The Fortschritt combine is the largest manufacturer of agricultural machinery in the territory of the former GDR (German Democratic Republic, DDR). Since 1978, all equipment produced here bore the Fortschritt logo. The plant was founded in 1951 by the merger of five independent factories in Northern Saxony, engaged in the production of agricultural, construction and woodworking machinery. The production of combine harvesters, balers, mowers occupied the main place at the plant.
The production of grain harvesters in the GDR began with the technical assistance of the Soviet Union. The model S-4 (Stalinets) was taken as a basis. Production started in 1948. The harvester was equipped with a 4-meter header and a 6-cylinder gasoline engine. At that time, there was no CVT on the combines. In 1953, the combine received a diesel engine and was renamed E-171. In parallel with it, the E-173 model with a 3-meter header was produced. There was almost no grain bin, and the straw compartment was in the shape of a tank barrel. At the end of the 50s, the E175 models with a 3 m header and the E176 with 3 m and 3.6 m reapers appeared, the last of which was sent exclusively for export. The harvesters had grain bins of 1.3 and 1.7 cubic meters respectively. For the first time, other combines of the E174 and E177 series were equipped with hydraulics, which served to control the header. Here, a regulated drum rotation speed was applied, which was in the range of 385-1250 rpm. All models had a unified engine and transmission. The most common model was the E175 combine. It was produced until 1975.
Series 500. Beginning. Models E512, E516
In 1968, the outdated E170 series of combines were replaced with a completely new E512 combine. It differed from its predecessors primarily in size. So the main header got a width of 426 cm, and the alternative - up to 570 cm.The thresher reached a width of 128 cm. The 6.5-liter Fortschritt tractor engine produced 105 hp. The working conditions of the operator improved, namely the size of the cab and the level noise that did not exceed 85 dB.
In 1977, another model was presented - the E516. It was a combine harvester with a hydrostatic transmission, a 13-liter V8 (228 hp) engine. The dimensions of the header reached 670 or 760 cm, respectively. The operation of the threshing drum cylinder with a diameter of up to 80 cm was controlled and controlled by hydraulics. The cabins were equipped with air conditioners, in the extreme case of those combines that were exported to Western European markets, in particular Swedish, French and Finnish. The maximum sales success for E512 was in Sweden.
Series 500. Development. Models E514, E516B
In 1983, the Fortschritt E512 was replaced by the new E514 model with a 115 hp engine. The harvester became versatile and could be equipped with headers 360, 420, 480, 570 cm. The mechanical control of the main units was almost completely replaced by hydraulics. At the same time, the E516B model appeared, differing in slightly larger dimensions. At the same time, Fortschritt is introducing a new paint job for its combines. They turned into a combination of white and blue, then green and white. Some of the export vehicles were red.
Ideal combines E517 and E524
In 1988, the E517 combine appeared. The manufacturer claimed a 30% reduction in losses compared to its predecessors. The changes affected the grain bunker, which increased in volume to 5.5 tons. Computer control of grain losses became the basic equipment. The combine has a 3-year warranty.
In 1989, the E524 medium-sized combine with a 6-cylinder 9.2-liter engine with 152 hp was launched on the market. The model had a completely new cab, a grain tank with a capacity of 48 hectoliters and a header with a width of 3.6 to 5.4 m. The transmission was mechanical.
Unification of Germany. The latest, best Fortschritt models.
The year 1989 went down in German history as the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the GDR and FRG into a single state. More than 90% of Fortschritt's products were exported to the CMEA countries (socialist countries, mainly the USSR). After the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the currencies of a single Germany, the plant lost its sales market and naturally experienced financial difficulties. At the same time, the plant has new opportunities for completing its products with better quality “western” spare parts. As a result, the E517 combine was replaced by the E518, which was distinguished by a new configuration: an 11-liter V6 MERCEDES engine with a capacity of 222 hp. and BOSCH hydraulics.
After the privatization of the former state enterprise in 1990, MDW Mähdrescherwerke GmbH (Fortschritt Mähdrescherwerk Bischofswerda / Singwitz) became the new owner of Fortschritt. The new corporate color is navy blue. The product line includes the familiar E514 and E524, as well as their modification E514 S, which is based on the E521 and E514 elements. It was a more powerful combine, with a new cab, a larger grain tank and a Schumacher cutting system.
In 1993, the E500 series was completed by the flagship, the largest combine named E527. It was equipped with new engines: Perkins, Volvo Penta or MB OM441. As in the previous models E514 and E521, the basis of the transmission here was built on the basis of hydraulics. As for the configuration, it was very different for similar models. So the E525 was almost 70% more expensive than a similar, but slightly smaller model, E521. Despite the modernized range of MDW Fortschritt combines, production fell from 4500 to 300 per year.
Alliance with "International Harvest Corporation (IHC) & CASE"
And yet, capitalism did its job with such a socialist giant as Fortschritt, which was the number one export destination in the GDR and sent a train of finished products to the East every day. The plant changed hands until in 1997 it received a new owner - Case IH (CASE & International Harvest Corporation), USA. Fortschritt products received the new CF brand (Case + Fortschritt).
The consolidation of the agro giants proved to be beneficial for both parties. So Case IH, which traditionally used rotors to separate grain and straw, gained access to keyboard technology, and Fortschritt conducted research to improve its combines, combining the advantages of a straw walker system with a rotary cleaning system. This influenced the modernization trend of existing Fortschritt combines. So on the two largest models, the giant 80 cm threshing cylinder was replaced by as many as three successive drum-rotor, with diameters of 600, 400 and 570 mm. Smaller models have received spools separating grain and straw. In a completely new cab design, the noise level has been reduced to 77 decibels. The standard options of the combine are computerized control of grain threshing losses, adjustable header tilt up to 20 degrees, climate control, air suspension of the seat, and electric rear-view mirrors.
The corporate color of the new products is red, similar to the color of the equipment of the new owner - Case IH. For some time already made Fortschritt combines were repainted red and with the Case logo were exported. The situation reached the point of anecdotalism. So in Kazakhstan, where there is a lot of sun, the red paint with the CF logo began to peel off. Under it appeared a high-quality white and blue paint and a familiar logo starting with the letters Fortsch ...
However, the Case production in Neustadt, North Saxony did not catch on due to the expensive labor force. Now the equipment operates in Plock, Poland, where New Holland harvesters of the NHC concern (formerly Cаse IH) are produced.