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Northrop F-89 Scorpion

Northrop F-89D Scorpion

Basic development of the Northrop F-89 Scorpion began during 1945 in response to a general requirement issued by the then US Army Air Force calling for an aircraft capable of a speed of 845 km/h (525 mph) at 10670 m (35,000 if) with a 965-km (600-mile) combat radius and the ability to operate with air-to-air rockets. Although the jet era had already begun, the original requirement called for a propeller-driven aircraft, but most of the six companies which responded submitted proposals based upon the use of jet power. In March of the following year, one of the four Northrop candidates was selected for further development and rewarded with a contract for two XP-89 prototypes on 13 June 1946, flown for the first time on 16 August 1948. Initial trials revealed few problems, and the type was ordered into production as the F-89A in 1949. Soon afterwards, the Scorpion began to run into difficulties, most of which centred around inadequate performance; but there was also serious concern about structural integrity and it was decided to suspend production until Northrop had eradicated these failings. In the event, only 11 examples of the F-89A were completed, most of these being emplayed on operational trials, and it was the F-89B which became the first operational model, entering service at Hamilton AFB, California, in June 1951.

A total of 37 F-89Bs was built before production switched to the essentially-similar F-89C. It was at about this time that the Scorpion gained a reputation as ‘the world’s largest vacuum cleaner’, the low-slung engines being prone to damage by objects ingested on take-off and during taxiing; inlet screens helped to overcome this difficulty. The standard fighter equipment with U.S.A.F. in 1955, early F-89A, B and C had six 20 mm. cannon in nose. F-89C could also carry 16x5 in. rockets under wings.


F-89D Scorpion

The most numerous sub-type was the F-89D with revised engines and improved fire-control and armament systems, no less than 682 being built by March 1956. They were followed by the more heavily armed F-89H, almost all of the 156 aircraft of this version being accepted in 1956. Subsequently, 350 of the earlier F-89Ds were fitted with a new fire-control system and revised armament in the form of the Douglas MB-i Genie missile, these henceforth being known under the designation F-89Js. The first nuclear-armed interceptor to make its debut, the F-89J began to enter service at Hamilton in January 1957 but enjoyed only a short front-line career, giving way to more sophisticated interceptors like the McDonnell F-101B, Convair F-102A and Convair F-106A in 1960. Many Scorpions did, however, continue to fly with the Air National Guard until 1968.

A total of 1232 were built.


Engines: 2 x Allison J35-A-35, -33A, -41, -47 afterburning turbo-jet, 3266kg / 5,600 lb
Max take-off weight: 19160 kg / 42241 lb
Empty weight: 11428 kg / 25195 lb
Wingspan: 18.19 m / 59 ft 8 in
Length: 16.41 m / 53 ft 10 in
Height: 5.36 m / 17 ft 7 in
Wing area: 52.21 sq.m / 561.98 sq ft
Max. speed: 1024 km/h / 636 mph
Ceiling: 14995 m / 49200 ft
Range: 4184 km / 2600 miles
Armament: 3 x "Falcon" guided missiles, 104 x 70mm missiles
Crew: 2

F-89J Scorpion
Powerplant: two 3266-kg (7,200-lb) afterburning thrust Allison J35-A-35 turbojets
Maximum speed 958 km/h (595 mph) at 10970 m (36,000 ft)
Initial climb rate 1573 m (5,160 ft) per minute
Service ceiling 15600 m (51,180 ft)
Maximum range 1720 km (1,690 miles)
Maximum take-off weight 19319 kg (42,590 lb)
Wing span 18.19 m (59 ft 8 in)
Length 16.33 m (53 ft 7 in)
Height 5.36 m (17 ft 7 in)
Wing area 52.2 sq.m (562 sq ft)
Armament: two MB-i (AIR-2A) Genie nuclear-tipped rockets and 104 FFAR rockets.


Northrop F-89 Scorpion



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