The Northrop XP -79 Flying Ram was one of the most ambitious projects flying wing of the U.S. Air Forces in World War II. It should first fly with rocket propulsion, but was then converted to jet propulsion. The pilot lay on his stomach to put him in a position to withstand higher accelerations when flying.
1942 John K. Northrop developed the XP -79 project, a Nurflügelraketenflugzeug for high speeds. In January 1943 he joined the USAAF signed a contract to build three prototypes. To test the radical design, pure gliders were first built. One of these gliders was the Northrop MX- 324. She was born on July 5, 1944 towed by a Lockheed P- 38 height and ignited the rocket engines. She was thus the first rocket aircraft of the United States.
It was planned to use a XCALR -2000A -1 rocket motor with 9 kN of thrust Aerojet. But the fuel from ethanolamines and fuming nitric acid was extremely aggressive and toxic. Therefore, the aircraft was completely made of a magnesium alloy. The Trägflächenhaut consisted of 3 mm thick plates, the wing leading edges were up to 19 mm thick and should Rammstöße survive. The plates were assembled with the developed in the USA tungsten Inertgasschweiß technique.
However, the rocket engines were not convincing and therefore two Westinghouse 19 -B ( J30 ) turbojet engines were installed. This new type was called the XP - 79B. The first two prototypes with rocket propulsion were abandoned.
The machine was nicknamed the Flying Ram, who was connected with their wingtips. The proposed fight tactic was very unusual; the machine should fly at high speed on enemy aircraft and damaging the wing tips or fuselage, while the XP -79 should survive this attack tactics due to their extreme stability.
After some delays caused by tire blowouts in ground tests on the Muroc - salt lake, the first flight took place on September 12, 1945 by a normal ground start. After 15 minutes of flight, the aircraft was in an uncontrollable spin state and the pilot Harry Crosby had to save himself with a kind of ejection seat. However, the parachute did not open properly and Crosby was killed.
The machine completely burned due to the high magnesium fraction after the crash. Shortly after the program was abandoned.