Jack Northrop and the Flying Wing: The Story Behind the Stealth Bomber

Theodore Coleman, Author, Robert Wenkam, With, Ted Coleman, Author Paragon House Publishers $24.95 (284p) ISBN 978-1-55778-079-9
During World War II, Northrop (1895-1981) translated his revolutionary flying-wing concept into a practical aircraft he claimed was substantially more efficient than conventional airplanes. After the war, the Air Force was sufficiently impressed with his prototype series to order 30 production models. In 1948, Northrop was peremptorily ordered by Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington to merge his company with a competitor due to collusion, charge the authors, on the part of Symington and Convair's board chairman, Floyd Odlum. On Northrop's refusal the Air Force canceled the contract, ordered the flying-wing bombers on the assembly line scrapped, along with the production jigs and dies. Northrop was so disheartened that he went into premature retirement. Three decades later, in an irony-heavy turn of events, the government began pouring billions of dollars into the development of the supersecret Stealth bomber, based directly on Northrop's pioneering aerodynamic discoveries. The Northrop B-2, it turns out, is a flying wing. Coleman was one of the Northrop Corporation's founding directors; Wenkam is a freelance writer. Photos. (August)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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