Hitler’s Stealth Fighter” Re-created
Top stealth-plane experts have re-created a radical, nearly forgotten Nazi aircraft: the Horten 2-29, a retro-futuristic fighter that arrived too late in World War II to make it into mass production.
the plane was designed for speeds of up to 600 miles an hour (970 kilometers an hour).
Armed with four 30mm cannons and two 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bombs, the planned production model was also meant to pack a punch.
A Ho 2-29 prototype 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.
Determining the Horten’s stealth capabilities could help reveal what might have happened if the Ho 2-29 had been unleashed in force.
The Horten brothers, as they are known, wanted to build an aircraft that could fly with the “elegant efficiency of birds”. They developed the 2-29 (also known as the HO IX), a tailless “wing flyer” that revolutionarily incorporated the engines within the fuselage, rather than have them protrude below wings.
With the engines buried in the fuselage, exterior surfaces blended together, and plane constructed almost entirely out of wood
The team finally takes the model to Northrop’s radar cross-section test range in Tejon, California. Propped up on a five-story tall pole, the model is rotated while exposed to the same type of radar used by Britain during World War II.
The results (spoiler alert!) are scary. From the time most Luftwaffe planes appeared on British radar they could reach their target in 19 minutes. The 2-29, aided by its speed and stealth, could reach its target in only 8 minutes. “It would have been a game changer,” one Northrop engineer says. The 2-29 would have permitted just 2.5 minutes to respond.
While the documentary’s conclusion that the 2-29 pre-dated modern stealth capabilities by three decades is fascinating, equally so is the insight to so-called black programs and the people who work on them. “After 28 years working in the dark, it’s nice to spend one day in the light,” one engineer says of his time working on the 2-29 model. At the classified radar base, a man who tows the 2-29 model out of its hangar says without the slightest bit of laughter, “I’ve moved a lot of stuff, but I’ve never moved a German stealth fighter.”