Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Yellow Northrop N1M flying wing airplane, in front of Northrop P-61C Black Widow and tail of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay”, et al

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Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Yellow Northrop N1M flying wing airplane, in front of Northrop P-61C Black Widow and tail of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay”, et al
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Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Northrop N1M:

John K. "Jack" Northrop’s dream of a flying wing became a reality on July 3, 1940, when his N-1M (Northrop Model 1 Mockup) first flew. One of the world’s preeminent aircraft designers and creator of the Lockheed Vega and Northrop Alpha, Northrop had experimented with flying wings for over a decade, believing they would have less drag and greater efficiency than conventional designs. His 1929 flying wing, while successful, had twin tail booms and a conventional tail. In the N-1M he created a true flying wing.

Built of plywood around a tubular steel frame, the N-1M was powered by two 65-horsepower Lycoming engines, later replaced with two 120-horsepower Franklins. While its flying characteristics were marginal, the N-1M led to other designs, including the Northrop XB-35 and YB-49 strategic bombers and ultimately the B-2 stealth bomber.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Manufacturer:
Northrop Aircraft Inc.

Date:
1940

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Wingspan: 11.6 m (38 ft)
Length: 5.2 m (17 ft)
Height: 1.5 m (5 ft)
Weight, gross: 1,814 kg (4,000 lb)
Top speed: 322 km/h (200 mph)
Engine: 2 Franklin 6AC264F2, 120 hp
Overall: 72in. (182.9cm)
Other: 72 x 204 x 456in. (182.9 x 518.2 x 1158.2cm)

Materials:
Overall: Plywood

Physical Description:
Twin engine flying wing: Wood, painted yellow.

Long Description:
The N-1M (Northrop Model 1 Mockup) Flying Wing was a natural outgrowth of John K. "Jack" Northrop’s lifelong concern for an aerodynamically clean design in which all unnecessary drag caused by protruding engine nacelles, fuselage, and vertical and horizontal tail surfaces would be eliminated. Developed in 1939 and 1940, the N-1lM was the first pure all-wing airplane to be produced in the United States. Its design was the forerunner of the larger all-wing XB-35 and YB-49 bomber! reconnaissance prototypes that Northrop hoped would win Air Force production contracts and eventually change the shape of modern aircraft.

After serving apprenticeships with the Lockheed brothers and Donald Douglas in the early 1920s and designing the highly successful and innovative Lockheed Vega in 1927, Northrop in the late 192Os turned his attention to all-wing aircraft. In 1928, he left the employ of Lockheed and organized the Avion Corporation; a year later he produced his first flying wing, which incorporated such innovative features as all-metal, multicellular wing and stressed-skin construction. Although the 1929 flying wing was not a true all-wing design because it made use of external control surfaces and outrigger tail booms, it paved the way for the later N-1 M, which proved the basic soundness of Northrop’s idea for an all-wing aircraft. At the time, however, Northrop did not have the money to continue developing the all-wing idea.

In 1939, Northrop formed his own aircraft company, Northrop Aircraft, Inc., and as a result was in a position to finance research and development of the N-1M. For assistance in designing the aircraft, Northrop enlisted the not aerodynamicist Dr. Theodore von Karman, who was at the time Director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute Technology, and von Karman’s assistant, Dr. William R. Sears. Walter J. Cerny, Northrop’s assistant design chief, became the overall supervisor for the project. To determine the flight characteristics of an all-wing design, Northrop Cerny conducted extensive wind tunnel tests or flying wing models. Ultimately, the design of the N-1 M benefited from the new low-drag, increase stability NACA airfoils as well as improved flaps spoilers, and other aerodynamic devices.

After a period of a year, the N-1M, nicknamed the "Jeep," emerged in July 1940 as a boomerang-shaped flying scale mockup built 01 wood and tubular steel with a wingspan of 38 feet a length of 17 feet, and a height of 5 feet. Pitch and roll control was accomplished by means of elevons on the trailing edge of the wing, which served the function of both elevator and aileron the place of the conventional rudder was a split flap device on the wing tips; these were originally drooped downward for what was thought to be better directional stability but later straightened.

