37¢ YB49 Flying Wing
American Advances in Aviation
Issue Date: July 29, 2005
City: Oshkosh, WI
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10.75 x 10.5
Jack Northrop, founder of Northrop Aircraft, first designed a flying wing in 1928. In the 1940s, Northrop developed two propeller-driven, flying-wing bombers.
The futuristic design, with no fuselage (body) or tail, minimized drag and maximized lift. The Flying Wing could carry heavier weight faster, farther, and cheaper than conventional aircraft at that time.
In 1947, Northrop modified the propeller-driven wing with jet engines to create two YB-49s. During test flights in California, the YB-49 attained speeds of more than 500 miles per hour, a ceiling of 42,000 feet, and a range of 4,450 miles.
The flying-wing design was found to have serious stability problems. Test pilot Captain Glenn Edwards confided that it was “quite uncontrollable at times.” Descending from 40,000 feet, on June 5, 1948, Edwards’ YB-49 disintegrated, killing the entire crew.
Testing resumed with the other YB-49. During a high speed taxi, the nose landing gear collapsed, and the plane broke in two. The YB-49 project was cancelled because of its persistent stability problems.
In the 1980s, the flying wing reappeared in the B-2 stealth bomber. New computer controls solved the problems that had defeated the YB-49 Flying Wing.