What do you make of this picture???

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by Capt. Vick, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Hey here is a little bit of an esoteric aviation mystery.

    This is a crop of a photograph of the back of a book I have: "The World's Strangest Aircraft: A Collection of Weird and Wonderful Flying Machines by Michael John Haddrick Taylor".

    The main picture, not shown here, was of a (X/Y)B-49 being worked on at the Northrop plant. In the crop and enlargement that I have included below you can see there is a couple of unfinished Northrop X/YB-35 Flying Wing bombers, which in and of itself is not unusual as you know they began to convert the already built b-35's into b-49's. But what is unusual is that one of the unfinished airframes is entirely painted in yellow zinc-chromate! Why? I always assumed that the planes themselves where left in NMF and if this was true why the zinc chromate? And why just that one? Theories?

    XB-35 Zinc Yellow.jpg
     
  2. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if this will help or just muddy up the water more. Here are the remaining airframes on their way to be broken up and none of them appear to have a bare metal finish

    soon to be wrecked.jpg
     
  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    The only possible explanations I can think of would be


    1. it was used for test and evaluation. Some of the early evaluation aircraft had bright colors to make them easier to see during testing. The Northrop N9MB that still flies today is yellow on top and blue on the bottom.

    2. There was one reconnaissance version built. It is possible that the reconnaissance version would have paint applied, so they put the zinc chromate primer on it.

    There may be a different explanation, but that's all I can speculate on.
     
  4. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Good point! I guess there are no color pictures out there of these planes waiting in the California sun huh? Also, if they were painted Z-C Yellow, would they be stripped of this color to later appear in NMF in service?

    However, depending on when this picture was taken, those babies are either waiting to be converted to jet powered B-49’s or awaiting the scrappers ax! Sad…

    Another thing that I have always been curious: Why are there were no pictures of these planes being scrapped, other than the one-off version that was to be equipped with two wing-mounted Northrop XT-37 Turbodyne engines?
     
  5. WJPearce

    WJPearce Active Member

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    I'm no expert so take this for what it is worth. The following is to the best of my knowledge, based on what I have read and pictures I have seen. Most of this info comes from Northrop Flying Wings by Pape and Campbell.

    All XB-35 (props), YB-49 (jet), and YRB-49 (recon) were flown in bare metal. Fifteen XB-35s were built or partially completed. One was converted to the sole YRB-49. Two YB-49s were built.

    Northrop's XT-37 Turbodyne was never installed in any airframe but was planed for the EB-35B test bed, an XB-35 conversion that was never completed.

    With the jet engine coming online, the fate of the XB-35 was uncertain. Would there be a contract for the B-35, would the completed/partially built airframes be converted to jets, or scraped? It seemed in 1948, no one knew what would happen, and the XB-35s were put in temporary outside storage. I believe the OP's photo is of work being done on a YB-49 while the XB-35s in the background were prepared for, or in, storage until their fate had been decided.

    The XB-35s were initially to be converted to jet power but were scraped from 12/29/1949 to 2/4/1950. One of the XB-35s had became the EB-35B (the Turbodyne test bed). It, along with the YB-49 and YRB-49 were not ordered to be scraped with the XB-35s. However, the sole remaining YB-49 was destroyed in a taxi accident in 3/15/1950. The EB-35B was never completed and order scrapped, which it was on 3/30/1950. The YRB-49 continued flight testing until 1951. It was order scraped on 11/17/1953 and the deed was done by 12/1/1953.

    Bill Pearce
     
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