Controlled by rudder pedals, the split flaps, or "clamshells," could be opened to increase the angle of glide or reduce airspeed and thus act as air brakes. The center of gravity, wing sweep, arrangement of control surfaces, and dihedral were adjustable on the ground. To decrease drag, the aircraft’s two 65-hp Lycoming 0-145 four-cylinder engines were buried within the fuselage. These were later discovered to be lacking in sufficient power to sustain lift and were replaced by two 120-hp six-cylinder 6AC264F2 air-cooled Franklin engines.

The N-1M made its first test flight on July 3, 1940, at Baker Dry Lake, California, with Vance Breese at the controls. Breese’s inaugural flight in the N-1 M was inauspicious. During a high-speed taxi run, the aircraft hit a rough spot in the dry lake bed, bounced into the air and accidentally became airborne for a few hundred yards. In the initial stages of flight testing, Breese reported that the aircraft could fly no higher than 5 feet off the ground and that flight could only be sustained by maintaining a precise angle of attack. Von Karman was called in and he solved the problem by making adjustments to the trailing edges of the elevons.

When Vance Breese left the N-1 M program to test-fly the North American B-25, Moye Stephens, the Northrop company secretary, took over testing of the aircraft. By November 1941, after having made some 28 flights, Stephens reported that when attempting to move the N-1M about its vertical axis, the aircraft had a tendency to oscillate in what is called a Dutch roll. That is, the aircraft’s wings alternately rose and fell tracing a circular path in a plane that lies between the horizontal and the vertical. Although Stephens was fearful that the oscillations might not be controllable, he found that adjustments to the aircraft’s configuration cleared up the problem. In May 1942, Stephens was replaced by John Myers, who served as test pilot on the project for approximately six months.

Although the exact period of flight testing for the N-1M is difficult to determine because both Northrop and Army Air Forces records have been lost, we do know that after its initial test flight at Baker Dry Lake, the aircraft was flown at Muroc and Rosamond Dry Lake, and at Hawthorne, California, and that late in the testing program (probably after January 1943) it was towed by a C-47 from Muroc to Hawthorne on its last flight with Myers as the pilot.

From its inception, the N-1M was plagued by poor performance because it was both overweight and chronically underpowered. Despite these problems, Northrop convinced General H. H. Hap" Arnold that the N-1 M was successful enough to serve as the forerunner of more advanced flying wing concepts, and the aircraft did form the basis for Northrop’s subsequent development of the N-M9 and of the larger and longer-ranged XB-35 and YB-49 flying wings.

In 1945, Northrop turned the N-1M over to the Army Air Forces in the hope that it would someday be placed on exhibit. On July 12, 1946, the aircraft was delivered to Freeman Field, Indiana. A little over a month later, the N-1M was given to the National Air Museum and placed in storage at Park Ridge, Illinois. On May 1,1949, the aircraft was placed in the Museum’s collection, and a few years later moved in packing crates to the Museum’s Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland. In 1979, the restoration of the N-1M began, and by early 1983, some four decades after it had made its final flight, the aircraft had been returned to its original condition.

• • • • •

Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Northrop P-61C Black Widow:

The P-61 Black Widow was the first U.S. aircraft designed to locate and destroy enemy aircraft at night and in bad weather, a feat made possible by the use of on-board radar. The prototype first flew in 1942. P-61 combat operations began just after D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Black Widows flew deep into German airspace, bombing and strafing trains and road traffic. Operations in the Pacific began at about the same time. By the end of World War II, Black Widows had seen combat in every theater and had destroyed 127 enemy aircraft and 18 German V-1 buzz bombs.

The Museum’s Black Widow, a P-61C-1-NO, was delivered to the Army Air Forces in July 1945. It participated in cold-weather tests, high-altitude drop tests, and in the National Thunderstorm Project, for which the top turret was removed to make room for thunderstorm monitoring equipment.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Manufacturer:
Northrop Aircraft Inc.

Date:
1943

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Overall: 450 x 1500cm, 10637kg, 2000cm (14ft 9 3/16in. x 49ft 2 9/16in., 23450.3lb., 65ft 7 3/8in.)

