HEADQUARTERS BERLIN COMMAND
OFFICE OF MILITARY GOVERNMENT FOR GERMANY (US)
APO 742, US ARMY
16 December 47
Subject: Horton Brothers (Flying Saucers)
To : Deputy Director of Intelligence
1. The Horten brothers, Reimer and Walter, are residing in Goettingen at present. However, both of them are travelling a great deal throughout the Bi-Zone. Walter at present is travelling in Bavaria in search of a suitable place of employment. It is believed that he may have contacted USAFE Head- quarters in Wiesbaden for possible evacuation to the United States under "Paper Clip". Reimer is presently studying advanced mathematics at the university of Bonn, and is about to obtain his doctor's degree. It is believed that when his studies are completed he intends to accept a teaching position at the Institute for Technology (Techniscbe Hochechule) in Braunshweig sometime in February or March 1948.
2. Both brothers are exceedingly peculiar and can be easily classified as eccentric and individualistic. Especially is this so of Reimer. He is the one who developed the theory of the flying wing and subsequently of all the models and aircrafts built by the brothers. Walter, on the other hand is the engineer who tried to put into practice the several somewhat fantastic ideas of his brother. The clash of personalities resulted in a continuous quarrel and friction between the two brothers. Reimer was always developing new ideas which would increase the speed of the aircraft or improve its maneuverability; Walter on the other hand was tearing down the fantastic ideas of his brother by practical calculations and considerations.
3. The two men worked together up to and including the "Horten VIII" a flying wing intended to be a fighter plane powered with two Hirt engines (HM-60-R) with a performance of approximately 650 horsepower each. After the "Horten VIII" was finished, one of the usual and frequent quarrels separated the two brothers temporarily. Walter went to work alone on the "Horten IX", which is a fighter plane of the flying wing design, with practically no changes from the model VIII except for the engines. Walter substituted the Hirt engines with BMW Jets of the type TL-004. The plane was made completely of plywood and was furnished with a Messerschmidt ME-109 Landing gear.
The model of this aircraft (Horten IX) was tested extensively in the supersonic wind tunnel (Mach No. 1.0) of the aero-dynamic testing institute (Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt), located in Goettingen. The tests were conducted in the late summer of 1944 under the personal supervision of Professor Betz, chief of the institute. Betz at that time was approximately sixty years old and next to Prandtel (then seventy-eight years old), was considered to be the best man on aerodynamics in Germany. Betz's attitude toward the flying wing is very conservative to say the least. Basically he is against the design of any flying wing. According to the official reports about the tests, air disturbances were created on the wing tips, resulting in air vacuums, which in turn would prevent the steering mechanism from functioning properly. This seems logical as, of course, neither the ailerons nor the rudders could properly accomplish their function in a partial vacuum created by air disturbances and whirls.
In spite of that, two Horten IX's were built and tried out by a test pilot, Eugen (now living in Goettingen) at Rechlin in the fall of 1944. One of the two planes, piloted by another test pilot, developed trouble with one of the jet engines while the pilot was trying to ascertain the maximum rate of climb. The right jet stopped suddenly, causing the aircraft to go into an immediate spin and subsequent crash in which the pilot was killed. Eugen, however, was more fortunate in putting the other ship through all the necessary paces without the least trouble. He maintains that the maximum speed attained was around 950 km per hour, and that there were no steering difficulties whatsoever, and that the danger of both head and tail spins was no greater that any other conventional aircraft.
After extensive tests, the Horten IX was accepted by the German Air Force as represented by Goering, who ordered immediate mass production. The first order went to Gothaer Waggon Fabrik, located in Gotha (Thuringia) in January 1945. Goering requested that ten planes be built immediately and that the entire factory was to concentrate and be converted to the production of the Horten IX. The firm in question received all the plans and designs of the ship. In spite of this explicit order, production of the Horten IX was never started. The technical manager of the firm, Berthold, immediately upon receipt of the plans, submitted a number of suggestions to improve the aircraft. It is believed that his intention was to eliminate the Horten brothers as inventors and to modify the ship to such an extent that it would be more his brain child than anybody else's. Numerous letters were exchanged from High Command of the German Air Force and Dr. Berthold, which finally were interrupted by the armistice in May 1945. When US troops occupied the town of Gotha, the designs of the Horten IX were kept in hiding and not handed over to American Military authorities. The original designs in possession of the Horten brothers were hidden in a salt mine in Salzdettfurt, but the model tested by Eugen was destroyed in April 1945. The original designs were recovered from Salzdettfurt by British authorities in the summer of 1945.
The Horten brothers, together with Dr. Betz, Eugen and Dr. Stueper (the test pilot of the aerodynamic institute in Goettingen), were invited to go to England in the late summer of 1945 where they remained for approximately ninety days. They were interrogated and questioned about their ideas and were given several problems to work on. However Reimer was very unwilling to cooperate to any extent whatsoever, unless an immediate contract was offered to him and his brother. Walter, on the other hand, not being a theoritician, was unable to comply and Reimer was sufficiently stubborn not to move a finger. Upon their return to Goettingen Walter remained in contact with British authorities and was actually paid a salary by the British between October 1945 and April 1946, as the British contemplated but never did offer him employment. Walter subsequently had a final argument with his brother and the two decided to part. Reimer then went to the university of Bonn to obtain his degree, and Walter organized an engineering office in Goettingen which served as a cover firm to keep him out of trouble with the labor authorities. Walter married Fraulien von der Groeben, an extremely intelligent woman, former chief secretary to Air Force General Udet.
In the spring of 1947 Walter Horten heard about the flying wing design in the United states by Northrop and decided to write Northrop for employment. He was answered in the summer of 1947 by a letter in which Northrop pointed out that he, himself, could not do anything to get him over to the States, but that he would welcome it very much if he could come to the United States and take up employment with the firm. He recommended that Walter should get in touch with USAFE Headquarters in Wiesbaden in order to obtain necessary clearance.
4. As can be seen from the above, most of the Hortens' work took place in Western Germany. According to our source, neither of the brothers ever had any contact with any representative of the Soviet Air Force or any other foreign power. In spite of the fact that Reimer is rather disgusted with the British for not offering him a contract, it is believed very unlikely that he has approached the Soviet authorities in order to sell out to them. The only possible link between the Horten brothers and the Soviet authorities is the fact that a complete set of plans and designs were hidden at the Gothaer Waggon Fabrik and the knowledge of this is known by Dr. Berthold and a number of other engineers. It is possible and likely that either Berthold or any of the others having knowledge of the Horten IX would have sold out to the Soviet authorities for one of a number of reasons. However, this will be checked upon in the future, and it is hoped that contact with the the Gothaer Waggon Fabrik can be established.
5. As far as the "flying saucer" is concerned, a number of people were contacted in order to verify whether or not any such design at any time was contemplated or existed in the files of any German air research institute. The people contacted included the following:
Fraulien von der Groeben, former Secretary to Air Force General Udet
Guenter Heinrich, former office for research of the High Command of the Air Force in Berlin
Professor Betz, former chief of Aerodynamic Institute in Goettingen
Eugen, former test pilot
All the above mentioned people contacted independently and at different times are very insistent on the fact that to their knowledge and belief no such design ever existed nor was projected by any of the German air research institutions. While they agree that such a design would be highly practical and desirable, they do not know anything about its possible realization now or in the past.
HARRY H. PRETTY
Copy furnished: Director of Intelligence, OMGUS
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