Siegfried and Walter Günter

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Ernst Heinkel (right) with Siegfried Günter.

Dr. Siegfried Günter (8 December 1899 – 20 June 1969) and Walter Günter (8 December 1899 – 21 September 1937) were German twin brothers and pioneering aircraft designers. Walter was responsible for the world's first rocket-powered and turbojet airframes, projects funded by Nazi Germany.[1] Siegfried was the father of the "thrust modulation theory",[2] and designs for the Soviet MiG 15[citation needed], and MiG 19[citation needed].

Early life[edit]

Siegfried and Walter Günter were born on 8 December 1899 in Thuringia.[2] Avid flight enthusiasts, at 16 they had developed their own propeller theories.[2] Both served in the First World War, where they were captured by the British Army and each became a prisoner of war.

The brothers would be educated in mechancial engineering at the Institute of Technology Hannover, specializing in aircraft design and aerodynamics.[2] It was there that Siegfried designed his first aircraft with fellow students Walter Mertens and Werner Meyer-Cassel, the glider H 6.[2] Their talents were first recognised by Paul Bäumer who was impressed by the performance of the H 6 when he saw it being flown at Wasserkuppe. Bäumer offered the brothers, Mertens, and Meyer-Cassel jobs with his company Bäumer Aero in Berlin. There they began designing motor gliders and then increasingly fast sports planes, including one in which Bäumer himself was killed in a crash in 1928. By 1925 Siegfried had designed first "Buzzing Wind" airplane for the Deutscher Rundflug 1925 competition, which featured the first elliptic design based on Prandtl's 1918 theory.[2]

Heinkel Flugzeugwerke[edit]

On 16 January 1931, Ernst Heinkel recruited the Siegfried Günter to work for his Heinkel company in Rostock, and Walter joined the company on 31 July 1931, where he was in charge of developing low and high-speed wind tunnels.[2][3] There they were to design some of the most important and famous designs associated with the company, including the Heinkel He 51, He 70, He 112, He 100, and the He 111. Walter designed the first retractable landing gear ever in Germany on the He 70, which Siegfried designed mainly.[2]

Through their introduction of the elliptical wing-plan form, their designs set officially recognized speed records.[2] Lufthansa purchased He 70 planes, nicknaming it the Heinkel-Blitz, and instituted "blitz" air-routes between Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt comparable to today's travel time for the same routes.[2]

During this time Walter submitted airframe designs for what would become the He 178 turbojet plane, and the He 176 rocket plane, in coordination with Dr Hans von Ohain.[4]

As chief project designer by 1937, Siegfried and his team introduced the He 100D-1 on 25 May 1937.[5]

Siegfried would later contribute to the design of the He 219, as well as other prototypes, including the He 177 and He 162.

Death of Walter[edit]

During this time Walter was killed in a car accident on 21 September 1937.[3]

Soviet Union[edit]

After the Second World War Siegfried worked in Berlin in the car shop of his father-in-law. He approached the Allies offering his expertise, which was refused along with his request for asylum, forcing him to return to the Soviet sector.[6] In 1948 he was taken to the Soviet Union by USSR agents where he worked on Russian aircraft designs.[7]

East Germany[edit]

In July 1954 he returned to East Germany.[3]

West Germany[edit]

In 1957 he went to West Germany, where he again joined the Heinkel works. He was involved in the construction of the EWR VJ 101, the world's first supersonic V/STOL-aircraft and the V/STOL transportation aircraft VC 400. Both designs ended up as prototypes and never saw serial production.[3]

Death[edit]

Siegfried died in Berlin on 20 June 1969.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The jet race and the Second World War", Sterling Michael Pavelec. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, p. 5. ISBN 0-275-99355-8, ISBN 978-0-275-99355-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Aeronautical research in Germany: from Lilienthal until today, Volume 147", Ernst-Heinrich Hirschel, Horst Prem, Gero Madelung. Springer, 2004, pp. 66, 69, 379. ISBN 3-540-40645-X, 9783540406457.
  3. ^ a b c d e Regnat 2004, p. 5.
  4. ^ "Hans von Ohain: elegance in flight", Margaret Conner. AIAA, 2001, p. 47. ISBN 1-56347-520-0, ISBN 978-1-56347-520-7.
  5. ^ "German aircraft of the Second World War: including helicopters and missiles", Antony L. Kay, John Richard Smith, Eddie J. Creek. Naval Institute Press, 2002. ISBN 1-55750-010-X, 9781557500106.
  6. ^ Newsweek, Volume 43, Part 2, 1954.
  7. ^ Luftwaffe secret projects: strategic bombers 1935-1945, Dieter Herwig, Heinz Rode. Midland Publishing, 2000, p. 70. ISBN 1-85780-092-3, ISBN 978-1-85780-092-0.

Sources[edit]