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XB-35

XB-35

Aviation pioneer John Northrop spent decades developing the concept of an all-wing aircraft, trading the weight and drag of a conventional fuselage and tail for greater speed and range. On June 25, 1946, his XB-35 Flying Wing bomber lifted majestically from the run way of the Northrop Aircraft Co. and made its maiden flight to Edwards AFB (then Muroc Army Air Field). The radical new bomber was accompanied on the flight by a Northrop P-61 Black Widow. Shortly after this photo was taken, the P-61 chase plane caught fire, forcing its crew to parachute to safety.

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XB-35

XB-35

The U.S. government purchased 15 B-35s: two experimental planes and 13 service test versions.  An order for 200 production models was canceled. In this photo, probably taken late in 1948, several YB-35 airframes are in the process of being converted to jet power.
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XB-35

XB-35

Taken from the escorting P-61, the XB-35's eight contra-rotating propellers are seen to advantage. Four Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major engines each drove a pair of four-bladed propellers rotating in opposite directions by means of an extension shaft and specialized gear box. Unfortunately, chronic problems with the propeller governors and the complicated gear boxes doomed the innovative bomber to early extinction. The basic concept was sound, however, and its 172-foot wingspan, sweepback angle, and total wing surface area were virtually identical to the B-2 which appeared decades later.

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XB-35

XB-35

The Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing on its maiden flight, headed to Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards AFB) on 25 June, 1946, escorted by a company P-61 Black Widow.  Shortly after this photograph was taken, the P-61 experienced a severe engine fire and crashed.  Its crew parachuted to safety
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XB-35

XB-35

Another view of the first XB-35 on its maiden flight, taken from its P-61 chase plane.  This view clearly shows its very high thrust line of 30 degrees.

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XB-35

XB-35

The XB-35 early in its flight test program, still using its original contra-rotating propellers. Notice that the spinners on the port side have been removed.

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XB-35

XB-35

The XB-35 passes overhead, showing the heavy exhaust stains on its underside.
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XB-35

XB-35

Nose gear of the XB-35.  Note the enclosed co-pilot's window above the strut, to the right of the centerline.

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XB-35

XB-35

Side view of the XB-35 ready for takeoff, clearly showing the slots in the leading edge.  Note the bystanders watching from the other side of the fence.

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Last updated: June 07, 2000        
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