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On August 27, 1939, a Heinkel He 178 prototype aircraft lifted off from a grassy field in Rostock, Germany. The plane was to be a key component of the German Luftwaffe’s burgeoning, wartime air armada. But, its importance stretched much farther than Hitler’s ambitions to dominate Europe. It was the first jet-powered aircraft. The jet engine that powered it was not a new idea.
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