Northtop Flying Wing, inflight computing / was Re: XH558 - was Re: using new technology etc

Brent Hilpert hilpert at
Thu Jan 1 21:51:43 CST 1970

On 2015-Jun-19, at 9:07 AM, Christian Gauger-Cosgrove wrote:
> Bringing this topic full circle, does anyone know if any minicomputers
> (DEC PDP-8s or 11s, DG Novæ, HP 21XXs, et cetera) were ever used on
> aircraft? Not transported by one, but I mean setup and used on one.

On 2015-Jun-19, at 12:09 PM, Toby Thain wrote:
> On 2015-06-19 3:05 PM, geneb wrote:
>> On Fri, 19 Jun 2015, Toby Thain wrote:
>>> "in 1949 the Air Force ordered all the flying wings destroyed, all
>>> the jigs and tools destroyed, every trace of the flying wing
>>> eradicated. A few years later even the engineering drawings were all
>>> destroyed by new Northrop management."
>> I don't know why they went to those lengths, but it's my understanding
>> that the program was cancelled because at the time, the USAAF (USAF?)
>> mandated stall testing as part of their development programs.  Without
>> serious flight control computers, stalling a flying wing just ends up in
>> a freshly planted aluminum tree.  Even WITH good computers, stalling a
>> flying wing is a Bad Idea(tm).  AFAIK, the B-2 has never been stalled
>> (on purpose), even during development.
> Thanks. I knew there must be more to it... I wonder if the cited book covers this angle.

To tie these two lines of question together (and bring it back very much on-topic), the BINAC (amongst the first stored-program computers, 1949)
was supplied to Northrop for research into airborne flight control (quick web search says part of the Snark missile project),

I'm not suggesting the BINAC and YB-49 (the flying wing) were connected, but it's interesting they were contemporary projects both at Northrop, and computer control was just what the flying wing needed.

More information about the cctalk mailing list