Alexander Martin Lippisch (November 2, 1894 – February 11, 1976)
was a German pioneer of aerodynamics. He made important
contributions to the understanding of flying wings, delta wings
and the ground effect. His most famous design is the Messerschmitt
Me 163 rocket-powered interceptor.
Lippisch was born in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria. He later recalled
that his interest in aviation stemmed from a demonstration
conducted by Orville Wright, over Tempelhof Field in Berlin, in
September 1909. Nonetheless, he planned to follow his father’s
footsteps into art school. The outbreak of World War I intervened.
During his service with the German Army from 1915–1918, Lippisch
had the chance to fly as an aerial photographer and mapper.
Following the war, Lippisch worked with the Zeppelin Company, and
it was at this time that he first became interested in tail-less
aircraft. In 1921 his first such design would reach production in
as the Lippisch-Espenlaub E-2 glider, built by Gottlob Espenlaub.
This was the beginning of a research programme that would result
in some fifty designs throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Lippisch’s
growing reputation saw him appointed the director of the
Rhön-Rossitten Gesellschaft (RRG), a glider research group.
Lippisch’s work led to a series of tail-less designs numbered
Storch I – Storch IX between 1927 and 1933 (these were not related
to the successful Fieseler Fi 156 Storch STOL aircraft of WW2).
These designs attracted little interest from the government and
private industry. Nonetheless, it was during this time that
Lippisch’s Ente (Duck) became the first aircraft to fly under
Experience with the Storch series led Lippisch to concentrate
increasingly on delta-winged designs. This interest resulted in
five aircraft, numbered Delta I – Delta V, which were built
between 1931 and 1939. In 1933, RGG had been reorganised into the
Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS — "German Institute
for Sailplane Flight") and the Delta IV and Delta V were
designated as the DFS 39 and DFS 40 respectively.
In early 1939, the Reichsluftfahrtsministerium (RLM — “Reich
Aviation Ministry”) transferred Lippisch and his team to work at
the Messerschmitt factory, in order to design a high-speed fighter
aircraft around the rocket engines then under development by
Hellmuth Walter. The team quickly adapted their most recent
design, the DFS 194, to rocket power, the first example
successfully flying in early 1940. This was the direct ancestor of
what would become the Messerschmitt Me 163 "Komet".
Although technically novel, the Komet did not prove to be a
successful weapon, and friction between Lippisch and Messerschmitt
was frequent. In 1943, Lippisch transferred to Vienna’s
Luftfahrtforschungsanstalt Wien (LFW), to concentrate on the
problems of high-speed flight. That same year, he was awarded a
doctoral degree in engineering by the University of Heidelberg.
Wind tunnel research in 1939 had suggested that the delta wing was
a good choice for supersonic flight, and Lippisch set to work
designing a supersonic, ramjet-powered fighter, the Lippisch
P.13a. wartime test footage By the time the war ended, however,
the project had only advanced as far as a development glider, the
Like many German scientists, Lippisch was taken to the United
States after the war under Operation Paperclip. Advances in jet
engine design were making Lippisch's ideas more practical, and
Convair became interested in a hybrid jet/rocket design which they
proposed as the F-92.  In order to gain experience with the
delta wing, they first built a jet powered test aircraft, the
7003, which became the first powered delta-wing aircraft to fly.
Although the USAF lost interest in the F-92, the 7003 was
designated the XF-92A which gave Convair experience with the
delta-wing design. This led them to proposing it for most of their
projects through the 1950s and into the 1960s, including the F-102
Delta Dagger, F-106 Delta Dart and B-58 Hustler.
From 1950–1964 Lippisch worked for the Collins Radio Company in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which had an aeronautical division. It was
during this time that his interest shifted toward ground effect
craft. The results were an unconventional VTOL aircraft (an
aerodyne) and an aerofoil boat. However, Lippisch contracted
cancer, and resigned from Collins.
When he recovered in 1966, he formed his own research company,
Lippisch Research Corporation, and attracted the interest of the
West German government. Prototypes for both the aerodyne and the
ground-effect craft were built, but no further development was
undertaken. The Kiekhaefer Mercury company was also interested in
his ground-effect craft and successfully tested one of his designs
as the Aeroskimmer, but also eventually lost interest.
Lippisch died in Cedar Rapids early in 1976.
Other Aircraft Designed by
Lippisch P.01-111, designed as a competitor to the Messerschmitt
Lippisch Li P.04-106, a tailless airplane designed as a competitor
to the Messerschmitt Me 329
Lippisch P.11, designed to compete with the Horten Ho-IX; the
latter went on to become the Horten (Gotha) Ho-(Go-)229.
Lippisch P.13a, a unique delta-winged, ramjet-powered interceptor.
Lippisch P.13b, a unique airplane powered by a rotating fuel-table
of lignite, owing to the fuel shortages late in World War 2 in
Lippisch P.15, a development of the Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet.
