The scientific tourist #112 — Horten hears a… B-2?

While the B-2 bomber is an impressive looking piece of gear, not that many people realize that the technology of flying wings goes back to the Horten brothers in Germany in the 1930’s. Since powered aircraft were limited in post-WWI Germany, the Horten brothers had to limit their experiments to gliders. At least, at first.

These images are of a Horten IV flying wing glider, restored and on display at the Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim north of Munich.

While the Hortens built dozens of flying wings, only six survived WWII, of which only two were Horten IVs. The other surviving Ho.IV is at the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, California.

Once the runup to WWII started, though, the Hortens started making powered versions of their aircraft — first propeller-driven, later jet-powered. Fortunately, the Nazi regime ran out of resources before they could build the Hortens’ flying wing bomber, which could have been capable of reaching North America (by design, with an atomic bomb). If you’re particularly interested in the history of the Horten gliders, there’s a very detailed history in a Flight Journal article from 2000.

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