Gothaer Waggonfabrik (Gotha, GWF) was a German manufacturer of rolling stock established in the late nineteenth century at WarnemŘnde. During the two world wars, the company expanded into aircraft building.
In World War I, Gotha manufacturer a highly successful series of bombers based on a 1914 design by Oskar Ursinus. From 1917, these aircraft were capable of carrying out strategic bombing missions over England, the first heavier-than-air aircraft used in this role. Several dozen of these bombers were built in a number of subtypes - the Gotha G.I, G.II, G.III, G.IV, and G.V. This last variant was the most prolific, with thirty-six in squadron service at one point.
Whilst Germany was prohibited from aircraft manufacture by the Treaty of Versailles, Gotha returned to its railway endeavours, but returned to aviation with the rise of the Nazi government and the abandonment of the Treaty's restrictions.
Gotha's main contribution to the new Luftwaffe was the Gotha Go 145 trainer, of which some 9,500 were built. The firm also produced the Gotha Go 242 assault glider. Perhaps the most famous Gotha product of World War II, however, was an aircraft that never actually entered service, the Horten Ho 229. This was an exotic jet-powered, flying wing fighter aircraft designed by the Horten brothers, who lacked the facilities to mass-produce it. Two prototypes flew, the third prototype was almost complete and several more where in various stages of manufacture before the end of the war.
Following the war, Gotha once again returned to its original purpose, building trams and light rail vehicles in the former East Germany.
Gotha aircraft included:
- Gotha Go 145, trainer
- Gotha Go 146, small transport(twin-engine) , 1935
- Gotha Go 147, STOL reconnaissance (prototype)
- Gotha Go 229, fighter (flying-wing)
- Gotha Go 242, transport glider
- Gotha Go 244, transport
- Gotha Go 345, assault glider
- Gotha Ka 430, transport glider
- Gotha Taube, a variation of the Rumpler Taube