Gotha Go P.60C All-Weather / Nightfighter Aircraft
The Gotha Project 60C jet-powered nightfighter was conceived of in the final months of World War 2.
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The Gotha Project 60C nightfighter was another late-war "paper airplane" design attempt intended to defend the Reich from the masses of enemy bombers attacking Germany with impunity in the waning months of World War 2. Like other similar late-war developments of the time, the aircraft was to be powered by turbine jets as well as rocket propulsion for exceptional performance at altitude and it would have been rushed into production should the war have been extended several more months. However, Project 60C never materialized beyond the design stage though many believe that the type would have received the "green light" should the war proceeded beyond the summer of 1945. With that said, no operational examples of the Project 60C were ever produced leaving the aircraft to the pages of military aviation history and nothing more.
By the spring of 1945, the war for Germany was turning into a noticeably losing effort. The daily and nightly Allied bombing campaigns were certainly taking a toll on all sorts of German war-making capabilities and the defense of Germany itself was now the primary concern - the Allies were closing in from the West and East now. As such, the German Air Ministry enacted what would become many last-ditch efforts to try to capitalize on the newfound technologies of rocket and jet propulsion in building a new generation of fighters and bombers. To help counter the Allied bomber scourge raking German infrastructure and factories, the Air Ministry sent forth a new requirement on February 27th, 1945 centering on the development of a specialized jet-powered, all-weather nightfighter. The aircraft would utilize two turbines for high-speed, high-level performance, cannon armament to contend with the large-target bombers and sport a radar facility for tracking and engaging targets in the dark of night or in adverse weather conditions. Top speed would have to be no less than 900kmh (approximately 559mph).
German aviation firms were quick to respond, knowing the potentially lucrative defense contracts that could follow. Five concerns submitted their designs and these included works from well-established firms - Arado, Blohm & Voss, Dornier, Focke-Wulf and Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG (or simply "Gotha"). A total of seven designs were actually submitted with Arado and Focke-Wulf each delivering two to further their chances at fulfilling the requirement. The Air Ministry was impressed with the estimated performance specifications of the Gotha submission (known as Projekt 60C) for they either met or vastly exceeded the required numbers. It was estimated that the Project 60C design could hit 974kmh (606mph) out to distances of 2,700 miles with a rate-of-climb nearing 3,500 feet per minute. The latter figure was of particular note considering the quick-reaction nature required of intercepting aircraft.
In essence, the Gotha design was a further evolution of their previous "Project 60B". However, the Project 60C was an enlarged and lengthened version of that preceding design and featured a crew of two or three seated conventionally. The Project 60B was dimensionally smaller and forced its pilot to lie prone - a rather unconventional way to fly an aircraft especially over long periods of time. The Project 60C was to be powered by a combination of turbine jet engines and a rocket booster. This pairing would enable the aircraft to reach exceptional speeds and altitudes in a short amount of time. Jet propulsion would be provided through 2 x Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 series turbine engines developing 2,866lbs of thrust each. Added power would be supplied by 1 x Walter HWK solid-fueled booster rocket managing an output of 4,400lbs thrust. The booster rocket would be used during the initial take-off action and assist the aircraft in achieving altitude within minutes. The engines would be paired in an "over-under" fashion at the rear of the fuselage and held externally for ease of maintenance and replacement by ground personnel.