Josef Andreas Epp Omega Diskus

by Rob Arndt


Josef Andreas Epp’s Helioplane. Propulsion was by means of a rotor vane circle. The small propeller on top of the cabin provided directional steering.

In 1939, Josef “Andreas” Epp designed a radical rotor/jet powered aircraft he named the “Helioplane”. But this design could not be pursued due to the early development phase of the German turbojets of Heinkel, BMW, and Junkers.Epp meanwhile continued trying to develop a more pure flight disc when he learned that similar projects were already underway in much of the Reich. Epp traveled to Prague where BMW was testing out their small-scale disc-fan Flügelrad (Winged Wheel) jet auto-gyros which utilized the company’s BMW 003 series engine with a Strahlrohr (Jet Pipe) deflector system to divert engine thrust up to the spinning rotor blades, a combination rotor-jet idea that originated with Rudolf Schriever’s 1941 Flugkreisel (which the SS had taken from him and handed over to three prominent specialists for continued development).

Epp therefore designed by 1943 his Omega Diskus which combined ducted fan technology with two free-spinning rotors propelled by Pabst ramjets being developed for the Fw Triebflügel (Thrust Wing) and utilizing the increasing lifting of the “Coanda Effect”. The Omega Diskus consisted of a circular cockpit 4 meters in diameter surrounded by a disc wing of 19 meters diameter. The wing supported eight ducted lift fans of 80 hp each. The engines were held in place by eight conical pipes of 3 meters diameter.


The support for the main rotor was on the axis of the disc. The rotor had two blades to which were attached the Pabst ramjets at their tips with a spin diameter of 22 meters. Reversing the pitch of the blades in the auxiliary engines, the rotor accelerated, expelling a strong air stream upward. The ramjets started at 220 rpm and the pilot changed the pitch of the auxiliary engines and rotor, gaining enough lift for safe take-off.The main rotor was of an auto-gyro type and did not cause any conflicting forces. Unlike a helicopter, the rotor was not articulated but fixed to a rigid mounting, like the propeller of a conventional piston-engine fighter.

Possible flight manouevers with the "Omega-Diskus"
Drawing by Josef Andreas Epp

An alternate acceleration of the auxiliary engines inclined the disc in the desired direction. This changed the lifting plane of the main rotor and therefore flight direction. If one of the auxiliary engines eventually stopped, the disc kept enough control to fly on. If a ramjet stopped, the feed to the fuel to the other one was automatically cut off with the pilot starting an autorotation sequence to attempt landing.

When at low altitude the disc had the benefit of extra lift due to ground effect, the same principal used by Hovercraft and GETOL (Ground Effect Take Off and Landing) craft such as the postwar AVRO VZ-9V Avrocar.

The existing photos of the Omega Diskus are of four 1/10th scale models built strictly for aerodynamic testing. No full scale aircraft prototype was ever built and Epp, who was rumored to have worked on various other disc projects, sadly did not.



Baade 152

Postwar Epp couldn’t interest the Western Allies in the Omega so he went to work for the Soviets who actually built a craft similar to it in East Germany. But that venture turned out to be a waste of time as the Soviets would not allow the East Germans to build any type of aircraft, military or civilian.

The returning Junkers team that had built a series of EF projects in the U.S.S.R. found that out the hard way when they tried to adapt the EF-150 bomber into the Baade 152 jet airliner. The Soviets shut the program down.

Epp had also tried to persuade the Soviets to develop a larger disc that might serve as a long range remote-controlled weapon which was postwar claimed to be the mystery Spitzbergen UFO spotted by Norwegian jets in 1952 with a diameter of 150 ft with a ball Plexiglas dome and interior remote instruments with Russian writing. It was supposed to be powered by 46 jets running around its circular rim. But this incident (and the similar Helgoland one) are considered to be hoaxes and are not to be taken seriously. Epp DID propose such a craft to the Soviets but there is no proof it was ever built. Neither did Epp have anything to do with reports of involvement with the German V-7 weapon which was also claimed postwar to have been turned into a remote-controlled machine launched from Rechlin and crashing in Spitzbergen during the war (discovered in 1946)!

Epp-designed Pirna Disc of 1950, built in the GDR for the Russians

Epp was devastated and returned to the US where he reported the details of his Pirna Disc to Allied Air Intelligence teams. By 1956 Epp had patented his propulsion system and offered it to the USAF for manufacturing. He was turned down again even as he patented the entire craft by 1958 which would have been crewed by ten men. The USAF and Army researched the idea but decided instead to participate in the Avrocar fiasco which was meant to deceive the Soviets of the true nature of AVRO Canada’s sixteen German-based disc design programs headed by Dr. Richard Miethe who had built a radical Flugscheibe (Flight Disc) based on the Schauberger vortex technology which flew in April 1944. Miethe was also the one who had designed the mysterious V-7 which was actually the “Elektrische Luft Turbine” which burned air and nitrogen with the addition of helium injection for thrust augmentation.

In the end, Epp had been rejected by the Nazis, the Soviets, and the Americans.


 Art by Justo Miranda 





What might have been…..
Art by Luca Oleastri


Omega Diskus


A flying saucer… or a discoidal helicopter, propelled by rotors and ramjet engines, first constructed and tested secretly in the Skoda factory at Praga, between 1943-45. It was supposed to be the carrier of the first Nazi Atomic Bomb. Epp continued its construction on his own after WWII, improving its design over the years.


