The Horten Ho IX (often called Ho 229, or Gotha Go 229 due to the identity of the chosen manufacturer of the aircraft) was a late-World War II prototype flying wing fighter/bomber, designed by Reimar and Walter Horten and built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik. It is the first pure flying wing powered by a turbojet, and has been described by some as the first aircraft designed to incorporate stealth technology. It was a personal favorite of German Luftwaffe chief Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, and was the only aircraft to come close to meeting his "1000, 1000, 1000" performance requirements.
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 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 drag. 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.
In 1943, Reichsmarschall Göring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) load over 1,000 km (620 mi) at 1,000 km/h (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 simply no way to meet these goals the new Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets could give the required speed, but had excessive fuel consumption.
The Hortens felt 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 Ho IX, as the basis for the bomber. The Government Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) approved the Horten proposal, but ordered the addition of two 30 mm cannon, 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 Ho 229 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 1.8x 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.
Control was achieved with elevons and spoilers. The control system included both long span (inboard) and short span (outboard) spoilers, with the smaller outboard spoilers activated first. This system gave a smoother and more graceful control of roll than would a single spoiler system.
The aircraft utilized retractable tricycle landing gear, with the nosewheel coming from an He 177's main gear. A brake 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 engines were substituted.
 Stealth technology
Many years after the war, Reiman Horton said he mixed charcoal dust in with the wood glue to absorb electromagnetic waves (radar), which could have shielded the aircraft from detection by British early warning ground-based radar known as Chain Home. In the modern era, after "stealth" gained prominence in the public and military arenas, it became obvious that design choices natural for a flying wing would reduce RCS, but there is nothing in surviving blueprints or other wartime documents to suggest the Hortens had any idea that their design would result in a "stealthy" aircraft. In a 1950 document, Horten brought up the possibility that their design may have some such benefits, but the document specifically mentioned reduced detection (visual and radar) as opposed to specifically defeating Chain Home or airborne AI. A jet powered flying wing design such as the Horten will naturally have a smaller RCS than a conventional WWII-era twin engine aircraft: with wings blended into the fuselage, no large propeller disks (usually metal), vertical and horizontal tail surfaces, etc., it is natural for a flying wing to appear "more stealthy", as opposed to "designed as a stealth aircraft".
This application was tested by Northrop-Grumman in 2008 and found to have been successful, resulting in a radar cross section only 40% that of conventional planes (see below).
 Testing and evaluation Horten Ho IX V2 - Preparation for flight
The first Ho IX V1, an unpowered glider, flew on 1 March 1944. Flight results were very favorable, but there was a landing 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 a system to carry cold air to cool the jet engine's outer casing, as the wing was made of wood.
All subsequent flights and development were done by Gotha. By this time, the Horton brothers were working on the Amerika Bomber.
The Horten Ho IX V1 was followed in December 1944 by the Junkers Jumo 004-powered Ho IX V2; the BMW 003 engine was preferred but unavailable at the time. Göring believed in the design and ordered a production series of 40 aircraft at Gotha with the RLM designation Ho 229 before it had taken to the air under jet power. The program was undeterred when the sole Ho IX V2 crashed after an engine caught fire on 18 February 1945 after only two hours of flying time. An order was put in for further prototypes and 20 pre-production aircraft. On 12 March 1945, the Ho 229 was included in the Jäger-Notprogramm for accelerated production of inexpensive "wonder weapons."
During the final stages of the war, the U.S. military initiated Operation Paperclip, which was an effort by the various intelligence agencies to capture advanced German weapons research, and to deny that research to advancing Soviet troops. A Horten glider and the Ho 229 V3, which was undergoing final assembly, were secured and sent to Northrop Corporation in the United States for evaluation. Northrop was chosen because of their experience with flying wings, inspired by the Horten brothers' pre-war record setting glider. Jack Northrop had been building flying wings since the N-1M in 1939.
 Surviving Airframes
* A Horten flying wing glider (Ho IV) is located in the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, California. * The only surviving Ho 229 airframe, the V3, is located at the National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility in Suitland, Maryland. * Five partial airframes found at the Gothaer Wagonfabrik factory assembly line were destroyed by soldiers of U.S. VIII Corps of Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army in April 1945 to prevent capture by the advancing Soviet forces.
 Northrop-built reproduction
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 television 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 replica 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 frequencies 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 have been visible at a distance of 80% that of a Bf 109. This implies an RCS of only 40% that of a Bf 109, from the front at the Chain Home frequencies. The most visible parts of the plane were the jet inlets and the cockpit, but caused no return through smaller dimensions as the CH wavelength.
With testing complete, the reproduction was donated by Northrop-Grumman to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, while the television special aired on 28 June 2009 on the National Geographic Channel.
 Variants Horten Ho 229 V3 prototype at the Smithsonian's Garber restoration facility (National Air and Space Museum) Rear view of Horten Ho 229 prototype
Ho IX V1 Unpowered glider, one built and flown (three-view drawing below). Ho IX V2 First prototype, one built and flown with twin Junkers Jumo 004B engines.
Ho 229 V3 Revised air intakes, engines moved forward to correct longitudinal imbalance. One captured in production, with two Junkers Jumo 004B jet engines installed in the airframe. Ho 229 V4 planned two seat all weather fighter, in construction at Friedrichroda, but not much more than the tubular framework completed.  Ho 229 V5 planned two seat all weather fighter, in construction at Friedrichroda, but not much more than the tubular framework completed.  Ho 229 V6 Projected definitive single-seat fighter version with different cannon, mock-up in production at Ilmenau.
Ho IXb (also designated V6 and V7 by the Hortens) Projected two-seat trainer or night-fighter; not built.
Ho 229 A-0 Projected expedited production version based on Ho 229 V6; not built.
 Specifications (Horten Ho 229A (V3)) Horten Ho IX V1 line drawing
From manufacturer's estimates-three view drawing at right shows the Ho IX V1 glider prototype.
Data from The Great Book of Fighters
* 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: Mach 0.92, 977 km/h (607 mph) at 12,000 m (39,370 ft) * Combat radius: 1,000 km (620 mi) * Ferry range: 1,900 km (1,180 mi) * 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
* 2 × 30 mm MK 108 cannon * R4M rockets * 2 × 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs
The problem the Nazis had during WWII was that all of these technologies and designs; the Horton 229 & 18, the Me 262 & 163 etc, were available as early as 1940-42, but they were too conservative in their thinking, Hitler being a chief example, to understand the significance of these designs. The British and Americans, on the other hand, probably would've ordered designs like this into production as soon as they had been tested. It just shows how a rigid view on what is effective can affect the outcome of war.
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