The XB-70 supersonic bomber was one of the most beautiful aircraft of all time!
The critical first four flight tests of the XB-70A over 34 days at Edwards AFB are shown in detail culminating in the aircraft's first supersonic flight (with an B-58 Hustler chase plane!). As might be expected, these early flights included some dramatic moments, including an in flight engine flame out and one of the landing gear bursting into flames during touch down. But, as mission chief test pilot Col Al White says, "if there were no problems during testing, you wouldn't need test pilots or test flights." You'll see the unflappable Col White and copilot Col Joe Cotton work the sleek Valkyrie through a series of critical tests, including landing gear, flaps, flight controls, advanced hydraulic systems, first deployment of the folding wing tips and more. A highlight of the film is a press conference/debriefing by the XB-70 test flight team. As you'll see, there's nothing "routine" about testing a revolutionary and extremely complex aircraft like the XB-70A Valkyrie.
The super size, supersonic XB-70 was conceived to meet a specification from the Strategic Air Command issued in the early 1950s for a high-altitude bomber that could fly three times the speed of sound, and was the culmination of the "higher, faster" school of bomber design going back to the B-29. The B-70 was given the go ahead over a competing Convair atomic powered design. But, by the end of the decade, due to funding constraints, improvements in Soviet surface-to-air missiles and a new emphasis on cheaper to build ICBMs, the combat bomber specification was dropped and only two XB-70s were actually produced as research aircraft for the study of aerodynamics, propulsion and supersonic flight.
The North American design was a huge, sleek, canarded, delta winged aircraft powered by six General Electric YJ93 after burning turbojet engines, with a thrust of nearly 30,000 pounds each. Gross weight was above 500,000 pounds. The six engines were housed side-by side in the rear of the large under fuselage box, fed by a variable-inlet system with a series of movable ramps, optimizing the airflow into the engines at varying Mach numbers. Maximum speed was 1,982 mph at 75,550 feet. The Valkyrie was built of stainless-steel honeycomb sandwich panels and titanium and was designed to use "compression lift" when the shock wave generated by supersonic speeds supported part of the aircraft's weight. For improved supersonic stability, the Valkyrie could droop its wing tips as much as 65 degrees.
The No.1 XB-70 made its initial flight on Sept. 21, 1964, and achieved supersonic flight on Oct. 14th. The No. 2 airplane first flew on July 17, 1965, but on June 8, 1966, it crashed following a mid-air collision. The No. 1 airplane continued in its research program until flown to the Air Force Museum on Feb. 4, 1969, where it is now on display.
* Initial Flight of the YB-49 (1948) This film was produced by the US Air Force and Northrop to show the first test flights of the YB-49 Flying Wing at Northrop's Hawthorne, California facility, introducing it to the American public for the first time. The YB-49 was a redesign of the propeller driven B-35, upgraded with six GE Allison jet engines and various structural design improvements (see the description below for more info). The revolutionary design and almost other worldly, alien spacecraft-like lines of the jet powered Wing are highlighted in this very clean black and white footage. This aircraft is revealingly shown at all angles, including up close on the ground and in flight.
* The Story of the Flying Wing (1949, Color,) It may be hard to believe today, but Flying Wing's innovative design was often used against it by detractors from competing aircraft companies ("An airplane that doesn't have a tail??!!") So, Northrop Aircraft produced this information film to extol the Wings virtues and answer her critics. The result is a film that gives a compelling overview of the principles of advantages of the Wing design, delivered by Northrop's Director of Engineering, Harrison F. Burke. You'll see color film of the jet powered Wing in operation, supplemented by an extensive use of instructive animations. You'll learn about the role of drag in flight in relation to efficiency in aircraft design, the advantages of a swept wing, the inherent advantages in structural integrity of the Wing design, simplicity and ease of maintenance, the role of center of gravity in tail design and much more.
* XB-70 Valkyrie Flight Test Program (1966, Color) This film, produced by North American Aviation, gives a concise overview of the early phases of the XB-70A aircraft design, construction, development and testing in 1964. You'll see Phase one & two flight tests and "proof loading" structural tests. The use and testing of "folded wing tips" and retraction of the "windshield ramp" in supersonic flight is shown in detail along with the innovative air induction system. On 14 October 1965, the Valkyrie broke the Mach 3 barrier. The extensive use of flight test instrumentation in the program is also discussed.
* XB-70A Valkyrie: Phase One Flight Testing (Shown here)
Flight Handbook for the Northrop YB-49 Airplane (77 pages) See detailed operating instructions, copious illustrations, cockpit photos, systems diagrams, flight characteristics, emergency procedures and much more in Adobe acrobat .pdf file format.
North American XB-70A "Valkyrie" Flight Manual (380 pages ) See XB70A operating instructions, cockpit photos, systems diagrams, flight characteristics, emergency procedures, performance charts and more in Adobe Acrobat .pdf file format.