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External media
JB-1 with cockpit at Muroc Field
JB-10 on sled at Eglin
1996 restoration with cockpit
YouTube: 1st flight (minute 2:10)

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 US versions of Frank Whittle's jet engine[1] (US-named 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 1st 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 PJ-31-1 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. 1.0 1.1 Woodridge, E. T (c. 2003). "Northrop: The War Years". History of the Flying Wing. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "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. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  4. "Northrop First Flights". "produced by Northrop Corporation". year tbd -- after 1963 footage shown at end of Part 2. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
    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 (Report). Compiled by History Office, Air Force Flight Test Center. August 2007. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. Werrell, Kenneth P. (1998) [1995]. The Evolution of the Cruise Missile. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Press. p. 69. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 

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