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The First Flying Wing Jet Could Have Won wwii for the Nazis

The head of the German Luftwaffe, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, was a notorious stickler, often demanding exceedingly stringent performance standards from the aircraft under his command. In 1943, he unveiled his most ambitious requirement set to date, quickly dubbed the " rule". And given the state of jet engine technology at the time, that requirement eliminated just about every aircraft currently in development. There was one however. A prototype built by brothers Reimar and Walter Horten and based on their dozen years of unpowered glider design and research.

It's conical inlet caps were crafted from multiple layers of carbon-impregnated laminate. These materials were impregnated with charcoal dust as one of the earliest forms stealth. The coal's carbon content absorbs radar, thereby drastically reducing the plane's radar cross-section and making it appear much smaller than it really was, about the size of conventional twin engine prop aircraft of the.

But, as the first of its kind, the Ho 229 was plagued by development issues and the first prototype crashing multiple times. But the Luftwaffe was undeterred, fast tracking the plane's development and even going so far as to assign it to an active bomber wing.

Smithsonian - Wiki - Military Factory - Fiddler's Green - Horten Conservation Top image: The Ho 229's canopy on static display at the Smithsonian, by Eric Long.

Today, the only Nazi jet prototype left on Earth is represented by a static model at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility in Maryland while the genuine item undergoes a piecemeal restoration. Luckily, the 229's development came too late to help the German War effort. By the time it entered production in early 1945, the Allies were already marching on Berlin. The Gothaer Waggonfabrik factory, where the planes were being built, fell in April of that year.

The B-2 Spirit blew more than a few minds when it made its public debut in 1988. But America's flying wing was not the first of such aircraft. In fact, one such plane nearly darkened the skies over Washington at the end of wwii with a nuclear present from the Fuhrer.