WWII Horten 229 Featured On Nat Geo
Northrop Grumman Corporation's expertise in advanced aircraft
development is featured in a new television documentary examining
the mystery surrounding a top-secret German airplane that could
have affected the course of World War II.
The film, entitled "Hitler's Stealth Fighter," premieres Sunday,
June 28, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.
"Northrop Grumman has always been known for technical innovation
and ingenuity," said Paul K. Meyer, vice president and general
manager of Advanced Programs and Technology for Northrop Grumman's
Aerospace Systems sector. "Now we have an opportunity to showcase
our employees' skills in an intriguing television documentary for a
national viewing audience."
In the early 1940s, an innovative design by two German brothers
caught the attention of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, which began a
secret construction project. The Horten 229 (named for its
designers, Walter and Reimar Horten) was a jet-powered fighter
aircraft with a smooth contour in the shape of a flying wing. That
shape is now known to be more difficult for radar to detect than
The Horten 229 was briefly flight tested but could not be
deployed before the end of the war. Since then, aviation historians
have wondered how effective the futuristic design would have been
against Allied early-warning radar, widely credited as a major
factor in blunting Nazi air power.
The National Geographic Channel documentary follows Northrop
Grumman experts as they design a full-scale model of the 55-foot
flying wing and build it to the exact specifications of the
original. They measure its radar "signature" at the company's test
range in the Mojave Desert, where TV cameras have never been
allowed before. They then analyze the results with state-of-the-art
computing and simulation tools.
Their findings are revealed in the final scenes of the film.
Northrop Grumman designed and produced the U.S. Air Force B-2
stealth bomber, one of the most survivable aircraft in the world.
The B-2's smooth, flying wing shape contributes to its
radar-evading stealth characteristics.
The Horten 229 also resembles some of the flying-wing designs of
Jack Northrop, the aviation pioneer and founder of what is now
Northrop Grumman Corporation. The documentary traces the B-2, the
earlier flying wings and other innovations introduced by the
Northrop Grumman has donated the full-scale Horten 229 model to
the San Diego Air & Space Museum, California's official air and
space museum and education center. The museum is an affiliate of
the Smithsonian Institution, and it was the first aero-themed
museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums.