Alexander LIPPISCH


Alexander Lippisch

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.[1] 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 rocket power.

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 DM-1.

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. [1] 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

Lippisch P.01-111, designed as a competitor to the Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet.
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 Germany.
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 document boxes)

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 propeller slipstream.

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 and tested.
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 ground-effects.

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.

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YouTube - NASA Spiral Duct ESTOL Concept

Extremely Short Takeoff and Landing advanced vehicle concept based upon the coupling of the Lippisch Aerodyne and Custer Channel Wing. ...





Ground effects utilizing and transition aircraft

Ducted aircraft with fore elevators

Aerodyne with external flow

Twin shroud aerodyne

Fluid sustained and fluid propelled aircraft

Fluid sustained and fluid propelled aircraft

Fluid pump

Axial blower with flow control stator

Fluid sustained and propelled aircraft         

Fluid sustained aircraft

Wingless aircraft

Variable wing

Fluid propelled airplane

Aerodynamic stabilizing and controlling means for delta wing aircraft

Aircraft aerofoil


Aile d'avion utilisable en particulier pour les avions sans queue, en forme de flèche







Tragfluegelausbildung fuer ein Fahrzeug...


Fluid reaction sustained and propelled aircraft




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