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 Post subject: the flying wing in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 8:51 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:51 pm
Posts: 2
Let's review some real facts about this remarkable airplane.

The footage in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS comes from a film commissioned by the Northrop Company in the late 1940s entitled "The Story of the Flying Wing" produced by Cascade Productions of California, which is defunct. It is about 23 minutes; narrated by Paul Frees, who is in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS as a reporter. The flying wing depicted is the YB-49, designated #2367, the first of two.

The actor who plays the pilot in the film was James Lawry, who also played Kris Kringle's psych in THE MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947). Lawry died in 1992 in California. He re-dubbed his lines for THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.

I believe that the flying wing in this film is shown flying out of El Toro AFB in California, de-commissioned by the Air Force in the last few years.

YB-49 #1 (the one in WAR) was destroyed in a high-speed taxi test in early 1949. Russell Schleeh was its pilot at the time and as he escaped from the burning wreck he told firemen "let it burn."

The other YB-49 (#2), designated #2368, was destroyed in a horrific crash on June 5, 1948 in the Antelope Valley, California. The debris field from the crash still exists. Its co-pilot was Captain Glen Walter Edwards, after whom Edwards Air Force Base was named in 1949.

There was a third jet: the YRB-49, a reconaissance version. It sat on the tarmac at an aiprort in California (Ontario) until 1953 when it was scrapped.

So, who killed the flying wing in reality? Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington in 1949. He wanted Jack Northrop to merge his company with ConVair, which was building the B-36 "Peacemaker" and Northrop refused. Symington canceled the contract for the flying wing and the last one to fly was the YRB-49. Symington later became a senator from the state of Missouri and died in 1988. Northrop, himself, told the story of the cancelation in 1980 to reporter Clete Roberts. Northrop died in Feb., 1981, in a hospital near Pasadena, California.

There are 2 Northrop flying wings still in existence despite all this. His first real flying wing, the N-1M, sits at the Smithsonian Institute, restored in 1983. And the N-9MB, a 1/3 size version of the big flying wing, owned by a museum in Chino, California. The N-9MB still flies, restored in 1994. I've seen it up close and personal and its cute! It flew most recently at an air show at Edwards Air Force Base.

The flying wing, today, lives in the form of the B-2, built by Northrop-Grumman. The wing span of both planes: 172.5 feet. YB-49 pilots Max Stanley and Robert Cardenas were consulted by the B-2 people who were concerned about the flying and landing characteristics of a flying wing. Cardenas is still alive and very active in air force veterans' affairs. Max Stanley died in 1999.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:18 pm 
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Tripod King

Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 9:43 am
Posts: 307
Thanks for that Willy...You certainly know your aircraft.


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