A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft that has no definite fuselage. The crew, payload, fuel, and equipment are typically housed inside the main wing structure, although a flying wing may have various small protuberances such as pods, nacelles, blisters, booms, or vertical stabilizers.
Similar aircraft designs that are not, strictly speaking, flying wings, are sometimes referred to as such. These types include blended wing body aircraft, and microlights (such as the Aériane Swift), which typically carry the pilot (and engine when fitted) below the wing.
Hugo Junkers patented a wing-only air transport concept around the same time, in 1910. He saw it as a natural solution to the problem of building an airliner large enough to carry a reasonable passenger load and enough fuel to cross the Atlantic in regular service. He believed that the flying wing's potentially large internal volume and low drag made it an obvious design for this role. His deep-chord monoplane wing was incorporated in the otherwise conventional Junkers J 1 in December 1915. In 1919 he started work on his "Giant" JG1 design, intended to seat passengers within a thick wing, but two years later the Allied Aeronautical Commission of Control ordered the incomplete JG1 destroyed for exceeding postwar size limits on German aircraft. Junkers conceived futuristic flying wings for up to 1,000 passengers; the nearest this came to realization was in the 1931 Junkers G.38 34-seater Grossflugzeug airliner, which featured a large thick-chord wing providing space for fuel, engines, and two passenger cabins. However, it still required a short fuselage to house the crew and additional passengers.
The flying wing configuration was studied extensively from the 1920s, often in conjunction with other tailless designs.
After the 1920s, Soviet designers such as Boris Ivanovich Cheranovsky worked independently and in secret under Stalin. With significant breakthrough in materials and construction methods, aircraft such as the BICh-3, BICh-14, BICh-7A became possible. Men like Chizhevskij and Antonov also came into the spotlight of the Communist Party by designing aircraft like the tailless BOK-5 (Chizhevskij) and OKA-33 (the first ever built by Antonov) which were designated as "motorized gliders" due to their similarity to popular gliders of the time. The BICh-11 by Cheranovsky in 1932 was competing with the Horten brothers H1 and Adolf Galland at the Ninth Glider Competitions in 1933, but did not demonstrate in the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin. The BICh-26 was one of the first attempts at a supersonic jet flying wing aircraft, ahead of its time in 1948. The airplane was not accepted by the military and the design died with Cheranovsky.
In Germany, Alexander Lippisch worked first on tailless types before progressively moving to flying wings, while the Horten brothers developed a series of flying wing gliders through the 1930s. The H1 glider was flown with partial success in 1933, and the subsequent H2 flown successfully in both glider and powered variants.
Other 1930s examples of true flying wings include Frenchman Charles Fauvel's AV3 glider of 1933 and the American Freel Flying Wing glider flown in 1937. featuring a self-stabilizing airfoil on a straight wing.
By World War II aerodynamic issues were well enough understood for work on production prototypes to begin while research continued. In 1942 Northrop flew the N-9M scale development aircraft for a proposed long-range bomber. The German Horten Ho 229 of March 1944 was the world's first twin jet engine pure flying wing, and pre-production examples were test-flown during the closing stages of the war. The British Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52G of 1944 was a glider test bed for tailless research. for the later Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52 jet-powered version.
Several late-war German military designs were based on the flying wing concept (or variations of it) as a proposed solution to extend the range of the otherwise very short-range jet engine powered aircraft. Most famous example of these designs would be the Horten Ho 229 fighter-bomber, which first flew in 1944. It combined a flying wing, or Nurflügel, design with twin jet engines in its second, or "V2" (V for Versuch) prototype airframe flown by Erwin Ziller. However, a flameout in one of its Junkers Jumo 004 jet engines caused Ziller to crash, killing him. The unflown, nearly completed surviving "V3," or third prototype remains in storage at the Smithsonian Institution in an unrestored state.
Some work continued postwar. The work on the Northrop N-1M led to the YB-35 long-range bomber, with pre-production machines flying in 1946. This was superseded the next year by conversion of the type to jet power as the YB-49 of 1947. The design did not offer a great advantage in range, presented a number of technical problems and did not enter production.
