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Northrop N-102 Fang

Lightweight Fighter Design Study

Northrop N-102 Fang

Lightweight Fighter Design Study


The Northrop N-102 Fang existed as nothing more than a design study for a jet-powered lightweight fighter - the requirement was fulfilled by the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter series.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1953
OPERATORS: United States (design study only)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Northrop N-102 Fang model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 41.01 feet (12.5 meters)
WIDTH: 22.97 feet (7 meters)
HEIGHT: 13.78 feet (4.2 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 9,921 pounds (4,500 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 16,314 pounds (7,400 kilograms)
ENGINE: Various fits proposed including 1 x General Electric J79 turbojet engine.
SPEED (MAX): 1,420 miles-per-hour (2,285 kilometers-per-hour; 1,234 knots)
RANGE: 621 miles (1,000 kilometers; 540 nautical miles)
CEILING: 55,774 feet (17,000 meters; 10.56 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 5,500 feet-per-minute (1,676 meters-per-minute)

80 to 100 x 1.5" aerial rockets held in wingroot compartments.

Alternative Weapon Kits Proposed:
2 x 20mm cannons
2 x 30mm cannons
2" aerial rockets
Conventional drop bombs
Nuclear payloads

Provision for external fuel tanks also planned.
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an air launched nuclear weapon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank

Series Model Variants
• N-102 "Fang" - Base Project Name; mockup completed.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Northrop N-102 Fang Lightweight Fighter Design Study.  Entry last updated on 3/30/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The rise of the turbojet engine after World War 2 (1939-1945) led to a new Golden Age for military aircraft development. Aircraft could now be made more aerodynamically efficient and exceed previously dreamt about speeds (supersonic) while presenting warplanners with an all-new approach to waging conventional wars. Beyond the jet engine, swept-back wings were another consistent quality of these aircraft and many designs were drawn up to fulfill an plethora of requirements being put forth by various powers of the world.

In the United States, various fighter designs emerged during the early Cold War period - some were successful while many languished as paper drawings or mockups before seeing cancellation or total abandonment. Northrop revealed its N-102 "Fang" light-class fighter in the early 1950s in response to a USAF need and the compact fighter exhibited the calling cards for fighters of the day - sweptback wings and a streamlined fuselage.

Engineers elected for a relatively basic configuration which sat the pilot at front behind a short nosecone assembly and under a largely unobstructed canopy. There was to be good over-the-nose viewing from the pilot's position due to the downward angle of the nose section. A single split air intake was seated along the fuselage's ventral line under the cockpit which gave the fighter a somewhat deep-body appearance when viewed in its side profile. While engineers favored a twin-engine approach for power and reliability, a single-engine design was presented for simplicity of construction, ease of maintenance and lower procurement cost. Power would come from a General Electric J79 series turbojet buried within the fuselage (the Wright TJ31B3 - a license-built Armstrong Siddeley "Sapphire" - was the original thought). The empennage consisted of a single vertical tail fin with horizontal planes set along the sides of the aircraft's rear - though the original thinking settled on a Vee-style tail arrangement ("butterfly") but this feature was dropped in 1954. A tricycle undercarriage rounded out the design's presentation.

One of the more notable qualities of the Fang was its sharply-pointed wing mainplanes (delta-wing) which sat at shoulder-height along the fuselage sides. These assemblies ended at an extreme point to promote a triangular shape and these mainplanes were additionally given slight anhedral beyond their midway point. The main landing gear legs would recess into the wing mainplanes while the nose accepted the retracting nose leg.

Compared to its peers, the Fang was very compact. Thought was given to versatility and the airframe was designed to accept one of four available jet engines at any one time to suit mission requirements - a rather forward-thinking design quality. Proposed armament was to be 80 to 100 x 1.5" aerial rockets held in wingroot compartments but, like the various engine fits, this could be changed to suit the mission need. Kits of 2 x 20mm and 2 x 30mm cannons were proposed as were 2" rocket sets, bombs and a nuclear delivery capability.

While the N-102 was never furthered beyond some drawings and a mockup form (its entire life was in project form only), the design was said to have influenced the upcoming F-5 "Tiger" lightweight fighter program some. USAF authorities instead went the route of selecting a Lockheed submission for its high-altitude day-fighter requirement, this becoming the F-104 "Starfighter".


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 1500mph
Lo: 750mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,420mph).

Graph average of 1125 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Northrop N-102 Fang's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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