Northtop Flying Wing, inflight computing

Noel Chiappa jnc at
Fri Jun 26 12:44:06 CDT 2015

    > On 2015-06-26 12:47 AM, Robert Ollerton wrote:

    > Im pretty sure there is a book on this, perhaps from the Smithsonian
    > Air and Space Museum.

As it so happens, within arm's reach of where I'm sitting I have what is
probably the book you refer to:

  Gary R. Pape, John M. Campbell, "Northrop Flying Wings: A History of
    Jack Northrop's Visionary Aircraft", Shiffer, 1995

It's a large-format book on glossy paper with tons of illusrations; it covers
the prototypes as well as the bombers, and in great detail. Highly

    > Much later, Jack was given a vip tour of the secret B2 factory and
    > presented with a model of the design in Lancaster CA before his death.

Yes, a famous story in the aviation world. Somebody had a lot of class.

The book has a picture of Jack with the B-2 design team.

{Hope I got the attribution right here: I didn't get the intermediate
messages, so I'm picking this out of a later reply.}

    >> On 2015-06-19 3:05 PM, geneb wrote:

    >> it's my understanding that the program was cancelled because at the
    >> time, the USAAF (USAF?) mandated stall testing as part of their
    >> development programs. Without serious flight control computers,
    >> stalling a flying wing just ends up in a freshly planted aluminum tree.

Umm, not quite. See pp. 160-161; they did deliberately stall a YB-49 as part
of the flight test program; it was pretty benign unless the CG was way aft,
in which case it became a handful.

The Air Force did lose one during flight testing, it is thought perhaps as
the result of a spin; it is further thought that perhaps Northrop's guidance
on how to handle spins in this very unusual flying device wasn't given to the
test pilots - one of whom was Glen Edwards, who the Edwards AFB is named

The book isn't clear on why the wings were dropped; it seems to have been a
combination of DoD budget limitations, cost over-runs in the wing program,
the loss of the two YB-49 prototypes in accidents, etc.


More information about the cctalk mailing list