Northrop XP-79B Flying Ram


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Northrop XP-79B Flying Ram

In January 1943, Northrop was awarded a USAAF contract for the design and construction of three prototypes of a highly original rocket-propelled interceptor fighter of all-wing configuration and designated XP-79. To be powered by a single 907kg Aerojet rocket motor, the XP-79 was to have accommodated its pilot in the prone position, but, in the event, development problems with the rocket led to cancellation of the project. However, a contract was placed for the redesign of the fighter for turbojet power, one prototype being ordered as the XP-79B. Manufactured of Heliarc-welded heavy-gauge magnesium plate, the XP-79B featured reinforced wing leading edges which were intended to enable it to withstand ramming attacks on the tail surfaces of enemy bombers. Provision was also made for an armament of four 12.7mm machine guns. The wing was fitted with elevons and bellows-type rudders, and power was provided by two 619kg Westinghouse 19B turbojets. The XP-79B was flown for the first time on 12 September 1945, but in a climbing turn during its second pass over Muroc Dry Lake, an inadvertent roll was followed by a stall and then a spin from which the pilot was unable to recover, and following this accident the programme was cancelled.


The XP-79B's pilot lay in a prone position, theoretically giving tolerance of up to 20g. Although the intention was to strike enemy aircraft using the leading edges of the wings, finding volunteers to dive on enemy bombers head first in a plastic bubble may have proved difficult.

The XP-79B's structure was largely magnesium, assembled using Northrop's patented Heliarc welding process.

The pilot controlled the ailerons with a tiller bar in front of him and rudders mounted at his feet, which worked the opposite way to normal. Intakes at the wingtips supplied air for the unusual bellows-boosted ailerons.

Northrop XP-79B Flying Ram on YOUTUBE

Northrop XP-79B Flying Ram

  Take-off weight3932 kg8669 lb
  Empty weight2649 kg5840 lb
  Wingspan11.58 m38 ft 0 in
  Length4.27 m14 ft 0 in
  Height2.13 m7 ft 0 in
  Wing area25.83 m2278.03 sq ft
  Max. speed880 km/h547 mph
  Range1600 km994 miles

Northrop XP-79B Flying RamA three-view drawing (1280 x 714)

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tc comentator, e-mail, 06.01.2022 21:29

Getting close enough to ram would be the challenge. Air combat evolved into "stand off" technology for good reason.


jim greenwell, e-mail, 29.05.2014 21:31

My modeling class built one it took two months it flew great.
I got the plans off the internet. As a model aircraft it did great don't know about the real aircraft.


x91-a6 Devirginator, e-mail, 22.08.2011 07:59

All y'all cracked peeps better be commenting.

Also, awesome plane. Scary, but damn cool looking.


Ta-183 Huckebein, 24.05.2010 17:22

Nice airplane! WOOT first comment! YEAH!!!!!!!! XD


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