Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Fail : Northrop XP-79

The dawn of the jet age saw a great flowering of aeronautical design. Fed by data captured from the Nazis aircraft designers sought to see just was possible with the new jet engines. Not everything worked out though, and the Northrop XP-79 was one of them.

The XP-79 was an interceptor developed by Northrop in WW2 initially to powered by a rocket but later 2 turbojets were substituted because of delays in developing the rocket engine. Although it was to be fitted with 4 machine guns the XP-79, which was built very strongly from a magnesium alloy with very strong wing leading edges, was intended to ram enemy bombers and slice off their tails with it's wing's leading edge!

Whether this could have worked is unknown, the XP-79 only flew for around 15 minutes. On it's first flight in September 1945 the pilot, who lay in a prone position in the plane, lost control and was killed whilst trying to escape it. The project was canceled.

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