The history trail

Finmeccanica – Società per Azioni got its official start on 18 March 1948. A little over two months had passed since the Constitution of the Italian Republic was ratified; a month later – on 18 April 1948 – the citizens would be voting for the first political elections of the Republic. Italy began a political, institutional and economic rebuilding phase, within which industry would take on a crucial role for the future development of our country. Thus, Finmeccanica both witnessed and brought on the birth of a new chapter in Italy’s history, giving a new perspective to the best know-how expressed by large part of postwar Italian industry.


However, Finmeccanica’s industrial roots date back much farther than its official beginning. Many companies that over the course of time merged into the Group have indeed origins that go back much earlier than WWII. Some of them even the nineteenth century. For example, Ansaldo, the ancestor of a “family” of companies dealing in the railway and thermal-electro-mechanical sector, started in Genoa in 1853, whereas Officine Galileo, the original nucleus of Leonardo’s current Airborne & Space Systems Division, started in Florence in 1864. OTO Melara, which merged into the Defence Systems Division, was founded in La Spezia in 1905, and San Giorgio, itself an ancestor of the Security & Information Systems Division, started in Genoa in 1906.


AgustaWestland, whose activities are today part of the Helicopters Division, in 2007 celebrated in Italy the one hundred years since when the founder of the Italian branch, Giovanni Agusta, built the first biplane glider in Capua (Caserta) and in 2015 celebrated in the United Kingdom the one hundred years of the historical Yeovil plant, where Westland started its military aircraft production in 1915. In 2013, Alenia Aermacchi, nucleus of the current Aircraft & Aerostructures Divisions, celebrated its one hundred years in business; its forerunner, Nieuport-Macchi, was founded in Varese in 1913. Lastly, Torpedo Fabrik von Robert Whitehead, the ancestor of WASS, whose activities merged into the Defence Systems Division, started manufacturing torpedoes in Fiume in 1875.


The UK’s Plessey Company and Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company, the latter founded by great Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi, started out, respectively, in 1917 and 1897; both are at the origin of a number of industry trends which, through different routes, have now converged into the Airborne and Space Systems, Security & Information Systems and Land & Naval Defence Electronics Divisions.