Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH is a glider manufacturer based in Kirchheim, Germany.
With the assistance of Wolf Hirth, Martin Schempp founded in Göppingen his own company in 1935: "Sportflugzeugbau Göppingen Martin Schempp". In 1938, Wolf Hirth, mainly responsible for the design work, officially became a partner in the company, which then took on the new name “Sportflugzeugbau Schempp-Hirth”. The company relocated to Kirchheim-Teck the same year.
The company's first product was the Göppingen Gö 1 Wolf glider, conceived as a rival to the ubiquitous Grunau Baby, but real success came with the Göppingen Gö 3 Minimoa the same year.
During World War II, the company built DFS Habicht training gliders, as well as tailplane assemblies for the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The company also built a research aircraft, the Göppingen Gö 9 to investigate Claude Dornier's rear-mounted "pusher" propeller plans. With its cruciform tail, this aircraft was to be a stepping-stone towards the revolutionary Dornier Do 335 Pfeil.
After the war, forbidden by the allied occupation from building aircraft, the company manufactured beds, wheelbarrows, radio cabinets, and other furniture. In 1951, the prohibitions were lifted and the company returned to sailplane building.
Wolf Hirth died in 1959 but it was not until 1964 that Martin Schempp found a new designer: Klaus Holighaus who had just graduated from Darmstadt Technical University, where he was a member of its Akaflieg. Holighaus was also an excellent pilot and became a regular member of the German gliding team. Additional technical expertise was recruited in 1970 and Holighaus became Chief Executive in 1972. From 1977 Holighaus was the sole owner of the business. After Holighaus's death in a gliding accident in 1994, control of the company passed to his widow and sons, all of whom are keen glider pilots.
The company has often sub-contracted work and has even issued licences for other companies to build its designs.
Schempp-Hirth aircraft include:
- Göppingen Gö 1 Wolf I sailplane,1935
- Göppingen Gö 3 Minimoa sailplane, 1936
- Göppingen Gö 4 sailplane
- Göppingen Gö 5 sailplane, 1937
- Göppingen Gö 9 development aircraft for Do 335 Pfeil
- Standard Austria sailplane line
- Standard Cirrus
- Duo Discus