Sunday, 23 June 2013

Did Amelia Earhart end up a cast-away?

Amelia Earhart: A castaway?

Photos unearthed by a Christchurch archivist could help finally solve a 75-year-old mystery: what happened to Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Mary Earhart ( July 24, 1897 – disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author.Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record.She set many other records,[ wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. During an attempt to make a circum-navigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.

Tall, slender, blonde and brave, Earhart disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937 in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator. Her final resting place has long been a mystery.

For years, Richard Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director and author of the book "Finding Amelia," and his crew have been searching the Nikumaroro island for evidence of Earhart. A tiny coral atoll, Nikumaroro was some 300 miles southeast of Earhart's target destination, Howland Island.

A number of artifacts recovered by TIGHAR would suggest that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, made a forced landing on the island's smooth, flat coral reef.

According to Gillespie, who is set to embark on a new $500,000 Nikumaroro expedition next summer, the two became castaways and eventually died there.

"We know that in 1940 British Colonial Service officer Gerald Gallagher recovered a partial skeleton of a castaway on Nikumaroro. Unfortunately, those bones have now been lost," Gillespie said.

The archival record by Gallagher suggests that the bones were found in a remote area of the island, in a place that was unlikely to have been seen during an aerial search.

A woman's shoe, an empty bottle and a sextant box whose serial numbers are consistent with a type known to have been carried by Noonan were all found near the site where the bones were discovered.

"The reason why they found a partial skeleton is that many of the bones had been carried off by giant coconut crabs. There is a remote chance that some of the bones might still survive deep in crab burrows," Gillespie said.

Although she did not succeed in her around-the-world expedition, Earhart flew off into the legend just after her final radio transmission.

The photos found by Matthew O'Sullivan, the keeper of photographs at the Air Force Museum in Christchurch, could prove Earhart spent her final days as a castaway on a remote island north of New Zealand, and that she didn't, as some believe, die in a plane crash.

Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were last seen taking off in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra on July 2, 1937, from Papua New Guinea en route to tiny Howland Island, some 2500 miles away in the central Pacific.

Radio contact with her plane was lost after she reported running low on fuel hours later, and the massive sea-and-air search that followed was unsuccessful.

Earhart's plane was presumed to have gone down, but it has never been known whether she survived, and if so, for how long.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (Tighar) has long theorised that after Earhart's plane went off course while en-route to Howland Island, the pair made a safe landing on a reef near Nikumaroro Island in Kiribati, previously Gardner Island, and made it safely to shore, living out the rest of their days as castaways.

O'Sullivan said he was first contacted by Tighar about 10 years ago seeking information on the Pacific Islands and sea-plane landing areas nearby in their ongoing bid to explain Earhart's disappearance.

Another request from the group for photos about a month ago had O'Sullivan thinking about Gardner Island again, and while he was rifling through his collection on an unrelated request, he unearthed photographic gold.

''I was looking through my registry of aerial films and there was this entry saying 'unnamed atoll' and I just thought, 'Well, I'm there having a look, I might as well have a look at this one as well','' he said.

After notifying Tighar of his find, the group responded the next day, telling O'Sullivan he had discovered the ''complete set of aerial obliques taken on December 1, 1938'' by an aircraft taking photos for the New Zealand Pacific Aviation Survey.

They believe the photos show where Earhart's plane went down, two years later.

A representative from Tighar was now organising a trip to New Zealand with a forensic imaging specialist to conduct further research, O'Sullivan said.

While the find ''wasn't a big deal'' to O'Sullivan, he acknowledged the implications it could have on a mystery that has plagued researchers for over 75 years.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Curtis Kittyhawk Restored in NZ

A WW2 Curtis Kittyhawk has been restored and is ready for display at Wigram

Kittyhawk, Air Force Museum

A lovingly-restored Kittyhawk has been wheeled into its new home at the air force museum at Wigram, 16 years after work began on it.

The museum's latest addition is an ex-US Army air force plane that crashed in Vanuatu during World War II, and languished there until it was moved to Australia.

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used by most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in front line service until the end of the war. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and P-47; by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built,[3] all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation's main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps adopted for all models, making it the official name in the United States for all P-40s. The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

Museum collections manager David Watmuff said they "got wind of the aircraft" and exchanged it for another plane in their collection in 1996.

Since then, the museum's staff and volunteers have spent a combined 22,319 hours refurbishing the aircraft and readying it for public display - ensuring it was "as authentic as possible".

