Northrop JB-1 Bat

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The prototype Bat glider

The Northrop JB-1 "Bat" was a United States surface-to-surface cruise missile that was a prototype jet-powered flying wing. The United States Army Air Forces MX-543 program was initiated in September 1942 to use license-built versions of Frank Whittle's jet engine[1] (General Electric J31). The Northrop Corporation was contracted in late 1943,[2] and only 10 JB-1 airframes were built.[3] A manned version was towed for the 1st flight on "August 27, 1943", [sic][4] from Rogers Dry Lake;[5] and a glider version was launched from a rocket-propelled sled and crashed in December 1944.[6] An unmanned JB-1 powered by an improvised[verification needed] General Electric B-1 turbojet with a wing span of 28 feet 4 inches (8.64 m) made its first flight from Eglin Field's Santa Rosa Island, Florida, on December 7, 1944, and crashed 400 yards from the rail launcher.[7]



With the successful USAAF flights of JB-2 pulsejet-powered copies of the V-1 flying bomb, the older JB-1 program was "reoriented towards pulsejet propulsion, and the remaining JB-1s were modified or completed as JB-10 missiles."[6] Only one of the JB-10 variants was completed by the end of the war (with Ford PJ31-1 pulsejet engine), and 1945 sled launches using 4 Tiny Tim rockets were at Muroc Field and Eglin.[1] In June 1996, the Western Museum of Flight restored the only remaining airframe as a manned JB-1.[2]


  1. ^ a b Woodridge, E. T (c. 2003). "Northrop: The War Years". History of the Flying Wing. Retrieved 2012-05-23. External link in |work= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Northrop JB-1 "Bat" (MX-543)". (Western Museum of Flight). Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  3. ^ Mindling, George; Bolton, Robert (October 1, 2008). U.S. Air Force Tactical Missiles, 1949–1969: The Pioneers (Report). Lulu Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-557-00029-6. LCCN 2008908364.
  4. ^ Dick Thomas (narrator) (year tbd -- after 1963 footage shown at end of Part 2). Northrop First Flights. "produced by Northrop Corporation". Event occurs at 2:10 of edited YouTube Part I version. Retrieved 2012-05-23. Check date values in: |year= (help)
    NOTE: The c. 1965 film's claim of an August 1943 "MX-543" flight (the date is restated by the 2007 "First Flights" USAF pdf) is inconsistent with the "late 1943" contract and Woodridge's claim that the 1st flight was in 1944.
  5. ^ First Flights at Edwards Air Force Base (PDF) (Report). Compiled by History Office, Air Force Flight Test Center. August 2007. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ Werrell, Kenneth P. (1998) [1995]. The Evolution of the Cruise Missile. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Press. p. 69.