AidSpace Blog

Horten H IX V3 “Bat-Wing Ship,” November 2013 Update

Posted on

Led by object conservator and project leader Lauren Horelick, the National Air and Space Museum staff continues preparing the Horten IX V3 center section to move early in January (weather and roads permitting) to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center where it will eventually be joined to the outer wing panels that are already displayed in the hangar. Conservation Fellows Anna Weiss and Peter McElhinnery recently joined Lauren and retired Museum treatment specialist Karl Heinzel, and the two fellows are already making significant contributions to the project. Here is a selection of photos taken in Building 10 at the Paul Garber Facility showing progress thus far.


Lauren and treatment specialist Matt Nazzaro study the interior beneath an access panel they have just removed. Note the skin removed around the air intake feeding the starboard engine. Pat Robinson  photograph.


Conservation and treatment specialists have also removed sections of the metal skin covering the port air intake and the front section of the two Junkers-Jumo 004 jet turbine engine. Pat Robinson photograph.


Accessories and components attached to the engines and wooden supports that brace the wing leading edge. Lauren Horelick photo.


Circular markings and indistinct lettering is visible on this section of wood. Lauren Horelick photo.


One of the large panels that conservation and treatment staff removed from the underside of the center section. Lauren Horelick photo.


Lauren and her team are carefully removing more of the exterior wood and metal skin from the center section to assess the condition of the internal components and airframe. Green paint found on the plywood could be polyvinyl chloride used to fireproof the wood.


Once Lauren’s team finishes their assessment, artisans will build a sturdy fixture to support the center section during the 40-mile trip from the Garber Facility to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

After the center section arrives at the hangar, work will continue to stabilize the artifact, treat any problem areas, and prepare to attach the outer wing panels to the center section and again make the aircraft whole, something like this:


Deciding just how much of the jet wing to treat or restore will be a group effort involving treatment specialists, conservators, and curators, but this critical step must wait until we can gather in one place the center section, outer wing panels, wheels and tires, control surfaces, and other components, and study them carefully to determine how the whole artifact should be finished. We expect to make progress on this phase of the project next year.

Russ Lee is a curator in the Aeronautics Department at the National Air and Space Museum.

Share:Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon

Tags: , , , , , ,

21 thoughts on “Horten H IX V3 “Bat-Wing Ship,” November 2013 Update

  1. I am so glad to see that the Horten will be moving to the Engen. Now I need to get set up to come out there!!!

  2. Great work and hopefully all the pieces will be sorted out, rehabbed and then assembled into a whole aircraft for eventual the Udvar Hazy Museum.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to take the T-38 to the Udvar Hazy and winch it upward to hang from the rafters? That would be above the section where jet fighters are sorted out ground level.

    Ever think of getting a D-21 to repose next to the SR-71 Blackbird? Several left AMARC last month for scrap.NASA may have three in storage left to choose from.

  3. Very interesting! I never knew, until I saw the last photo in this article that the V3 ever its wings installed. As I recall, other photos show just the center section without wings.

  4. James, I do not believe that our SR-71 ever carried the D-21 drone and because the Museum of Flight in Seattle already displays an A-12/D-21 stack, we would not attempt to acquire a D-21.

  5. Jim, at the Mary Baker Engen hangar you probably saw the outer wing panels for the Horten IX V3. The two medium gray colored panels are side-by-side and leading edge down resting in part of a wooden shipping crate. The center section containing the engines, landing gear, and the cockpit, is at Garber while staff prepare it for transport to the Engen hangar.

  6. In regards to the D-21, I agree that the D-21 should not be displayed with the SR-71. However, with the current trend of drone usage and the technical achievements the D-21 represented in its own right it would make a wonderful addition to the UAV collection. It is not large, it is striking in appearance and certainly peaks interest of passers by. The D-21 could also fit nicely in the Capital Mall along with RQ-3A Dark Star in the UAV exhibit. The fact that D-21 drones are displayed elsewhere kind of misses the point, it is a readily available, extremely relevant piece, and provides a high level of inspiration and educational relevance in both historical and modern day context. The D-21 drone would further provide to illustrate the connection between our history and its importance in our future and would provide a high impact to cost and space ratio, in short an excellent value that would be far more precious on display than as scrap metal. As a Smithsonian Air and Space member, I urge the reassessment of the D-21 as a viable exhibit to the UAV collection at the Capital Mall.