"If somebody from 1942-43 was to walk in, the idea was they'd think it is no different from any other aircraft they'd find anywhere else."

It was believed to be the first significant aircraft restored at the Wigram museum since the 1980s, and was its first Kittyhawk.

Watmuff hoped it would be moved into the display hall for public viewing next week.

"Just to get to the stage it's at has been a fantastic achievement," Watmuff said.

The baton has been passed between many hands in the 13 years it has taken to reach the final leg of restoring the Air Force Museum’s P-40F Kittyhawk.

The long, arduous journey for this World War II workhorse began in 1941 when it was manufactured in Buffalo, New York. Assigned the serial number 41-14205, it was the 606th of the 699, Rolls Royce Merlin powered, short fuselage, P-40Fs built.

On 23 December 1942 this particular aircraft was part of a four aircraft gunnery training exercise, flying out of Efate airfield in the New Hebridies (now Vanuatu). The flight became disoriented (another term for being lost) during the exercise and all four aircraft force-landed on nearby Erromanga Island after they ran out of fuel. The 14205 was badly damaged and the pilot Second Lieutenant George ‘Ed’ Talbot was injured in the crash. Shortly after, the 14205 was stripped of usable parts and was abandoned.

The P-40F Kittyhawk on arrival at the NZ Air Force Museum, 1996. WN-09-0023-038.

It was recovered from the Vanuatu jungle in 1989 by Australian enthusiasts and later efforts to restore the Kittyhawk commenced in Australia. Some progress was made but the real work began in 1996, when the Air Force Museum acquired the 14205 in exchange for a F4U-5N Corsair. At that time it was decided to restore the 14205 as a P-40E, to represent the 299 aircraft of this type that the RNZAF operated during the war, in New Zealand and in the Pacific Theatre of operations.

The P-40F Kittyhawk after it's restoration milestone by NZ Air Force Museum staff, September 2009. WN-09-0023-039.

The Air Force Museum began its restoration in 1997. Much of the original structure of the aircraft required replacing, as 48 years in the tropical climate and damage caused by the actual crash had taken its toll on the aluminium airframe. To date, a total of 12,500 man-hours have been spent by a succession of museum staff, volunteers, and others seconded from throughout the Air Force to restore the 14205 to its current state.
A huge milestone was reached in August 2009, when the fuselage was married to the completed wings.

Now—nearly 13 years later—the old girl is looking a lot more like her old self.

Fairfax News, RNZAF

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Submarine Action: The Russians are coming, and U-boats in the Pacific

The Russians are coming, again, in submarines to waters near New Zealand.

Fairfax News: The state-run Itar-Tass agency says Russia will send submarines armed with nuclear ballistic missiles to the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean.

"The revival of nuclear-submarine patrols will allow us to fullfil the tasks of strategic deterrence not only across the North Pole but also the South Pole," an unnamed official in the military General Staff was quoted as saying.

Given that the South Pole is 1500 kilometres from the sea, it suggests the new Borei-class submarines, with 16 long-range nuclear missiles, might end up in the Ross Sea.

"As the Russian Navy receive the Borei-class missile submarines, they will not only continue to patrol the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but will resume execution of combat missions in those regions of the world's ocean, where in the late 90s of the last century used to be the Soviet Navy, and where they have ceased to appear following the collapse of the Soviet Union," the report said.

It echoes the Soviet days and in 1982, when a Russian submarine was photographed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force east of New Zealand.

The air force still has submarine-hunting capacity in the form of its six P3 Orions, but it seldom practises finding them now.

In 1972, the navy was ordered to sea as intelligence suggested a Soviet submarine was near New Zealand.

Several ships and the air force were well out to sea when they heard, on what was then the NZBC, that a Soviet hydrographic submarine had docked in Suva that morning.

Just before Christmas in 1982, the diesel-powered Soviet Foxtrot submarine Regul was spotted on the surface near Tahiti sailing with a research vessel.

Foxtrot class submarine

It continued towards the South Island and was last seen near the Chatham Islands. The Soviets said they were doing oceanographic work.

Three years later, there were headlines and claims that the French submarine Rubis was in the Waitemata Harbour, supporting the agents bombing the Rainbow Warrior. It was never proved.

The Rubis type is a class of first-generation nuclear attack submarines of the French Navy. 
They are the most compact nuclear attack submarines to date.

