Born on this day, Fritz von Opel, automobile manufacturer and rocketry enthusiast


Thursday 4th May 1899

Born on this day, Fritz von Opel, automobile manufacturer and rocketry enthusiast. In March 1928 Opel tested his first rocket-powered car, the RAK.1, and achieved a top speed of 75 km/h (47 mph) in it, proving the feasibility of the concept of rocket propulsion. Less than two months later, he reached a speed of 230 km/h (143 mph) in the RAK.2, driven by 24 solid-fuel rockets.

Later that same year, he purchased a sailplane named the “Lippisch Ente” (Ente is “duck” in German) from Alexander Lippisch and attached rocket motors to it, creating the world’s first rocket plane on 11 June. The aircraft exploded on its second test flight, before Opel had had a chance to pilot it himself, so he commissioned a new aircraft, also called the RAK.1, from Julius Hatry, and flew it at Frankfurt-am-Main on 30 September 1929. In the meantime, another mishap had claimed the RAK.3, a rocket-powered railway car powered by 30 solid-fuel rockets which had reached a speed of 254 km/h (157 mph). On 25 April 1940, Fritz von Opel was taken off the Italian liner Conte di Savoia by the British authorities at Gibraltar. After being detained at Gibraltar for 16 days, he was allowed to proceed to the United States.

In 1947, Opel married Emita Herrán Olózaga (1913–1967) and became the father of Formula One driver Rikky von Opel (Frederick von Opel), born later the same year. He died at Samedan in Switzerland in 1971.


Leave a Reply

365 Days Of Motoring

Recent Posts

Categories

Disclaimer

I We have no wish to abuse copyright regulations and we apologise unreservedly if this occurs. If you own any of the material published please get in touch.