Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hitler's Stealth Fighter

Replica of Hitler's Stealth Fighter

Today on Far Future Horizons we trace the technological pedigree of the modern day Stealth fighter to the final months of the Second World War.

In the final months of World War II, American troops discovered a top-secret facility in Germany with an advanced batwing-shaped jet fighter. If Nazi engineers had had more time, would this jet have ultimately changed the outcome of the war?

The first true“stealth” aircraft may have been the Horten Ho 229 flying wing fighter-bomber,developed in Germany during the last years of World War II. In addition to the aircraft’s shape,which may not have been a deliberate attempt to affect radar deflection, the majority of the Ho 229's wooden skin was bonded together using carbon-impregnated plywood resins designed with the purported intention of absorbing radar waves.Testing performed in early 2009 by the Northrop-Grumman Corporation established that this compound, along with the aircraft’s shape, would have rendered the Ho229 virtually invisible to Britain’s Chain Home early warning radar, provided the aircraft was travelling at high speed (approximately 550 mph (890 km/h)) at extremely low altitude (50–100 feet).

In the closing weeks of WWII the US military initiated “Operation Paperclip”, an effort by the US Army to capture as much advanced German weapons research as possible, and also to deny that research to advancing Soviet troops. A Horton glider and the Ho 229 number V3 were secured and sent to Northrop Aviation for evaluation in the United States, who much later used a flying wing design for the B-2 stealth bomber. During WWII Northrop had been commissioned to develop a large wing-only long-range bomber (XB-35) based on photographs of the Horton’s record-setting glider from the 1930s, but their initial designs suffered control ability issues that were not resolved until after the war. Northrop’s small one-man prototype (N9M-B) and a Horten wing-only glider are located in the Chino Air Museum in Southern California.

Hitler's Stealth Fighter and documentaries can be purchased for the National Geographic Channel’s online store.

Hitler's Stealth Fighter

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