20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions
20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions

20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions

Steve - October 27, 2018

20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions

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.

20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions
A “Fritz X” Guided Bomb. Wikimedia Commons.

4. The Fritz X, a guided anti-ship glide bomb developed by the Nazis, was the first precision guided weapon to be deployed in combat

The “Fritz X” (a nickname given by both the Allies and Germans, with the official designation the Ruhrstahl SD 1400 X) was an anti-ship bomb designed to pierce armor and deliver a high-explosive charge. Recognizing the difficulty of hitting moving enemy ships during the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe began experimentation in 1938 with radio-controlled spoilers attached to free-falling bombs; guided by this radio link, the minimum launch height of the Fritz X was 13,000 feet and a range of 3.1 miles, with the requirement for maintaining direct sight exposing the control aircraft to enemy attack.

Entering active service on July 21, 1943, in a bombing raid on Augusta harbor in Sicily, the bomb’s initial usage was so inaccurate the Allies did not realize they were being targeted by guided weapons. Despite this initial setback, on September 9 a pair of Fritz X bombs were responsible for sinking the Italian battleship Roma to prevent it falling into enemy hands after the Italian armistice with the Allies, killing 1,393 men including Admiral Carlo Bergamini; similar successes occurred against the USS Savannah on September 11 during the invasion of Salerno, killing 197 and forcing it to return to the United States for eight months to repair, and against the Royal Navy’s HMS Uganda on September 13, killing 16 men and disabling the ship.

However, by early-1944 the Allies had developed electronic countermeasures capable of rendering the radio-controlled bombs ineffective, an ability soundly demonstrated during the Battle of Anzio on January 22 wherein the British-designed Type 650 transmitter blocked the Nazi receiving frequency; by the time of the Normandy Landings in June 1944, the preponderance of Allied ships had such systems installed and the guided bombs fell out of usage by the remnants of the Luftwaffe.

20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions
The Replica Z1, created by Zuse in 1989 to replace his destroyed innovation. Wikimedia Commons.

3. The world’s the first freely programmable computer was invented in Nazi Germany, before being destroyed in an Allied bombing

The Z-series computers, comprising the Z1, Z2, Z3, and Z4, were a series of mechanical computers designed by Konrad Zuse between 1935 and 1943. The Z1, originally called “VersuchsModell 1” (Experimental Model 1) but changed post-war due to confusion with the aforementioned V1 flying bomb, was designed between 1935-1936 and constructed from 1936-1938 in the living room of Zuse’s parent’s apartment. Weighing approximately 1000 kilograms and consisting of roughly 20,000 working parts, the Z1 contained almost all the components of a modern computer including memory, a control unit, and logic devices; this made the Z1 freely programmable via punched tape with pre-programmable memory downloaded onto the internal memory of the machine. Unfortunately, the landmark invention was destroyed during an Allied bombing raid on Berlin in December 1943 along with the plans; despite this, over forty years later Zuse successfully rebuilt his machine in 1989 from memory for the purpose of historical preservation.

The Z2 was only a minor improvement on the Z1, using the same mechanical memory setup but introducing electrical relay circuitry; all existing plans for the Z2 were destroyed during the war. The Z3 was completed in 1941 as the first digital computer in the modern sense, but was not considered sufficiently important to the war effort to be put into operation; in fact, Zuse’s request to replace the computer’s relays with fully electronic switches was denied by the Reich on the grounds it was “not war-important”. Destroyed on December 21, 1943, also during an Allied bombing raid, a replica reproduced in the 1960s demonstrated the machine to be Turing-complete – the first computer to achieve this status.

Unlike his other creations, Zuse was able to rescue one Z4 from the bombings, being evacuated from Berlin in February 1945 to safety in the alpine village of Hinterstein with the machine; it would become the world’s first commercial digital computer in the 1950s. It is also worth noting that in addition to his creation of some of the first modern computers, Zuse was also responsible for the design of the first high-level non-von Neumann programming language: Plankalkül. Developed for his doctoral dissertation, but only published in 1948 due to the fall of Nazi Germany impeding his PhD progress, Zuse developed a system of notation for algorithms during his downtime as he was unable to continue work on the Z4 from remote Hinterstein.

20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions
Scientific demonstration of the principles behind an Acoustic Torpedo. Wikimedia Commons.

2. The Nazis created homing acoustic torpedoes, which almost changed the outcome of the Battle of the Atlantic

An acoustic torpedo, in contrast to a conventional torpedo, is defined by its ability to independently aim itself at a target either by listing to the vessel’s background noise to using sonar. Developed almost simultaneously by both the Allies and Germans during World War II, the Nazis edged out their Western scientific rivals when they created the G7e/T4 Falke, first deployed in March 1943; however, this model was ineffective, and was only used in combat by three U-Boats. Not deterred, in August 1943 the G7es T-5 Zaunkönig torpedo was rolled out and was extensively used throughout September 1943, in particular in attacks on merchant ship convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.

