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AVIATION: Flying Wing

2 minute read

Nobody thinks that the present design of planes is definitive. One who has revolutionary ideas about the next step is brainy, energetic John Knudsen Northrop. He thinks the tail ought to come off: he believes that conventional airplanes will eventually be replaced by tailless flying wings. This week in Hawthorne, Calif. Jack Northrop proudly showed his Flying Wing bomber, which looked like a giant boomerang, 172 feet from tip to tip.

The unconventional XB-35 is the first of 15 which Northrop Aircraft, Inc. is building for the U.S. Army. Fully loaded, it will weigh 104½ tons v. 70—for Boeing’s B29. The wing is 7½ feet thick, big enough to house: 1) a 15-man crew; 2) four 3,000-h.p. Pratt & Whitney engines in the wing, with eight-bladed dual-rotation propellers in the trailing edge; 3) enough fuel to fly 10,000 miles nonstop; 4) a bomb load guesstimated as high as 25 tons. By eliminating fuselage and tail surfaces, whose air resistance slows down conventional planes, Northrop expects his XB-35 to fly well over 400 miles per hour.

The XB-35 was originally designed as a bomber, with the Army footing the $25,000,000 bill for developing and building the first two models. But Jack Northrop has his eye on the commercial field also. He claims that Flying Wing transports could carry 25% more weight 25% farther and faster than a conventional plane of identical power and weight. And it would be better suited for the upcoming jet motors. Northrop has built and flown four smaller two-motored models of this design. But when the big wing is test-hopped in two months, his theories will get their toughest practical test.

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