Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Back in the 1990’s the US built an airplane that was virtually invisible on radar….our stealth technology… was held as the grand achievement in warfare tech……basically it was a flying wing.

But in reality the low profile of such an aircraft is what made it almost invisible……but years before the US had built a flying wing, the YB-49.

….we tend to associate the flying wing design of aircraft with stealthy planes like the B-2 and the upcoming B-21 bomber. But the world’s first jet-powered flying wing emerged 70 years ago, and it was not designed to be stealthy but instead to conquer the problem of drag.

The Northrop YB-49 “Flying Wing” bomber prototype flew flight tests with the Air Force for several years before a fatal crash and basic problems with the aircraft led to its cancellation in 1949. A documentary from the late 1940s shows the optimism around the fresh design as the Northrop aviation company tried to explain the new YB-49 bomber to the masses.

The year was 1949 and it was a marvel according to some in the day…..but this idea was NOT an American idea.

Ever heard of the HO-229?

Probably not for it was conceived by those bastards of the day, the Nazis and the Horton Brothers.

Some historians claim that if the Nazis had put this into production sooner it could have well made all the difference in the outcome of WW2….in Germany’s favor.

America’s flying wing was not the first of such aircraft. In fact, one such plane nearly darkened the skies over Washington at the end of WWII with a nuclear present from the Fuhrer.

The head of the German Luftwaffe, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, was a notorious stickler, often demanding exceedingly stringent performance standards from the aircraft under his command. In 1943, he unveiled his most ambitious requirement set to date, quickly dubbed the “1000/1000/1000 rule”. It dictated than any future aircraft purchased by the German air force must be capable of hauling a 1000 kg load over a distance of 1000 km at a speed of 1000 km/h. And given the state of jet engine technology at the time, that requirement eliminated just about every aircraft currently in development.

After the war, the latest scientific improvements prompted the idea of planning an airframe that could sidestep radar. It was found that a jet-powered, flying wing design, just like the Horten Ho 229 will have a little radar cross-area to traditional contemporary twin-motor aircraft. This is because the wings were merged into the fuselage and there were no extensive propeller disks or vertical and horizontal tail surfaces to give a locatable radar signature.

Reimar Horten said he blended charcoal dust with the wood paste to soak up electromagnetic waves (radar), which he accepted could shield the aircraft from identification by British early warning ground-based radar that worked at 20 to 30 MHz (the top end of the HF band), which is called Chain Home radar.

The Nazis were great innovators and it they had a leader that was more anchored in reality then we all might be speaking German to this day.

Fascinating stuff…..history is so much more informative than anything else these days…..but then it takes commonsense to appreciate this stuff and that is sadly lacking in today’s American society.

6 thoughts on “Now You See It, Now You Don’t

  1. I have just posted about the subject of History on my blog today. I can’t get enough of it, but I fear that it is being disregarded by too many these days.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. History buffs are welcome to their comfortable little literary getaway where they can hide in the past and be protected from all that is happening around them. But as for me, I am content to let the dead bury their dead and to let the dust accumulate in peace on the bones of all those who have gone before. History is a great hobby and a wonderful pastime for those who indulge themselves in it, but I find it to be a totally useless waste of time and energy because it does nothing to solve the problems we all face in the ever-present and far-more-important timeframe called “Now.”

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