Dragon DRW52012 USAF Northrop YB-49 "Flying Wing" Strategic Bomber (1:200 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Northrop YB-49 was a prototype jet-powered heavy bomber aircraft developed by Northrop shortly after World War II. Intended for service with the U.S. Air Force, the XB-49 would feature a flying wing design. It was a jet-powered development of the piston-engined Northrop XB-35 and YB-35; the two YB-49s actually built were both converted YB-35 test aircraft.
The YB-49 never entered production, being passed over in favor of the more conventional Convair B-36 Peacemaker piston-driven design. Design work performed in the development of the YB-35 and YB-49, nonetheless proved to be valuable to Northrop in the eventual development of the current day B-2 Spirit strategic bomber which first entered operational service in the 1990s.
With the XB-35 program seriously behind schedule by 1944, and the end of piston-engined combat aircraft in sight, the production contract for this propeller driven type was cancelled in May of that year. Nevertheless, the Flying Wing design was still sufficiently interesting to the Air Force that work was continued on testing a single YB-35A production aircraft.
Among the aircraft later completed were two airframes that the Air Force ordered be fitted with jet propulsion and designated as YB-49s. The first of these new YB-49 jet-powered aircraft flew on October 21st, 1947, and immediately proved more promising than its piston-engined counterpart. The YB-49 set an unofficial endurance record of staying continually above 40,000 ft (12,200 m) for 6.5 hours.
The second YB-49 was lost on June 5th, 1948, killing its pilot, Major Daniel Forbes for whom Forbes Air Force Base was named, Captain Glen Edwards, co-pilot (after whom Edwards Air Force Base is named), and three other crew members, one of whom, Lt. Edward Lee Swindell was a crew member on the Boeing B-29 that assisted Chuck Yeager in breaking the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 aircraft. Their aircraft suffered structural failure, with both outer wing sections becoming detached from the center section. Speculation at the time was that the YB-49 was lost due to excessive pullout loads imposed on the airframe when a planned stall recovery resulted in a high speed, nose-over dive. The post-stall high speed dive resulted from the clean, low-drag design, which gave the YB-49 a rapid speed increase in any type of dive.
Bombing target tests showed a tendency of Flying Wings to "hunt" in yaw after turns and when flying in "disturbed" air, degraded bombing accuracy. It was thought that one of the new Honeywell autopilots, with yaw damping, would correct this flaw.
The Warbirds series from Dragon has contributed a novel new aircraft for the delectation of modelers! The new item is a 1/200 scale model of the Northrop YB-49, a prototypical heavy bomber conceived soon after WWII. One look at the futuristic design will enable viewers to understand why its often referred to as the Flying Wing..
The YB-49 was a radical design, and Warbirds has created a model that is every bit as striking! Whats remarkable about this model is its incredibly lifelike metallic skin. The normal method to reproduce such a shiny finish would be to simply add a thin layer of metallic paint to the structure underneath. However, Dragon has adopted an entirely fresh approach for the YB-49 by employing an innovative new technology. In actual fact, the whole underlying raw material of this model is permeated by metallic silver coloring. The model doesnt have an application of paint on its surfaces - for the entire model is silver -and this has resulted in an even more spectacular layering of shadows and highlights. This shiny model is simply dazzling, with its beauty being far more than just skin deep!
Release Date: November 2011
Historical Account: "Sabotage?" - On February 4th, 1949, the first YB-49 flew from Muroc Air Force Base in California to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C. in 4 hours 25 minutes. The return flight from Andrews was marred when four of the eight engines had to be shut down for oil starvation. Inspection after a successful emergency landing at Winslow Airport, Arizona revealed no oil had been replaced in these engines at Wright after the Muroc-to-Andrews leg, raising a suspicion of industrial sabotage.
The last operational YB-49 prototype was destroyed on March 15th, 1950, during high-speed taxi trials at Muroc Field. The nosewheel began to encounter severe vibration problems and finally collapsed. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the ensuing fire. The taxi trials took place with the YB-49's fuel tanks full, an unusual testing procedure, fanning further speculation of industrial sabotage of the aircraft. The Air Force ordered the remaining uncompleted YB-35 piston-engined airframes be completed as production B-35B aircraft.