Northrop Xp-79

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2nd Lieutenant
Jun 23, 2006
London Ontario Canada
Length: 14 ft, Wingspan: 28 ft, Height: 7 ft, Wing area: 278 ft², Empty weight: 5,840 lb, Loaded weight: 8,669 lb
Powerplant: 2× Westinghouse 19B turbojet, 1,150 lbf each
Maximum speed: 547 mph, Range: 993 mi, Service ceiling: 40,000 ft, Rate of climb: 4,000 ft/min, Wing loading: 31 lb/ft²
Thrust/weight: 0.27
Armament, Guns: 4 × .50-cal (12.7 mm) machine guns (never fitted)
John be:
Those pictures of the XP-79 are jaw-dropping! I’ve never seen anything like these. I’ve only seen the two overall photos mostly published in various magazines. This is incredible! Great shots. Thank you.
Ahh.... Just what color WAS this thing? I presume that they firdt intended the production version to be C.D/N.G, then overall natural metal or aluminized laquer, but...?

As above, thanks for the great stuff.

Got to thinking about its design for purposely ramming into enemy aircraft. Am I correct? If so, how did they address the issue of tge glass or plexiglas to withstand such an encounter? Made from bullet-proof glass?
Got to thinking about its design for purposely ramming into enemy aircraft. Am I correct? If so, how did they address the issue of tge glass or plexiglas to withstand such an encounter? Made from bullet-proof glass?
The "ramming device" was on the wingtips
"Essentially, the XP-79 was an interceptor that would bring down its opponents by ramming them in flight. During the early months of the German invasion of Russia in 1941 and 1942, Russian fighter pilots had frequently resorted to various taran, or midair ramming techniques. There was no real need for American fighter pilots to resort to such tactics, however, and the USAAF officer who came up with the idea for the ram fighter may be grateful that his identity is lost to history." :crazy:
I can see from the above thread that it is time to clear up some of the long-standing myths about the XP-79.

The AAF NEVER intended for the XP-79 to be a Ram. That said, it does appear that Jack Northrop may have sold the idea of the aircraft with that being one of the features he envisaged. I have seen a reference to being a Ram in at least one of his communications with the AAF, and I suspect that the thus-far completely hidden original proposal by Northrop to the AAF could well have contained that as one of the selling features. And this notion was almost surely repeated by some of the Northrop employees at different times.

However, the AAF had investigated and rejected the whole concept of using aircraft to ram bombers long before the war had even begun. Briefly, on October 31, 1940 a conference with the Secretary of War resulted in a verbal directive issued on November 1, 1940 from General Carl Spaatz, then Chief of the Material Division, for a study to be undertaken on increasing armor on existing pursuit aircraft or those currently under development so the aircraft could ram attack hostile bombardment aircraft in cases of extreme emergency.

The AAF initially chose the P-40D, P-39C and the P-47 (most likely the B) to investigate this idea. The P-47 was quickly rejected because of the difficulty of armoring the engine while still having sufficient airflow for cooling. Drawings were done of the P-40 and the P-39 showing how and where the armor would be mounted. Due to the additional weight, certain of the guns had to be removed, compromising their effectiveness as pursuit/fighter aircraft. By December 31, 1941 the idea had been thoroughly investigated and just as thoroughly discredited.

For those interested in this moment of aircraft history, please see my article with drawings, photos and data in Issue 9 of The Aviation Historian. This article contains all known data about this project and is named America's Ramjaegers.

And now back to the XP-79.

I have done a great deal of research on the XP-79 and have collected all documents that could be found either at the National Archives or the U.S. Air Force Museum (or whatever they themselves now), as well numerous photos of the various stages of development and construction with the help of other serious researchers. My intent is to produce a monograph on this aircraft, both because so much incorrect information has been foisted on the public for so long and because I just love flying wings. There is no publication date at present.

In my research, which included talking to retired Northrop employees, there is no indication whatsoever that the AAF EVER intended to use the XP-79 or any of its rocket-propelled precursors for the purpose of ramming enemy aircraft. As shown above, the AAF had long-since put that idiocy to bed. The armor plate just inside the leading edges of the wings are often referred to as proof of concept. They are not. They were put in to protect the very volatile rocket fuel of the original concept from damage - and a very big boom - from enemy fire. Period.

I do hope this clarifies things. I encourage any serious researchers to spend the time gathering and studying original source documents, not just on the XP-79 but on any aviation project in which they may have interest. The Truth always seems to prove to be even more interesting than the rumors and fantasies.

Submitted for your consideration,

In March, 1945, Jack Northrop wrote a four-page letter to the AAF outlining the XP-79 project from its beginnings, through Northrop's relationship with Avion (who was actually building the XP-79) and describing Northrop's attention to the process.

Within this document Northrop refers to the original proposal for a flying wing fighter made in 1942. That portion of the document is attached below. This paragraph, plus the original yet-to-be-found proposal, are the only documentary references known to this author where direct reference is made to the ramming tactic. As stated previously, the AAF NEVER intended to use the aircraft as a rammer - or any other aircraft, for that matter. The "undersigned" referred to is Jack Northrop himself.

Of interest are the amazing performance estimates made in the original proposal. Once again, I don't believe the AAF fully bought into these estimates, but the concept alone was interesting enough to them to warrant further - and eventually very lengthy - development.

While the XP-79 in general dragged on forever, and the subsequent crash of the XP-79B pretty much put an end to that project, the AAF was still interested enough in the notion of the flying wing fighter to approach Northrop about a follow-on jet propelled version known as the XP-79Z. At some point I may do a redraw of the 3-view (or at least the side) and post it here as it will need to be done for the monograph anyway.

Submitted for your consideration,

Jack Northrop ramming reference March 1945.jpg
Rather than take the time to redraw the XP-79Z I thought I'd post the Northrop artist's impression instead.

As you can see, the aircraft was once again a prone pilot position but with the single jet engine in a pod beneath the fuselage.


XP-79Z artist impresssion - 100dpi.jpg

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