Northrop Once Built Planes That Were Just Giant Wings

Illustration for article titled Northrop Once Built Planes That Were Just Giant Wings

After World War II, the future of commercial air travel was supposed to be fantastic. There were promises that planes like Northrop Grumman's flying wing would become the norm for civilian flying. These promises were often made to Baby Boomers — young, impressionable kids of the 1950s and 60s — like in this cutaway drawing by L. Ashwell Wood for the comic book Eagle.

Our artist's impression of a flying wing aircraft is based on scientific data and is quite within the realms of possibility. In fact an American 8 jet-propelled bomber — the Northropp [sic] YB-49 — is already built but still on the secret list. In the air-liner the whole of the cabin and cargo space is pressurized for high altitude flying at high speeds.

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No wonder Baby Boomers feel so betrayed. Not only did they not get their flying cars or their jetpacks, they didn't even get their flying wing airliners.

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Below we see a model of the Northrop Flying Wing XB-35 based on a similar design circa 1950.

Illustration for article titled Northrop Once Built Planes That Were Just Giant Wings

Top image via XRay Delta on Flickr; Bottom image via Getty

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DISCUSSION

I always liked this idea. At the same time, this kind of flying experience (with the interior space, and if put into practice) would very quickly devolve into the sardine can we have, today... the berths are, well, quaint... a relic of the pre-jet age when people who wanted to cross the Atlantic quickly & comfortably took steamships like the Queen Mary.

One thing I do like, though, is the idea of a forward observation lounge, so you could get a real "up-front" look at where the plane is going, just like the pilots have.