The Gotha P.60 was a highly-modified version of the famous Horten Ho 229 "flying wing" appearing in the latter stages of World War 2 with the German Luftwaffe. Intended to be as maintenance-friendly and modular as possible (concerning various engine, armament and crew arrangements), Gotha failed to convince Reich Air Ministry authorities on the benefits of its refined gunnery platform when compared to the Ho 229. With that, the promising P.60 existed in only a paper form with only estimated performance specifications and blueprint designs to be dissected. By all accounts, the P.60 would have actually faired quite favorably against its more popular competitor.
Despite the ongoing war effort for Germany in World War 2, German aircraft firms were naturally, at times, at competitive odds with one another, each attempting to net potentially lucrative long-term production deals amidst the walls of the Reich fortress falling all around them. Such was the case during the summer of 1944 when the Gothaer Waggonfabrik concern was handed a production order by the Reich Air Ministry (RLM) to build as many as twenty of the Horten brother's famous "flying wing" fighter - the Ho 229. While the RLM was sold on the concept, Dr. Rudolf Gothert - chief engineer at Gotha - understood that the Ho 229 held inherent limitations as the gunnery platform the Luftwaffe required out of its new day fighter and interceptor.
The Gotha concern attempted to sway the opinion of the RLM away from serial production of the Ho 229 by citing its instability and, in turn, Gotha engineers responded to the RLM in January of 1945 with a highly-revised version of the Ho 229 through the "Go P.60" (which Gotha would have happily set into production). Unphased by this attempt (and quite desperate at the time for any machine that could rewrite Germany's fate), the RLM pushed Gotha for twenty more Go 229 production units, leaving the P.60 to history.
The Gotha P.60 was to be evolve into two or perhaps three distinct combat platforms - a high-altitude fighter, a heavy fighter ("Zerstorer") and a camera-equipped reconnaissance mount (2 x RB-50/18 camera sets). The Gotha team's plan was of similar scope, utilizing a large-area, all-wing design when compared to the Ho 229 with internal frame construction of welded steel tubing and external surfaces covered through formed plywood (as in the Ho 229) and wings of wood structuring. The all-wing approach provided excellent lifting properties and promoted maximum uninterrupted internal volume for fuel, avionics, armament and crew. Unlike the Ho 229, whose twin engines were buried within the fuselage itself, Gotha's P.60 mounted the engines in separate external nacelles which made for ease of maintenance and unit replacement as well as benefitted additional testing of alternative powerplants in the future. The engines were arranged in an "over-under" configuration with one engine over the fuselage spine aft and the other under the fuselage belly aft. In the high-altitude fighter variant, it was proposed that 4 x rocket boosters could be fitted for facilitating quick take-offs in reaching the required altitudes to meet enemy fighter/bomber groups head-on. Wings were well-swept at 50-degree angles (32-degrees at trailing edges) with positional small vertical fins (recognized as "drag rudders") added to each wing tips for increased high-speed control (the Ho 229 lacked any vertical surfaces, making it a true flying wing). Elevator control was handled through internal-balanced control flaps and landing was assisted by way of leading edge split flaps as well as split flaps added to each wing midsection. The undercarriage was wholly retractable and consisted of 2 x single-wheeled main legs and a single-wheeled nose leg. The nose leg was offset to the portside of the airframe and retracted into position under the cockpit floor. Crew entry was through a rectangular hatch under the fuselage, to the right of the nose leg well.
The P.60 was to be crewed by two personnel in a unique arrangement. The cockpit allowed only for the pilots to lay prone and this was done to keep the fuselage as streamlined as possible and provide a better environment for the pilots when taking on G-forces at high-speed flight. Additionally, the second pilot could take over for the first to counter mission fatigue. Laying prone, the pilots had their chins supported on pads and controls were of the "hanging" variety, positioned within reach of each man. It was thought that each pilot could manage the aircraft in three-hour intervals. Fully pressurized, the cockpit would allow for high-altitude activity and require a steady oxygen supply for both men. The Germans had already extensively researched prone flight through various developmental initiatives such as the DFS 228 and the DFS 346. As designed, there was no method of quick exit for the crew as ejection from the prone position presented all sorts of issues for engineers to overcome had the aircraft been selected for development. A version fitted both engines under the fuselage was considered.
