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vrijdag 7 juli 2017


Jack Northrop’s “Flying Ram”

In the late stages of World War II, American bomber formations over Germany were occasionally attacked by a small, rocket-powered interceptor, the Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet. Fast as the Me-163s were, however, they were usually more spectacular than effective. Nevertheless, American aircrews must have marveled at the technology behind such an advanced-looking weapon–unaware that since 1942, something similar had been secretly under development in their own country.
The fighter that eventually became the Northrop XP-79B had an astonishing parallel development to the Me-163. It began in 1942 as a rocket-powered flying wing, but, in contrast to the Me-163, the American design was later adapted for jet power. Another difference between the XP-79B and its distant German cousin lay in their methods of attack. The Me-163 was meant to defend a faltering Third Reich with wing-mounted 30mm cannons or unguided rockets. The XP-79B’s main means of downing its adversaries is best expressed in its nickname–Flying Ram (

The first reaction-powered flight of a piloted aircraft took place on June 30, 1939, when the German Heinkel He 176 rocket flew for 50 seconds. Continuing development of the powerplant led to the introduction of the rocket-propelled Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, first flown in April 1941.
The Japanese also tested a rocketing patterned after the Komet design. In the United States, the first serious thought given to the development of a rocket-powered fighter came in late 1942 when Northrop devised a flying wing aircraft driven by a liquid-fuel rocket motor. In January 1943, three of these fighters, designated XP-79, were ordered from Northrop. Since Northrop did not have the space to assemble their new fighter, the program was subcontracted to Avion, Inc. for actual construction (

The turning point of the war for Germany was the defeat at Stalingrad in Russia and El Alamein in Egypt.1 From thereon, the Luftwaffe strained under the onslaught of the Allied air forces. No longer could Messerschmitt bf 109s and Focke-Wulf 190s strike with impunity at Allied bombers formations as they flew deep into Germany. As the war progressed, escort fighters such as the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt could now escort bombers all the way into Germany. By January 1943, the Luftwaffe's operational strength was down to less than 4,000 aircraft and these were scattered along the Western, Mediterranean and Russian fronts.2 This limited the Luftwaffe's ability to stop the large Allied bombing raids on Germany which took its toll on armament, aircraft and particularly oil production facilities, bringing the once mighty Third Reich to its knees.
    With the Third Reich crumbling from the barrage of Allied attacks, Albert Speer in a desperate effort, proposed building something new. The German Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, or RLM) issued a proposal on September 8, 1944 to build a huge fleet of fast, agile, single-engine jet fighters. Scarce resources were already allocated to aircraft currently in production and aluminum and advanced alloys were in short supply. This required construction to be of nonstrategic materials, such as wood and steel, using semi-killed labor (

Although Ernst Heinkel named the He 162 the "Spatz" for Sparrow, the He 162 was mostly 
known as the "Salamander," because of the creature’s mythical ability to live through fire.

Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet

The Horten H.IX, RLM designation Ho 229 (or Gotha Go 229 for extensive re-design work done by Gotha to prepare the aircraft for mass production) was a German prototype fighter/bomber initially designed by Reimar and Walter Horten to be built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II. It was the first flying wing to be powered by jet engines.[1]
The design was a response to Hermann Göring's call for light bomber designs capable of meeting the "3×1000" requirement; namely to carry 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) of bombs a distance of 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) with a speed of 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph). Only jets could provide the speed, but these were extremely fuel-hungry, so considerable effort had to be made to meet the range requirement. Based on a flying wing, the Ho 229 lacked all extraneous control surfaces to lower drag. It was the only design to come even close to the 3×1000 requirements and received Göring's approval. Its ceiling was 15,000 metres (49,000 ft).[2] (

In the 1930's and 1940's in Germany, the Horten Brothers, Walter and Reimar, built a succession of flying wing designs which were quite advanced, and on the cutting edge for their day.
The Horten Ho 229 (often erroneously called Gotha Go 229 due to the identity of the chosen manufacturer of the aircraft) was a late-World War II flying wing fighter aircraft, designed by the Horten brothers and built by the Gothaer Waggonfabrik. It was a personal favourite of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, and was the only plane to be able to meet his performance requirements (

Horten Ho 229 (1944): jet fighter/bomber prototype designed for the "3 X 1000 project": carry a 1000 kg load 1000 km at 1000 km/h. The world's first jet-powered flying wing (

Horten VII (1943): trainer prototype - 20 were in production at the end of the war

