Preliminary work by BMW on jet propulsion began in 1934 with formation of its aircraft engine organization. Development included consideration of ducted fans and turbochargers before evolving into the BMW 109-003 in 1939, the company’s principal turbojet during World War II. Flight tests were conducted on a Me 262 as early as 1942. Approaching the production stage, flight testing continued in late-1943 with a Junkers Ju 88 as a test-bed, with the engine mounted below the aircraft fuselage and its fuel tank in the bomb bay. Following the liberation of France in 1944, continuing test cell based development moved to an abandoned salt mine from its previous border location. War time exigencies required further changes including type of fuel and use of sheet metal construction.
Application of the BMW 003 was planned for the Arado Ar 234 four engine bomber; however, aircraft development slowed because of Allied bombing. BMW manufactured about 3,500 109-003 type engines.