Friedrich Harth (aircraft designer)

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Friedrich Harth (* 1880 in Zentbechhofen ; † 1936 ) was a German glider pioneer . Between 1908 and 1923, Harth built twelve different types of gliders and laid the foundations for the development of glider flight.


Harth was the son of a head forester and attended elementary school in Bamberg , the grammar school in Landshut and graduated from high school in Munich . In addition to his subsequent architecture studies , he dealt with the findings of the first German glider pilot Otto Lilienthal and began to build a glider after his return to Bamberg . He built wings, strapped them around his body with a belt, and tested them. Shortly afterwards, in 1909, in addition to his job as a government master builder , he began building gliders.

Together with his helpers, Harth tinkered with gliders, in 1910 the first attempts at gliding started on the Ludwager Kulm , a Jura elevation not far from Bamberg, whose plateau and steep western slope were a good starting point. The gliders consisted of an open or closed hull with a fixed horizontal stabilizer. The angles of attack of the wings could be changed in the same direction or in opposite directions in order to serve as an elevator or aileron. However, setbacks were inevitable, as the aircraft was badly damaged in a crash on frozen ground in November. But Harth pursued his goal undeterred. He used the knowledge gained from the failed attempts to build new, better glider planes. The rotary wing control remained an essential feature of the Harth glider.

At that time he was already in the service of the city as a senior construction officer and spent his free time designing and testing his flying machines. He soon had Willi Messerschmitt , the 15-year-old son of a Bamberg wine merchant, who later became his student, as a helper. After the outbreak of the First World War , Harth was drafted into military service and had to interrupt his attempts for the time being, but Messerschmitt built the glider S 5 according to his plans . During a home vacation , flights from 20 m high and up to 300 m can be reached on Heidelstein . In 1916 he was transferred to Schleissheim , where he taught aircraft design and his next design, the S 6 , was created, with which he reached a landing pad 15 m higher than the starting point after an almost three-minute flight with cant. His next design, the S 7 , was made in the early summer of 1919 while he was working at the Bavarian Aircraft Works , to which he had switched after the war.

On September 13, 1921, Harth completed a glider flight of 21:27 minutes on the Heidelstein in the Rhön with his Harth Messerschmitt monoplane S 8 . This was a new high in endurance flight, during which he crashed and suffered a double-sided skull fracture, severe concussion, and a fractured pelvis from which he never fully recovered. In 1924 Harth permanently lost his job and became impoverished in the next few years; for the last three years before the National Socialists came to power , he lived on welfare . Probably for these reasons, Harth was a supporter of the National Socialists and a party member of the NSDAP until his death .


  • Eva-Maria Bast, Annina Baur: What shaped Bamberg. 52 large and small encounters with the city's history. Bast Medien in cooperation with the Franconian Day, Überlingen 2017, ISBN 978-3-946581-21-5 .
  • Gerhard Wissmann: Adventure in wind and clouds. The history of gliding. Transpress, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-344-00275-9 .
  • Günter Brinkmann, Hans Zacher: The evolution of the gliders. In: German aviation. Bernard & Graefe, Bonn 1992, ISBN 3-7637-6104-7 .

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