German and Japanese submarines operated near New Zealand during World War II.

U862 captain Heinrich Timm claimed later that while they were off Hawke's Bay, crew landed to get fresh milk from the dairy herd they saw.

In the 1870s, New Zealand built 17 harbour forts around the country, fearing that Tsarist Russia, in the wake of the Crimean War, might invade. It was never clear why it wanted to invade Auckland.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Paris Airshow: US Absent, Russians rules roost, Airbus pulls Grizzly

Paris Airshow 2013:  US Absent, Russians rules the roost, Airbus pulls Grizzly

So the Paris Airshow has started, minus attendance from the US Military and Airbus' A440M Grizzly/Atlas transport.The US did not attend due to budget cuts.

This has left Russia as the main military exhibitor to wow the crowds with their aircraft:

Russia’s Sukhoi has rocked the 50th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget with the premiere of its cutting-edge Su-35 fighter. Super-maneuverable even for a Sukhoi, the Su-35 has been dubbed the “UFO” for its outstanding maneuverability.

Su -35

Two other Russian aircraft will also debut at Le Bourget: The Yakovlev Yak-130 ‘Mitten,’ a subsonic two-seat light attack jet, and the Kamov Ka-52 ‘Alligator,' a coaxial helicopter gunship.

But the first demonstration flight of a Ka-52 has already been accompanied by a minor scandal, as the gunship was banned from its scheduled flight. Two Eurocopter Tiger helicopters performed in the program instead.

“The crew started the engine and began the taxing maneuver when it received the organizers' instruction to return to the static parking area and to stop the engine,” a Kamov spokesperson said.

A source in the Russian delegation said the "organizers explained this by the fact that the French prime minister was visiting the air show at the moment." The source said that if the European helicopters had flown after the Ka-52, they would have attracted less attention.

Later in the day, the Alligator finally made it to the skies, though the exhibition was already closing and many of the guests had already left the show. A demonstration flight of a Yak-130 trainer took place on schedule.

The airshow at the Le Bourget exhibition center takes place from June 17 to 23, and opens to the public on June 21. The event brings together over 3,000 aircraft manufacturers from 44 countries: 1,040 French, 350 American, 124 German and 115 Italian. Forty-six of these companies, including Sukhoi, are Russian.

Last year’s Le Bourget airshow saw a record $100 billion in contracts signed; organizers expect at least $125 billion to be signed this year.

Some 70 percent of the more than 140 aircraft being exhibited are civil, and the rest are military. Around 40 aircraft will give flight demonstrations.

Images gleaned off internet, not my work happy to credit owners on request. No copyright infringement intended .Just leave a comment.

The Sukhoi Su-35 (NATO classification: Flanker E), Russia’s newest, super-maneuverable, multirole fighter jet has conducted its first training flight at the Paris Air Show, and aircraft industry experts were reportedly wowed by the jet’s performance.

“The plane easily passes from low-speed super-maneuverability mode to high-speed combat flight,” test pilot Sergey Bogdan said. Bogdan will pilot all Su-35 flights at the Paris Air Show. The engines are so powerful that the plane could be pulled out of any complicated situation, like a spin, at pilot’s will, he explained: “All you need is to get with the plane on the same wave, to caress and stroke it because, you know, it is a living being.”

There will be little competition for the Su-35 at the Paris Air Show, primarily because sequestration in the US Military’s budget has left Le Bourget without any US Military airplanes present, either for displays or show flights. The Su-35 has become the first Russian fighter jet to take part in the Paris Air Show since 2001, while this is the first time 1991 the US has not presented a fighter jet at Le Bourget.

This 4++ generation aircraft uses fifth-generation technology, and its advanced avionics, new engines, and remarkable weapons array mounted on 12 external hardpoints outperform any existing fourth-generation fighter.

It has top speed of 2,400 km/h, a 3,600 kilometer range, an 18 kilometer ceiling, and an advanced radar system to detect large targets from as far as 400 kilometers.

Probably the only major feature that the Su-35 lacks - and which prevents it from being labeled fifth-generation - is limited stealth capability, as only some parts of its airframe are made of composite material. Nonetheless, it can detect stealth aircraft such as the US’s F-35 at a distance of over 90 kilometers.

The aircraft’s thrust/weight ratio is unique at a kilo of thrust per kilo of aircraft weight, thanks to a pair of brand new 117C jet engines.

