NORTHROP

John Knudsen (Jack) Northrop designed wings of Loughead F-1 and produced other Loughead designs. Joined Davis-Douglas 1923, but moved to Lockheed 1926 and designed Vega. Lockheed did not wish to embrace stressed-skin construction nor all-wing designs, so in 1928 set up own small Avion Corp. with Ken Jay at Burbank to build undesignated flying-wing aircraft tested at Lake Muroc. Clearly no market (yet) so accepted W.E. 'Bill' Boeing's suggestion that he should form Northrop Aircraft Corp. as division of huge United Aircraft & Transport Corp. UAT wanted Northrop's knowledge of metal stressed-skin structures, and Northrop quickly produced Alpha (May 1930), first such modern structure to go into production. Beta (200 mph on 300 hp) followed 1931, but decision of UAT to merge Northrop into Stearman at Wichita resulted in break, Northrop instead forming Northrop Corp. with D.W. Douglas, latter’s Douglas Aircraft holding 51% of stock. New plant at El Segundo, LA, had briefly housed Moreland, whose designer, Ed Heinemann, joined Northrop as chief engineer. Major types that followed included Gamma (1933), XFT-1 fighter (1934), Delta and 3-A fighter (1935), BT-1 dive-bomber (1936) and A-17A, also known as Douglas 8A (1937). Douglas pressured Northrop to merge fully into Douglas, but Northrop increasingly wanted design freedom, result being amicable separation 5 April 1937. Northrop Corp. becoming Douglas El Segundo division, Northrop assisting Heinemann in initial design of what became DB-7 bomber. Chance meeting spring 1939 with TWA official La Motte T. Cohu resulted in formation August 1939 of Northrop Aircraft Inc., Cohu Chairman and General Manager, Northrop President and Chief Engineer, staff of 18 housed in Hotel Hawthorne, LA, until plant completed February 1940. Built 24 N-3PB seaplanes, tails for PBY and nacelles for B-17 while designed P-61 Black Widow (21 May 1942) and gigantic flying wing XB-35 (25 June 1946). N-1M, N-9M, XP-56, MX-324 and XP-79 were research or prototype flying wings of Second World War. XB-35 led to 8-jet YB-49 and 6-jet YRB-49A, and P-61 led to F-15. Various cruise missiles ended with intercontinental SM-62 Snark. USAF bought 23 C-125 Raider STOL transports, 1,050 F-89 Scorpion interceptors, 1,189 T-38 Talon supersonic trainers and 2,614 F-5 light fighters (a further 776 F-5 made in Canada, S. Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan). YF-17 (9 June 1974) led to F/A-18 Hornet produced jointly with McDonnell Douglas (following dispute, latter took over rights to F/A-18 8 April 1985) and same partners developed YF-23 Advanced Tactical Fighter (27 August 1990). In giant computer-run programme B-2 Advanced Technology Bomber was developed at new B-2 Division, Pico Rivera, CA (17 July 1989). Since 1966 made all 747 fuselages. Commercial Aircraft Division formed 1992. In 1994 Northrop bought Grumman. See also Northrop Grumman.

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