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Horten Ho 229 Spirit of Thuringia

Horten Ho 229 Spirit of Thuringia Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2007 Title Horten Ho 229 Spirit of Thuringia
Author Andrei Shepelev, Huib Ottens Publisher Classic Publications
Published 2006 ISBN 1-903223-66-0
Format 128 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $44.95


Regardless of how you view Nazi Germany and its history, that period in history was to serve as the catalyst to advance aviation at a blinding pace, much of which was based on very advanced German aeronautical and propulsion technologies.

One such advancement was the Horten brothers flying wing designs. Conceived between the wars, the Horten brothers designed, built and flew aircraft that had no fuselage nor tail - they were flying wings. These designs led to the development of powered aircraft using one and later two pusher propellers to develop the technology needed for a stable and safe aircraft. As the German war machine was ramping up in the late 1930s, the Hortens' work was viewed with interest and supported with a mixture of fascination and skepticism.

The Ho 229 was to be the first viable combat aircraft out of this research. Powered by a pair of turbojet engines, the Ho 229's unique ability to loft more payload using less thrust was ideal at a time when thrust was still limited by the early jet engines. While the Ho 229 never progressed past the prototype stage, the research had come close by war's end to rolling out Ho 229V-3, the aircraft that was never quite finished when it was captured. This particular aircraft would find its way into Jack Northrop's hands as he had been famous for his own pre-war flying wings and would later develop the XB-35, XB-49, and the ultimate B-2 Spirit flying wing bombers.

This title is definitely the ultimate reference on the subject. The authors walk the reader through the history of the designers, the aerodynamic issues that led to their flying wing approach, and many of the hurdles, both technology and political, that had to be overcome to finally get their dream built.

The coverage include:

  1. Fledged in the Third Reich
  2. Nurflugel goes to War
  3. A Bomber for England
  4. A Batwing from Gotha City
  5. The Last Stronghold in Thuringia
  6. Reaching Enemy Soil
  7. Invisible Legacy

The title is very nicely illustrated with numerous photos and drawings that have not previously been published. One of the nice touches is the color section of photos of Ho 229V-3 in storage at the Smithsonian Institution's Silver Hill restoration facility. Another useful item is a table of specifications comparing the differences between each of the 28 prototype designs that led from initial glider to the Ho 229 and beyond.

If you are an aviation historian and/or a Luftwaffe era modeler, this is the one book you'll ever need on the subject. This title is highly recommended!