfaction, the new Hungarian Army selected his 9x19mm Model P9RC for their new service weapon, to replace
the PA-63's in 1996. He died a year later, at 74.
Kameniczky's pistol model codes: P - Parabellum, B - Browning, M - Makarov, 9 - 9mm, R - Rovid Hatrasiklas [Short Recoil], A - Aluminum frame, K - Kurz
[Short barrel], M - Medium Barrel, L - Long Barrel. This coding was gradually abandoned by his successors.
Pál Dedai Király (1880-1965?)
[Need his photo] Born in Budapest, Hungary, earned his degree in Machine Design at the Technical university of Budapest in 1902. He became a Professor's Assistant at the University. He also
earned a Military Reservist degree with an Artillery Lieutenant rank. During WW1 he served in the military 1914-18 and reached a rank of Artillery Captain. In 1915 he wrote his first
publication about automatic weapons. After WW1 Hungary was prohibited from weapon development, so he moved to Switzerland and worked for SIG Neuhausen. One of his designs
was called the Kiraly-Waffen. In the 1920's he developed the SIG KE and the SIG Kf.7 Machine Guns, and
the SIG MKMO machine-carbine. The MKMO was succesfully sold to various countries in 7.63 & 9mm Mauser and 7.65 & 9mm Parabellum chamberings.
From 1928 weapon development was again allowed in Hungary, so Király started to develop automatic weapons for Hungary. SIG refused to release some of Király's research to
Hungary as they originally agreed, so Király moved back to Hungary to work with the Danuvia Rt, but he still worked for SIG under contracts in the 1930's. During 1929-44 he was paid
from the Danuvia Factory's profit sharings.
In 1929 Király designed an advanced 9x19mm pistol, designated as 'KD Danuvia'. 20 guns were manufactured for trials. Among others, Germany was very interested in this pistol,
but the 1929-33 market crash put a hold on new developments worldwide. Interestingly, the later Walther P.38 displays extreme 'similarities' with the KD Danuvia. The two guns
internally are the same, outside differences were the P.38's distinctive grips and a shorter barrel.
In 1932 Király designed a self-loading (automatic rifle), which was the first automatic rifle in the world utilizing a muzzle brake. (The more famous Simonov Model 1936 featured the
first muzzle brake outside Hungary, 4 years later). The Király rifle was very well balanced, it weighed less than 4kg [8.8 lbs]. It had a well sealed dustproof operating mechanism, came
with a small 10-round box magazine.
In 1933 Király introduced a larger version of his 1932 automatic rifle. This gun weight 6.5kg [14.3 lbs], had heavier, longer barrel, a large 80-round magazine and a muzzle brake.
On 7/11/34 the Italians reviewed Danuvia's available arsenal, showed interest, but eventually decided to stay with their own weapons. (Except for the 12.7mm
Gebauer GKM's, to which the Italians had no equal.)
In 1939 the Honvédség adopted Király's Machine-Carbine with the Danuvia 39.M designation. A modernized version was
adopted in 1943 under the Danuvia 43.M designation. His last Hungarian design, designated
Danuvia 44.M was not adopted due to the Soviet invasion of Hungary. His 44.M design was the basis of the Hungarian
Kucher K1 Machine Pistol in 1951.
In 1945 Király escaped to Switzerland before the Soviets came. In 1947 he moved to the Dominican Republic, where he was employed by the Armeria of San Cristóbal, ran by a
fellow Hungarian, Sándor Kovács. Király developed several weapons here, the most succesful was his Cristóbal Carbine, of
which a 1/4 million was sold. His last design was adopted in 1962, when he was 82.
Karel Krnka (1858-1926)
He was of Bohemian origin, born in Nagyvarad, Transylvania, the Hungarian area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on April 6, 1858. He designed and participated designing semiautomatic pistols for Georg
Roth and the Steyr Factory. His most important designs were the Krnka M1895, the Krnka M1899 and the Krnka M1904, which was tested by the Austro-Hungarian Army and eventually was adopted as the
Roth-Steyr M1907. Krnka was also involved in the Roth Patented .45acp
Prototype pistol. Krnka died on February 25, 1926 in Prague.
Alfred Ritter von Kropatschek (1838-1911)
Born on January 30, 1838 in Bielitz, Silezia, Austria, (now in Poland). He completed the Artillery Academy in Olmutz in 1864. He reached the Feldzeugmeister rank in the Austro-Hungarian Army and became
a weapons designer after 1866.
He designed several rifles and revolvers and he was affiliated with Waffenfabrik Steyr. He assisted Leopold Gasser in the milirary's acceptance of the Gasser M1870 revolver.
Most of his rifle designs featured a tubular magazine under the barrel similar to the Swiss Vetterli and
US Winchester rifles and featured a unique Kropatschek cartridge lifter. His tubular magazine design was also adapted to the German Mauser Gew. 1871 rifle, resulting in the Gew. 71/84.
The Kropatschek tube magazine system was also used on the Japanese Murata T22, Turkish Mauser M1887, Norwegian Jarmann M1884/87 and it was considered for the Dutch Beaumont M1871 update.
His rifles accepted by the Austro-Hungary as the: Kropatschek Model 1881 Gendarmerie Carbine and the
Kropatschek Torpedo Boat Rifle M1893. His rifle design was accepted by the French Navy, and was later adapted by the
French Army and greatly influenced the design of the French Lebel Model 1886 rifle.
Kropatschek was a competitor of Ferdinand Mannlicher while both worked with the Steyr Factory. The Kropatschek rifles featured the tubular magazine and the Mannlicher rifles
featured a box magazine. Eventually as the box magazine designs improved, the tube magazine designs were abandoned.
Kropatschek's most famous revolver design was an improved Gasser Army revolver, the Gasser-Kropatschek Model 1876 Officer's
Revolver, which remained as the official Austro-Hungarian sidearm until the acceptance of the Rast & Gasser service revolver in 1898.
He was the Commander of the Artillery Cadet School in Vienna 1877-83. Later he served in Olmutz, Zagreb and Graz. After several promotions he retired in 1907.
Kropatschek died on May 2, 1911 in Lovran (now in Croatia).
József Kucher (1909-1976)
Born on 11/12/1909 in Szöny, Hungary. In 1928 he studied at the Viennese University. He earned his Mechanical Engineering diploma in 1935, at the Technical University, Budapest,
with a minor in Electronics. He worked for the Brown-Bovery Co. in Warsaw in 1935. Between 1931-38 he participated in several military pilot trainig schools. He earned a 1st.
Lieutenant rank. He served as a Surveillance Pilot on the Russian Front in 1942. He was pulled back into the reserves from the front, to serve as a Military Engineer to run airplane
repair facilities. He was officially employed by Danuvia Fegyver és Lőszergyár 1936-46.
Due to his military engineering background, in 1948 Kucher was drafted into the new Communist Hungarian Army, with a Captain rank. He was working in the Military Research
Institute of the Ministry of Defense. The department, just like the whole Hungarian industry was run by unqualified Communist Party members, and they desperately needed a few
knowledgable non-communist engineers for guidance.
Kucher spoke several languages and based on his experience, he quickly proved himself to be an excellent weapons engineer, and even though he had many political enemies, he
was promoted to a Major's rank and Department Manager. From 1950 he was also teaching Military Technology at the Technical University, Budapest.
In 1951 his Kucher K1 light machine pistol was adopted by the Honvédség. In 1952 his
Kucher K1GP 1952 machine gun was adopted by the Military. From 1952 he developed a semi-automatic Panzer
Destroyer infantry weapon in 45mm caliber with an offical designation of 'K5'. It was supported by a low profile 2-wheeled mount, which provided a 350mm center of firing elevation.
In 1953 he was arrested and jailed by the Hungarian Secret Police (AVH). He was freed in 1956, and continued his work at Danuvia until his death in 1976.
There is an unconfirmed claim that while he was jailed, he was taken to the USSR to exploite his weapon inventions. Please, provide any info to support or rebutt this claim. It was a
fairly common practice by the USSR during the 1950's and 1960's that they gained some military technology by interning inventors and their inventions from other countries.
Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher (1848-1904)
He was born in Meinz, Germany on 1/30/1848. He died on January 20, 1904 in Vienna. He received his engineering degree in Vienna around 1862. He worked for the Austrian Railroad from 1869,
where he quickly become a chief engineer due to his outstanding work. He maintained a strong interest in firearms. What had begun as a hobby eventually became
a profession. In 1875 he developed a magazine fed rifle for Josef Werndl, who hired him permanently in 1877, recognizing his talent. He worked there 27 years, becoming Chief of R&D. He was a mechanical genius, he received 150+ patents. Many of his ideas
and designs were ahead of his time, and still in use today. His talent was the basis on which Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft (OEWG) of Steyr built a lasting reputation.
Mannlicher (and James P Lee) was the inventor of the en-bloc clip charger-loading magazine system. He also designed the 1st straight-pull bolt action system. His 1st successful
model was the Mannlicher M1885 Trials Rifle, which was basically accepted as the
Mannlicher M1886 using the 11x58R Werndl and again accepted with the new 8x50R cartridge as the Mannlicher M1888.
His improved and most successful military rifle designs were the Mannlicher M1890 carbine and the
Mannlicher M1895 rifle.
