The Gothaer Waggonfabrik (GWF), originally a German rail vehicle manufacturer, entered the aircraft industry in 1913. The driving force behind this major change in production in this small Thuringian duchy in central Germany was a member of the British royal family. Gotha aircraft managed to make a name for themselves internationally. As with ‘Fokker’ regarding fighter aircraft, the name ‘Gotha’ is synonymous with German bomber aircraft of the Great War. Even successful seaplanes and the world’s first asymmetric aircraft were a part of GWF’s production at this time, and lasted until the post-war Treaty of Versailles forced the abandonment of aircraft production. Aircraft could not be built in Gotha again until 1933. GWF did get development contracts for the Luftwaffe, but they were essentially incidental side issues and not of the lucrative mass construction variety. In 1939 a world altitude record on the sports aircraft Gotha Go 150, provided GWF with a small though internationally significant highlight. During the war the GWF developed cargo gliders and, under licence, built the Messerschmitt Bf 110. In 1945 Gotha was supposed to undertake batch production of the flying wing jet fighter, Horten Ho 229, and even designed its more radical successor. In 1954 the aircraft construction finally ended and once again, the production consisted of gliders and one last proprietary design was created.
GOTHA AIRCRAFT From the London Bomber to the Flying Wing Jet Fighter
Gotha was the manufacturer of a highly successful series of bombers based on a 1914 design by Oskar Ursinus, but heavily reimagined by Hans Burkhard. From 1917, the Burkhard-designed twin pusher biplane bomber aircraft were capable of carrying out strategic bombing missions over England, the first heavier-than-air aircraft used in this role.