avatar_Brian da Basher

1/144 Northrop NBX-1 "Manta Ray"

Started by Brian da Basher, November 05, 2008, 05:31:06 PM

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Brian da Basher

Today's B-2 "Stealth" bomber has vindicated the flying wing design and increased appreciation for Jack Northrop's genius and vision. Little known or remembered is his initial prototype.

The story began in 1928 when Jack Northrop got fed up and left Lockheed to start his own firm. He teamed up with another brilliant engineer named Ray Manta and together they designed a revolutionary concept for the U.S. Army Air Corps' bomber competition. Misreading the name on the blueprints, the Army erroneously referred to the new NBX-1 (Northrop Bomber, Experimental) as the Northrop "Manta Ray". The new bomber looked unlike any that came before as it was essentially just one large wing with very well streamlined landing gear housed in fairings. The aircraft was powered by four Packard 14 cylinder inlines (each engine was serviced in flight by its own flight engineer). It had a crew of 12, including a co-pilot/bombardier and navigator/photographer who both sat in the well-glazed center section. The bomber could carry 5,000 lbs. of bombs and was well-armed with three .60 caliber machine guns in blisters on top, two 20 m.m. cannon in remote controlled turrets under the wings and two 37 m.m. cannon mounted on the landing gear. Not only that, but the NBX-1 also had the largest tail wheel of any U.S. bomber.

In another irony, a hung-over reporter confused the test pilot, one Major Carl Spaatz, with the term for the well-streamlined landing gear which from then on were called spats.

While the Northrop Manta Ray bomber was never ordered into production, the four test examples provided invaluable data which would be used on all future Northrop flying wings. The example seen here (in special camo for the 1931 western war games) successfully staged a mock raid on Luke Field, Arizona from March Field, California. No example exists today, save for a forgotten 1/8 scale wooden wind tunnel model which languishes in the archives of Northrop-Grumman, across the hall from the aquarium in the reception area.

Brian da Basher



Brian, you came up with a real winner!!!

The model is perfect!!!

Please post more photos!!!

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Brian da Basher

The base kit was a 1/144 RoG Junkers G38. Here's what it's supposed to look like:


Of course, there was no way mine was going to look anything like the picture on the box. I needed a nice simple project after the epic B-36 Peaceliner and this seemed to fit the bill. The spats were made from Fiat G-91 drop-tanks and half-wheels. The gun blisters on the wings were left over from the B-36 and the pilot's canopy is a 1/72 B-25 navigation blister. The tail gun blister is from a Beaufighter (thanks, HOG!) and the under-wing turrets are from a B-29. The kit comes with lovely four-bladed props which look like they'd fit on a small 1/72 biplane, so I cut two blades off each prop and glued them onto bits of sprue to make the props for this model and also have some leftovers. I added seats for the bombardier and photographer/navigator as well as a bomb sight and camera which became invisible once I buttoned everything up. I made the tailwheel and fairing from spare parts. The entire model was brush-painted by hand in acrylics, including the rudder stripes and the bomb bay doors. Here's a shot of those bomb bay doors.

Brian da Basher

Brian da Basher

The model was completed with decals from the stash which had trouble settling over the corrugated surfaces, forcing me to go to the extreme of using white glue to get them to stay put. I had a lot of fun on this relaxing, simple build and I hope you enjoy the pictures and backstory. Next up is my Spitfire GB project!

I can hear R.J. Mitchell spinning now...

Brian da Basher

Daryl J.

Keep 'em coming man! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

The very first kit I thought of was that Junkers from Revell but in a second thought 'no...no way' and decided it was some bomber wings instead.   Well done!

Daryl J.


I love it Brian, looks very retro and the combination of all wing and spats looks just right for the period  :thumbsup:
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That is just effin brillant Brian ;D What a gorgeous model :wub: :thumbsup:
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I love that flying wing, Brian! Great job. Looks like it would fit in "Things to Come"

What's the wingspan?



Damn, that's cool! :bow:  :wacko: Looks like it flew right out of "Crimson Skies"!

Must, then, my projects bend to the iron yoke of a mechanical system? Is my soaring spirit to be chained down to the snail's pace of matter?

Ed S

WOW.  That's great.  A clever idea and well executed. 

:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

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While I can always count on you for some strange contraption, the last 2 builds you have done (this one and the Peaceliner) have been simply stunning.  Can't wait to see what is coming next.
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Superlative stuff as always Brian.  Imagination that really defies imagination :lol:




Holy crap!!!

That is truly awesome stuff :thumbsup:
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