• • • • •

Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay":

Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments. Although designed to fight in the European theater, the B-29 found its niche on the other side of the globe. In the Pacific, B-29s delivered a variety of aerial weapons: conventional bombs, incendiary bombs, mines, and two nuclear weapons.

On August 6, 1945, this Martin-built B-29-45-MO dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, Bockscar (on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio) dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay flew as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. A third B-29, The Great Artiste, flew as an observation aircraft on both missions.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Manufacturer:
Boeing Aircraft Co.
Martin Co., Omaha, Nebr.

Date:
1945

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Overall: 900 x 3020cm, 32580kg, 4300cm (29ft 6 5/16in. x 99ft 1in., 71825.9lb., 141ft 15/16in.)

Materials:
Polished overall aluminum finish

Physical Description:
Four-engine heavy bomber with semi-monoqoque fuselage and high-aspect ratio wings. Polished aluminum finish overall, standard late-World War II Army Air Forces insignia on wings and aft fuselage and serial number on vertical fin; 509th Composite Group markings painted in black; "Enola Gay" in black, block letters on lower left nose.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird port panorama (Bowlus 1-S-2100 Senior Albatross “Falcon” & Boeing P-26A Peashooter overhead)
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Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Bowlus 1-S-2100 Senior Albatross "Falcon"

Hawley Bowlus developed the Senior Albatross series from a design he called the Bowlus Super Sailplane. In Germany, designers and pilots led the world in the building and flying of high-performance gliders, and Bowlus was strongly influenced by their work. He and German glider pioneer, Martin Schempp, taught courses in aircraft design and construction at the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute in Glendale, California. The two instructors led a group of students that built the Super Sailplane in 1932. The Super’ served as a prototype for the Senior Albatross.

In May 1934, Warren E. Eaton acquired the Senior Albatross now preserved at NASM from Hawley Bowlus. Eaton joined the U. S. Army Air Service and flew SPAD XIII fighters (see NASM collection) in the 103rd Aero Squadron, 3rd Pursuit Group, at Issoudon, France, from August 27, 1918, to the Armistice. He was credited with downing one enemy aircraft in aerial combat. After the war, Eaton founded the Soaring Society of America and became that organization’s first president.

Gift of Mrs. Genevieve J. Eaton.

Manufacturer:
Bowlus-Dupont Sailplane Company

Date:
1933

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Wingspan: 18.8 m (61 ft 9 in)
Length: 7.2 m (23 ft 7 in)
Height: 1.6 m (5 ft 4 in)
Weight: Empty, 153 kg (340 lb) Gross, 236 kg (520 lb)

Materials:
Originally skinned with mahogany and covered with lightweight cotton "glider cloth," then covered with a shellac-based varnish. In 2000, restorers removed original fabric and shellac coating, recovered with Grade A cotton fabric followed by several coats of nitrate dope, then lemon shellac, finishing with several coats of Johnson Wax.

Physical Description:
Monoplane glider with strut-braced, gull-type wing mounted high on monocoque fuselage; wooden construction with steel and aluminum fittings and controls; fuselage and wing leading edge covered with mahogany plywood. Fuselage skin applied over laminated Spruce bulkheads. Landing gear consists of single-wheel and …. [size?] tire mounted beneath forward fuselage, spring-steel tail skid beneath rudder.

Cockpit covered with hood made from laminated Spruce bulkheads and covered with Mahogany plywood. Circular openings cut into hood on either side of pilot’s head. Instrumentation: altimeter, airspeed, variometer plus a bank-and-turn indicator powered by low-speed venturi tube installed on retractable mount beneath right wingroot.

Areas aft of wing spar and all control surfaces covered with glider cloth. Cloth is doped directly onto ribs and plywood skin without stitching for smooth finish. Constant-chord wing from fuselage to mid-span, tapered profile from mid-span to wingtip; constant-chord,
split-trailing edge flaps and high-aspect ratio ailerons. A Gö 549 airfoil is used at the wing root, becoming symmetrical at the tip.

All-flying elevator mounted on duraluminum torque-tube, rudder hinged to box-beam post, both surfaces built up from Spruce and covered with glider cloth.