Later, while making improvements to other inventors prototype designs for rotary-feed magazines, such as the Mannlicher Model
1887 Trials Rifle, Mannlicher, with the assistance of Otto Schönauer patented a perfected rotary magazine design, the Mannlicher-Schönauer, which was a commercial and
military success (for example: Greek Contract Mannlicher M1903).
Mannlicher's magazine and turn-bolt action system was utilized by the German Gew.88 rifles, which were adopted and used as the
Mannlicher M1913 rifle by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also used by the Romanian contract Mannlicher Rifle Md.1893,
the various Dutch M1895 Mannlicher Cotract rifles, the Mannlicher M1904 Contract rifles. Long after Mannlicher's death, his
designs were still used for the little known Hungarian Mannlicher Model 1914 Trial Rifle, for the Hungarian
Mannlicher Model 1923 Prototype Rifle and for the
Mannlicher Model 1933 Prototype Rifle, which was accepted as the successful Hungarian
Mannlicher Model 1935 Rifle. This rifle was adopted with slight modifications by Germany as the
Mannlicher G98/40 and by Hungary as Mannlicher 43.M rifle.
Mannlicher's designs were adopted by other countries: Italy, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and Bulgaria.
Due to his contribution to the Empire, in 1887 Mannlicher received the "3rd class of the Order of the Iron Crown", in 1892 he received the nobility title of "Ritter von" ("knight of").
In 1899 he was appointed for life into the Austrian Upper House (Österreichisches Herrenhaus).
Mannlicher also invented unique semi-automatic handgun designs. His 1st pistol, a blow-forward design, the Mannlicher M1894
Pistol prototypes were manufactured by the German Dreyse and Swiss SIG firms. The Mannlicher M1896 Pistol used a
fixed-barrel blowback system. The next model, a delayed blowback system was the Mannlicher M1900 Pistol, it was
manufactured by Dreyse. With the impoved version, the Mannlicher M1901 Pistol Mannlicher went to Steyr in Austria.
Since 1896 Mannlicher also worked on a recoil operated pistol, it was finally promoted as the Mannlicher M1903 Pistol,
with not much success. His best pistol design, often referred to as the "most elegant pistol of the world", was an improved M1901, designated as the
Mannlicher M1905 Pistol. While it was never officially accepted by the Austro-Hungarian Army, it was well liked and
privately purchased by the officers. The pistol was accepted by the Argentine Army.
A measure of how far ahead Mannlicher was with his inventions, can be noted by looking at his experimental automatic rifle designs, developed before suitable ammunition was
available for such designs. Mannlicher's started developing an automatic rifle in 1883, chambering the black-powder 11x58mm Austrian Werndl cartridge. The Mannlicher 1885
was the inspiration for the M1 Garand and the Mannlicher 1900 was the inspiration for the M1 Carbine decades later.
The Thompson Machine Gun, the BREN, the Kalashnikov AK-47, the BAR, the M60, M14, the Tokarev M38, the FN-FAL and others all borrowed from Mannlicher's designs.
[Need his photo and bio] Georg Roth was primarily an ammunition engineer, eventually operating two factories in Vienna (Wien) and Pressburg (originally Pozsony, now Bratislava), but he was also interested
in firearms. In 1898 he hired Karel Krnka to manage one of his factories. Since Krnka was already an experienced gun designer, the two men soon began to collaborate. Most of the work was apparently
done by Krnka, Roth merely contributing ideas and most importantly financing and suitable ammunition. Roth's name attaches to several pistol designs by virtue of his status as Krnka's employer.
The designs were invariably due to Roth and Krnka and possibly Rudolf Frommer, but they were licensed to the Steyr and Budapest gun factories for production as Roth had no manufacturing capability.
Their Krnka M1904 Pistol was tested by the Austro-Hungarian Army and eventually was adopted as the
Roth-Steyr M1907. Roth was also involved in the Roth Patented .45acp
A revolver manufacturer in Vienna-Ottakring, Austria cca. 1850-1865. Famous gun maker Leopold Gasser started out in 1858 by working for Scheinigg. Eventually Leopold Gasser married Scheinigg'd
daughter and took over the company. Scheinigg's most successful percussion revolver was the M1860, which resembled the US Adams system.
Otto Karl Schoenauer (1844-1913)
Otto Schönauer was born on October 27, 1844 in Steyr, Austria. He started working for Werndl at Steyr in 1868. He was the Technical Director from 1896 until his death in 1913.
His most famous weapon invention was the rotary magazine 1st used in the Army Model 1900. This magazine design is still utilized by Steyr hunting rifles. These rifles were referred to as the
Mannlicher-Schönauer rifles. His last design involvment was the most powerful military handgun of its time, the
Steyr Hahn M1911 Pistol. He received the Imperial Knight's cross from Emperor Franz Josef. He died on September 17, 1913 in Steyr.