  7. Russell, you are correct and I know that our SR-71 never flew with a D-21, but I will say that to have a titanium clad D-21 sitting next to our SR-71 with appropriate signing describing its role would be a great conversation piece. After all, the Udvar Hazy is an extension of our Nation’s museum showcasing our collections. I have read that the Museum of Aviation in Macon, GA was deaccessioning 33 aircraft and one of them was the D-21 they had next to the SR-71. Not aware if the D-21 was sent away, but if available by asking, it could be made available to Udvar Hazy.

  8. Didn’t we bring two of these to the US from Germany after WWII? This is one of the best pictures with the wings on I’ve seen, were they ever flown & tested here in the US?

    PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE Save & display as many flying machines as possible especially prototypes & experimental even if they have to be put in storage for a decade or so for secrecy I could name a bunch like the Valkyrie & Avro Arrow that the next generation could learn from. So save as many as possible including any of the D-12 Drone left. Because here in Arizona its so said to see all the stuff destroyed down in Tucson at the AMARG Boneyard when just a few years ago they destroyed & garaged all the missiles because the had no recycle value. Even worse we had a Boneyard in Kingman, Az full of WWII planes many who had complete over 50 missions & I believe their all gone also

  9. James from Phoenix, the Allies collected only the one example of a Horten IX jet wing. This is the aircraft we are working on now. We attempt to aquire and preserve the examples of modern innovative and significant air and space vehicles whenever we can.

  10. when I first met russell lee in 2004 at the garber facility to see the horten IXv3 i begged him to restore it as soon as possible. after national geographic jumped the gun i gently chided him now we are on the way. next the kyushu shinden

  11. Pingback: Horten H IX V3 “Bat-Wing Ship,” February 2014 Update | AirSpace

  12. Hi thanks for the opportunity to ask questions on his site. I have been waiting a few years to see this aircraft and planning on coming o the US when it is ready. Any idea on timeframe yet – ie months / years best guess would be fine

  13. My best guess about when we will move the Horten IX V3 center section from Garber to the Udvar-Hazy Center is next month.

  14. Thanks for the response Russell. Its getting a bit exciting as I have been an admirer of this aircraft since I saw it in a small book on German fighter aircraft of WWII approx 50 years ago and have been writing to the museum for he last 5 years for updates on when i can come to see it. As a follow up question how long would the restoration take as an approximation? Ie would I likely be able to view the finished restoration next year (2015) or would it be more likely to be the year after? Also is it to be displayed in the NAS museum in Virginia or elsewhere? Just that coming from Australia means I have a bit more planning to do. thanks again Dennis

  15. I have always wondered why this plane was never completed once it was back in the states. I read that the V3 was only approximately 50% complete when it was captured. From what I can tell, everything major is there (It had the frame, covering, engines, and landing gear); Why didn’t we finish it and fly it? What was missing that still needed to be done? I know we were excited to rebuild a Zero as soon as one crashed on Akutan without much damage. As much as I wish it was, I know that making it flight worthy isn’t the goal of the project. Is the goal to simply prevent further deterioration and assemble the wings and center section for display?

  16. Great question, Chris. Here’s a response from our curator Russ Lee:

    We know from copies found of several original messages that army personnel worked for a short time after the war, probably less than a year, to finish it and make it flyable but the work suddenly stopped for no apparent reason. What probably happened is that someone decided it made little sense to restore an all-wing jet with first-generation jet engines when American design work with swept wings mounted on conventional fuselage and tails, and jet engines of newer designs, was racing ahead even before the war ended. Although the Horten looks very futuristic, it was a dead-end design as a fighter or bomber in the immediate postwar era.

    The plan is to take the time to assemble the wings and center section and make the jet look very neat and presentable, in part by filling-in and painting the areas where original material is lost, without doing any treatment that is irreversible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five + = 11