With the arrival of the supersonic era, military interest faded due to the conflicting demands of a thin wing for supersonic flight against a thick wing to accommodate the crew and equipment.
Interest in flying wings was renewed in the 1980s due to their potentially low radar reflection cross-sections. Stealth technology relies on shapes that reflect radar waves only in certain directions, thus making the aircraft hard to detect unless the radar receiver is at a specific position relative to the aircraft—a position that changes continuously as the aircraft moves. This approach eventually led to the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. In this case, the aerodynamic advantages of the flying wing are not the primary reasons for the design's adoption. However, modern computer-controlled fly-by-wire systems allow for many of the aerodynamic drawbacks of the flying wing to be minimized, making for an efficient and effectively stable long-range bomber.
Due to the practical need for a deep wing, the flying wing concept is most practical for subsonic aircraft and there has been continual interest in using it in the large transport role where the wing is deep enough to hold cargo or passengers. A number of companies, including Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and de Havilland, did considerable design work on flying wing airliners, but to date none has entered production.
A clean flying wing is sometimes presented as theoretically the most aerodynamically efficient (lowest drag) design configuration for a fixed wing aircraft. It also would offer high structural efficiency for a given wing depth, leading to light weight and high fuel efficiency.
Because it lacks conventional stabilizing surfaces and the associated control surfaces, in its purest form the flying wing suffers from the inherent disadvantages of being unstable and difficult to control. These compromises are difficult to reconcile, and efforts to do so can reduce or even negate the expected advantages of the flying wing design, such as reductions in weight and drag. Moreover, solutions may produce a final design that is still too unsafe for certain uses, such as commercial aviation.
Further difficulties arise from the problem of fitting the pilot, engines, flight equipment, and payload all within the depth of the wing section.
A wing that is made deep enough to contain the pilot, engines, fuel, undercarriage and other necessary equipment will have an increased frontal area, when compared with a conventional wing and long-thin fuselage. This can actually result in higher drag and thus lower efficiency than a conventional design. Typically the solution adopted in this case is to keep the wing reasonably thin, and the aircraft is then fitted with an assortment of blisters, pods, nacelles, fins, and so forth to accommodate all the needs of a practical aircraft.
The problem becomes more acute at supersonic speeds, where the drag of a thick wing rises sharply and it is essential for the wing to be made thin. No supersonic flying wing has ever been built.
For any aircraft to fly without constant correction it must have directional stability in yaw.
Flying wings lack anywhere to attach an efficient vertical stabilizer or fin. Any fin must attach directly on to the rear part of the wing, giving a small moment arm from the aerodynamic center, which in turn means that the fin is inefficient and to be effective the fin area must be large. Such a large fin has weight and drag penalties, and can negate the advantages of the flying wing. The problem can be minimized by increasing the wing sweepback and placing twin fins outboard near the tips, as for example in a low-aspect-ratio delta wing, but many flying wings have gentler sweepback and consequently have, at best, marginal stability.
Another solution is to angle or crank the wing tip sections downward with significant anhedral, increasing the area at the rear of the aircraft when viewed from the side.
The frontal area of a swept wing as seen in the direction of the airflow depends on the yaw angle relative to the airflow. Yaw increases the drag of the leading wing and reduces that of the trailing one. With enough sweep-back, differential drag is sufficient to naturally re-align the aircraft. This is the stabilization scheme used in the early Northrop flying wings, in combination with vertical engine nacelles (YB-35) or diminutive stabilizers (YB-49).
A complementary approach uses differential twist or wash out, together with a swept-back wing planform and a suitable airfoil section. Prandtl, Pankonin and others discovered that washout was fundamental to the yaw stability in a turn of the Horten brothers flying wings of the 1930s and 1940s. Due to the necessity for elevons to be located near the wingtips, the one on the upward-moving wing causes drag that impedes turning as it deflects the high-pressure airflow under the wing. The Hortens described a "bell shaped lift distribution" across the span of the wing, with more lift in the center section and less at the tips due to their reduced angle of incidence, or washing out. The restoration of outer lift by the elevon creates a slight thrust for the rear (outer) section of the wing during the turn. When displaced, this vector essentially pulls the trailing wing forward to compensate for the "adverse yaw" caused by the elevon. It did not work well in practice.