Anton Spitalsky (1831-1909)
He was born on December 8, 1831 in Trebon, Bohemia. He studied gunsmithing in Prague and in Vienna. He was hired by Josef Werndl in 1866 as a foreman. He was promoted several times.
Spitalsky was a brilliant weapons engineer. He designed and built a repeater rifle, and was involved in the Werndl rifles' designs.
In 1879 he constructed a repeater with a revolving drum magazine, originally for 6 and 7 cartridges. Variants were chambering the German M1871 11mm and the Austrian Werndl 11mm cartridges.
In 1882 Konrad Knights of Kromar improved Spitalsky's design to the capacity of 8 rounds and provided single cartridge loading.
In 1884 Spitalsky improved his design, the 8-rd M1884, which was tested in trials by Austria and France. Spitalsky was awarded the Knight's Cross by Emperor Franz Josef in 1896.
He served as the Technical Director of the Steyr Arms Factory from 1889 until his retirement in 1896. He died on January 9, 1909 in Steyr. [Need photos/drawings of his designs]
Hans Strachowsky (1840-1911)
He was an army lieutenant, assigned to be a Commissioner at the Steyr Factory 1868. He retired from the army in 1874, and became a civilian employee of the Steyr Factory.
He developed an experimental polygon barrel profile in 1877. His bolt action design was submitted to military trials to compete with Ferdinand Mannlicher in 1880.
From 1884 he became involved with electronics and became the manager of the new electrical department in the Steyr Factory.
Designed the conversions of muzzleloading rifles/muskets into Breech-loader Rifles in Vienna cca. 1866. [Need more info]
Josef Werndl (1831-1889)
Josef Werndl was born on February 26, 1831 in Steyr. His father, Leopold Werndl started his gunsmithing business in Steyr, Austria in 1821. The factory was manufacturing the
Lorenz Muskets for the Austrian Army. Josef was sent to be the apprentice of Ferdinand Fruwirth in Vienna 1844-47 and later to Prague
to work with a gunsmith. 1849-52 he was in Vienna to complete his military service. He was an apprentice at Remington and Colt in the USA 1852-53. His father, Leopold died in 1854, Josef and his
brother, Franz took over the business. They formed 'Josef und Franz Werndl & Comp. Waffenfabrik und Sagermuhle in Oberletten' in 1864. The factory was converting muzzleloading rifle/muskets
(Lorenz/Wänzl) into breech-loaders. In 1866 the Austro-Hungarian Military's Breech-loading Commission demanded a new rifle with the
muzzle velocity exceeding 340m/sec - eliminating the Spencer and the Winchester M1866, but more than a hundred designs were considered before the commission selected the Wurzinger and Remington
Rolling Block as the most desirable. The Remington was recommended for adoption on November 29, 1866 and guns were readied for trials. However, the Remington's breech was declared unsafe, because
during the final trials the test rifle exploded and the soldier was killed in front of the Emperor. This allowed a rifle designed by Josef Werndl and Karl Holub to enter. The Werndl-Holub breech
system was officially adopted on July 28, 1867 as the Werndl M1867 Infantry Rifle. Werndl received a 100,000 rifle order, which was
incresed to 250,000 a few months later. In 1869 Werndl formed a Joint Stock company to increase the size and productivity of the factory. The name become Osterreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft,
Steyr. The factory with up to 6000 workers had an 8000 rifle per week output.
In 1871 Werndl established a branch operation in Budapest, Hungary. In 1872 he purchased the Ferdinand Fruwirth and Aloisa Bentz factories.
By 1889 the number of Steyr factory workers reached 10,000. Josef Werndl died due to pneumonia on April 29, 1889, in Steyr.
Over 9 million firearms were produced by Steyr between 1869 and 1911. Steyr was the largest weapon factory in Europe in 1911 with 15000 workers.
The OEWG company became 'Steyr-Werke AG' after the end of WW1 and diversified into vehicles and general engineering. Absorbing the Austro-Daimler and Puch companies in 1934,
Steyr-Werke became Steyr-Daimler-Puch. Steyr-Daimler-Puch became part of the Rheimetall-Solothurn axis, making weapons designed by Rheinmetall and engineered by Solothurn
(a sales organization, Steyr-Solothurn AG was set up in Zürich to market military arms produced by the consortium). Rheinmetall reportedly owned a substantial part of
Steyr-Daimler-Puch and, when Austria was united with Germany in 1938, the company became part of Reichswerke Hermann Göring. Farm machinery and bicycles were made in the
altermath of WW2, manufacture of firearms being resumed in the early 1950s. Steyr's involvement with handguns appears to have begun with experimental weapons made for Krnka,
Roth and others in 1885-95 period. These were followed by Schonberger, Mannlicher and Roth-Steyr pistols before production of an improved gun began under the Steyr name.
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