Military Factory logo
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of navy warships
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting

Northrop N-9M

Flying Wing Prototype Aircraft

Northrop N-9M

Flying Wing Prototype Aircraft


The Northrop N-9M flying wing prototype proved critical to the development of the XB-35 flying wing program that followed.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1942
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
OPERATORS: United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Northrop N-9M model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 17.72 feet (5.4 meters)
WIDTH: 60.04 feet (18.3 meters)
HEIGHT: 6.56 feet (2 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 5,886 pounds (2,670 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 13,946 pounds (6,326 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Menasco C6S-1 inverted aircooled straight-six engines developing 275 horsepower each (original); 2 x Franlin XO-540-7 engines developing 300 horsepower each (N-9M-B).
SPEED (MAX): 258 miles-per-hour (415 kilometers-per-hour; 224 knots)
RANGE: 500 miles (805 kilometers; 435 nautical miles)
CEILING: 21,490 feet (6,550 meters; 4.07 miles)


Series Model Variants
• N-9M - Base Series Designation
• N-9M-1 - Initial prototype; 2 x Menasco C6S-4 Buccaneer engines of 275 horsepower; lost to fatal crash during testing.
• N-9M-2 - Second prototype
• N-9M-A - Third prototype
• N-9M-B - Final prototype; 2 x Franklin XO-540-7 engines of 300 horsepower.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Northrop N-9M Flying Wing Prototype Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 4/18/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Before the famous Northrop B-2 "Spirit" stealth bomber became a reality, Jack Northrop persevered in bringing a viable military-minded flying wing design into existence. From the twin-tail X-216H came the tail-less N-1M of 1941 which proved many qualities of the Northrop vision sound. Having sold the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) on the idea of a flying wing strategic bomber (to become the prop-powered "YB-35"), Northrop moved on producing a 1/3 scale prototype of this aircraft to represent the finalized product and work out any potential issues all the while collecting much needed flight data in the process. This endeavor then became the "N-9M" which appeared in 1942 and four examples were eventually built.

The contract for development of the full-scale YB-35 bomber came about in October of 1941, months ahead of the American entry into World War 2 (1939-1945). The N-9M emerged as a critical tool in understanding the various effects of tail-less aircraft flight as well as management of large surface area controlling and handling. The prospect of a flying wing was an exciting one, promising natural lifting tendencies, a shallower profile, and increased internal volume for fuel and weapons. The initial aircraft, N-9M-1, was lost to a crash on May 19th, 1943 (sadly fatal for the test pilot at the controls). The N-9M-2 and N-9M-A then followed, culminating in the final prototype vehicle - the N-9M-B - which benefited from lessons learned in the previous three airframes.

As built, the N-9M series mimicked much of what was already seen in the preceding N-1M research aircraft. The flying wing took on a boomerang-type, top-down profile with the cockpit centrally placed within the thickest part of the wing. While sitting under a largely unobstructed canopy, the pilot had to content with the massive wing surface area restricting vision out of the cockpit. The engines were buried within the design with drive shafts emanating from the upper surface and driving two-bladed propeller assemblies in a "pusher" arrangement. Since the N-9M lacked vertical fins, control surfaces were worked into the flying wing's trailing edges. The undercarriage was fully retractable, giving the aircraft a very pleasing and streamlined shape.

Crew accommodations amounted to one pilot. Overall length measured 17 feet, 9 inches with a wingspan reaching 60 feet and a height of 6 feet, 7 inches. Gross weight totaled 14,000lbs. Power was supplied from 2 x Menasco C6S-4 Buccaneer inverted 6-cylinder, air-cooled, in-line piston engines developing 275 horsepower each. Maximum speed was 260 miles per hour with a range out to 500 miles. Its service ceiling reached 21,500 feet.

The N-9M test vehicle first achieved flight on December 27th, 1942 and a further 45 flights then followed. However, many proved maddening affairs due to the temperamental technology and mechanics involved, particularly in the choice of powerplant. The aforementioned "N-9M-B" test vehicle then emerged with 2 x Franklin XO-540-7 series engines now developing 300 horsepower as a result.

With the end of World War 2 in 1945, many programs initially backed with great interest by the U.S. military were either curtailed or given up for good. The USAF cancelled the YB-35 initiative during 1949 after prototypes and pre-production systems were already in play. The N-9M had now seen its best days behind it and all but one (prototype N-9M-B) were scrapped.

Suffering from neglect for years in the California climate, N-9MB was eventually restored to flying condition and remains a salvaged piece of aviation history today. Despite the loss of the potential YB-35 strategic bomber contract, the USAF commissioned Northrop for a revised jet-powered form, this becoming the "YB-49". However, these only ever existed in prototype forms themselves but went on to heavily influence the B-2 bomber program some decades later - Northrop's flying wing military bomber finally realized.


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: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (258mph).

Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Northrop N-9M'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 (4)
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.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Site Map Site content ©2003-, All Rights Reserved.

The "Military Factory" name and logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world.

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo