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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. This photo, a panorama made with three prints, was published in the Sep. 30, 1947 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

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. This photo was published in the Sep. 30, 1947 LA Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

Sep. 29, 1947: Visitors take a closeup look at the Northrup YB-49 Flying Wing during ist unveiling.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 21, 1947: The YB-47 Flying Wing takes off for the first time. The flight took it from Northrop's Hawthorne facility to Muroc Army Air Base, now Edwards Air Force Base. Some 4,000 spectators, mostly Northrop employees, witnessed the take off. This photo was published in the Oct. 22, 1947, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

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Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing unveiled

Sep. 29, 1947: The Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing is unveiled to the public and media at the company’s facility in Hawthorne. Los Angeles Times staff photographer Paul Calvert covered the event.

The Los Angeles Times reported the next morning:

Out of Northrop’s cavernous hanger yesterday rolled the world’s mightiest jet bomber – the eight-engined YB-49 Flying Wing.

Patterned after the conventionally powered B-35 Flying Wing, the huge silver boomerang is powered with eight J-35 turbo-jet engines developing (in thrust) the equivalent of 32,000 h.p. at a sea level 375 m.p.h…

The jet engines are mounted in fours, with the black-mouthed exhaust ports jutting from the training edge like stub-barreled cannon.

And flanking both engine banks are four vertical fins, or air separators, to give the giant air ship the same directional stability afforded by the whirling propellers of the original Flying Wing.

The first flight of the YB-49, also covered by Paul Calvert, was from Hawthorne to Muroc Army Air Base on Oct. 21, 1947.

The YB-49 never went into production, as the U.S. Air Force picked the piston-driven Convair B-36 for its next long-range bomber. But design work done on the Flying Wing was used in the current B-2 Spirit bomber.

For more on the Northrop Flying Wing, check out this Times 1988 story, Beauty, Stealth Ability: Flying Wing Boomerangs into Favor, and 2011 story on Northrop moving its headquarters.

There is also this 2011 Times photo gallery Northrop history in LA.


  1. February 8, 2012, 12:05 pm

    I remember when Paramount Pictures had a newsreel on the YB-49 and how it was going to be used in commercial aviation.

    The inherent aviation engineering problems with both the XB-35 and YB-49, were caused by immature engineering. Specifically speaking, the actuators and the servos that controlled the attitude of the wings were slow to respond. They were also known at the time as "Wobblin' Goblins."

    They also had another glitch: They could not be tracked on RADAR, because of their respective signatures.

    Somewhere, buried in the Southen California desert. lies these old, big behemoths.

    By: Steven Moshlak
  2. February 8, 2012, 4:35 pm

    The once proud company – that was my first job upon leaving the military – is quickly only a shadow of what it used to be. The pride in working for Northrop died when Dr. Sugar retired.

    Northrop had always drawn their CEO's from among their engineering ranks, and each CEO in turn always vowed to remain in Southern California. With the last "legacy" CEO (Dr. R. Sugar) gone, so too are the commitments made by the previous CEOs to remain here. W. Bush, the new CEO, has absolutely no loyalty to Southern California. With his move to the Beltway, he's also divested the company of as many divisions as he can, in order to artificially boost the stock price. His main goal now is simple – boost the stock price, merge with another defense contractor, walk away with more money that he can spend in 10 lifetimes.
    Shame on Bush for ruining a once-proud company into nothing more than a stock manipulator's dream.

    By: Guido

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