Long Description:
Long before he designed and built the Bowlus-DuPont "Falcon," William Hawley Bowlus had contributed to aviation history. In 1926, T. Claude Ryan hired him as factory manager at the Ryan Airlines, Inc., plant at San Diego, California. Late in February 1927, Bowlus and twenty Ryan workmen, supervised by chief engineer Donald A. Hall and Charles A. Lindbergh, built a long-range monoplane based on the Ryan M-2. Lindbergh christened the modified M-2 the "Spirit of St. Louis." It is said that Bowlus suggested several design features that Lindbergh approved and incorporated in the finished airplane. Bowlus renewed his friendship with Lindbergh late in 1929. He taught the ocean flyer and his wife, Anne Morrow, to fly sailplanes and in January 1930, both Charles and Anne completed their first solo glider flights.

Hawley Bowlus developed the Senior Albatross series from a design that he called the Bowlus Super Sailplane. In Germany, designers and pilots led the world in building and flying high-performance gliders and Bowlus was strongly influenced by their work. He and German glider pioneer, Martin Schempp, taught courses in aircraft design and construction at the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute in Glendale, California. The two instructors led a group of students who built the Super Sailplane in 1932. The Super Sailplane served as a prototype for the Senior Albatross. The wing of the Super was nearly a copy of the German "Wein" sailplane designed and flown with great success in 1930 and 1931 by Robert Kronfeld. Both gliders employed the same Goettingen 549 wing airfoil and even the tips of the control surfaces curved to almost identical contours. When Bowlus built the Senior Albatross series, the cockpit enclosure closely resembled another record-setting and influential German sailplane, the "Fafnir," designed by Alexander Lippisch specifically for pilot Gunther Groenhoff.

Richard C. du Pont was also an important character in the history of the Senior Albatross. By the time he finished high school, this heir to the Delaware-based chemical empire could fly gliders with some skill. During his first year at the University of Virginia, he founded a campus soaring club. His passion for motorless flight drew him farther away from traditional academics and in 1932, he transferred to the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute. Du Pont was probably among the students who built the Super Albatross.

In 1933, du Pont teamed with Hawley Bowlus and the two men set up shop in San Fernando, California, to build gliders. Bowlus furnished the design expertise and performed much of the construction. Du Pont supplied enthusiasm, labor, and financing. The Bowlus-DuPont Sailplane Company became an official entity in 1934 not in California, but in Delaware. The firm folded in September 1936 but during its short corporate life, the small factory built four examples of the Senior Albatross but no two were constructed exactly alike. All four sailplanes did have ‘gull’ wings (each wing was bent down slightly at about mid-span) and this feature differentiates these airplanes from the prototype Super Sailplane. Bowlus fitted two with wing flaps, rather than spoilers, for better speed and altitude control during landing. Mahogany plywood skinned one and spruce plywood covered the other three aircraft. Bowlus sold each of these handcrafted airplanes for ,500.

In 1935, Hawley Bowlus began work on a two-seat Senior Albatross built from aluminum but other distractions delayed completion until 1940. In 1939, Ernest Langley and Jim Gough built another Senior Albatross at the Bowlus ranch in California.

Performance calculations revealed a best glide ratio of 23:1 when flying at 64.4 kph (40 mph). If it became necessary, the pilot of a Senior Albatross could push his mount well over 161 kph (100 mph) as long as he never exceeded a speed of 241.5 kph (150 mph). With an accomplished pilot at the controls, the Senior Albatross could fly better than any American airplane without a motor and they were very pleasing to look at too. A quotation from the July 1934 issue of "Aviation," a popular periodical, sums up one writer’s impressions of the Bowlus-Du Pont Senior Albatross:

"Few flying machines have ever exhibited such an extraordinary combination of workmanship, finish, and aerodynamic refinement, so that it seems quite safe to say that the new ships represent the ultimate in soaring design practice in the United States, if not the world."

The pilots who flew the Senior Albatross nearly dominated American competitive soaring. In 1933, Richard du Pont flew the first Senior Albatross at the fourth U. S. National Soaring Championships held at Elmira, New York. On September 21, du Pont set the American sailplane distance record by flying 196 km (121.6 miles). On June 25, 1934, he flew to within 3.2 km (2 miles) of New York City and established a new world distance record of 254 km (158 miles). On June 30, 1934, du Pont set the U. S. altitude record for sailplanes by climbing to 1,892 m (6,223 ft). The following year, Lewin Barringer soared his Senior Albatross parallel to the ridges of the Allegheny Mountains for 250.3 km (155.5 miles).

