First built and tested in the air in March 1944, it was designed with a greater range and speed than any plane previously built and was the first aircraft to use the stealth technology now deployed by the U.S. in its B-2 bombers . . .
The most important innovation was Reimar Horten’s idea to coat it in a mix of charcoal dust and wood glue.
He thought the electromagnetic waves of radar would be absorbed, and in conjunction with the aircraft’s sculpted surfaces the craft would be rendered almost invisible to radar detectors.
This was the same method eventually used by the U.S. in its first stealth aircraft in the early 1980s, the F-117A Nighthawk.
The plane was covered in radar absorbent paint with a high graphite content, which has a similar chemical make-up to charcoal.
After the war the Americans captured the prototype Ho 2-29s along with the blueprints and used some of their technological advances to aid their own designs.
But experts always doubted claims that the Horten could actually function as a stealth aircraft.
It took them 2,500 man-hours and $250,000 to construct, and although their replica cannot fly, it was radar-tested by placing it on a 50ft articulating pole and exposing it to electromagnetic waves.
The team demonstrated that although the aircraft is not completely invisible to the type of radar used in the war, it would have been stealthy enough and fast enough to ensure that it could reach London before Spitfires could be scrambled to intercept it . . .
So now anyone able to afford wood glue and graphite can make their aircraft stealthy?
My best guess is that the first to try this technology will be Mexican drug smugglers.