The AIRBOSS GOTHA was a mainstay light military aircraft during the Expansion Period.
Aerospace industrialist Frederick Ling saw the need for a military aircraft that could be employed in all conditions all atmospheres.
Ling said: “I am going to create a strike airplane that will be prepped, maintained, and piloted by a single person. One man, one airplane.”
Ling’s goal was not literally realized, but he came close to achieving the spirit of it. By the end of the Old Era, small-scale battle aircraft had become highly specialized. Fighters, interceptors, tactical bombers, reconnaissance craft had reached a level of such over-sophistication, they were becoming impractical to operate. 3000 technicians might be required to keep a single aircraft operational. The decision to launch an aircraft became more a financial consideration than a tactical one.
The feature of the Gotha that propelled it ahead of competing products was its simplified, pan-atmospheric wing structure. It became clear during the early Expansion Period that aircraft would need to be adaptable to a wide variety of atmospheric parameters. It was not feasible to manufacture a craft solely for Mars usage, another solely for Titan usage, another for oceanic usage, etc. Aerospace companies began to develop ultra-config wings which allowed aircraft to operate in an array of fluid media. Still, those designs that were sophisticated enough for multiplanetary deployment were too expensive and too specialized for wide use.
Frederick Ling set his r&d teams to work studying and analyzing not military craft but exploration and scientific vehicles, which had for decades been coping with growing varieties of atmospheric challenges. From this research, he developed what came to be popularly dubbed the “Ling wing” (a catchy name deliberately promoted by Airboss’ marketing departments). The ling wing was tested on atmospheric science missions at Sol]]’s planets Saturn and Titan, and finally – and most impressively – in the violent windstorms of Neptune. Successfully tried, the design was immediately adapted to Ling’s Gotha attack craft which was well into development.
A story often told to illustrate the Gotha as a symbol of self-reliance is that of Col. Juana Belzer whose Gotha crashed in the Martian desert in a winter dust storm. Rescue attempts were thwarted, and after 12 days, the search was called off. When the 30 day storm finally abated, crews at Mars Summer Station were stunned to see an Airboss Gotha on their scopes, requesting an emergency landing. With nothing but the material and fuel still aboard the craft, Col. Belzer was able to repair the Gotha, get aloft, and fly back to her base – all while staying alive in the tiny cockpit during a Martian dust storm.
The Gotha was built in single (Gotha A) and two-seater (Gotha C) versions. Gotha C was intended for use as a planetary strike craft, the second seat often being home to a defensive countermeasures operator or tactical systems technician.
Gotha aircraft acquitted themselves admirably in the First Err War and in the Err War Proper where they proved a match against the sophisticated and heavily armored African Allied aircraft – not because of their fighting strength but their reslilence. A dogfight sufficient to damage one of the African “Goldilance” aircraft might cost the loss of one Gotha and crippling of another three. While the African Goldilance would be in repairs for a month, the damaged Gothas might be flying again in 48 hours. The two-seater Gotha C was the type most widely used in the conflict, though heavily armed Gotha A craft featured prominently in the Ross Invasion.