In the early 1930s, the Horten brothers had become interested in the flying wing design as a method of improving the performance of gliders. The German government was funding glider clubs at the time because production of military and even motorized aircraft was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. The flying wing layout removes any "unneeded" surfaces and theoretically offers the lowest possible weight, using wings that are relatively short and sturdy, and without the added drag of the fuselage. The result was the Horten H.IV.[3]
In 1943, Reichsmarschall Göring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) load over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) at 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph); the so-called "3×1000 project". Conventional German bombers could reach Allied command centers in Great Britain, but were suffering devastating losses from Allied fighters.[3] At the time, there was no way to meet these goals—the new Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets could provide the required speed, but had excessive fuel consumption.
The Hortens concluded that the low-drag flying wing design could meet all of the goals: by reducing the drag, cruise power could be lowered to the point where the range requirement could be met. They put forward their private project, the H.IX, as the basis for the bomber. The Government Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) approved the Horten proposal, but ordered the addition of two 30 mm cannons, as they felt the aircraft would also be useful as a fighter due to its estimated top speed being significantly higher than that of any Allied aircraft..... On 12 March 1945, nearly a week after the U.S. Army had launched Operation Lumberjack to cross the Rhine River, the Ho 229 was included in the Jäger-Notprogramm (Emergency Fighter Program) for accelerated production of inexpensive "wonder weapons". The prototype workshop was moved to the Gothaer Waggonfabrik (Gotha) in Friedrichroda, western Thuringia. In the same month, work commenced on the third prototype, the Ho 229 V3.... After the war, Reimar Horten said he mixed charcoal dust in with the wood glue to absorb electromagnetic waves (radar), which he believed could shield the aircraft from detection by British early-warning ground-based radar that operated at 20 to 30 MHz (top end of the HF band), known as Chain Home.[10] A jet-powered flying wing design such as the Horten Ho 229 has a smaller radar cross-section than conventional contemporary twin-engine aircraft because the wings blended into the fuselage and there are no large propeller disks or vertical and horizontal tail surfaces to provide a typical identifiable radar signature.[11][4]
Engineers of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation had long been interested in the Ho 229, and several of them visited the Smithsonian Museum's facility in Silver Hill, Maryland in the early 1980s to study the V3 airframe, in the context of developing the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. A team of engineers from Northrop-Grumman ran electromagnetic tests on the V3's multilayer wooden center-section nose cones. The cones are 19 mm (0.75 in) thick and made from thin sheets of veneer. The team concluded that there was some form of conducting element in the glue, as the radar signal attenuated considerably as it passed through the cone.[11] However, a later inspection by the museum found no trace of such material.... In early 2008, Northrop-Grumman paired up television documentary producer Michael Jorgensen and the National Geographic Channel to produce a documentary to determine whether the Ho 229 was, in fact, the world's first true "stealth" fighter-bomber.[11] Northrop-Grumman built a full-size non-flying reproduction of the V3, constructed to match the aircraft's radar properties. After an expenditure of about US$250,000 and 2,500 man-hours, Northrop's Ho 229 reproduction was tested at the company ( The aircraft is not completely invisible to the type of radar used in the war, but it would have been stealthy enough and fast enough to reach London before Spitfires could be scrambled.
"If the Germans had had time to develop these aircraft, they could well have had an impact," Peter Murton, aviation expert from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, in Cambridgeshire told the Daily Mail (

Jack Northrop (right) and test pilot, Moye Stephens, with their N-1M.