In some flying wing designs, any stabilizing fins and associated control rudders would be too far forward to have much effect, thus alternative means for yaw control are sometimes provided.
One solution to the control problem is differential drag: the drag near one wing tip is artificially increased, causing the aircraft to yaw in the direction of that wing. Typical methods include:
A consequence of the differential drag method is that if the aircraft maneuvers frequently then it will frequently create drag. So flying wings are at their best when cruising in still air: in turbulent air or when changing course, the aircraft may be less efficient than a conventional design.
The supersonic bi-directional flying wing design comprises a long-span low speed wing and a short-span high speed wing joined in the form of an unequal cross.
The proposed craft would take off and land with the low-speed wing across the airflow, then rotate a quarter-turn so that the high-speed wing faces the airflow for supersonic travel. NASA has funded a study of the proposal.
The design is claimed to feature low wave drag, high subsonic efficiency and little or no sonic boom.
The proposed low-speed wing would have a thick, rounded airfoil able to contain the payload and a long span for high efficiency, while the high-speed wing would have a thin, sharp-edged airfoil and a shorter span for low drag at supersonic speed.
Some related aircraft that are not strictly flying wings have been described as such.
Some types, such as the Northrop Flying Wing (NX-216H), still have a tail stabilizer mounted on tail booms, although they lack a fuselage.
Many hang gliders and microlight aircraft are tailless. Although sometimes referred to as flying wings, these types carry the pilot (and engine where fitted) below the wing structure rather than inside it, and so are not true flying wings.
Hor ten. H-II Both glider and powered version - (see figures 19 and 20)
116 Squadron of the Israeli Air Force, also known as The Defenders of the South Squadron (former Flying Wing Squadron), is an F-16A/B fighter squadron based at Nevatim Airbase.In 2015 it was announced that the second F-35 Squadron in the IAF will be the "Defenders of the South".AVIC 601-S
AVIC 601-S is an unmanned aerial vehicle development program containing series of Chinese low-observable flying wing UAVs jointly developed by Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (SYADI) of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Shenyang Aerospace University (沈阳航空航天大学). The name 601-S derives from the names of the developers: SYADI of AVIC is also widely known as the 601st Institute, hence 601, and the letter S is for Shenyang Aerospace University (SAU). A total of seven different models have been identified as of 2013.Airplane
An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a powered, fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine, propeller or rocket engine. Airplanes come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and wing configurations. The broad spectrum of uses for airplanes includes recreation, transportation of goods and people, military, and research. Worldwide, commercial aviation transports more than four billion passengers annually on airliners and transports more than 200 billion tonne-kilometres of cargo annually, which is less than 1% of the world's cargo movement. Most airplanes are flown by a pilot on board the aircraft, but some are designed to be remotely or computer-controlled.
The Wright brothers invented and flew the first airplane in 1903, recognized as "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight". They built on the works of George Cayley dating from 1799, when he set forth the concept of the modern airplane (and later built and flew models and successful passenger-carrying gliders). Between 1867 and 1896, the German pioneer of human aviation Otto Lilienthal also studied heavier-than-air flight. Following its limited use in World War I, aircraft technology continued to develop. Airplanes had a presence in all the major battles of World War II. The first jet aircraft was the German Heinkel He 178 in 1939. The first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, was introduced in 1952. The Boeing 707, the first widely successful commercial jet, was in commercial service for more than 50 years, from 1958 to at least 2013.Arado E.555
The Arado E.555 was a long range strategic bomber proposed by the German Arado company during World War II in response to the RLM's Amerikabomber project. The E.555 designation was applied to a series of long range jet bomber designs of various sizes, powerplant, crew and weapon load configurations. As design studies only, no aircraft were developed or constructed and the entire E.555 project was cancelled at the end of 1944.Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52
The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52 was a British flying wing aircraft design of the late 1940s for research into a proposed flying wing jet airliner. Three aircraft, the A.W.52G glider and two jet-powered research aircraft, were built for the programme. The airliner was cancelled but research flying continued until 1954.Charles Fauvel
Charles Fauvel (31 December 1904 - 10 September 1979) was a French aircraft designer noted for his flying wing designs, and in particular, his flying wing sailplanes. He became interested in soaring after witnessing a competition at Vauville in 1925, and set out to design a competition glider with minimal drag, settling on the flying wing formula based on the work of Georges Abrial and René Arnoux. One of his designs, the AV.10 was the first flying wing to attain a French Certificate of Navigability. His greatest commercial success was the AV.36 sailplane, first flown in 1951.
