Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Meet the "wonder weapon" that could have won the war for Hitler.
Called the Horten 229, the radical "flying wing" fighter-bomber looked and acted a lot like the U.S. Air Force's current B-2 — right down to the "stealth" radar-evading characteristics.
Fortunately for the world, the Ho 229 wasn't put into mass production before Nazi Germany surrendered in May 1945.
But American researchers boxed up and shipped home the prototypes and partially-built planes that existed — and now the same company that builds the B-2 has rebuilt one.
Northrop Grumman Corp. spent its own time and money using the original German blueprints to replicate the wood-and-steel-tube bomber, right down to its unique metallic glue and paint, at its facility in El Segundo, Calif.
Using radar of the same type and frequency used by British coastal defenses in World War II, the engineers found that an Ho 229, flying a few dozen feet above the English Channel, would indeed have been "invisible" to the Royal Air Force — an advantage that arrived too late for the Nazis to exploit."This was the most advanced technology that the Germans had at the end of the war, and Northrop solved the question of how stealthy it was and its performance against Allied radar at the time," documentary filmmaker Mike Jorgenson told the Long Beach, Calif., Press-Telegram. "It's significantly better than anything flying operationally probably until the 1960s."
Engineers of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation had long been interested in the Ho-229, and several of them visited the Smithsonian facility in Silver Hill, Maryland in the early 1980s to study the V3 airframe. In early 2008, Northrop-Grumman paired up with award-winning TV documentary producer Michael Jorgensen, another long-time fan of the aircraft, and the National Geographic Channel to produce a documentary to determine whether the Ho-229 was in fact the world's first true "stealth" fighter-bomber.
A team of engineers from Northrop-Grumman ran electromagnetic tests on the V3's multilayer wooden center-section nose cones. The cones are three-fourths of an inch thick and made up of thin sheets of veneer. The team concluded that there was indeed some form of conducting element in the glue, as the radar signal slowed down considerably as it passed through the cone.
In an experiment to determine the stealth characteristics of the design, Northrop-Grumman built a full-size reproduction of the V3 incorporating a duplicate glue mixture in the nose section. After an expenditure of about US$250,000 and 2,500 man-hours Northrop's Ho-229 reproduction was tested at the company's classified radar cross-section (RCS) test range at Tejon, California, where it was placed on a 15-meter (50 ft) articulating pole and exposed to electromagnetic energy sources from various angles, duplicating the same three frequences used by the Chain Home radar network of the British in the early 1940s. RCS testing showed that an Ho 229 approaching the English Coast from France flying at 885 km/h (550 mph) at 15 - 30 meter (50 - 100 ft) above the water would not have been visible to Chain Home radar, while a Bf 109 or Fw 190 was visible up to 129 km (80 miles) away.
With testing complete, the reproduction was donated by Northrop-Grumman to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, while the TV special aired on June 28, 2009 on the National Geographic Channel
Nazis were close to building stealth bomber that could have changed course of history
Nazi engineers were dangerously close to building a fighter plane with stealth powers which could work against radar and may have changed the outcome of World War II.
Published: 7:00AM BST 08 Jul 2009
A prototype of the Horten Ho 2-29 made a successful test flight just before Christmas 1944, but by then time was running out for the Nazis and they were never able to perfect the design or produce more than a handful of prototype planes.
However, an engineering team has reconstructed the bomber – albeit one that cannot fly – from blueprints.
It was designed with a greater range and speed than any plane previously built and was the first aircraft to use the stealth technology now deployed by the US in its B-2 bombers.
It has been recognised that Germany's technological expertise during the war was years ahead of the Allies, from the Panzer tanks through to the V-2 rocket.
But, by 1943, the Nazis were keen to develop new weapons as they felt the war was turning against them.
Nazi bombers were suffering badly when faced with the speed and manoeuvrability of the Spitfire.
In 1943 Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering demanded that designers come up with a bomber that would meet his '1,000, 1,000, 1,000' requirements – one that could carry 1,000kg over 1,000km flying at 1,000km/h.
Two pilot brothers in their thirties, Reimar and Walter Horten, suggested a "flying wing" design which they were sure would meet Goering's specifications.
The centre pod was made from a welded steel tube, and was designed to be powered by a BMW 003 engine.
But the most significant innovation was Reimar Horten's idea to coat it in a mix of charcoal dust and wood glue which he believed would absorb the electromagnetic waves of radar.
They hoped that that, in conjunction with the aircraft's sculpted surfaces, would render it almost invisible to radar detectors.
This was the same method eventually used by the U.S. in its first stealth aircraft in the early 1980s, the F-117A Nighthawk.
Until now, experts had always doubted claims that the Horten could actually function as a stealth aircraft.
But, using the blueprints and the only remaining prototype craft, Northrop-Grumman defence firm built a fullsize replica of a Horten Ho 2-29, which cost Ł154,000 and took 2,500 man-hours to construct.
The aircraft is not completely invisible to the type of radar used in the war, but it would have been stealthy enough and fast enough to reach London before Spitfires could be scrambled.
"If the Germans had had time to develop these aircraft, they could well have had an impact," Peter Murton, aviation expert from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, in Cambridgeshire told the Daily Mail.
"In theory the flying wing was a very efficient aircraft design which minimised drag.
"It is one of the reasons that it could reach very high speeds in dive and glide and had such an incredibly long range."
The research was filmed for a documentary on the National Geographic Channel
Germans were ahead of all industrialized countries when it came to cutting edge military applications in the intermediary period between the two great wars,having said that nothing short of a working atomic bomb prototype would have won Hitler the war.
I don't share similar beliefs.
Even if this was timely introduced, with the demise of German allies, the German production lines could never match the production rates of the Allies. After being defeated at sea, and dominated on land, there was little a few of these jets could have done.
Also, these jets were big fuel guzzlers. Fuel, which Germany didn't have enough of.
At most, it could have delayed the invasion and made it harder for the allies to carry out their bombing runs.
Technology is not the biggest asset one needs to win a war, its numerical superiority.
According to this logic, even the King Tigers were much better than anything in the allied arsenal, but what mattered was the fact that Shermans were produced at a rate many times more than the tigers.
The Me 262 could have stopped the raid on the Synthetic fuel facrtory which was supplying most of the fuel to the Nzi army. The Me 262, if it had entered in the early phase of the war only the Rssians could have managed to stop the early onslaught. Only the Russians had enough tech to stop them at that time.