A replica model of an Arado E.555. Wikimedia Commons.
5. The Nazis inadvertently designed a prototype long-range stealth strategic bomber, elements of which were replicated in the American B-2 over 40 years later
The Arado E.555 was a long-range strategic jet-powered bomber proposed in 1942 in response to the “Amerikabomber” project seeking to target the continental United States. Whilst a variety of designs were considered, the engineers behind the Arado E.555, in their attempt to mix the requirements for both speed and range, settled upon a unique angular wing construction; unbeknownst to the engineers, this design would be later replicated in the B-2 Stealth Bomber decades later due to its remarkably imperceptible nature.
The Arado E.555 was followed by the Horten Ho 229, intended to be the first flying wing aircraft to be powered by jet engines; a response to Göring’s desire for light bombers capable of meeting the “3×1000 requirement“: being able to carry 1,000 kilograms of bombs a distance of 1,000 kilometers, at a speed of 1,000 kilometers per hour. Only three were ever manufactured, and none flown within an operational capacity, with the only surviving Horten Ho 229 secretly shipped to the United States as part of “Operation Seahorse” and the scientists recruited under “Operation Paperclip”. An object of curiosity by the engineers responsible for the B-2 Stealth Bomber in the 1980s, it has been alleged the Horten Ho 229 utilized mixed charcoal woven into the wingspans as the means to achieve rudimentary stealth technology to disguise the aircraft’s presence from early radar; in spite of serving as a piece of immense inspiration for the B-2 project, modern testing has cast doubt on the veracity of this claim.