Harness, Pilots Seat, Lippisch DM-1

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In 1939, Alexander Lippisch joined Willy Messerschmitt's aircraft design and manufacturing firm where he developed the Me 163 Komet (see NASM collection), a semi-tailless, rocket-propelled, fighter interceptor.

The performance of the Me-163 encouraged Lippisch to experiment with supersonic flight and he created several designs that culminated in the DM-1 (Darmstadt-Munich model 1) glider. Lippisch intended to test the DM-1 to determine the handling characteristics of a sharply-swept delta wing aircraft flying at low speeds, and then he planned to add power and push the aircraft to higher speeds. Lippisch optimistically hoped to reach Mach 6 (6,743 kph/4,188 mph).

Construction began in August 1944 at the Flugtechnische Fachgruppe (FFG) Darmstadt but the war ended before workers could finish the glider and the Allied armies discovered it when they occupied the base at Prien am Chiemsee in southern Germany early in May 1945. The specialists in U. S. air intelligence were deeply impressed with the DM-1 and arranged for construction to resume and continue throughout the summer. A number of people visited the project site including Charles A. Lindbergh. The aircraft was completed late in the summer and Allied authorities shipped the glider back to the U. S. The glider arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, late in 1945 and it was soon moved to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. Wind tunnel tests began in February 1946 and finished by year's end.