Schweinfurt Ball Bearing Factories

Type   5 Factory
Historical Name of Location   Schweinfurt, Mainfranken, Germany
Coordinates   50.038234000, 10.215043000


ww2dbaseThe city of Schweinfurt, located in central Germany, was the center for the production of ball bearings during WW2, a characteristic that remains true until today. During the war, Schweinfurt was the host to four ball bearing manufacturing complexes which collectively produced about half of the country's total ball bearing output. The four firms were:

ww2dbaseBall bearings had important civilian and military applications, and naturally it was the latter that attracted the attention of Allied leadership, who believed that by disrupting ball bearing production, German ability to produce machines of war would likely be disrupted as well. The first raid on Schweinfurt took place on 17 Aug 1943, during which 184 B-17 bombers attacked the city at a high rate of loss; although the inflicted damage was not as extensive as the US 8th Air Force had wanted, it did temporarily destroy about 34% of the city's production capacity. Another notable raid on Schweinfurt took place two months later on 14 Oct 1943, during which an even higher rate of loss was suffered (60 of the 229 attacking B-17 bombers were lost); "Black Thursday" would temporarily put these attacks on German industrial centers on halt until long range escort fighters were to become available. During the war, Schweinfurt would be attacked for a total of 22 times by both US and British bombers, dropping a total of 7,933 tons of bombs. Air defense for the factories (and the city itself) included the usual anti-aircraft guns located on the ground as well as a large number of fighters. Production of ball bearings slowed as the war's end neared, coming to a complete stop on 11 Apr 1945 when troops of US 42nd Infantry Division captured the city. While Allied bombing technically reduced the output of ball bearings at Schweinfurt, the German decision to relocate and disperse the factories to different sites actually played the main role in the city's production decline. Today all four of the major ball bearings producers remain in business, though with different names due to mergers and acquisitions in the following years.

Third Reich in Ruins

Last Major Update: Jan 2014

Schweinfurt Ball Bearing Factories Interactive Map


B-17F Flying Fortress bombers in flight over Schweinfurt, Germany, 17 Aug 1943Schweinfurt, Germany during Allied bombing, 1943

Schweinfurt Ball Bearing Factories Timeline

17 Aug 1943 The US 8th Army Air Force lost 59 heavy bombers during daylight raids upon Regenburg and Schweinfurt, Germany, which was about 25% of the attacking force.
17 Aug 1943 The USAAF 306th Bomb Group flying from RAF Thurleigh launched a bombing raid against the ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany. This was an infamous raid where the American forces suffered heavy losses. The 306th Bomb Group lost 17 of the 30 bombers sent on this mission.
14 Oct 1943 US 8th Air Force launched 291 B-17 bombers and 60 B-24 bombers to attack the Schweinfurt ball bearing plants in Germany; the 60 B-24 bombers were diverted to another target. 77 American bombers and 1 escorting fighter were lost, while 38 Luftwaffe fighters were shot down the defense. 122 American bombers returned to base in bad condition but they were able to be repaired.
14 Oct 1943 The USAAF 306th Bomb Group flying from RAF Thurleigh launched a bombing raid against the ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany. This was the second US raid to Schweinfurt with heavy losses.
24 Feb 1944 USAAF (day) and RAF (night) bombings were conducted on the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Renuka says:
1 Feb 2014 01:26:57 AM

Without bearings, the machineries parts are not movable and it is hard to use. At that time invention of bearings is useful but now day’s there are many types of bearings are available based on its applications.
2. Oliver phippen says:
20 Apr 2016 02:06:22 PM

What is the name of the German company in Schweinfurt that manufactured bearings ?? The initials are F.A.G. ?
3. Patricia A Colbert says:
13 Apr 2018 07:04:56 AM

My mother was from Schweinfurt. She lived there throughout the entire WWII. She used to tell us stories about being bombed and running to the air shelters. Ironically, my father was an American Soldier captured by the Germans and placed in a POW camp for 18 months. So I had a very unique childhood. I heard stories from both sides. My father never blamed the German people, so he stayed in the Army after his liberation and went on to be stationed in Germany in the 1960's. where he met my mother.
4. Diana says:
25 Oct 2018 03:22:35 PM

My mother Hildegard was also from Schweinfurt. Her mother, two aunts, and grandmother were killed on October 14, 1943 during the second air raid. She lived only 5 minutes from one of the ball bearing factories. He met my father after the war- He was an American soldier, they married and moved to the U.S. He stayed in the Army and all of us subsequently were able to visit our remaining relatives in Schweinfurt.
5. Chris says:
12 Feb 2021 11:41:22 AM

My great uncle, Francis Leonard Kennedy, flew a raid on February 24, 1944 with his crew in Lancaster LL701 from the 115th squadron. Their plane was downed and lost in the North Sea. Any additional info would be greatly appreciated.
6. Steve Abbott says:
4 May 2021 08:27:36 AM

I have a diary for a German soldier called Willibald who wrote an entry on the 24th and 25th February 1944 that says " One major attack on Schweinfurt. 166 shot down" I wish I could translate the rest of the diary but it's in poor condition. I also wish I could find his family and return the diary to him, but wouldn't know where to start.
7. Vanessa Hoffmann says:
6 Jan 2022 05:29:02 PM

Hey Steve Abbott im from Hammelburg near Schweinfurt. There is an Facebook Page called Schweinfurter fragen Schweinfurter. Maybe there are people who know the owners relatives.
8. R. Nazarkewich says:
25 Apr 2022 07:57:45 PM

Just a footnote to this history. My dad a MSGT. In the United States AAF. He volunteered to be a tail gunner on the B-17 for these missions. There were incredible losses. He obviously those who did not, know they were incredibly brave. Lest we forget.
9. Eric V Eitner says:
26 Dec 2022 07:17:10 PM

My Uncle Warren V Eitner radio operator on a B17 was killed because Lamey insisted on sending them back without fighter escort.
A huge price was paid by many.
May they all rest in peace.

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Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Schweinfurt, Mainfranken, Germany
Lat/Long 50.0382, 10.2150
Schweinfurt Ball Bearing Factories Photo Gallery
B-17F Flying Fortress bombers in flight over Schweinfurt, Germany, 17 Aug 1943
See all 2 photographs of Schweinfurt Ball Bearing Factories

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