The Cirrus started the era of composite gliders in Kirchheim - it was the company's first glider built in glass fibre re-inforced plastic (FRP) technology. The fuselage shell was build as GRP shell with GRP/foam ribs, the wing was build as GRP/foam sandwich. Based on Klaus Holighaus' experience gained when building the D-36 as member of the academic flying group (Akaflieg) Darmstadt, the Cirrus was designed as the "ultimative top Open Class glider" without flaps.
Klaus Holighaus created the layout of this glider as part of his diploma theses in Darmstadt and could eventually bring in the design innovations that would become the key feature of his designs: A steel frame construction for the central fuselage section and wing connection.
In 1968, the Cirrus wan the Open Class World Championships in Poland. 107 Cirrus have been built in Kirchheim until May 1971. Several more were built later under license by VTC in Yugoslavia.
End of the 60s, new flap airfoils designed by Franz Xaver Wortmann allowed the design of wings promising even higher performance by realizing a higher aspect ratio. With the Nimbus-1 at 22 meters of wing span and a three-part wing Klaus Holighaus built himself a glider with an L/D above 50 that was would set a new performance benchmark and became the forefather of Schempp-Hirth's successful Nimbus series.
At 701 gliders produced in Germany (200 of them in license by Grob), the "Standard Cirrus" would be Schempp-Hirth most successful fibre-glass glider before its successor Discus topped production numbers.
The maiden flight was 1969 and serial number 701 was finished in April 1977. Several more Standard Cirrus were later built by VTC and Lanaverre.
Various improvements during production included the replacement of the all-flying tailplane by a fixed tailplane, wing tips for 16 meters wing span, a sharper fuselage nose, bigger airbrakes and many more would be revealed by type name extensions "G", "75" etc.
Besides winning many national titles, the most outstanding success was probably the title of vice world champion 1974 in Waikerie, Australia.
The Mini-Nimbus (HS 7) was in serial production as of 1977 and was Klaus Holighaus' first glider for the new FAI 15-meter class. It was delivered both with an all-flying tail as with a fixed tail that had an automatic connection. It was later also built as Mini-Nimbus C with carbon-fibre wings and tailplane as Mini-Nimbus.
Joint feature of all Mini-Nimbus is the combination of spoiler and flap at the back of the wing, replacing the classical airbrakes and providing the Mini-Nimbus with the capability to perform extremely short landings that would only be possible with a landing parachute before. Another novelty was the trim being coupled with the flap settings and a retractable undercarriage primarily built in fibre glass reinforced plastic.
After building 159 Mini-Nimbus and collecting a lot of experience in carbon fibre serial production, the glider was replaced by the Ventus.
The Nimbus-2 was derived from the unique design Nimbus-1, on which George Moffat became World Champion of the Open Class 1970 in Marfa, Texas. Serial production Nimbus-2 won two further titles in 1972 and 1974.
The four-part fibre glass wing supported to carry up to 210 liters of water ballast and the outer wings could be optionally ordered in carbon fibre technology.
The fuselage was build as a pure fibre glass cell and, depending on the model range, came with an all-flying or fixed stabilizer. The cockpit provided sufficient space for tall pilots with a lot of equipment. This was one of the reasons that the Nimbus-2 was considered suitable to build Schempp-Hirth's first first self-launching motorglider, the Nimbus-2M.
The Nimbus-2C also had the inner wings built in carbon fibre construction and had the spoiler/flap airbrake system introduced by the Mini-Nimbus. The maiden flight of this variant took place in October 1978 and the Nimbus-2C was type certified in February 1979.
With the Janus as first serial-produced high-performance two-seater built in composite technology, Schempp-Hirth started a revival of two-seated competition soaring. First built with 18.2 meters of wingspan that was later extended to 20 meters, the Janus and with it two-seated long-distance gliding became so popular that a dedicated competition class was introduced: the FAI 20-meter Two Seater Class.
One of the reasons was probably the introduction of carbon fibre wings with the Janus C, which eased the handling in this class. Only the very popular Duo Discus, a two-seater without flaps, was capable of replacing the Janus in its class.
