By Rob Arndt




Lippisch DFS-194 which led to the Me-163 Komet


Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet during World War II



Dr. Alexander Lippisch was born in Munich, Germany in 1894.


Known for his love of delta-winged aircraft he designed a series of delta-winged gliders in the 1930s that eventually led to the introduction of the world's first and only rocket-powered interceptor during WW2 - the Me 163 Komet.



World's greatest test pilot Hanna Reitsch flew both the DFS-194 and Me-163!

Hanna piloting the Reichenberg R-IV
suicide version of the V-1





Lippisch P.13a art



Hanna Reitsch with Alexander Lippisch, center, and Willy Messerschmitt, right


Lippisch P.13a
Art by Daniel Uhr

Lippisch P.13B


Lippisch P.01-111
Art by Tor Pedersen


Messerschmitt-Lippisch P.08 Grosstransporter



DM-1 Mistels


Siebel Si-204D



Siebel Si-204A


Siebel Si-204D



US DC-3 plane

Lippisch Gleit-Bombenflugzeug

Lippisch influence on Ho XIII


During the war Dr. Lippisch explored a wide range of delta craft and a few circular disc designs based on the AVA Göttingen K1253 wing profile. His last designs, however, concerned supersonic deltas and the use of ramjet power.


Lippisch Supersonic Delta


After the war, Dr. Lippisch's Delta DM-1 glider and delta jet fighter designs led directly to the Convair XF-92 and subsequently to the highly successful F-102 Delta Dagger and F-106 Delta Dart fighters of the US (which was eager to apply German delta-wing technology to the emerging jet technology of the time period). The end product by Convair became the B-58 Hustler.



The Delta Lippisch DM-1 when captured

DM-1 data


5.92 meters


6.6 meters


3.18 meters

Wing Area

20 sq meters

Wing Sweepback

60 deg

Weight empty

297 kg

Weight loaded

460 kg

Typical Release Altitude

8,000 meters

Speed max

560 km/h

Speed landing

72 km/



In Langley Windtunnel in US

Modified version

Convair XP-92 result from wind tunnel testing the DM-1


XP-92 research led directly to the Convair XF-92




Progressive Convair F-102 Delta Dagger




The ultimate Convair product derived from the DM-1... The B-58 Hustler



Lippisch postwar US Transcontinental Bomber
based on a secret Third Reich bomber concept of 1945 unrelated to the Amerika Bomber program


German work on delta wing planforms, directed by Dr. Alexander Lippisch, led to a US Navy proposal in 1947 for a short-range carrier-based interceptor fighter using a similar layout. Project studies were initiated by the Douglas design team led by Ed Heinemann with the object of producing a fighter optimized for a high rate of climb and capable of intercepting enemy aircraft before they reached their targets. These studies led to a design which, rather than being a pure delta, was a tailless aircraft with a sweptback wing of extremely low aspect ratio, following Dr. Lippisch's own evolution of this layout for the Messerschmitt Me-163 target-defence interceptor.




Douglas F4D Skyray


Meanwhile, Dr. Lippisch joined American Collins Radio Company in 1950 where he performed feasibility studies on a wingless VTOL aircraft - his Aerodyne. In theory, the Aerodyne would outperform conventional aircraft, achieve supersonic speed, while not suffering the difficulties of "tail-sitter" configurations like the Convair XFY-1 Pogo, Lockheed XFV-1 Salmon, or Ryan X-13 Vertijet.



Lippisch designed aerodyne model flight testing at Collins.

Designs like these were studied at AVA Göttingen during World War II but deemed as highly impractical.



Another Lippisch aerodyne configuration at Collins


To generate lift and propulsion the Lippisch Aerodyne would utilize two co-axial propellers, the slipstream from each being deflected downwards through flaps for VTOL. Control was to be achieved by deflecting part of the slipstream emerging from the tail boom and by flaps in the propeller flaps. Despite provision for a cockpit, only unmanned craft were built and tested at Collins, operated via electric cables. Collins did manage to construct a full-scale mock up of the Aerodyne and Lippisch patented the idea in 1959.



Lippisch US patent # 2,918,230


Another “Fluid Sustained Aircraft” design by Lippisch



Full-scale model of the aerodyne, meant as an unmanned military machine


The massive jet for the aerodyne




Lippisch-Collins Interceptor Drone

In 1967, Dornier picked up the Lippisch Aerodyne concept with the intent on further development. Dr. Lippisch consulted on the craft, now known as the Dornier E-1. The craft was developed from 1968-1971. It was successfully flight tested in 1972 with smooth altitude stabilization and minimal ground effects.


Site Meter













Lippisch Aerodyne in NASA Ames Wind tunnel


Dornier aerodyne test rig





Despite the validation of Dr. Lippisch's Aerodyne design, no operational manned or unmanned craft were built. The Harrier jump-jet, world famous for its VTOL capabilities employs many of Lippisch's VTOL principals.


Lippisch Rescue Aerodyne





What might have been…
Art by  I. Shestakov


Ultimate Lippisch Combat Aerodyne


Lippisch vision of the future



After the capitulation of Germany, the well-known German aviation designer Dr. Alexander Lippisch went to the U.S.A. to consult Convair and NACA with their delta-wing fighter development. His work was based on a wartime design for a small ramjet powered delta-wing fighter that was tested as the Lippisch DM-1 glider. The DM-1 was transported to the USA and extensively tested in a wind tunnel. The project for which Lippisch provided his contribution finally resulted in the Convair XF-92. As a next project Lippisch started in the fifties investigations in ground-effect machines. Fitted with a reversed delta wing, it would create an air cushion under the wings that would enable the device to skim just above the water using minimal power output only. This idea became later known as the WIG-concept, where WIG stood for Wing In Ground. This idea was tested in his X-112 design, a small singe-seat craft fitted with a 25 hp engine and built by Collins Radio. Carrying the civil registration N5961V it was successfully 'flown' in 1963.

After these US trials, Lippisch returned to Germany, where another larger proof-of-concept machine was built as the single-seat Lippisch X-113. It was built by Rhein-Flugzeugbau, a subsidiary of Fokker-VFW. Fitted with a 40 hp Nelson H63-CP four-cylinder piston engine, and carrying the civil registration D-9568, it made its first flight in October 1970 from Lake Constance. It was highly successful and the single seat research plane was even capable to fly out of its ground effect up to an altitude of 800 m. However, this needed full power and had excessive fuel consumption as penalty. Based on the X-113, a larger six-seat amphibian version was built as the X-114. It was fitted with a Lycoming piston engine driving a shrouded pusher propeller. It was flown for the first time in April 1977 under a military contract of the German government. It was extensively tested carrying the military markings 98 # 29, but it failed to attract further orders. After the plane crashed due to a pilot error, further work was terminated. Plans for much larger military transport and patrol versions never went beyond the drawing board.

Original Lippisch "Ramwing" TransportConcept

Lippisch X-112

Lippisch X-113

Lippisch X-114