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Flying Wings

Flying Wings Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2015 Title Flying Wings
Author David Doyle Publisher Ampersand Publishing
Published 2015 ISBN 978-0-9895547-7-0
Format 120 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95

First Look

In the years before World War II, Jack Northrop had been experimenting with a radical new set of aerodynamic designs generally called the 'Flying Wings'. The N-1M was an early twin-engined proof-of-concept aircraft that would lead to designs that are more common today. The US Army Air Corps was interested in the Flying Wing as a long-range bomber that could reach Axis targets from the United States and a contract was issued for the XB-35 in the month before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

By the time the XB-35 would first fly, not only was the USAAF able to conduct combat operations from forward airbases in the UK and around the South Pacific, the war in both theaters had already ended. While Northrop had worked the bugs out of its innovative long-range bomber, the world was moving past propeller-driven aircraft and the start of the jet age. The B-35 program was terminated in 1949 with over a dozen airframes completed. This title provides some terrific photo documentation of the aircraft in its construction, development and testing.

The USAAF didn't end the flying wing program as two of the B-35 airframes were converted to replace its four piston engines with eight Allison J35 turbojet engines and the resulting aircraft were redesignated YB-49. While the B-49 demonstrated excellent handling including stalls and spin recovery, one aircraft was destroyed in a high-speed taxi test that led to a fire. The B-49 was cancelled not because of technology or performance, but according to some historians, the program was caught up in the political machine with the Texas deligation in Washington successfully pushing the B-36 Peacemaker instead. Like the B-35 coverage, the author has provided some nice photos that detail the modifications and flight tests of the YB-49.

Did you know that there was another version of the B-49 build and flown? This title also captures the six-engined J-35-powered YRB-49A reconnaissance wing. Again there are some great photos in this title which show the unusual configuration of this aircraft with one example converted and test flown.

Author David Doyle as compiled a terrific photo reference that provides not only detailed developmental history of these three Flying Wing configurations, but also provides very useful visual details for the modeler whether building the Italeri 1/72 or DML 1/200 Flying Wing kits. This is a great addition to any aviation library. Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Ampersand Group for this review sample!