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Horton Ho IX (9): Third Reich Wunderwaffe: The first Stealth fighter

Sunday, December 26, 2010 · Category History · comments 1


Of all the wonder waepons designed at the end of the second world war by Nazi germany, probably the most imaginative are the Horton Ho IX Deltawing fighter and V3 (Vergeltungswaffe 3). Why? The were decades ahead of the rest and they returned to the world scene some 40 years later. In 2009 the Horton Ho2.29 or Ho IX was rebuild by Northrop and filmed into a National geagraphic documentary "Hitler's Stealth Fighter".

Why the Nazi "Wunderwaffen" couldn't change the course of war

The Germans lost the war mainly over quatity in stead of quality. With the allies being able to send 10.000 aircraft up in the air for bombing raids on Nazi Germany, the German air defence was virtually dead and burried. Consisting mostly of young recruits from Hitler's Nazi Jugend, many of them where sacrificed for nothing. The newly developed "wonder weapons" basically came to the scene much to late due to a number of reasons:

  1. Lack of raw materials. The only material still largely available was wood as it was used to construct the case for the "Volksjaeger's" engine; Heikel 162.
  2. Factory complexes were mostly bombed so there was hardly any area available for construction. Remember also the V2 underground machine complex later found at Mittelwerk.
  3. The lack of skilled workers (most were taken from the German concentration camps and had to work under very harsh circumstances)
  4. Yet the biggest problem the Germans faced during the World War II was the ability to choose and decide what to produce. Rockets? Jet propelled Attack aircraft? Much necessary air defence systems? Jet propelled Bombers?

So innovation and technical wonders! Yes, but due to the reasons mentioned before, none of them had any military worth back in 1944-45. The germans simply ran out of pilots, petroleum and time.

To name a view of these wonders:

  • Messerschmidt 163; Fantastic machine. Technical wonder. Yet after 10 minutes the fuel finished, so from a military point of view the machine was worthless.
  • Messerschmidt 262: The first swept wing jet fighter. Ready for production in 1941, yet Hitler demanded the jet fighter to be changed into a jet fighter/bomber delaying the production until the end of 1944, when it was too late to produce the quantities needed to turn the wars effort.
  • Heinkel He 162: The "Volksjaeger"; to little, too late.
  • Arado Ar 234: First operational Jet bomber. Never wnet into production thought it did finish th etestflights.
  • Lipisch P13a: Advanced ramjet Delta-Wing fighter. The design made it passed the drawing board and there is some footage of glider tests. High Speed wind tunnel tests showed it was highly stable past the 2.6 mch range.

The machine that could have changed the course of war: Horton Ho IX (9)

The first prototype H.IX V1, an unpowered glider, flew on 1 March 1944. H.IX V1 was followed in December 1944 by the Junkers Jumo 004-powered second prototype H.IX V2. The first flight of the H.IX V2 was made in Oranienburg on 2 February 1945. In March 1945 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. V3 was powered by two Jumo 004C engines, and could carry two MK 108 30mm cannon in the wing roots. Its speed was estimated at 1,024 km/h (636 mph) and its ceiling 15,000 meters (49,213 ft).

Imagine: The Eurofighter took 20 years to develop. The Horton Ho IX (or 2.29) only a view months considering also that this jet was also a completely new technology.

Under operation "paperclip" the US military secured the V1 Glider and V3 prototype which is still waiting for restoration in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Restoration facility in Maryland.

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2009: Joined effort by Northrop Corporation and National Geographic

In 2009 National Geographic made a documentary of the construction of the Horton Ho IX together with the Northrop Corportation. The aim was to determine once and for all whether the Ho IX had stealth capabilities. Experts first examined the surviving 2-29 and probed it with a portable radar unit based on World War II radar tech.

Than in the fall of the winter of 2008 engineers from the Northrop Grumman Defence Corporation started to work on a full scale reproduction model based on the original blueprints of the aircraft. The Horten Ho IX is made largely of wood and bonded with glue and nails.

The original documents translated into English:

Could it have been a game changer?

Based on the Britisch Radar technology of 1945 the Ho IX proved to have had stealth capabilities with a radar pick up reduction of 20%. Together with it's tremendous speed the Ho IX would have been picked up by Britisch radar only 8 minutes upon arrival on Britisch soil in contrast to the usual 19 minutes for the average WW II plane.

Post World War II

As the war ended, Reimar Horten emigrated to Argentina after failed negotiations with the United Kingdom and China, where he continued designing and building gliders and one twin-engined flying wing transport, which was unsuccessful commercially. Although it is listed almost nowhere; it is known that Reimar has been affiliated to thr Northrop Grumman Defence Corportation where he was an adviser to the 1986 Northrop B-2 Spirit Bomber.

Walter remained in Germany after the war and became an officer in the post-war German Air Force Luftwaffe. Reimar died on his ranch in Argentina in 1994, while Walter died in Germany in 1998.

Horton Wing-only design lives on in the Horton Aircraft company

The current Horton Aircraft company develops flying wing sports planes. The company was named in his honour and until his dead, Dr. Reimar Holton stayed on as an adviser to the company. The HORTEN Aircraft® is financed by it`s founder Bernhard Mattlener. Currently they have produced 3 aircraft; PUL 9, PUL 10 and H 3000.

German Documentary


1. by MSG about 6 years

Its HortEn HO IX builded by HortEn brothers!


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