Gothaer Waggonfabrik (Gotha, GWF) was a German manufacturer of rolling
stock established in the late nineteenth century at Warnemünde. 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
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 production, the
Gotha Go 229. This was an exotic jet-powered, flying wing fighter aircraft
designed by the Horton brothers, who lacked the facilities to mass-produce
it. Only one prototype flew 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.