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Gotha Go 229

Go 229 V2

photo shows unpowered V1 prototype
Crewone, pilot
Length7.47m24' 6"
Wingspan16.65m54' 8"
Height2.77m9' 1"
Wing area52.5m²565ft²
Empty4,800kg10,582 lb
Loaded6,912kg15,238 lb
Maximum take-off9,000kg19,841 lb
Engines2x Junkers Jumo 004D turbojet
Power900kg1,900 lb
Maximum speed977km/h607 mph
Combat range100km623 miles
Ferry range1,900km1,184 miles
Service ceiling16,000m52,000ft
Rate of Climb1,320m/min4,330 ft/min
''prototypes unarmed;
production versions were to carry
2x 30mm MK 108 cannon

The Gotha Go 229 was a late-World War II flying wing fighter aircraft, designed by the Horten brothers and built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik. It was a personal favourite of Hermann Göring, and was the only plane to be able to meet his infamous performance requirements.

In the 1930s the Horten brothers had become interested in the all-wing design as a method of improving the performance of gliders. The all-wing layout removes any "unneeded" surfaces and –in theory at least– leads to the lowest possible drag. For a glider this is important, with a more conventional layout you have to go to extremes to reduce drag and end up with long wings. If you can get the same effect with a different layout, you end up with a similarly performing glider that's sturdier.

Years later, in 1943 Göring decided that all future aircraft purchased by the Luftwaffe were required to fly a 1000kg load over 1000km at 1000km/h – the so called 1000/1000/1000 rule. At the time there was simply no way to meet these goals; jet engines could give you the performance, but swallowed fuel at such a rate that they would never be able to match the range requirement.

The Hortens felt that the low-drag all-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 current private (and jealously guarded) project, the Ho IX, as the basis for a fighter.

Göring was incredibly impressed and ordered the design into production at Gotha as the Go 229. This was before the plane had even flown under jet power, and had it followed past experiences it would have been a disaster in the making. But when flight testing of the existing Ho IX prototypes started in January 1945 (although one of the brothers remembers it in mid-Dec'44), the plane proved to be even better than expected. Handling problems were non-existent, and the performance was outstanding.

Gotha appeared to be somewhat upset about being ordered to build a design from two "nobodies" and made a number of changes to the design, as well as offering up a number of versions for different roles. Several more prototypes, including those for a two-seat night fighter, were under construction when the Gotha plant was overrun by the American troops in April.

The Go 229A-0 pre-production fighters were to be powered by two Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets with 1,962lbs thrust each. The maximum speed was estimated at an excellent 590mph at sea level and 607mph at 39,370ft. Maximum ceiling was to be 52,500ft, although it's unlikely this could be met. Maximum range was estimated at 1180 miles, and the initial climb rate was to be 4330ft/min. It was to be armed with two 30mm MK 108 cannon, and could also carry either two 500kg bombs, or twenty-four R4M rockets.

It was the only design to meet the 1000/1000/1000 rule, and that would have been true even for a number of years after the war. But like many of the late war German designs, the production was started far too late for the plane to have any effect. In this case none saw combat.