Th N-9MB Flying Wing

This is perhaps one of the most unusual aircraft I’ve had the privilege of photographing and it also happens to be one of my favorites. No matter how many times I’ve seen this plane fly or how boring the skies are photographically, I will always raise my camera for this plane. This is the N-9MB Flying Wing, built by Northrop and is one of four prototypes built and is the only left today.

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Jack Northrop started working on all wing designed aircraft in 1929 and the N-9M was the third in the lineage. It was one third of the size at 60ft long and the M standing for model. The N-9M was used as a test bed for the XB-35 and YB-35 heavy bombers. The preliminary order for the B-35 came in October 1941 and it included the 1/3 scaled model for testing and familiarization of pilots with the all wing design. In December 1942 the first N-9M flew. In 1943 an order was placed for three models and a fourth one was added on after the first N-9M crashed. They were designated N-9M-1, -2, -A, -B. Most of the air frame and skin were made out of wood with some steel tubing inside. Three of the models used the two 290 hp (216 kW) Menasco C6S-1 inverted air-cooled straight-six engines and driving twin-bladed propellers. The N9MB, the only one left, used two 300 hp (224 kW) Franklin XO-540-7 engines.

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Northrop test pilot John Myers was the first to fly the N-9M on December 27th, 1942. Over forty five test flights were flown with most being cancelled due to mechanical issues with the Menasco engines. The original N-9M crashed on May 19th, 1943 killing the pilot Max Constant. When the Flying Wing Bomber program was cancelled all the prototypes were destroyed except for N-9MB. The research data gathered from the N-9M and B-35 were used however to develop the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber which entered service in 1989.

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Today the N-9MB is housed at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA. It is frequently in the air giving demonstrations for the masses at airshows. It is by far one of the quietest aircraft I have ever come across and at a distance in level flight, even with it’s bright paint job, it does disappear. Thanks to the help of many volunteers this important piece of aviation history lives on.

Images Captured with Nikon D4, 200-400 VR, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

A Sweet New Plane in the Shed

This really is a sweet plane! The N9MB Flying Wing is the only example of it’s kind left in the world. This was one of three prototypes that were made as 1/3 scale models in development of the XB-35 long range bomber by Northrop. This plane flies with no tail and therefore no rudder. It also has no computer on board so all adjustments are done by the pilot. It’s an amazing piece of technology that led the way to the development of the B-2 bomber and other stealth planes.

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In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Finally I can blog!

After a long day driving back on Monday and getting things sorted out yesterday I finally have time to blog. It was a heck of a good time down in Chino this past weekend surrounded by beautiful aircraft and good friends. I’m still working through the 152gigs of images that i took this weekend but I wanted to get something up. This is the N9MB Flying Wing. It is a very rare aircraft that really tends to turn some heads. As you can probably tell there are some missing components to this aircraft as opposed to other traditional planes. This particular plane has no on board computer so everything he is doing to fly this plane is manual.

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The N-9M is a one third scale model used to develop the XB-35 and YB-35 long range bomber program. The plane was first flown in 1942 and later would pioneer the way to the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. Today the N-9MB can be seen in only a few places. It has become a rather rare aircraft with even less pilots able to fly it. Planes of Fame has a beautiful example of this amazing piece of flying history.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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