In 1976, with his health failing, he felt compelled to communicate to NASA his belief in the low drag high lift concept inherent in the flying wing. NASA replied that the idea had technological merit comforting Northrop that his flying wing concepts hadn't been completely abandoned. By the late 1970s a variety of illnesses had left him unable to walk or speak. Shortly before his death in 1981, he was given clearance to see designs and hold a scale model of the B-2 Spirit which shared many of the design features of his YB-35 and YB-49 designs. Northrop was reported to have written on a sheet of paper "Now I know why God has kept me alive for 25 years". In the Wing Will Fly documentary, B-2 project designer John Cashen says
"As he held this model in his shaking hands, it was as if you could see his entire history with the flying wing passing through his mind"
Jack Northrop died 10 months later knowing his life's passion would be incorporated in the country's most technologically advanced Cold War weapon system.
The real crime is that for whatever reason, the US ordered that the remaining planes be scrapped. What a shame. Can you imagine one of those in the Smithsonian Flight Museum?
The crazy thing was that they had 9 of them built
and the Sec Def had them destroyed. Symington I think
it was, just insanity.
If alive today Jack would lose the meat display case. Despite his passion he never had any interest in getting a pilot’s license.
See my post 22. Ole Jackie boy may have gotten his ideas from the Horten brothers, who actually designed the aircraft in 1935 and build a flying model in the 1940’s.
But hey, lots of ideas strike several unconnected individuals at the same time. God does things like that.
Northrup corporation actually spent its own time and money to re-create the Horten 229. (Which was captured, dismantled and shipped to the US in 1945) The results raised goose bumps when they realized that not only could the plane fly, but it really could slip by radar technology at the time, and even give modern radar a run for it’s money.
Constructed of PLYWOOD, it incorporated an aluminum particle based paint (similar to the Hindenburg) to protect the wood from the jet exhaust.
Hitler’s wet dream was to fly these bombers to NYC and destroy Manhattan.
The pucker-factor? Another 6 months, and it would have been a done deal.
Another speculation for the machines not getting the funding needed was that Adolph was a collectivist. He wrote scathing commentary about “individualists.” He considered them traitors.
He never really trusted the Horten brothers, believing they were recalcitrant individualists. (He was probably correct.)