Pugchev's Cobra

This enables Su-35 to perform all current maneuvres/ stunts, including Russian specialties such as Pugachev's Cobra, the Frolov Chakra, the Dead Leaf, and the unprecedented Pancake, which is an horizontal 360-degree made turn without losing speed. The Pancake is performed only by the Su-35.

Frolov Chakra

With these characteristics, the Su-35 surpasses practically all modern fighter jets such as France’s Rafale, Sweden’s Gripen, the Eurofighter 2000, and the modernized US F-15, F-16, and F-18. It is on a par with the fifth-generation US F-35 and F-22A, neither of which are currently on the market.

The Su-35 is generating so much interest that the airshow organizers have assigned it a spot right in the middle of the main avenue of the exhibition.

The Russian Air Force currently has 10 Su-35s, to be increased to 48 by the end of 2015.

The first country to buy a Sukhoi Su-35 could be China, as Beijing is already in talks with the manufacturer: “We have signed an intergovernmental agreement on the supply of Su-35 planes to China," Aleksandr Mikheyev, deputy head of Russian arms corporation Rosoboronexport told reporters.

"As of today we have a legal base with China. An agreement on the protection of intellectual property has been signed," Mikheyev added. Beijing reportedly intends to buy 24 Su-35s, with a contract due to be signed by the end of 2013.

Airbus was forced to abandon the public debut of the A400M, the troop carrier running four years late and developed at a cost of more than €20bn (£17.6bn) for Britain, France, Germany and four other nations.
The flypast, scheduled for today, would have been one of the highlights of the week-long show but the gearbox problem in one of the huge turbo-props is the latest setback for a project plagued by delays and squabbles which have extended to a row over the name.

Airbus has nicknamed the plane "Grizzly" but an indignant RAF intends to call the aircraft Atlas to reflect its endurance capabilities when it makes its debut at Farnborough next month. Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton has said "Grizzly" would be accepted "over my dead body."

There are doubts about whether Atlas will be cleared for take off in time for the British air show following the discovery of the gearbox problem. Domingo Urena-Raso, Airbus Military chief executive, said that "flight test requirements are very demanding at the moment."

The long development delays have exasperated politicians and air forces while engineers have wrestled with the technical challenges posed by the advanced turbo-prop technology. The programme was on the brink of cancellation last year but Britain and other buyers reluctantly agreed to stump up another €3.5bn to get the plane into service.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Airbus A350 Takes to the skies

Airbus A350 First Flight

(Reuters) - After the Dreamliner, the Hushliner?

Europe's latest extra wide-body passenger jet, the Airbus A350, made its maiden flight on Friday and its chief salesman, opening a new front in a battle with U.S. rival Boeing declared it so quiet that airport residents won't even notice it.

The lightweight carbon-plastic jet flew over the Airbus plant in Toulouse to salute production workers before wrapping up a four-hour inaugural flight that Airbus officials said had achieved more than expected.

Watched by 10,000 staff and spectators, the aircraft's curled wingtips sliced into clouds above the factory in southwestern France and flew over the Pyrenees.

The sortie caps eight years of designing and development costing an estimated $15 billion.

Airbus's ebullient New York-born sales chief, John Leahy, lost no time in talking up the plane's benefits moments after its two Roll-Royce (RR.L) engines hoisted the A350 from the same runway where the supersonic Concorde took its first ground-shaking run 44 years ago.

"Did you hear how quiet it was? We are going to set new standards ... People round airports won't even know we are taking off," Leahy said.

It is a milestone for the EADS (EAD.PA) unit as it seeks to catch Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in sales of a generation of lightweight jets designed to save fuel and do less harm to the environment.

Boeing was first off the mark with the use of revolutionary carbon-composite materials and its Dreamliner has so far outsold the A350, with sales reaching 833 aircraft to 57 customers.

With sales of 613 planes to 33 customers, Airbus hopes to catch up and also mount a challenge to the U.S. manufacturer's larger, metallic 777, thanks in part to the A350's low noise.


British test pilot Peter Chandler, who commanded a crew of six pilots and test engineers wearing helmets and parachutes over orange jumpsuits, was elated about the plane.

"It was ready to fly and it wanted to fly. It was clearly much happier in the air," Chandler said.

French co-pilot Guy Magrin, a former air force pilot, took the controls for the take-off at 10:01 local time

Competition for wide-bodied jets is expected to dominate next week's Paris Airshow, where the A350 has its sights on another fly-by when French President Francois Hollande visits the event on Friday, if tests continue to go well.