The decreasing market price of carbon fibre in the 1970s allowed building also of larger parts in carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), so wings could be designed for higher average speeds and less airfoil height.
The Ventus with 15-meter CFRP wings was designed for the regulations of the FAI 15-meter Class. Wingtips allowed the wingspan to be extended to 16.6 meters; later the Ventus c even permitted extension to 17.6 meters and supported modified winglets. The glider was the first to be offered with two different fuselage variations: the "normal" fuselage of the Ventus b, providing sufficient space for almost every pilot, and the Ventus a that came with a smaller, tighter cockpit meant to provide additional benefits for smaller pilots.
Both Ventus a and Ventus b had the complex combination of spoilers and flaps instead of classical airbrakes, similar to the Glasflügel Mosquito and the Mini-Nimbus. Later, however, the Ventus c went back to classical Schempp-Hirth airbrakes on the upper wing surface that operated independent to the flaps.
Both the Ventus b and Ventus c, under the names Ventus bT or Ventus cT, were the first gliders available with the then new "Turbo" sustainer system. The Ventus cM was Schempp-Hirth's first self-launching single seater produced in larger numbers.
613 first-generation Ventus were built, before the successor Ventus-2 was introduced into the market and took over in 1995.
In 1984, the Discus was introduced to succeed the successful standard class glider Standard Cirrus. Though it is considered a high performance sailplane, its handling is well within the capabilities of inexperienced pilots. With no bad manners, powerful airbrakes and a low landing speed, the Discus is very popular with clubs.
The Discus took over the Ventus' fuselage with the Discus a suitable to pilots of up to 175 cm body height and the Discus b for taller pilots. The wings, however, were a completely new design and stood out by their triple bent-back wingshape, which would become one of Schempp-Hirth's trademarks.
The Discus is a glider easy to assemble, having light wings, automatic control hookups and a single pin securing the wings. The double-height airbrakes are very efficient and the wing load can be increased up to 10.2 lb/ft² by adding water ballast
Equipped with the popular Schempp-Hirth Turbo system sustainer engine, more than 150 Discus bT have been built. The self-launching variant Discus bM was only built in very small numbers, but turned out to be an important proof of concept for later engine concepts that also kept the engine remaining in the fuselage.
In 1995, after building having built around 570 Discus in Kirchheim/Teck (including Discus bT and Discus bM), winning six World Championship titles in a row, claiming countless national titles and dominating the Standard Class as rarely any other glider before, the production of Discus a and Discus b was discontinued to give room for the next Discus generation - the Discus-2.
For many years, the identically built Discus CS was continued to be produced by Schempp-Hirth vyorba letadel in the Czech Republic town of Chocen.
Apart from performing extremely well, the main reason for the Discus' success are its harmonic flight characteristics, which Klaus Holighaus already considered more important than any other aspect when he started laying out the new glider.
The Nimbus-3, an Open Class glider built in carbon fibre re-enforced plastic (CFRP) technology with a wing span of 22.9 meters (4-part wing) or 24.5/25.5 meters (6-part wing) is based both on Nimbus-2, where experience in building large wing span gliders was gained, and the airfoil developed initially for the successful Ventus.
The result was impressive: The Nimbus-3 not only became World Champion straight away in 1981, it also won the title in 1983 and 1985.
In total, nearly a hundred Nimbus-3 were produced, of which around a third were built as Nimbus-3T and came with the successful Turbo sustainer engine. A single self-launching version (Nimbus-3MR) was privately built.
In 1986, the two-seated version of the Nimbus-3 took of for its maiden flight and the Nimbus-3D was born.
The wings are slightly swept forward to keep the centre of gravity in balance. The high-peformance two-seater was built as plain glider and, as Nimbus-3DT, with the proven Turbo sustainer engine. With the Nimbus-3DM, a self-launching motorglider with a 60 hp Rotax two-stroke engine was also produced.
Initially, the Nimbus-3D was build with a wing span of 24.6 meters, but the wing span of the Nimbus-3D and Nimbus-3DT could later be expanded to 25.6 meters.