Tag Archives: Northrop

Flying Wing

This is the Northrop XB-35, one of America’s amazing ‘flying wing’ experimental aircraft that would, eventually, lead to the modern B-2 Spirit ‘Stealth Bomber’.

But 1946 was a long time before the B-2, and the ‘flying wing’ idea was still in its infancy. The much smaller N-9M proved the concept enough (despite crashing quite a lot) for Northrop to build a version three times larger, the XB-35, initially powering it with four huge contra-rotating ‘pusher’ propellors driven by Wasp R-4360 radial engines.

The vibrations were awful though, so as the design entered the jet age it was upgraded with eight turbojets, becoming the YB-49 – although the aircraft was still far slower than conventionally winged bombers like the B-47.

It’s the original mid-’40s propellor-powered XB-35 we have here though, created in astonishing detail in 1:40 (mini-figure!) scale by Flickr’s BigPlanes. The detail is beautiful on the inside too, with a complete four-seat cockpit and accurate landing gear underneath.

BigPlanes’ incredible creation is due to go on show at the 2021 Virginia Brickfair event (COVID-19 depending), but you can see it via the spectacular imagery at his ‘XB-35 Flying Wing’ album on Flickr.

Click the link above to take to the skies c1946, and watch the horizon go all blurry and your tea jump out of your mug as four enormous contra-rotating props start shaking the world’s weirdest wing to bits.

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Fight Club

The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 experimental fighter probably caused a few UFO sightings during its fifty secret test flights. Two YF-23s were built during the early ’90s for evaluation as the USAF’s next stealth fighter, nicknamed ‘Black Widow II’ and ‘Gray Ghost’ owing to their paint schemes.

Despite being faster and more agile than the competitor YF-22, it was the YF-22 that won the contract to be produced due to superior agility, becoming the Lockheed F-22 Raptor. Now de-classified (apart from top speed), the two experimental YF-23s reside in museums, meaning Ralph Savelsberg can talk about them.

His recreation of the ‘Gray Ghost’ includes an opening mini-figure scale cockpit, folding landing gear, and more ingenious building techniques in one build than this TLCB writer has used in his entire building career.

Head to Ralph’s photostream by the link above to see all the images. Just don’t talk to anyone about it.

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Patrouille Suisse

This strikingly-liveried aircraft is a Northrop F5-E Tiger supersonic fighter, and it looks really rather conspicuous indeed. Conspicuous is not what you want from a fighter of course, but whilst the F5-E was mostly designed to do battle against MiGs, it’s also used by the Patrouille Suisse aerobatic display team. Because what else do the Swiss need to do with a fighter jet?

Recreated here by previous bloggee Dornbi this brilliant brick-built Patrouille Suisse F5-E Tiger replicates the real aircraft’s livery in spectacular fashion, including the white ‘X’ on the bottom which we can’t even begin to fathom out. Head to Dornbi’s ‘F5-E Tiger’ album on Flickr to see if you can.

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Flying Fruit

Airlines never seem to offer fruit on board. Little packets of pretzels yes. Fruit no. Or nothing at all if you’re flying budget, although there will be a catalogue containing a $4,000 watch. No matter, because the aptly-named Big Planes of Flickr has some serious in-flight fruit for us today. This is the Northrop N-9M ‘Flying Wing’, it really did exist and it really did look like a giant banana.

The N-9M was an experimental aircraft constructed in the early 1940s to test the theory behind an ultra efficient single wing bomber design. Four planes were built, and they crashed a lot. The idea worked though, and a pair of Flying Wings three times the size of the N-9M were constructed to further test the design.

Unfortunately the design really needed computer control to keep it airborne, which was incredibly limited at the time, and the projects were shelved; all but one of the four N-9Ms  built were scrapped. The fourth was left to deteriorate, but following a funding campaign it returned to the air in 1993 after two decades of restoration work, touring airshows and events across America. Sadly it too crashed in April of this year, killing the pilot and destroying the last N-9M in existence.

Big Planes’ beautifully built mini-figure scale replica of the Northrop N-9M is now as close as you’re likely to get to seeing what this incredible aircraft was like, however the design direction continued and – once computers caught up with the ambition of Northrop’s 1940s engineers – a flying wing did finally take to the skies; the amazing Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit  ‘Stealth Bomber‘.

There’s more to see of Big Planes’ brilliant Northrop N-9M at his photostream on Flickr. Click the link above, open a little pack of pretzels, and enjoy the images.

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Eye in the Sky

Lego E-2C Hawkeye Aircraft

This wonderfully weird contraption is a Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, currently serving in the U.S Navy aircraft carrier fleet. First flying in 1960, the E-2 Hawkeye is not only still in service some five decades later, but is actually still in production, giving it the longest production run of any carrier-based aircraft.

The huge disc atop the Hawkeye is a 24-foot rotating radar dome equipped with long-range radar and IFF systems, the only carrier-based aircraft to possess such technology. This enormous eye/ear allows the E-2 to detect incoming threats long before they become a danger, allowing the carrier upon which it’s stationed to prepare defences.

This remarkably accurate replica of one the the U.S navy’s oddest aircraft comes from previous bloggee and TLCB Master MOCer Ralph Savelsberg aka Mad Physicist, and he’s used some absolutely genius techniques to recreate the Hawkeye’s unique shape. There’s lots more to see at Ralph’s photostream by clicking here – just know that the Hawkeye is sure to see you coming…

Lego E-2C Hawkeye U.S Navy Aircraft

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Black Widow

Lego Northrop P-61 Black WidowThis Northrop P-61 ‘Black Widow’, built by Sydag on Flickr, shows what a long exposure can do for your pictures, in this case giving the appearance of turning propellors when no motors are to be found in the model. Clever photography for a clever build!

This is the second P-61 we’ve published here at TLCB. The first contains a brief summary and history of the American interceptor, which you can find by using the Search function at the foot of this page, or by clicking the relevant ‘tags’ under this post.

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