Inside the Flying Wing (Jan, 1947)

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Inside the Flying Wing

COMPLETELY enclosed within the outer skin of the XB-35 there is a many-sided room that houses the 15-man crew. Pressurized for high altitudes and large enough to provide sleeping accommodations for six, it is the heart of the Flying Wing.

Around this center of operations is a mass of trusswork resembling a bridge-a simpler structure than that of a conventional airplane because the craft’s weight is distributed throughout the wing and needs no “beefing up” around a fuselage.

The pictures on this and the following page, taken at the Northrop Aircraft plant in California, show details of the crew nacelle and the massive 172-foot framework in which it nestles.

14 comments
  1. jayessell says: May 30, 20084:14 am

    In the 1953 ‘War of the Worlds’ we see the jet powered flying wing take off and fly.

    Here’s an early prop version:
    http://www.archive.org/…

  2. Doug says: May 30, 20088:26 pm

    The XB-35 (as well as the later jet-powered YB-49) had many technical problems, and were incapable of carrying the large and heavy atomic bombs of the day (which makes the nuking of the Martians by a YB-49 in the 1953 film technically impossible). The B-36 was much more practical.

  3. Eliyahu says: May 31, 20089:01 am

    Our abandonment of the XB-35 and YB-49 in favor of the conventional B-36, which was done as much for political reasons as for technical ones, probably set our aviation development back by fifty years. We gave up far too easily.

  4. Jim says: June 1, 20087:07 am

    It is a charming bit of symmetry that the Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit has the exact same 172′ wingspan.

  5. JMyint says: June 1, 200810:40 am

    The YB-49 was designed around the Mk-III bomb and could carry one for 4000 miles. By 1953 the Mk-5 and Mk-6 bombs had become standard in the US arsenal, the B-49 would have been capable of carrying 3 Mk-5 bombs or 1 Mk-5 and 1 Mk-6 for its standard combat radious. The yield on a Mk-III bomb was 20-23kt , the Mk-5 Mod 4 was 60kt, and the Mk-6 Mod 7 was 160kt.

  6. Lee Hauser says: June 1, 200810:56 pm

    According to the Squadron/Signal Publications book on Northrup’s flying wings, most of the technical problems were insurmountable without fly-by-wire computerized control systems found in the B-2 Stealth. Jack Northrup’s work was critical to the design of the Stealth, and he was granted knowledge of the still-secret bomber he pioneered before he died.

  7. JMyint says: June 2, 20088:02 am

    That’s interesting though the crash of the YB-49 #2 in June 1948 occured when Capt. Glen Edwards forced the plane into a low speed high angle stall, flight testing of YB-49 #1 continued until March of 1950 when the tire on the nose wheel failed during high speed taxi test. Testing continued for a short time more on the YRB-49A.

    It was clear that the airforce did not want Jack Northrup’s flying wing and never gave a fair assesment of it. The biggest problem was the both the B-35 and the B-49 were in direct compition with Boeing projects, the B-50 and the B-47 respectively,and Boeing was determined not to miss out like they had with the B-36.

  8. Daniel Davis says: June 3, 20086:50 pm

    They scrapped the plane for one reason: in the era before computers, the plane was too difficult to fly.

  9. KHarn says: June 8, 20087:19 am

    Eliyahu
    The “Wing” was a medium bomber, the B36 was a heavy bomber. So even if the Flying Wing was adopted, the B36 would have entered service.
    One of the great things about the Wing was that they used it to test a new radar station, but found that it was almost invisable! That’s why the design was revived in the seventies.
    I’d like to see an artical on the proposed comercial design of the Flying Wing. They did have a mock-up for a newsreel.

  10. bob says: June 26, 20085:43 am

    they scrapped the goddamn thing because it CRASHED and the entire 11 man crew DIED

  11. terrence o'neill says: October 13, 200812:56 pm

    Most of the above is heresay… and much is false, such as the comments on performance, stability, ability to carry the A-bomb, etc.
    Basic facts I have researched since 1985 from government microfilmed records of the B-36 and the B-35/49 development project correspondence between the companies and the government.
    I also researched the annual reports of relevant corporations, and read the biographies of the dozen key persons involved, and related publications such as Gary Pape’s… and also from my cvopy of Northrop’s Erection adn Maintenance Instructions for the XB-35.
    The true story is more interesting than fiction.
    I had to dramatize it by adding conversations and a protagonist, but in the same style, motivations, and responsibilities of the persons actually involved.
    I also found and interviewed, and still correspond and talk with, Chuck Tucker, the Northrop trest pilot who actually flew the YB-49 and XB-35, and completed — for the Air Force pilots who refused to fly the Wing. Tucker did the stall tests, and even recovered the huge wing from a spin, adn flew the Wings more than 100 hours, and loved the plane. And Tucker was co-pilot on the flightthat discovered the YbB-49 was invisible to CGI radar (in the CA ADIZ) back in 1948! The AF ignored this characteristic… because they were told to want the Convair BIG B-36, by the first Secretary of the new Air Force, Stuart Symington, who wanted to save the corporation of his multi-millionaire close personal friend Floyd Odlum, who had bought control of Convair in 1947. Convair was in deep debt and in danger of bankruptcy (see their Annual Reports) unless the AF bought another 75 B-36 ‘Sticks’… even over the objections of a Congressional investigation. I documented the lies the AF released on the B-36 and the B-35/49 in each of their efforts to discredit the Wing, and relate the instances of AF deliberate foot-dragging and failure to supply reliable equipment, and actually falsified test results. The B-35 was the ONLY four-thousand-mile-target bomber in the world, adn was capable of penetrating the USSR’s 9 radar rings and 19,000 interceptors — without any escort for 3000 miles — going in to the secret warplant cities in the Ural maountains, and back out, right over the Russian air force. All this was documented by Charles Lindbergh who was SAC’s top consultant evaluating the entire SAC oporation and equipment starting when new AF Secretary Symington himself hired Lindbergh, (probably to muzzle him) and who personally flew the first B-36 prototype Stick’s’ performance. .. but all Lindbergh’s reports are still hidden and classified after 50 years! Lindbergh himself doesn’t ev en mention is con tact with SAC, although there are documented reports of his evaluating and reporting on SAC in many places, in Scott Berg’s biography “Lindbergh”. All this and much more relevant information is include in my book “GMDS, A Billion Dollar Blunder”, available from Amazon or myself… RedHandpublications.com. I’m amazed at how much false information is still prattled about the Wing, after all these years … mostly based on false AF reporting.

  12. terrence o'neill says: October 13, 20081:01 pm

    Sorry about the typos… guess I’m a little too enthusiastic about exposing this colossal coverup.

  13. B M says: January 6, 200911:48 pm

    I respectfully submit (to Terrance especially and Eliyahu in comment #10) the link here to what I plopped onto my webpage: http://bmdroppings.word…. (Plopped… B M Droppings… get it?!) A past issue of Air Classics from ’08 HAS just such an article on the Wing, including the proposed commercial version. I scanned and posted it as a public service (a review, if you will) as A.C. doesn’t see fit to put any content online.

  14. Tim Brummer says: February 6, 20104:23 am

    Terrence wrote a really great book about the Northrop flying wing, it’s very informative and entertaining, especially the fly off to Hawaii against the B-36. I recommend all wing fans get a copy.

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