Ammunition and pyrotechnic´s production factory in Jablunka
Its history started at a time when Ing. Jaroslav Velinsky, former CEO of Zbrojovka Ing. F. Janecek, was looking for a suitable place in Moravia for production of hand grenades. He started his search in 1935 in Vsetin, in the same locality as is former Zbrojovka Vsetin area now. In the end, he was offered better conditions in Jablunka by the Mayor Mr. Beranek, with whom he already had good contacts in past. That is a start of company´s history. Name of company was Ing. Jaroslav Velinsky, Chemical-pyrotechnic factory Jablunka nad Becvou.
Construction works started at the beginning of 1936. On 9th of March 1936, the District Office in Vsetin granted to Velinsky Concession to operate "production and trade factory for fireworks and all of the allowed explosives in the Czechoslovak Republic". From mid-1936 first products are assembled in Jablunka so far from delivered components from the Velinsky´s parent factory in Zamky u Prahy, from Sellier and Bellot in Vlasim and from Explosia in Pardubice. Assembled were mainly offensive impact hand grenades type OUG vz. 34, for ammunition for signal pistols 26.5mm and 34.5mm calibers, as well as smoke pots and lachrymatory products for civil and corporate defense trainings. At the very beginning there were 260 employees and by the end of 1936 there were already 755 employees. The following year the factory won a contract for 3 million hand grenades for the Ministry of National Defense. Soon after the Munich betrayal in September 1938 the order was canceled in its entirety. In next two comming years the situation changed and it was clear that Germany would soon need additional suppliers of ammunition due to eastern campaign. Velinsky began to expand production capacity.
In 1941 company received significant contracts for German army, the new Slovak state and Romania. They made boosters from picric acid for aerial bombs, demolition charges for military engineers, signal cartridges, smoke pots, hand grenade components and other products were manufactured. In 1943 and 1944 the average monthly output was around 150,000 pieces of smoke pots RSZ 160 Orange, 5,000 pieces of spot marking aerial ammunition Abwurfrauchzeichen rot, 400,000 of cal. 4 illumination cartridges (flares Leuchtpatrone 41) and about 200,000 pieces of iron cases for illumination cartridges.
At the end of the war, the destruction commando of the German army managed to destroy factory from about two-thirds. The CEO Velinsky was accused from collaboration with nazis. He was imprisoned in Valasské Mezirici (according to other sources in Vsetin) where on 27th of August 1945 under unclear circumstances died. The testimonies of court witnesses differed. According to some of them he was a conscious patriot with deep social feelings, according to the others a traitor and nazi collaborator. Like some other businesses the factory was confiscated by the state soon after war. What is certain is that thanks to this man a new factory employing hundreds of local people in times of great unemployment was created in poor Wallachia´s region. It created a stable basement for continuation of pyrotechnic industry in Jablunka for future.
After WW2, there were about 170 employees in the factory who were responsible for its re-commissioning. Mainly non-pyrotechnic goods such as toys and stamped products but also sparklers were produced. In September 1946 the factory in Jablunka was incorporated into Zbrojovka national enterprise in Brno, as its Plant No. 2. At this time are mainly assembled hand grenades OUG vz. 34, made revisions of RG vz. 49 and some like war time products such as flares are also produced. At the end of 1949 the plant in Jablunka had 583 employees (520 workers / 63 office staff). On January 1st in 1950 a new independent national enterprise Zbrojovka Vsetin was created and as its plant No. 2 was incorporated a plant in Jablunka.
In the sixties the company produced different land mine and sabotage fuses for the needs of Czechoslovak people´s army and for export to various friendly countries. Also there were produced aerial bomb fuses ADC for antitank bomblets PTAB of Soviet model and MDV bomb fuse arming devices. Continues production of smoke pots, grenades and signal ammunition too. Some mechanical components like ammo belts for anti-aircraft twin cannon vz. 53, magazines for light machine gun vz. 52 and cartridge belts for machine gun vz. 52/57 and finaly also for universal machine gun vz.59 produced in nearby Vsetin.
In 1958 happened again reorganization and agglomeration of several plants into bigger production planning entity under leadership of Vsetin´s plant under the name of “plant of October´s Revolution, state factory Vsetin. Jablunka remains as its plant No. 2. Conditions for workers became better and better. Transportation from surrounding villages is organized to and from work and company canteen and showers are installed. The luxury about which employees could only dream at before the war and during the war times. In the 1960s production of the DA-60 and DA-600 smoke grenades continues, starts mass production of the licensed Soviet paper smoke grenade RDG-2 and other products not only for CSLA, but also for East Germany army and Polish army. Continues production of MDV arming devices for use on aerial bombs, followed by the launch of a important project of 95mm type ammunition COP-65, VM-65 and ZV-66 for training device OZ vz.66 which was produced in Zbrojovka Vsetin.
In the seventies production of modernized smoke grenades continues and the production of special tear-gas forming grenades of the type RGSL, RGSL-2 and fuzes UZRGSL are being produced. The factory specializes in the demanding and highly specialized production of tear-gas forming and irritating chemical ammunition. Another product from this group is tear-gas releasing cartridges NSL of 26.5mm caliber for use in signal pistols.
Also in the 1980s the production of smoke grenades as well as RIOT control ammunition for intervention units, forces of the Ministry of the Interior and for the army continue. Produced are products like Riot control grenade P-2, PS disturbing ammo for the RV-85 rifle, tear-gas grenade RGSL-85, ground light signals PS-25, ejected colored signals VS 4 and other products.
After 1989 there are big problems connected with the controlled breakdown of special production (explo, pyro, weapons) in Czechoslovakia. The conversion of production is mainly unsuccessful and the independent Zbrojovka Jablunka is in great troubles. Replacement programs such as fireworks for the Pyros Praha trading company, later for Tarra Pyrotechnik Ostrava too or emergency maritime signals are produced for some time. But it is not enough business to keep the whole company running and it finish by break up and privatization.
Nothing ends as badly as it might be seen. Although the first years of the new millennium were still only a survival from the pyrotechnic perspective. But only a few years later a Japanese investor Nippon Kayaku entered the former Zbrojovka Jablunka areas. Similarily to Vsetin and using its huge investments new plant for production of pyrotechnic components for automotive safety systems was created in Jablunka. Now over 300 employees work in Jablunka in automotive pyrotechnic industry. Company D-Technik continues to produce smoke pots, grenades and other special pyrotechnics. Another Czech Small Arms Co. located in the walley produce civil semi-automatic versions of some military weapons and components for it. We can say that the tradition of pyrotechnic and weapon production found here by Ing. Velinsky more than 80 years ago is still alive. And hopefully it will continue.