"I am talking to airlines about placing orders in the very new future. I think you may see some announcements very soon," sales chief Leahy told Reuters.

Airbus is finalizing orders from Singapore Airlines  , Kuwait Airways and Air France  and hopes to add a new customer at the June 17-23 show, analysts say.

Boeing sees a market worth $1 trillion for one category of mid-sized long-haul passenger airplanes over the next 20 years and the A350 and 787 are chasing the lion's share of that.

More expensive than other aircraft at about $300 million apiece at list prices, the A350's business case relies on fuel savings of some 25 percent compared with ordinary airliners.

But aerospace manufacturers are also under pressure to cut emissions and noise to comply with tougher global regulations.


Airbus and Boeing both claim the edge on noise levels, which remain politically explosive at airports like London's Heathrow.

Airbus said the A350 is up to 16 decibels below international requirements. Boeing said its 787 has a smaller noise footprint than other widebody aircraft, and is equivalent to the sounds of heavy traffic when standing at a roadside.

"We welcome any moves towards quieter planes, but let's not run away with the idea that the A350 is a quiet plane. It is simply less noisy than its predecessors," said John Stewart, chair of a residents' group opposing the expansion of Heathrow.

The A350's maiden flight is the start of a 12 to 13 month test program that will include putting it through the harshest possible conditions around the globe.

Airbus says it is on track to put the aircraft into service with Qatar Airways in the second half of 2014, but the timetable remains "challenging".

Project leader Didier Evrard, a former missiles boss credited with preventing a repeat of the disarray on recent Airbus programs, has a major job to produce four more test aircraft and could not relax during the flight.

"I will still be nervous until it comes back. I'm an engineer so I have to be connected to the ground and make sure everything is fine," he told reporters.

Evrard said Airbus would soon add a customer in the United States, where industry sources say United Airlines is negotiating to expand an order for 25 jets.

Airbus initially dismissed new mid-sized aircraft like the 787 as it focused on building the world's largest airliner, the A380 superjumbo, in the last decade.

But faced with burgeoning Dreamliner sales, it changed tack and overhauled the design of the 270- to 350-seat A350 by adopting similar composites technology in 2006.

To boost sales, Boeing is expected to soon confirm plans to build a larger version of its Dreamliner. It is also overhauling its 777 with new engines and wings.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Clip-on train: Voila! Regardez: A plane ! The Clip-Air project

The Clip-on Train becomes a plane
The Clip-Air project envisions an airplane consisting of a single flying wing onto which capsules carrying passengers or freight can be attached. More than a new type of flying device, its innovative concept could revolutionize the airports of the future.
Check this Out:

Click on link for video
Go to the train station to take the plane. Board on a capsule to reach the airport by rail, and then - without leaving your seat - fly to another city. The Clip-Air project, being developed at EPFL since 2009, envisions a modular aircraft consisting of a flying wing onto which it is possible to attach one, two or three capsules as required. Its concept allows us to take a glimpse at the air transportation of tomorrow, which is meant to be more flexible, closer to our needs, more efficient and less energy-consuming. For the first time, a model of the Clip-Air plane will be presented at the Paris Air Show from 17 to 19 June 2013.
Despite its being a very futuristic project, the scientists behind it work under rigorous constraints to maintain its technical feasibility. "We still have to break down several barriers but we do believe that it is worth to work in such a concept, at odds with current aircraft technology and which can have a huge impact on society," said Claudio Leonardi, in charge of the Clip-Air project.
The Clip-Air project’s main contribution would be to provide rail transport’s flexibility to air transport. On the one hand, the Clip-Air plane includes a support structure made up by the wing, engines, cockpit, fuel and landing gear. On the other hand, there is the load to be carried: passengers and/or freight. Hence, the capsule would be equivalent to a real airplane’s fuselage, but without its usual attributes. The flying wing can accommodate up to three capsules with a capacity of 150 passengers each.
New generation fuel
Theoretical studies show Clip-Air’s potential in terms of transportation capacity thanks to a more efficient and flexible fleet management, a more efficient loading rate, increased flexibility of supply and the possibility of no more empty flights. Further advantages would come from savings in maintenance, storage and management.
Clip-Air also aims to address current environmental concerns as wells as the objectives set by the ACARE (Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) to reduce by 50% CO2 emissions by the year 2020. Clip-Air aircrafts’ conventional fuel consumption would be reduced since they can carry as many passengers as three A320 with half the engines. In other words, flying with three modules under the same wing in a 4000 km flight would be cheaper - in terms of fuel consumption - than three aircrafts of the same capacity flying independently and with equal speed and altitude.
Then again, Clip-Air’s ambition also envisages other types of fuels, less polluting than the ones currently consumed. Several possibilities (liquid hydrogen, biofuels and conventional fuel) have been studied and have demonstrated the relevance of modular structures in terms of overall consumption.
A revolution in mobility
A Clip-Air aircraft could fit in an airport as it is conceived today. With its autonomous capsule, the size of a railroad car - about 30 meters long and 30 tons heavy - its design is compatible with rail tracks. Therefore, it could eventually revolutionize airport configuration and multimodal mobility. The boarding of either cargo or passengers in the capsule could be done not only at airports but also directly in rail stations or production sites.
In technical terms, initial studies have shown that the project is feasible, even though there are still many challenges ahead. “The development of the concept requires performing more advanced aerodynamic simulations and testing a 6 meters long flying model powered by mini-reactors in order to continue to explore the concept’s flight performance and to demonstrate its overall feasibility”, added Claudio Leonardi.
For now, a 1.20 meters long model of the Clip-Air plane will be presented at the Normandy Aerospace stand at the Paris Air Show, from 17 to 19 June 2013. At the moment the project involves researchers from three EPFL laboratories (TRANSP-OR, LIV and ICOM). It is coordinated by EPFL’s Transportation Center.

