Flying Wings - The Horten H.II

By Willie Bodenstein

The first Horten H.II Habicht glider designed by brothers Walter and Reimar Horten was unlike any other sailplane then in existence. Completed in May 1935, their flying wing H.II first flew in July 1935, just too late for the Rhön Gliding Championships in which they had hoped to take part.

Unperturbed, they converted it into a motor glider by installing a borrowed Hirth HM 60R air-cooled, inverted, four-cylinder, inline engine, mounted on top of the wing in the pusher configuration. In 1937, the borrowed engine had to be returned, ending the career of the first Habicht.


Photo © commons.wikimedia.org

The Luftwaffe became aware of Horten's work and ordered three Horten IIs Designated Horten H.IIL. They had slightly increased washout and a more upright seat. The pilot's head was now above the wing under a 300 mm (12 in) high clear Perspex canopy.

A number of improved prototypes during the years were build. The H.II eventually played a part in the 1944 development of the Horten IX twin-jet fighter-bomber when it was flown as a "wind-tunnel substitute" for the H.IX.

General characteristics
Crew: One
Wingspan: 16.5 m (54 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 32 m2 (340 sq ft)
Aspect ratio: 8.5
Empty weight: 250 kg (551 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 330 kg (728 lb)

Performance
Never exceed speed: 230 km/h (140 mph, 120 knots)
Maximum glide ratio: 1:24 at 72 km/h (45 mph; 39 knots) and 10.3 kg/m2 (2.1 lb/sq ft)
Rate of sink: 0.7 m/s (140 ft/min) minimum, at 72 km/h (45 mph; 39 knots) and 10.3 kg/m2 (2.1 lb/sq ft)

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