The initial effects of the introduction of acoustic torpedoes by the Nazis in the campaign was enormous. The summer of 1943 saw significant setbacks for the U-boat campaign, facing impressive anti-submarine efforts by the Allies, the defensive convoy system, and a dedicated team of hunter-killer escorts; the acoustic torpedo turned the tide for the Axis in late-1943, providing the German U-Boats with a “fire and forget” weapon allowing for speedy getaways after identifying itself through attack. In the wake of the introduction of acoustic torpedoes Nazi submarine kills dramatically increased, rising from a near-insignificant total in the summer of 1943. In spite of this considerable impact, the usefulness of the acoustic torpedo was short-lived, as the Allies swiftly produced the “Foxer”: an electronic countermeasure towed several hundred meters behind the ship and designed to produce acoustic noise as a decoy target.

20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions

An alleged UFO photographed flying over New Jersey in 1952. Could it be a secret Nazi reconnaissance flight….this author says definitely no. Wikimedia Commons.

1. From Moon Bases to UFOs, Anti-Gravity Technology to Time Travel, the Nazis have become the focal point of several technological conspiracy theories

In addition to the verifiable and detailed inventions of Nazi Germany listed above, far more fanciful creations have been widely ascribed to the Third Reich by a litany of conspiracy theorists. Among the most common, and indeed absurd in this author’s opinion, are the Nazi space conspiracies. Contending, without evidence, that Germany recovered a crashed alien spaceship in Antarctica in the final days of the war, these spacecrafts were used to transport leading members of the Reich to a secret Moon base to prepare for the future resumption of war under the identity of the Fourth Reich. The evidence provided for this alleged base on the dark side of the Moon is sketchy, with claims that distorted pixels on NASA images are deliberately censored images showing the hidden Nazi structures; just as to why NASA is supposedly protecting the impending Nazi space invaders is less clear.

Whilst categorically untrue, and ranging from the belief fluoride was stolen Nazi technology capable of mind control and pacifying docile civilian populations to Hitler escaping into the past via time travel, they are well worth a read for sheer absurdity and hilarity.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Strange Vehicles of Pre-War Germany and the Third Reich”, Robert Dale Arndt Jr., IRP Publication (1945)

“German Tanks of World War Two In Action”, George Forty, Blandford Press (1988)

“Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two”, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, Silverdale Books (1999)

“Helicopters of the Third Reich”, Steve Coates and Jean-Christophe Carbonel, Classic Publications (2003)

“Germany’s Secret Weapons in World War II”, Ian V. Hogg, Zenith Imprint (2000)

“Target: America – Hitler’s Plan to Attack the United States”, James Duffy, Praeger (2004)

“The History of Methadone and Methadone Prescribing”, A. Preston and G. Bennett (2003)

“Projekt Natter, Last of the Wonder Weapons: The Luftwaffe’s Vertical Take-Off Rocket Interceptor”, Brett Gooden, Classic Publications (2006)

“Sun Gun: Nazis Worked on a Weapon to Destroy Their Enemies With the Power of the Sun”. War History Online. Christian Oord. Jan 28, 2019

“The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare”, Bernard Fitzsimons, Columbia House (1978)

“The Little Can That Could”, Richard Daniel, Inventions and Technology Magazine (1987)

“Science: Sun Gun”, Time Magazine (July 9, 1945)

“Nazi ‘Sun Gun’ Aimed To Burn Cities Using Huge Space Mirrors”, Huff Post (Dec 06, 2017)

“The German Jets in Combat”, Jeffery Ethell and Alfred Price, Jane’s Publishing Company (1979)

“Nazi Germany (Year of construction unknown) Prototype” Kugelpanzer, The Online Tank Museum.

“V-2: A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile”, Tracy Dungan, Westholme Publishing (2005)

“Impact: The History of Germany’s V-Weapons in World War II”, Benjamin King, Timothy Kutta, Sarpedon (1998)

“The Third Reich at War, 1939-1945”, Richard Evans, Penguin (2009)

“Inside the Third Reich”, Albert Speer, Macmillan (1997)

“The Reich Stuff?”, Wired Culture (January 21, 2000)

“Aviation Archeology of the Horten 229 v3 Aircraft”, Thomas Dobrenz, Aldo Spadoni, and Michael Jorgensen; AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference (10th Anniversary)

“German Remotely Piloted Bombs” Charles Bogart, United States Naval Institute Proceedings” (November 1976)

“The Computer – My Life”, Konrad Zue, Springer-Verlag, (1993)

“10 Famous Companies That Collaborated With Nazi Germany”. Khalid Elhassan. History Collection. July 16, 2018