Finishing the Project at Sea and Leaving Buck

Our development efforts to increase the burning time of the flares were successful by covering the big part of the phosphorus flare surface with a less combustible passivation layer, leaving a smaller part of the phosphorus flare free for ignition. Another problem to solve for prototype testing was manufacturing of the flares on an industrial scale. The concept tests were still done with handmade flares, a very tedious work. The industrial process which we finally  developed was the coating of extended foils by a squeegee coating machine and subsequent punching out of the flares.

In autumn we tested the prototypes in Eckernförde bay at the Baltic Sea. There was a large Bundeswehr testing ground. We were in competition with a defense technology company much bigger than Buck and I remember the first night when the Buck crew of development and sales people gathered behind the window of one of our hotel rooms observing the test shooting  of our competitor. The solution proposed by our competitor was a point-like infrared source which had the problem that it had to be very intense in order to be equivalent with light intensity of the heated flare cloud. The next day there was the test shooting of our prototypes and it was a full success. The following day the test results measured by the army experts were communicated to Buck and all the major specifications regarding IR intensity and combustion time were fulfilled. In comparison to our competitor we had the advantage that our flare solution simulated an extended target.

Despite of this success I left Buck at the end of the year. The main reason was the uncertain future of the company. On one hand the defense technology seemed to be a market, even in the long term, with a steady demand by the state military organizations. On the other hand this demand was strongly dependent from the political situation from national, EU wide and global events. Buck was only a small company on a very competitive market, its future seemed not very clear and secure. So at the end of 1976 we decided to leave this lovely place at the German Austrian border and move to Munich, the Bavarian capital. In the 1990s after the end of the cold war, when worldwide and particularly in Germany the military spending was strongly reduced, Buck was taken over by Rheinmetall, a listed German defense supplier.