John K. (“Jack”) Northrop designed numerous advanced aircraft of conventional configuration, but he was fascinated by the flying-wing concept. He believed that such a pure airfoil surface would have the most efficient lifting capabilities. Also, the absence of a fuselage and tail unit would mean less drag to affect overall performance–as well as lower production costs. Shortly after designing Lockheed’s famed Vega series of monoplanes, Northrop formed a small company of his own, the Avion Corporation in Burbank, Calif. His first Flying Wing made a successful maiden flight from Burbank Airport in 1929. It was originally powered by a single tractor-mounted engine, and tail surfaces mounted on twin booms aft of the wing increased controllability. Northrop’s creation was modified to pusher-engine configuration before undergoing further flight testing at Muroc Dry Lake, Calif. Avion was renamed the Northrop Aircraft Corporation that same year and became part of United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, an early superconglomerate that also included Boeing.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Northrop temporarily shelved his flying-wing dream to create some solid moneymakers, like the record-breaking Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta series of high-speed mail planes, and military designs such as the BT-1 and A-17. Then in 1939, Northrop broke away from United to form a completely independent firm, Northrop Aircraft Inc., and relocated to Hawthorne, Calif. He obtained subcontracts to manufacture other companies’ aircraft before gaining his first new contract for a design of his own–an order from Norway for 24 N-3PB seaplane patrol bombers.
Northrop felt confident enough to resume his flying-wing experiments in 1940. His next attempt, the N-1M, was the genuine article, dispensing with the boom-mounted tailplanes. It first took to the air on July 3 with Vance Breese at the controls. Breese reported that the N-1M handled well and seemed to require less horsepower than a conventional aircraft to achieve the performance he wrung out of it. The N-1M originally was powered by twin 65-hp Lycoming engines driving pusher propellers, but it underwent several changes in power plant and wingtip configuration in the course of more than 200 flights. Fortunately, the historic N-1M was preserved, and it is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum.
Northrop continued to experiment with flying wings like the N-9M and JB-1 during World War II. He also produced a fighter, the XP-56 Black Bullet (see “Aerial Oddities” in the May 1991 issue). This was a pusher-engine canard design that was almost all wing. (There was a tailless fuselage of sorts, from which dorsal and ventral vertical control surfaces protruded.) The XP-56 proved to be a failure, but that was compensated for by the brilliant success of Northrop’s more conventional twin-engine, twin-boom night fighter, the P-61 Black Widow.
Northrop’s flying-wing concept took a dramatic step forward in 1942, when he convinced the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) that he could build a fighter that could reach the speed of sound. Beneath the USAAF-classified wraps, “Project 12,” as the design was designated, was a rocket-powered flying wing with a wingspan of only 32 feet. The pilot was to fly it in a prone position, the rationale being that such a posture would make him less vulnerable to G-forces and raise his “blackout threshold” beyond normal human limits.
The first experimental vehicle under Project 12 was the MX-324, a glider that was to be followed by a powered version called the MX-334. A simple steel tube and wood affair with faired, fixed landing gear, the MX-324 had a wire-braced vertical fin that looked as if it had been added as an afterthought–which, in fact, it had been, since it could be and later was removed. In one of the most undignified methods ever devised for getting into an airplane, the pilot had to clamber up on the trailing edge of the wing and slither on his stomach through a triangular hatch. After some unsuccessful attempts to use an automobile to tow the MX-324 skyward, it was towed into the air behind a Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
The MX-334 took to the air in October 1943 for some unpowered testing while the Aerojet Corporation completed its XCAL-200 rocket engine, which was to be powered by monoethyaniline fuel, oxidized by red fuming nitric acid. The MX-334 made its first flight with the new engine on June 23, 1944, and fulfilled Northrop’s promise to the USAAF. Although capable of only 3.5 minutes of powered flight, it was the first American rocket-powered aircraft to fly.
Despite the effort put into the secret project, the USAAF ultimately concluded that the rocket-powered MX-334 was a dead end. Much research data had been culled from it, however, and Northrop had a spinoff of Project 12 in the offing that the USAAF regarded as being militarily far more feasible–the XP-79.
Essentially, the XP-79 was an interceptor that would bring down its opponents by ramming them in flight. During the early months of the German invasion of Russia in 1941 and 1942, Russian fighter pilots had frequently resorted to various taran, or midair ramming techniques. There was no real need for American fighter pilots to resort to such tactics, however, and the USAAF officer who came up with the idea for the ram fighter may be grateful that his identity is lost to history. In any case, in January 1943, Northrop was awarded a contract to build three XP-79 Flying Ram prototypes, ... Like its rocket-powered precursor, the jet-powered XP-79B was essentially a wing, with the pilot lying on his stomach between the two jet engines. His head protruded into an acrylic-plastic windshield fitted with an armor glass section. An overhead hatch gave him entry to and, if necessary, a hasty exit from the cabin (

Northrop MX-324/MX-334 (1943/1944): used in the development of the XP-79. The MX-334 was a glider and the MX-324 was rocket-powered (