Source EPFL's site

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Horten Ho 229 Flying Wing

Horten Ho 229 Flying Wing

Role: Fighter/Bomber
Manufacturer :Gothaer Waggonfabrik
Designer: Horten brothers
First flight: 1 March 1944
Primary user: Luftwaffe
Number built: 3

The Horten H.IX, RLM designation Ho 229 (often wrongly called the Gotha Go 229 due to the identity of the chosen manufacturer of the aircraft) was a German prototype fighter/bomber designed by Reimar and Walter Horten and built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II. It was the first pure flying wing powered by jet engines.

It was given the personal approval of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, and was the only aircraft to come close to meeting his "3×1000" performance requirement of 1943 (see later)

Since the appearance of the B-2 Spirit flying wing stealth bomber in the 1990s, its similarities in role and shape to the Ho 229 has led many to retrospectively describe the Ho 229 as "the first stealth bomber".

 A static reproduction of the only surviving Ho 229 prototype, the Ho 229 V3, in American hands since the end of World War II was later tested by the US military who found the basic shape and paint composition of the mock copy would provide for 20% reduction in detection range against the Chain Home radar of the 1940s, but no significant stealth benefit against most other contemporary radar systems.

Design and development

In the early 1930s, the Horten brothers had become interested in the flying wing design as a method of improving the performance of gliders. The German government was funding glider clubs at the time because production of military and even motorized aircraft was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.
The flying wing layout removes any "unneeded" surfaces and, in theory at least, leads to the lowest possible weight. A wing-only configuration allows for a similarly performing glider with wings that are shorter and thus sturdier, and without the added drag of the fuselage. The result was the Horten H.IV.

In 1943,  Göring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) load over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) at 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph); the so-called "3 X 1000 project".

Conventional German bombers could reach Allied command centers in Great Britain, but were suffering devastating losses from Allied fighters. At the time, there was no way to meet these goals — the new Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets could provide the required speed, but had excessive fuel consumption.

The Hortens concluded that the low-drag flying wing design could meet all of the goals: by reducing the drag, cruise power could be lowered to the point where the range requirement could be met. They put forward their private project, the H.IX, as the basis for the bomber. The Government Air Ministry (Reichs Luftfahrt Ministerium) approved the Horten proposal, but ordered the addition of two 30 mm cannons, as they felt the aircraft would also be useful as a fighter due to its estimated top speed being significantly higher than that of any Allied aircraft.

The H.IX was of mixed construction, with the center pod made from welded steel tubing and wing spars built from wood. The wings were made from two thin, carbon-impregnated plywood panels glued together with a charcoal and sawdust mixture. The wing had a single main spar, penetrated by the jet engine inlets, and a secondary spar used for attaching the elevons. It was designed with a 7g load factor and a 1.8 x safety rating; therefore, the aircraft had a 12.6g ultimate load rating.