Fauvel's other achievements included a number of aerial world records, including the world altitude and duration records for an aircraft under 400 kg, which he set in September 1929. In 1979, he was killed in the crash of a CAB Supercab that he was piloting.Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is a flying machine, such as an airplane or aeroplane (see spelling differences), which is capable of flight using wings that generate lift caused by the aircraft's forward airspeed and the shape of the wings. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft (in which the wings form a rotor mounted on a spinning shaft or "mast"), and ornithopters (in which the wings flap in a manner similar to that of a bird). The wings of a fixed-wing aircraft are not necessarily rigid; kites, hang gliders, variable-sweep wing aircraft and aeroplanes that use wing morphing are all examples of fixed-wing aircraft.
Gliding fixed-wing aircraft, including free-flying gliders of various kinds and tethered kites, can use moving air to gain altitude. Powered fixed-wing aircraft (aeroplanes) that gain forward thrust from an engine include powered paragliders, powered hang gliders and some ground effect vehicles. Most fixed-wing aircraft are flown by a pilot on board the craft, but some are specifically designed to be unmanned and controlled either remotely or autonomously (using onboard computers).Horten H.VI
The Horten H.VI was a flying wing aircraft designed by the Horten brothers during World War II.
Based on the Horten H.IV, the H.VI was an enlarged version of the H.IV, with the goal of comparing their flying wing designs against the very large span Akaflieg Darmstadt D-30 Cirrus.
The H.VI was allocated the RLM ID number 8-253 and by inference Horten Ho 253 though this was little used in practice.Horten Ho 229
The Horten H.IX, RLM designation Ho 229 (or Gotha Go 229 for extensive re-design work done by Gotha to prepare the aircraft for mass production) was a German prototype fighter/bomber initially designed by Reimar and Walter Horten to be built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II. It was the first flying wing to be powered by jet engines.The design was a response to Hermann Göring's call for light bomber designs capable of meeting the "3×1000" requirement; namely to carry 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) of bombs a distance of 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) with a speed of 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph). Only jets could provide the speed, but these were extremely fuel-hungry, so considerable effort had to be made to meet the range requirement. Based on a flying wing, the Ho 229 lacked all extraneous control surfaces to lower drag. It was the only design to come even close to the 3×1000 requirements and received Göring's approval. Its ceiling was 15,000 metres (49,000 ft).Jack Northrop
John Knudsen "Jack" Northrop (November 10, 1895 – February 18, 1981) was an American aircraft industrialist and designer, who founded the Northrop Corporation in 1939.
His career began in 1916 as a draftsman for Lockheed Aircraft Manufacturing Company (founded 1912). He joined the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1923, where in time he became a project engineer. In 1927 he rejoined Lockheed, where he was a chief engineer on the Lockheed Vega transport. He left in 1929 to found Avion Corporation, which he sold in 1930. Two years later he founded the Northrop Corporation. This firm became a subsidiary of Douglas Aircraft in 1939, so he co-founded a second company named Northrop.List of experimental aircraft
This is a list of experimental aircraft, or aircraft used or built to conduct experiments involving aerodynamics, structural materials, propulsion systems, configuration and equipment. Prototypes, pre-production and homebuilt aircraft described as experimental but which were not used in this manner outside their own development are excluded.List of flying wings
The following is a list of flying wings, their roles, successfulness, and countries of origin. A flying wing aircraft is one which has no distinct fuselage or tail, and the crew, engines and equipment are housed inside a thick wing, typically showing small nacelles, blisters and other housings.Northrop Grumman Switchblade
The Switchblade was a proposed unmanned aerial vehicle developed by Northrop Grumman for the United States. The United States Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Northrop Grumman a US$10.3 million contract for risk reduction and preliminary planning for an X-plane oblique flying wing demonstrator.The program aimed at producing a technology demonstrator aircraft to explore the various challenges which the radical design entails. The proposed aircraft would be a purely flying wing (an aircraft with no other auxiliary surfaces such as tails, canards or a fuselage) where the wing is swept with one side of the aircraft forward, and one backwards in an asymmetric fashion. This aircraft configuration is believed to give it a combination of high speed, long range and long endurance. The program entailed two phases. Phase I explored the theory and result in a conceptual design, while Phase II would have resulted in the design, manufacture and flight test of an aircraft. The outcome of the program would have resulted in a dataset that could then be used when considering future military aircraft designs.
