Rheinmetall AG (rhine-muh-tall/rhine-muh-tell) is a German company specializing in defense and military technology.
Rheinmetall was founded in on 13 April 1889 as Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinenfabrik AG by Josef Massenez, director of Hörder Bergwerks- und Hüttenverein. Operations were expanded under Heinrich Ehrhardt, initially setting up a plant in Düsseldorf and expanding from there. The company then acquired Dreysesche Gewehrfabrik, Munitions- und Waffenfabrik in 1901. After World War I, numerous limitations were placed upon Germany due to the Treaty of Versailles, with the company branching out to produce items such as steam locomotives and other heavy machinery.
Military production resumed in 1921, with the German government acquiring a majority stake in the company some four years later; the company then took over famed railway locomotive manufacturer August Borsig GmbH in 1933, with the resulting company becoming Rheinmetall-Borsig AG after a merger in 1936. The headquarters of the company was subsequently moved to Berlin in 1938; throughout World War II, the company produced arms for the German Army and was a frequent target of bombing runs. After the war, the company was barred from producing any military-related products for a time and attempted to branch out to other segments of the market to little success.
Rheinmetall-Borsig was then acquired by the Röchling Group in 1956 and was given a complete restructuring, now being named Rheinmetall Berlin AG. The company has since acquired more and more companies since then and is now one of the biggest defense companies in Europe.
Rheinmetall has made a few firearms over the years, including:
- MG3 - A general purpose machine gun developed from the famed MG 42 and chambered in 7.62 NATO
- RS556 - A modular assault rifle platform jointly developed by Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher as a possible replacement for the Heckler & Koch G36
- S-18/1000 - Anti-tank rifle jointly developed by Solothurn and Rheinmetall and used during World War II
- MG 60 - Prototype general purpose machine gun
- MG 39 Rh - Prototype general purpose machine gun