The wing's chord/thickness ratio ranged from 15% at the root to 8% at the wingtips. The aircraft utilized retractable tricycle landing gear, with the nose gear on the first two prototypes sourced from a He 177's tail wheel system, with the third prototype using an He 177A main gear wheel rim and tire on its custom-designed nose gear strut work and wheel fork.

A drogue parachute slowed the aircraft upon landing. The pilot sat on a primitive ejection seat. It was originally designed for the BMW 003 jet engine, but that engine was not quite ready and the Junkers Jumo 004 engine was substituted. nd more graceful control of yaw than would a single spoiler system.[1]

The first prototype H.IX V1, an unpowered glider with fixed tricycle landing gear, flew on 1 March 1944. Flight results were very favorable, but there was an accident when the pilot attempted to land without first retracting an instrument-carrying pole extending from the aircraft. The design was taken from the Horten brothers and given to Gothaer Waggonfabrik. The Gotha team made some changes: They added a simple ejection seat, dramatically changed the undercarriage to enable a higher gross weight, changed the jet engine inlets, and added ducting to air-cool the jet engine's outer casing, so as to prevent damage to the wooden wing.

The H.IX V1 was followed in December 1944 by the Junkers Jumo 004-powered second prototype H.IX V2; the BMW 003 engine was preferred, but unavailable. Göring believed in the design and ordered a production series of 40 aircraft from Gothaer Waggonfabrik with the RLM designation Ho 229, even though it had not yet taken to the air under jet power. The first flight of the H.IX V2 was made in Oranienburg on 2 February 1945.

All subsequent test flights and development were done by Gothaer Waggonfabrik. By this time, the Horten brothers were working on a turbojet-powered design for the Amerika Bomber contract competition, and did not attend the first test flight. The test pilot was Leutnant Erwin Ziller. Two further test flights were made between 2 and 18 February 1945. Another test pilot used in the evaluation was Heinz Scheidhauer.

The H.IX V2 reportedly displayed very good handling qualities, with only moderate lateral instability (a typical deficiency of tailless aircraft). While the second flight was equally successful, the undercarriage was damaged by a heavy landing caused by Ziller deploying the brake parachute too early during his landing approach. There are reports that during one of these test flights, the H.IX V2 undertook a simulated "dog-fight" with a Messerschmitt Me 262, the first operational jet fighter and that the H.IX V2 outperformed the Me 262.


Two weeks later, on 18 February 1945, disaster struck during the third test flight. Ziller took off without any problems to perform a series of flight tests. After about 45 minutes, at an altitude of some 800 m, one of the Jumo 004 turbojet engines developed a problem, caught fire and stopped. Ziller was seen to put the aircraft into a dive and pull up several times in an attempt to restart the engine and save the precious prototype.

 Ziller undertook a series of four 360-degree turns with the wings banked 20 degrees. Ziller did not use his radio or eject from the aircraft. He may already have been unconscious as a result of the fumes from the burning engine. The aircraft crashed just outside the boundary of the airfield. Ziller was thrown from the aircraft on impact and died from his injuries two weeks later. The prototype aircraft was completely destroyed.

Despite this setback, the project continued with sustained energy. On 12 March 1945, the Ho 229 was included in the Jäger-Notprogramm (Emergency Fighter Program) for accelerated production of inexpensive "wonder weapons". The prototype workshop was moved to the Gothaer Waggonfabrik (Gotha) in Friedrichroda. In the same month, work commenced on the third prototype, the Ho 229 V3.

The V3 was larger than previous prototypes, the shape being modified in various areas, and it was meant to be a template for the pre-production series Ho 229 A-0 day fighters, of which 20 machines had been ordered. The V3 was meant to be powered by two Jumo 004C engines with 10% greater thrust each than the earlier Jumo 004B production engine used for the Me 262A and Ar 234B, and could carry two MK 108 30mm cannon in the wing roots. Work had also started on the two-seat Ho 229 V4 and Ho 229 V5 night-fighter prototypes, the Ho 229 V6 armament test prototype, and the Ho 229 V7 two-seat trainer.
During the final stages of the war, the U.S. military initiated Operation Paperclip, an effort to capture advanced German weapons research, and keep it out of the hands of advancing Soviet troops.

