Aviation of World War II
Gothaer Waggonfabrik (Gotha, GWF) was a German manufacturer of rolling stock established in the late nineteenth century at Gotha. During the two world wars, the company expanded into aircraft building.
Whilst Germany was prohibited from military aircraft manufacture by the Treaty of Versailles, Gotha returned to its railway endeavours, but returned to aviation with the rise of the Nazi government and the abandonment of the Treaty's restrictions.
Gotha's main contribution to the new Luftwaffe was the Gotha Go 145 trainer, of which 1,182 were built. The firm also produced the Gotha Go 242 assault glider and licence-built Messerschmitt Bf 110. Perhaps the most famous Gotha product of World War II, however, was an aircraft that never entered service, the Horten Ho 229. This was an exotic jet-powered, flying wing fighter aircraft designed by the Horten brothers, who lacked the facilities to mass-produce it. Two prototypes flew, the second (powered) version lost in an accident on its third flight. The third prototype- built to a modified design - was almost complete and four more were in various stages of manufacture before the end of the war. The Ho 229 V3 ended up in American hands, and is currently at the NASM's Udvar-Hazy Center.