Alexander Lippisch Photograph
Collection, [ca. 1920s-1950s]
Creator: Lippisch, Alexander, 1894-1976
Title: Alexander Lippisch Photograph
Collection, [ca. 1920s-1950s]
Phy. Description: 0.90 cubic feet (2 legal
Bio / His Notes:
Alexander Lippisch (1894-1976) began his career in Aeronautics in
February, 1918 when he joined the aircraft manufacturing plant of
Zeppelin-Dornier in Lindau, Germany as an aerodynamicist. In 1921
Lippisch began his work on the development of sailplanes and
gliders. At the same time he worked on the development of the
tailless and the Delta-wing aircraft. In 1939 Lippisch joined the
Messerschmitt A.G. Augsburg for the development of the ME 163 A
and B. In 1943, Lippisch took over the Aeronautical Research
Institute (LFW) were he developed the shape of the supersonic
Delta wing. After the war, he was in custody of the Air Technical
Intelligence of the U.S. Army. Lippisch was transferred to the
United States where he worked at Wright Field, for the Navy, and
later with Collins Radio Company. At Collins he developed a
wing-less aircraft, the Aerodyne. He also started the development
of another type of aircraft - the ram-wing or Aerofoil Boat.
This collection contains photographs and drawings of the tailless
and all-wing aircraft with which Lippisch was involved. Many of
the photographs appear in Lippisch's book 'The Delta Wing: A
History and Development.'
Alexander Lippisch was born in Munich, Germany in 1894. Developing
an affinity for delta-winged aircraft, he designed a series of
innoative gliders during the 1930s, his concepts ultimately
resulting in World War II's rocket-powered ME163 "Komet"
interceptor. In 1950, Lippisch joined the American Collins Radio
Co. where he investigated the feasibility of building a
high-performance Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The "Aerodyne" was the most interesting of his concepts:
Theoretically, it would be able to outpace most conventional
aircraft with the same weight/power ratio, it would be able to
achieve super-sonic speed, and it didn't have the operational
disadvantages of such "tail-sitters" as the Convair XFY-1 "Pogo,"
Lockheed's XFV-1 "Salmon," or the Ryan X-13 "Vertijet."
The Aerodyne's lift and propulsion were to be generated by two
co-axial shrouded propellers, the slipstream from which would be
deflected downward by "flaps" for vertical take-off and landing.
Control was to be achieved by deflecting part of the slipstream
emerging from the end of the tail boom, and by flaps in the
Lippisch's fundamental equations survive on paper, and this
Sharkit represents one of the many models built for research
purposes. Despite the drawn cokpit, only unmanned craft were built
The Aerodyne configuration was ultimately validated by the Dornier
aerodyne "E1," a high-speed VTOL drone developed between 1968 and
1971, and succesfully fight-tested in 1972. Hovering flight tests
showed extremely smoth attitude stabilization and minimal
And, of course, the McDonnell-Douglas Harrier Jump Jet, developed
in the 1970s and still in operation today, employs many of
Lippisch's VTOL principles.
Alexander Lippisch Digital Collection
Alexander Lippisch Papers (1897-1993, n.d.) located in Special
Collections, contains biographical material, correspondence,
scientific research, materials relating to patents, publications,
photographs, and films. In addition to a rich array of material
relating to Lippisch's work in aeronautical engineering, the
collection also includes biographical material about Lippisch and
publications and photographs related to general aviation history.
Scientific files document Lippisch's work designing sailplanes and
gliders, delta winged aircraft, and aerodynes, as well as research
involving aerodynamics, smoke tunnels, and ground effect. These
files include materials such as calculations, data, statistics and
experimental test results, and technical designs and conceptual
drawings of aircraft designs. The collection also includes copies
of patent applications for Lippisch's work as well as the work of
other aeronautical engineers.
Alexander Lippisch Digital Collection contains the technical
designs and conceptual drawings for Lippisch's aeronautical
designs including wingless aircraft, delta-wings, and aerodynes,
as well as numerous photographic images of delta wings.
YouTube - NASA Spiral Duct ESTOL
Extremely Short Takeoff and Landing advanced vehicle concept based
upon the coupling of the Lippisch Aerodyne and Custer Channel
GROUND EFFECT FLYING SURFACE
Ground effects utilizing and
Ducted aircraft with fore
Aerodyne with external flow
Twin shroud aerodyne
Fluid sustained and fluid
sustained and fluid propelled aircraft
Axial blower with flow control
Fluid sustained and propelled
Fluid sustained aircraft
Fluid propelled airplane
Aerodynamic stabilizing and
controlling means for delta wing aircraft
Aile d'avion utilisable en
particulier pour les avions sans queue, en forme de flèche
Tragfluegelausbildung fuer ein
Fluid reaction sustained and
FLUID PROPELLED AND SUSTAINED
AXIAL BLOWER WITH FLOW CONTROL
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