A Horten glider and the Ho 229 V3, which was undergoing final assembly, were secured for sending to the United States for evaluation. En route, the Ho 229 spent a brief time at RAE Farnborough in the UK while it was considered if British jet engines could be fitted, but the mountings were incompatible due to the available British engines of the time only using centrifugal compressors with their comparatively larger diameter compressor sections, and not the slimmer axial-flow turbojet power plants the Germans were using.

Horten Ho229 at NASM

When U.S. troops captured Gotha's Friedrichsroda plant on April 14, 1945, the partly completed Ho 229 V3 was found and transported to the U.S. and, as shown here, was held in storage at NASM's Silver Hill facility.

The only surviving Ho 229 airframe, the V3 — and indeed, the only surviving German jet prototype still in existence — is at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility in Suitland, Maryland. In December, 2011, the National Air and Space Museum had moved the Ho 229 into the active restoration area of the Garber Restoration Facility and is currently being reviewed for full restoration and display. The center section of the V3 prototype was meant to be moved to the Smithsonian NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in late 2012 to commence a detailed examination of it before starting any serious conservation/restoration efforts

Stealth technology 
After the war, Reimar Horten said he mixed charcoal dust in with the wood glue to absorb electromagnetic waves (radar), which he believed could shield the aircraft from detection by British early warning ground-based radar that operated at 20 to 30 MHz (top end of the HF band), known as Chain Home.
A jet-powered flying wing design such as the Horten Ho 229 will have a smaller radar cross-section than conventional contemporary twin-engine aircraft. This is because the wings blended into the fuselage and there were no large propeller disks or vertical and horizontal tail surfaces to provide a typical identifiable radar signature.

Engineers of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation had long been interested in the Ho 229, and several of them visited the Smithsonian Museum's facility in Silver Hill, Maryland in the early 1980s to study the V3 airframe. A team of engineers from Northrop-Grumman ran electromagnetic tests on the V3's multilayer wooden center-section nose cones. The cones are three quarters of an inch (19 mm) 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 attenuated considerably as it passed through the cone.

Northrop-built reproduction 
In early 2008, Northrop-Grumman paired up television documentary producer Michael Jorgensen, 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. Northrop-Grumman built a full-size non-flying reproduction of the V3, constructed to match the aircraft's radar properties. 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, using the same three frequencies in the 20–50 MHz range used by the Chain Home in the mid-1940s.

RCS testing showed that a hypothetical Ho 229 approaching the English coast from France flying at 885 kilometres per hour (550 mph) at 15–30 metres (49–98 ft) above the water would have been visible at a distance of 80% that of a Bf 109. This implies a frontal RCS of only 40% that of a Bf 109 at the Chain Home frequencies. The most visible parts of the aircraft were the jet inlets and the cockpit, but caused no return through smaller dimensions than the CH wavelength. Given the high-speed capabilities of the aircraft it would have given the British defences just two and a half minutes to respond, which would not have been enough time. It is believed that, if deployed in great numbers, the Ho 229 could have changed the course of the war.

With testing complete, the reproduction was donated by Northrop-Grumman to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Link to doco on Youtube:

Horten Ho 229 Rendering

The television documentary, Hitler's Stealth Fighter (2009), produced by Myth Merchant Films, featured the Northrop-Grumman full-scale Ho 229 model as well as CGI reconstructions depicting a fictional wartime scenario where Ho 229s were operational in both offensive and defensive roles.

4 view rendering of the the Horten Ho 229

Breaking news June 2014: 

The Smithsonian Institute has started restoration of its Ho 299 (click on text for link and photos)

Data from The Great Book of Fighters:

General characteristics
Crew: 1
Length: 7.47 m (24 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 16.76 m (55 ft 0 in)
Height: 2.81 m (9 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 50.20 m² (540.35 ft²)
Empty weight: 4,600 kg (10,141 lb)
Loaded weight: 6,912 kg (15,238 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 8,100 kg (17,857 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Junkers Jumo 004B turbojet, 8.7 kN (1,956 lbf) each
Maximum speed: 977km/h (607 mph) at 12,000 metres (39,000 ft)
Service ceiling: 16,000 m (52,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 22 m/s (4,330 ft/min)
Wing loading: 137.7 kg/m² (28.2 lb/ft²)
Thrust/weight: 0.26
Guns: 4 × 30 mm MK 108 cannon
Rockets: R4M rockets
Bombs: 2 × 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) bombs
See also [edit]

Sounces: Internet, Wikipedia, at al

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