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Tuesday, September 21st 2010, 12:32am

Latvian Companies of Significant Importance

-Northwest Metallurgical, Mechanical and Shipbuilding JSC

-Northwest Metallurgical, Mechanical and Shipbuilding JSC was orginally found in Vilekia, Poland, by D. Zherezhovsky and a Prussian national named Bekers, where they operated a small nail manufacturing factory. In 1882, due to growing demand for nails in Russia, this company decided to move to Liepajas, which featured railroads and seaports to allow for easy export of products and cheaper transportation. The key components of this small nail manufacturing company were moved to Liepajas, was renamed to and formed the basis of what was about to be built on it.

A steel melting shop, built using a Siemens-Martin furnace, was built in 1887, due to rising tarrifs on iron, and the availablity of scrap metal, which was significantly cheaper. At the same time, as part of an expansion program, drawn wire production facilities were added, although the wire rod still had to be imported, and several shops able to produce pitchforks, chains, and other commonly used farming implements in bulk were built. This expansion program, and the resulting reorganization, lead to the company being renamed Liepaja Iron and Steel Manufacturing JSC Bekers & Co.

In 1906, the factory was modernized. Older, obsolete equippment was replaced, and a 500 HP engine, made by Laval, was brought in to power the new machines that made wire, nails, chains, and farming implements, as well as the Siemens-Martin furance. The factory continued operations throught the Great War, and the resulting Latvian War of Independence, in which the Beker family supported Germany. At the end of this war, the production facilities were taken over by the Cesis family, and the company was renamed to the Northwest Metallurgical, Mechanical and Shipbuilding.

In 1923, due to British investment, another Siemens-Martin furnance was built, this one with the capacity to handly 5 tons of steel a day, 2.5 times what the orginal could handle. In addition, a iron-melting shop was built.

In 1925, a major construction programme was undergone. The wire-drawing mill was overhauled, with electrical equipment being replaced, and equipment being modernized. The central-electric terminal was also rebuilt, with more powerful engines to support the more powerful equipment. Following this, in 1929, the rolling mill built in 1906 was rebuilt, and a railroad finishing site was built, to allow for the production of railroad rails.

By 1935, the company included nail, file and chain production facilities, as well as a rolling mill, a drawing mill, a steel melting shop with two furnaces, and a iron melting shop. The company is currently looking into adding on to its rolling mill, so that it would be capable of produing light armour for use in the military.


Tuesday, September 21st 2010, 12:52am


VEF is the Valsts Elektrotehnisk Fabrika, a massive, state-owned company based in Riga. Although what they do, including producing cameras, such as the minox, and small cars, is much too large to describe in a reasonably sized report, we will focus in on the VEF-Irbitis division.

Karlis Irbitis' invovlement in aircraft began 1925, when he graduated from the National Technology Institute in Riga, with a major in Avionics. That same year, he built and tested the I-1 "Spriditis." After seeing this plane in action, A.S. Christine Backman hired Irbitis to work for him. For the next four years, Irbitis developed the I-2 "Ikars." In 1930, VEF became aware of his activities, and hired him to work for them in the production of light civilian sporting aircraft.
That same year, he developed the I-5 "Ikars II," an updated version of the orginal Ikars. In 1933, he designed the I-6 Gambija, for civilian use, and the I-7 "Zilais Putns", which was to be used for mail transport, along with it's successor, the I-8 "Zilais Putns II." In 1936, Irbitis designed his last civilian aircraft, the I-11, before transitioning into military aircraft. That next year, he developed the I-12 and I-14, both military trainers. In 1938, Irbitis designed the I-15a and the I-15b, fast trainers and building blocks to his next design, which was released in December of 1938, the I-16, a light fighter. Although this fighter lacks compared to foreign fighters, it still is the most advanced aircraft Latvia has completely indigiously produced. Future plans for VEF Irbitis are hush-hush, but designs for a fast trainer and a larger fighter are rumored to be in development.