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Northrop Flying Wing

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Jack Northrop in 1928 wanted to “do his own thing”, which was to start investigating all-wing aircraft, He decided to keep a tail, for the time being. So the Northrop Flying Wing, with experimental registration X-216H, was intended to solve only some of the problems. The wing was a fairly conventional shape, apart from the thick centre section so that the pilot and passenger could sit comfortably inside it on each side of the centre line. The whole structure was a duralumin cellule with multiple spars and a stressed skin. To the rear projected an extremely, light pair of duralumin monocoque tail booms carrying a twin-finned tail, the whole assembly weighing less than half as much as a conventional rear fuselage and tail. The main wheels were well forward under the leading edge, and under the trailing edge was a large steerable tailwheel.

The 90 hp / 67kW Menasco Pirate engine was carried just ahead of the leading edge, with cooling air ducted to an outlet near the trailing edge. Northrop was deeply concerned to secure smooth airflow over his flying wings and never again put a propeller in front of one.

The aircraft, built by Northrop's newly formed Avion Corporation (later the Northrop Aircraft Corporation), initially driving a pusher propeller but modified later to tractor configuration.

X-216H flew perfectly well. It had conventional controls, and Northrop wanted to explore alternative arrangements and ultimately take the giant step of removing the tail, but lie was prevented by financial and business difficulties.

 

 


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