Andreas Epp was born on 11 May 1914, in Germany, just a few months before the First World War. His family moved to Hamburg when he was a child, and that’s the place where he spent most of his life.


He was interested in things like “How do flies fly?” or “How can a boat float into the water?” since his childhood, making mad his professors with that kind of tricky questions. He devoted his time out of school in studying birds’ flight and building several boat models.


An interest in airplane designs awoke soon in his inquisitive mind, and he started to pay attention to the newest plane designs. He started to attend at the Hamburg airport to study how the planes landed and take off. In one of his visits to the airport he met Ernst Udet, a WWI hero pilot, who became his mentor and a helpful hand later in his life.


After finishing primary school, when he was 16, the catastrophical economical situation of Germany forced him to look for a job. After a difficult test he got a position with Blohm & Voss, a Hamburg dockyard where he became a shipbuilding apprentice. In his spare time he started to play with a new V-type airplane concept.


In those years National Socialism propaganda seduced him. He joined the Hitler Youth but he quit once his father, a humanist and pacifist, found his uniform and burnt it.


His continuous complaints about the low level jobs he was assigned to do as an apprentice irritated his professors, who put an end to his career at the shipbuilding school in 1932. He joins a labour camp as a volunteer and, later, he started a training course as aircraft engine technician at the Humbold-Deutz Company.


At the age of 22 he joined the Air Force. That allowed him to be trained in his desired occupation. Now he was able to fulfill his dream of becoming an airplane technician and design all his youth’s concepts.

In his early years in the Air Force he had the first idea of the construction of a flying disk after the first helicopter flight by Hanna Reitsch. In 1940, WW2 having started a year ago, he became a technical teacher. At the end of that year he joined a combat squadron as airplane engineer.

During the war he created several inventions, like mine sedimentation equipment for submarines, fuel measuring instruments, and different guidance possibilities for airplanes. Thanks to the help and influence of his old friend, Ernst Udet, he was able to give the constructions plans and a model of his flying disk to the Ministry of Aviation.


After the loss of the bomber units over England, Hermann Göring was looking for new ideas for better and faster airplanes. The idea of the flying disk was then offered to him. Göring submitted the idea of the flying disk to Hitler selling it as a new secret weapon with the purpose of carrying the atomic bomb that was being developed by German physicists, but Hitler was only focused on missiles, Göring privately supported  the construction of the disk and the tests started.


The construction of the model proposed in 1940 by Epp through Ernst started in secret in 1943 in the Skoda factory, in Prague. There were some problems during the construction of Epp’s  “flying gyroscope” caused by the rotor discs. An improved model made its first test flight in February 1945. . Anyway, it seems that Epp wasn’t directly involved in the construction of any of these flying disks. At the same time, several other flying disks prototypes were already being worked on and tested in secret by the Germans


The fast advance of the allied forces did not allow enough time for the Germans to manufacture the atomic bomb. The Russians arrived on 5 May 1945 at Prague, forcing the team involved in the flying disks construction to blow up all the prototypes and burn all the plans and the rest of existing material.

After the war, Epp was continuously interrogated about his activities during the conflict, but he remained silent about his flying disk project. He couldn’t find any job as airplane technician, so he started to work in his old flying disk idea in private. He had another problem, anyway. The allied control council laws made impossible for him to build models heavier than five kilograms.


He started to acquire the materials to build his disk using city rubble and exchanging food and cigarettes in the black market. In 1948 he was in need of more money to build a new improved disk model, but he wasn’t able to find any job as technician. Also, having being a career soldier, he wasn’t able to start an independent occupation as entrepreneur, so he decided to move to Spain, where he lived until 1951.


In Barcelona he worked as a technical designer in a factory of compressors for cooling systems. There he continued his work on the flight disk project.


After his return to Germany he started to work again secretly on an improved flying disk, thanks to the small savings from Spain.


In 1953, he designed a 175cm large delta wing airplane model and made a public demonstration. That was a move to avoid traitorous neighbours and the control of the allied forces. With the success of that demonstration he managed gather some funds from investors and recognition from magazines around the World. That helped him to finish the construction of the “Disk 54”, a new improved flying disk concept.


New financial difficulties forced him to move to East Germany where he worked as engineer. There he was pursued by SED (Socialist Union Party of East Germany) agents because of his political convictions, so he had to flee back to Bremerhaven. There he started to work on his new model “Omega Disk 55”, a two meters diameter flying disk. He was accused of espionage and all his plans and documents were copied.


Finally, in 1958 he was able to start the construction of the model. After six months of hard work he finished it and was able to make a successful test flight. He published the results to the media. But the SED agents reappeared and tried to buy his Omega Disk prototype. After reporting the SED spies to the police he fled in panic from Germany.


The rest of his life he continued working on his new prototype “Omega Disk 58”, trying to get attention and recognition through conventions and articles without success. His last project was to adapt the Omega Disk to make it possible to travel to other planets.


He died on 3 September 1997 at the age of 83 years, poor and alone.


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Epp always believed that all the UFO sightings reported all over the world were man made:


The UFO phenomenon is full of fairy tales invented only to divert from the real facts. Since 1945 all kind of rumours have circulated over fantastic flying machines, the so called flying saucers. […] Observers of such flying disks were made purposefully ridiculous. Due to my knowledge about the reality of the flying saucer constructions I nearly despaired.