The cockpit was held under a large framed canopy section at the apex of the triangular airframe shape (when viewing the aircraft in is overhead profile). This provided issue with viewpoints for the pilots, particularly to the direct rear and along any of the rearward quadrants. As such, the design could be susceptible to intercepting aircraft approaching from the rear, a prospect that troubled the RLM. Gotha reasoned that the P.60 would be traveling so fast that no Allied interceptor would be able to approach it from these vulnerable angles.
The P.60 was to be initially powered by 2 x BMW 003A-1 turbojet engines of 1,763lbs thrust while, in their finalized forms, replacement would have come through 2 x Heinkel Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engines of 2,866lbs thrust. The P.60 was estimated with a top speed of 590 miles per hour and cruising speeds of 384 miles per hour. The aircraft would have featured a rate-of-climb of 3,240 feet-per-second and a combat radius of 1,044 miles, operating at ceilings of up to 42,660 feet. The P.60 housed three individual fuel cells - one in each wing and a third aft of the cockpit.
As a day fighter and interceptor charged with engaging the massed formations of Allied bombers, the P.60 would not be fitted with radar of any kind and be armed exclusively with cannons. 4 x 30mm MK 108 cannons were proposed for the base high altitude fighter variant, two cannons to a wing root straddling either side of the cockpit and afforded 170 rounds of ammunition each. For the heavy fighter, this was to be substituted through 2 x 30mm MK 103 cannons. In the event that the aircraft was ever pressed into the strike role, provisions were made for the carrying of a single 1,100lb bomb under the fuselage. It is not out of the scope of the P.60 program that the fighter would also have been afforded access to new German guided missiles held underwing as well. It bears mention that designers intended to armor the cockpit area which would serve the crew well in the dog fighting / low-level strike role.
With all that said, the P.60 faced insurmountable odds in upending the Ho 229 initiative. Its requirement for two crew was out of scope for a resources-strapped, war torn Germany. There proved no viable ejection plan for the pilots and prone flight, while having been researched, had yet to be implemented successfully and on a large scale at the operational level. Additionally, the Go P.60 design called for use of two engines at a time when a single-engined defensive-minded fighter would have made more sense.
The P.60C is a related P.60 project detailed elsewhere on this site. It was intended as a radar-equipped, all-weather night fighter.
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Gotha Go P.60A/B production model)
2 x Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engines developing 2,866lb of thrust each; OPTIONAL: 4 x Walter HWK solid-fuel rocket boosters of 4,400lb thrust.
590 mph (950 kph; 513 kts)
42,651 feet (13,000 m; 8.08 miles)
994 miles (1,600 km; 864 nm)
3,240 ft/min (988 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Gotha Go P.60A/B production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
High-Altitude Fighter (proposed):
4 x 30mm MK 108 cannons
Heavy Fighter "Zerstorer" (proposed):
2 x 30mm MK 103 cannons
1 x 1,100lb drop bomb under fuselage
Reconnaissance Fighter (proposed):
2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Gotha Go P.60A/B production model)
Go P.60A - High-Altitude Fighter; fitting 4 x 30mm MK 108 cannons.
Go P.60A/R - Rocket-booster-equipped high-altitude fighter; 4 x HWK rocket boosters for take-off.
Go P.60A-2 - Proposed P.60 revision with engines fitted underneath the wings to improved crew survivable upon ejection.
Go P.60B - Heavy Fighter Variant; fitting 2 x 30mm MK 103 cannons; optional 1 x 1,100lb drop bomb under fuselage.
Go P.60B-1 - Proposed reconnaissance platform; fitting 2 x RB 50/18 series cameras and 2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons.
Go P.60C - Related P.60 development as an all-weather, radar-equipped night fighter.
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