In May 1934, Warren E. Eaton acquired from Hawley Bowlus the Senior Albatross that is now preserved at NASM. Eaton was already a veteran aviator. He had joined the U. S. Army Air Service and flew SPAD XIII fighters (see NASM collection) in the 103rd Aero Squadron, 3rd Pursuit Group, at Issoudon, France, from August 27, 1918, until Armistice Day, November 11. He was credited with downing one enemy aircraft in aerial combat. After the war, Eaton founded the Soaring Society of America and became that organization’s first president.

Eaton had commissioned Bowlus to build this glider after he saw Richard C. du Pont fly the second Senior Albatross at the U. S. Nationals the year before. Eaton’s ordered flaps for his aircraft and it was the only Senior Albatross skinned with mahogany plywood. He christened it "Falcon" and it bore the federal aircraft registration number G13763. Several gold decals edged in black also appeared at various locations on the fuselage. "Warren E. Eaton" and "Falcon" appeared on both sides of the nose. A stylized albatross and the company motto "On the Wings of an Albatross" were applied to the vertical fin above the words "Bowlus-Du Pont Sailplane Company."

Eaton first flew the glider at San Diego. In June, he brought it to the national contest at Harris Hill, New York. At Big Meadows, Virginia, Eaton set the American soaring altitude record, 2,765 m (9,094 ft), during September 1934. Three months later, Eaton died in Florida flying a Franklin p glider.

In 1935, Warren Eaton’s widow, Genevieve, donated the "Falcon" to the Smithsonian Institution. It arrived in Washington on May 28 and a few days later, museum personnel suspended the glider from the ceiling of the West Hall of the Arts and Industries Building where it remained on display for many years.

• • • • •

Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Boeing P-26A Peashooter:

The Boeing P-26A of the mid-to-late 1930s introduced the concept of the high-performance, all-metal monoplane fighter design, which would become standard during World War II. A radical departure from wood-and-fabric biplanes, the Peashooter nonetheless retained an open cockpit, fixed landing gear, and external wing bracing.

Most P-26As stationed overseas were eventually sold to the Philippines or assigned to the Panama Canal Department Air Force, a branch of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Several went to China and one to Spain. This one was based at Selfridge Field in Michigan and Fairfield Air Depot in Ohio between its acceptance by the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1934 and its transfer to the Canal Zone in 1938. It was given to Guatemala in 1942 and flew in the Guatemalan air force until 1954. Guatemala donated it to the Smithsonian in 1957.

Gift of the Guatemalan Air Force, Republic of Guatemala

Manufacturer:
Boeing Aircraft Co.

Date:
1934

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Wingspan: 8.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
Length:7.3 m (23 ft 11 in)
Height:3.1 m (10 ft 2 in)
Weight, empty:996 kg (2,196 lb)
Weight, gross:1,334 kg (2,935 lb)
Top speed:377 km/h (234 mph)
Engine:Pratt & Whitney R-1340-27, 600 hp
Armament:two .30 cal. M2 Browning aircraft machine guns

• • • • •

See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird:

No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated globally in more hostile airspace or with such complete impunity than the SR-71, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments during the Cold War.

This Blackbird accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time during 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its last flight, March 6, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging 3,418 kilometers (2,124 miles) per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane over to the Smithsonian.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Manufacturer:
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation

Designer:
Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson

Date:
1964

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Overall: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 55ft 7in. x 107ft 5in., 169998.5lb. (5.638m x 16.942m x 32.741m, 77110.8kg)
Other: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 107ft 5in. x 55ft 7in. (5.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)

Materials:
Titanium

Physical Description:
Twin-engine, two-seat, supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft; airframe constructed largley of titanium and its alloys; vertical tail fins are constructed of a composite (laminated plastic-type material) to reduce radar cross-section; Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines feature large inlet shock cones.

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