The Amazing Flying Wing – Images You Haven’t Seen Before?!

 
 
SHARE:

The flight test community experienced a major loss with the loss of the Northrop YB-49 some 67 years ago. The jet-powered flying wing broke apart mid-air five miles from Edwards Air Force Base over the Mojave Desert. The wing’s five crew members were killed. Among those who died in the crash was Capt. Glen Edwards, who was flying co-pilot with Maj. Daniel Forbes Jr. He was flying at the request of Maj. General Boyd. On Dec. 8, 1949, they renamed Muroc Air Force Base to Edwards Air Force Base in honour and memory of the heroism and sacrifice made by the California native.

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Cardenas served as the chief test pilot on the YB-49 program. He said that Jack Northrop’s vision for the flying wing was revolutionary, but too advanced for the technology of the 1940s. Cardenas appeared before Northrop and the General Officer’s Board to give his perspective regarding the program in November 1948.

He said he told the board that Northrop’s wing would give the military one of the most effective weapons that they had, but it exceeded the human response and sensory capabilities because humans act reactively. He said that the plane needed a proactive system, but he had no recommendations. The YB-49 superseded the YB-35 and XB-35, which were two heavy bomber aircraft that were experimental. They were developed by Northrop Corporation for the US Army Air Forces during World War II and after the war’s conclusion.

The plane used efficient design in the flying wing shape, which was also radical. The plane’s fuselage and tail section are both non-existent, and all payload is hauled within the thick wing design. The plane was only built in pre-production and prototype form despite interest remaining to warrant additional development of the design as a jet bomber, which was known as the YB-49. The crash of the YB-49 occurred when Capt. Glen Edwards sent the plane into a low-speed stall at a high angle while testing it. The flight testing of the UB-49 #1 went on until March 1950 when the nose wheel tire failed during a high-speed test. The YRB-49A was tested a while longer.

189

The YRB-49A was a strategic reconnaissance version of the flying wing, created from YB-35B #42-102376. Photographic equipment was installed in the tail cone bay. Its first flight was on 5/4/1950.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Army Air Force Xb 35 Aircraft Flying Over Los Angeles In United States On 1946 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
JANUARY 01: Army Air Force XB 35 Aircraft 

YB49-6_300

The YB-49 lifts off from Northrop Field for its first flight. Northrop’s chief test pilot Max Stanley flew the ship the short distance to Muroc AFB, where it would begin its testing.

 

29th April 1946: Four powerful Pratt and Whitney Wasp Major engines turn four 8-bladed propellers to generate the power for the American Flying Wing which will be used by the American Air Force. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
29th April 1946: Four powerful Pratt and Whitney Wasp Major engines turn four 8-bladed propellers to generate the power for the American Flying Wing which will be used by the American Air Force. 

789px-XB35_300

Northrop XB-35 Flying wing, a heavy bomber prototype

Northrop's Flying Wing Bomber, XB-35, is wheeled on to the runway for its first taxi tests, Hawthorne, California, May 25, 1946. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Northrop’s Flying Wing Bomber, XB-35, is wheeled on to the runway for its first taxi tests, Hawthorne, California, May 25, 1946

Northrop's Flying Wing Bomber, XB-35, takes off on its maiden flight, Hawthorne, California, June 26, 1946. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Northrop’s Flying Wing Bomber, XB-35, takes off on its maiden flight, Hawthorne, California, June 26, 1946.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 06: Northrop Yb 49 Taking Off At California In Usa On November 6Th 1947 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 06: Northrop YB 49 Taking Off  November 6th 1947 
JUN 5 1949 With a giant B-49 flying wing in the background, the noted air force band prepares for its Colorado concerts. The band will play for the governors' convention in Colorado Springs June 19 and 20, then will come to Denver for a free concert in Red Rocks park June 21. Arrangements for the concert her made by The Denver Post and Air Secretary W. Stuart Symington. being made to admit 10,000 persons to the concert in Red Rocks. Credit: Air Force Photo
JUNE 5 1949
With a giant B-49 flying wing in the background, the noted air force band prepares for its Colorado concerts. The band will play for the governors’ convention in Colorado Springs June 19 and 20, then will come to Denver for a free concert in Red Rocks park June 21. Arrangements for the concert her made by The Denver Post and Air Secretary W. Stuart Symington.
being made to admit 10,000 persons to the concert in Red Rocks.
Credit: Air Force Photo

flyingwing-8

 

flyingwing-9
This shot gives a good example of how odd the “flying wing” appeared, when looking head on.

192

The Air Force ordered all the remaining YB-35/49 aircraft to be destroyed. This may be the remains of the YRB-49A.

Sep. 29, 1947: Head on view of Northrop Flying Wing powered by eight jet engines. Photo taken on aircraft's introduction to the public and media.
Sep. 29, 1947: Head on view of Northrop Flying Wing powered by eight jet engines. Photo taken on aircraft’s introduction to the public and media.

yb-49_capitol

A classic picture of the YB-49 over the Capitol Building. It was too late for publicity to do any real good.

XB35-10_300

kK0kk9Q

In size, the XB-35 would dwarf the B-17 Flying Fortress, with wing area and gross weight almost three times those of the legendary heavy bomber.

Sep. 29, 1947: Visitors take a closeup look at the Northrup YB-49 Flying Wing during ist unveiling. The YB-49 is powered by with J-35 turbojet engines, mounted in groups of four.
Sep. 29, 1947: Visitors take a closeup look at the Northrup YB-49 Flying Wing during ist unveiling. The YB-49 is powered by with J-35 turbojet engines, mounted in groups of four.
Sep. 29, 1947: Visitors take a closeup look at the Northrup YB-49 Flying Wing during ist unveiling.
Sep. 29, 1947: Visitors take a closeup look at the Northrup YB-49 Flying Wing during its unveiling.

yrb-49-taxi

The clean lines of the flying wing were marred by the extra engines.

image010

Sep. 29, 1947: Head on view of Northrop Flying Wing powered by eight jet engines. Photo taken on aircraft's introduction to the public and media.
Sep. 29, 1947: Head on view of Northrop Flying Wing powered by eight jet engines. Photo taken on aircraft’s introduction to the public and media.

flyingwing-10The Northrop factory in Hawthorne, California.

191Aircraft designer John K. “Jack” Northrop stands in front of his YB-49 Flying Wing bomber. Mainly due to political reasons, the YB-49 was never mass produced. The last flight of the last Flying Wing took place on 4/26/1951.  Eighteen months later, Jack resigned from Northrop Aircraft, Inc., and left the aviation industry.

188

#367 flies over Muroc Field. Two YB-49 prototypes were built from YB-35’s. #42-102368 was the second aircraft.

1

This view of the first prototype Northrop XB-35, 42-13603, the “Flying Wing”, on the ramp at Muroc Air Force Base shows the pusher arrangement of four-bladed contra-rotating propellers. In the background, a turbojet-powered YB-49 is in a right bank. (U,S. Air Force)

XB-35FlyingWing

Interesting cockpit layoutYB-49-artist-rendition

Artist’s rendition of a version of the YB-49 transforming into the B-2 Spirit. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Jet Fabara)

 

 
© Copyright 2019 - War History Online