Flight of the Switchblade was scheduled for 2020 with its 61-meter long oblique wing perpendicular to its engines like a typical aircraft. As the aircraft increased speed, the wing begins to pivot, so that when it breaks the sound barrier, its wing has swiveled 60 degrees, with one wingtip pointing forward and the other backward. The change in aerodynamics and the general structure would have made the aircraft very difficult to control for a human being. The plane was to be totally controlled by an on-board computer controlling flight parameters. Following Phase I the aircraft concept was cancelled in 2008.Northrop N-1M
The Northrop N-1M, also known by the nickname "Jeep", was an American experimental aircraft used in the development of the flying wing concept by Northrop Aircraft during the 1940s.Northrop N-9M
The Northrop N-9M is an approximately one-third scale, 60-ft span all-wing aircraft used for the development of the full size, 172-ft wingspan Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 flying wing long-range, heavy bomber. First flown in 1942, the N-9M (M for Model) was the third in a lineage of all-wing Northrop aircraft designs that began in 1929 when Jack Northrop succeeded in early experiments with his single pusher propeller, twin-tailed, twin-boom, all stressed metal skin Northrop Flying Wing X-216H monoplane, and a decade later, the dual-propeller N-1M of 1939–1941. Northrop's pioneering all-wing aircraft would lead Northrop Grumman many years later to eventually develop the advanced B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, which debuted in the inventory of the US Air Force in 1989.Northrop YB-35
The Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 were experimental heavy bomber aircraft developed by the Northrop Corporation for the United States Army Air Forces during and shortly after World War II. The airplane used the radical and potentially very efficient flying wing design, in which the tail section and fuselage are eliminated and all payload is carried in a thick wing. Only prototype and pre-production aircraft were built, although interest remained strong enough to warrant further development of the design as a jet bomber, under the designation YB-49.Northrop YB-49
The Northrop YB-49 was a prototype jet-powered heavy bomber developed by Northrop Corporation shortly after World War II for service with the U.S. Air Force. The YB-49 featured a flying wing design and was a turbojet-powered development of the earlier, piston-engined Northrop XB-35 and YB-35. The two YB-49s actually built were both converted YB-35 test aircraft.
The YB-49 never entered production, being passed over in favor of the more conventional Convair B-36 piston-driven design. Design work performed in the development of the YB-35 and YB-49 nonetheless proved to be valuable to Northrop decades later in the eventual development of the B-2 stealth bomber, which entered service in the early 1990s.Tony Golab
Anthony Charles "Tony" Golab, (January 17, 1919 – October 16, 2016) was a Canadian football halfback and flying wing who played in the Ontario Rugby Football Union and Interprovincial Rugby Football Union for 11 years with the Sarnia Imperials, Ottawa Rough Riders, and Ottawa Uplands. He was born in Windsor, Ontario.
Golab played with the Ottawa Rough Riders from 1939 to 1950. He was part of the 1939, 1941, and 1948 Grey Cup finalist teams and was part of the winning 1940 Grey Cup champions. He was an Eastern All-Star at halfback in 1938, 1940, and 1945 and at flying wing in 1947 and 1948.
In 1964, he was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. In 1975, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1985, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 1997, he was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. He died at the Perley Veterans Health Centre in Ottawa, Ontario in October 2016 at the age of 97.Tupolev Tu-404
The Tupolev Tu-404 was a wide-body superjumbo blended wing jet airliner proposed by Russian aerospace company Tupolev.