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Northrop N-9M

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The Northrop N-9M was a one-third scale development aircraft for the Northrop YB-35 flying wing bomber. First flown in 1942, it was one of a lineage that began when Jack Northrop was inspired by the pre-war flying wing successes of the Horten brothers to build his N-1M of 1939-1941, leading eventually to the operational B-2 Spirit bomber of 1989.

On October 30, 1941, the preliminary order for development of the B-35 was confirmed, including engineering, testing, and — most importantly — a 60 ft wingspan 1/3-scale aircraft designated the N-9M by the company that was to be used in gathering data on performance. One was ordered in the original contract; this was expanded to three in early 1943 and a fourth was ordered a few months later. They were designated N-9M-1, -2, -A, and -B, respectively.

The N9MB Flying Wing at Planes of Fame.
The N9MB Flying Wing being flown at Planes of Fame's 2004 airshow, Chino, California. The museum usually flies their one-of-a-kind flying wing at several airshows per year.

The N-9M was of partial wood construction to reduce weight; some wing surfaces were also wooden. The central section (roughly equivalent to the fuselage) was made of steel tubing. It was powered by two Menasco C65-1 engines, driving two-bladed propellers. The original engines were 290 hp; the N-9M-B later upgraded to 400 hp Franklin engines.

The first flight of the N-9M occurred on December 27 1942. Over the next five months there were 45 flights. Nearly all were terminated by mechanical failures of one sort or another. The Menasco engines were the primary source of problems. After about 22.5 hours of accumulated flight time, the N-9M crashed approximately 12 miles west of Muroc Army Air Base on May 19, 1943. The pilot, Max Constant, was killed as he attempted to recover the aircraft from a right-hand, 60 degree nose-down spin.

When the B-35 program was canceled, every test model was scrapped except the N-9M-B. In 1982, volunteers of the Chino Planes of Fame Air Museum restored it to flying condition, and N-9M-B is now exhibited regularly with flight demonstrations at several airshows every year.[1]

In April 2006 the N-9M-B suffered an in-flight engine fire. The aircraft was landed safely with limited damage but as of June 2007 there is no estimate as to when the wing will fly again.

Specifications (N-9M)

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot. (The N-9MB also had an observers seat. This was achieved by removal of the 50 gal fuel tank located behind the pilot)
  • Length: 17.79 ft (5.4 m)
  • Wingspan: 60 ft 0 in (18.3 m)
  • Height: 6.58 ft 0 in (2. 00 m)
  • Wing area: 490 ft² (45.5 m²)
  • Empty: 5,893 lb ( kg)
  • Loaded: 6,326 lb (3,175 kg) 6,818 N-9MB)
  • Maximum takeoff: lb ( kg)
  • Powerplant: 2x Menasco C6S-4, 275 hp(205 kW) each
  • Powerplant: (N-9MB) 2x Franklin XO-540-7, 260 hp each


  • Maximum speed: 258 mph (415 km/h)
  • Range: 500 miles (805 km)
  • Service ceiling: 21,500 ft (6,555 m)
  • Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
  • Wing loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
  • Power/Mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)

Related content

Related development: Northrop N-1M - Northrop YB-35 - Northrop YB-49

Comparable aircraft: Horten Ho 229


  1. Air & Space Smithsonian, October/November 2002, Volume 18, Number 4, p. 12.

External links

de:Northrop N-9M fr:Northrop N-9M

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Northrop N-9M".