Northrop XP-79 Flying Ram

Northrop XP-56-Flying Bullet

NORTHROP XP-56 BLACK BULLET Second Prototype (42-38353). (

Northrop N-1M (1941): flying wing testbed

Northrop N-9M (1942): used in the development of the B-35

As radical as the XP-79’s all-wing configuration looked, its structure was equally unusual. The airframe was made of heavy-gauge magnesium. The leading-edge skin was three-fourths of an inch thick; reinforcing steel armor plate of one-fourth-inch thickness was heliarc-welded at a 45-degree angle just inside the wing’s leading edge. The wingspan was 38 feet, with a wing area of 278 square feet. .... Upon receiving reports of approaching enemy bombers, the XP-79B was intended to take off with the aid of JATO (jet-assisted takeoff) packs at an estimated rate of 25,000 feet in 4.7 minutes. Reaching an altitude of 40,000 feet, the Flying Ram would then dive into the formation of enemy aircraft at an estimated speed of up to 547 mph and clip their wing or tail surfaces with its own reinforced wings. Even among the USAAF brass, someone must have recognized the absurdity of that idea, because the XP-79B order also stipulated that the fighter should accommodate four .50-caliber Browning machine guns outboard of the jet engines. Neither the guns nor the cockpit pressurization system (allowing the pilot to function at 40,000 feet) were destined to be installed in the plane.
Taking off without further incident, Crosby climbed to 10,000 feet. During the next 15 minutes, he flew back and forth over the field, testing the exotic plane’s ability to turn. Things suddenly went wrong during one such turn, and degenerated into a nose-down spin. After a brave but futile effort, Crosby finally judged it impossible to regain control of the plane. Jettisoning the escape hatch, he tried to leap clear–only to be struck by the wildly gyrating wing. Crosby fell to his death, his parachute unopened. The XP-79B slammed into the desert floor and exploded in a white-hot flare of magnesium that consumed the entire plane.
Northrop’s engineers determined that the control problem that had cost Harry Crosby his life could be corrected, but the USAAF decided to abandon the XP-79B project. World War II was over, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was entering production, and other, more conventional jet designs were showing greater promise than the flying-ram concept.
The techniques involved in the production of the XP-79B would later help in the development and mass production of the ultimate realization of Jack Northrop’s flying-wing dream–his giant B-35 and B-49 bombers. Judged on its own merits as a fighter, however, the Flying Ram was a preposterous idea from the outset–a waste of time, money and effort, as well as the life of one of America’s finest test pilots (

The Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 were experimental heavy bomber aircraft developed by the Northrop Corporation for the United States Army Air Forces during and shortly after World War II. The airplane used the radical and potentially very efficient flying wing design, in which the tail section and fuselage are eliminated and all payload is carried in a thick wing. Only prototype and pre-production aircraft were built , but  interestingly, the Horten brothers were helped in their bid for German government support when Northrop patents appeared in US Patent Office's "Official Gazette" on 13 May 1941, and then in the International Aeronautical journal "Interavia" on !8 November 1941 (

The Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 were experimental heavy bomber aircraft developed by the Northrop Corporation for the United States Army Air Forces during and shortly after World War II. The airplane used the radical and potentially very efficient flying wing design, in which the tail section and fuselage are eliminated and all payload is carried in a thick wing. Only prototype and pre-production aircraft were built, although interest remained strong enough to warrant further development of the design as a jet bomber, under the designation YB-49.[2]
The B-35 was the brainchild of Jack Northrop, who made the flying wing the focus of his work during the 1930s. During World War II, Northrop had been commissioned to develop a large wing-only, long-range bomber designated XB-35. Northrop advocated a "flying wing" as a means of reducing parasitic drag and eliminating structural weight not directly responsible for producing lift. In theory, the B-35 could carry a greater payload faster, farther, and cheaper than a conventional bomber. On 11 April 1941, the United States Army Air Corps sent out a request for a bomber that could carry 4,500 kg (10,000 lb) of bombs to a round-trip mission of 16,000 km (10,000 mi). Requested performance was a maximum speed of 720 km/h (450 mph), cruise speed of 443 km/h (275 mph), and service ceiling of 14,000 m (45,000 ft). This aircraft would be able to bomb Nazi-occupied Europe in the event that Britain fell. (This was similar to Nazi Germany's own Amerika Bomber program design competition through RLM, itself initiated in the spring of 1942.) The original April 1941 USAAC proposal was first submitted to Boeing and Consolidated Aircraft Company and led to the production of the Convair B-36. In May the contract was also extended to include Northrop, inviting them to submit a design along the lines they were already exploring.[2][3] (

With the dawning of the jet age, the USAF decided to convert ten of the YB- and B-35s, to an all-jet configuration, when this photograph was taken in late 1948 (

The Northrop YB-49 was a prototype jet-powered heavy bomber aircraft developed by Northrop Corporation shortly after World War II for service with the U.S. Air Force. The YB-49 featured a flying wing design and was a jet-powered development of the earlier, piston-engined Northrop XB-35 and YB-35. The two YB-49s actually built were both converted YB-35 test aircraft.
The YB-49 never entered production, being passed over in favor of the more conventional Convair B-36 piston-driven design. Design work performed in the development of the YB-35 and YB-49 nonetheless proved to be valuable to Northrop decades later in the eventual development of the B-2 stealth bomber, which entered service in the early 1990s (
The last of the Northrop flying-wings and the last to fly was the YRB-49A, a reconnaissance version of the YB-49. It featured six Allison J35-A-19s, four of which were buried in the wing and two hung in pods below the buried engines (

