First Flight for Flying Wing
"I had told Colonel Boyd that any engineer who put a propeller on the trailing edge of a wing did not deserve his diploma," retired U.S. Air Force General Robert L. Cardenas told Air & Space about his experience testing the Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing back in 1947. The short-lived experimental bomber took its maiden flight on this day in 1946. Built in response to an Army Air Forces desire to have a bomber that could fly 10,000 miles with a 10,000-pound payload, the Flying Wing wasn't ready in time to be used in World War II. When it finally appeared ready for flight, the propeller version was scrapped almost immediately. In this image, from the National Air and Space Museum archives, a line of XB-35s at Northrop's Hawthorne, California, plant await conversion to jet-powered YB-49s. The jet version wasn't much of an improvement, and the program was canceled in1948. Sadly, this strange piece of aviation history is relegated to pictures and stories: all of the XB-35s and YB-49s were scrapped by 1953.
Photo: NASM Archives