The Northrop YB-49 was a prototype jet-powered heavy bomber aircraft developed by Northrop Corporation shortly after World War II for service with the U.S. Air Force. The YB-49 featured a flying wing design and was a jet-powered development of the earlier, piston-engined Northrop XB-35 and YB-35. The two YB-49s actually built were both converted YB-35 test aircraft.
The YB-49 never entered production, being passed over in favor of the more conventional Convair B-36 piston-driven design. Design work performed in the development of the YB-35 and YB-49 nonetheless proved to be valuable to Northrop decades later in the eventual development of the B-2 stealth bomber, which entered service in the early 1990s.
The YB-49 and its modern counterpart, the B-2 Spirit, both built by Northrop Grumman, have the same wingspan: 172.0 ft (52.4 m). Flight test data collected from the original YB-49 test flights was used in the development of the B-2 bomber (

The XP-79B was something of a disaster. However, it added the Northrop's experience with flying wing designs. Despite experiencing many failures, Northrop persisted with the flying-wing concept throughout the war, producing the massive XB-35 flying-wing bomber and its jet-powered derivative, the YB-49. Ultimately, Northrop's expertise in flying-wing technology would lead to the B-2 Spirit 'stealth' bomber of today, surely the ultimate vindication of Jack Northrop's dream (

The Northrop (later Northrop Grumman) B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy penetration strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses; it is a flying wing design with a crew of two.[1][4] The bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, such as eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class (Mk 82) JDAM Global Positioning System-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only acknowledged aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.
Development originally started under the "Advanced Technology Bomber" (ATB) project during the Carter administration; its expected performance was one of his reasons for the cancellation of the supersonic B-1A bomber. The ATB project continued during the Reagan administration, but worries about delays in its introduction led to the reinstatement of the B-1 program as well. Program costs rose throughout development. Designed and manufactured by Northrop, later Northrop Grumman, the cost of each aircraft averaged US$737 million (in 1997 dollars).[3] Total procurement costs averaged $929 million per aircraft, which includes spare parts, equipment, retrofitting, and software support.[3] The total program cost including development, engineering and testing, averaged $2.1 billion per aircraft in 1997.[3]
Because of its considerable capital and operating costs, the project was controversial in the U.S. Congress and among the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The winding-down of the Cold War in the latter portion of the 1980s dramatically reduced the need for the aircraft, which was designed with the intention of penetrating Soviet airspace and attacking high-value targets. During the late 1980s and
1990s, Congress slashed plans to purchase 132 bombers to 21. In 2008, a B-2 was destroyed in a crash shortly after takeoff, though the crew ejected safely.[5] A total of 20 B-2s remain in service with the United States Air Force, which plans to operate the B-2 until 2058.[6]
The B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000 feet (15,000 m), with a range of more than 6,000 nautical miles (6,900 mi; 11,000 km) on internal fuel and over 10,000 nautical miles (12,000 mi; 19,000 km) with one midair refueling. It entered service in 1997 as the second aircraft designed to have advanced stealth technology after the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft. Though designed originally as primarily a nuclear bomber, the B-2 was first used in combat, dropping conventional, non-nuclear ordnance in the Kosovo War in 1999. It later served in Iraq and Afghanistan.[7] (

Maar, dit is geen vliegende vleugel blog, maar -zoals al vaker gezegd- een bierblog. Dus nu geen vliegende vleugels meer, maar ploppende beugels...

Transmitter B2 Imperial Stout aged in Brandy Barrels
they brewed the B2 Bomber. But bigger than ever before. The beer would fit into a category along the lines of double black Belgian IPA. Or one marked "Gauntlet Beer".... And then, rather than sending the roast and chocolate aromas you might expect from a beer of such appearance in the direction of your olfactory system, it fires off warning shots that are at first intensely hoppy then increasingly of the funky, rubbery Belgian sort possessed by all B2 Bombers.
The hops (a new selection this year that include El Dorado, Enigma and Mosaic) seem bolder than at any time (except maybe the resinous Mach 3.0), the bitter roasts of the malt feel more aggressive early on, and there's some prickly bitter liquorice action going on at the backend too.
"Drink me, I dares ya," says the Mach 5.0 via the power of ESB (Extra Sensory Beerception).

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