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John Knudsen Northrop

John Knudsen Northrop
(1895-1981)

John Knudsen "Jack" Northrop was the soul and spirit of Northrop Aircraft Incorporated, based in Hawthorne, PA. California. Northrop himself was an excellent aerodynamicist and an outstanding designer. Since the 1920s, he has been fascinated by the concept of a flying wing. Northrop contributed significantly to the creation of such landmark 20th century aircraft as the DC-2 and DC-3. Northrop's work on civilian aircraft projects was interrupted by World War II. The impetus for the appearance of the P-61 fighter was the activity of the British Procurement Committee, which selected aircraft in the United States suitable for admission to the RAF and the Air Force of the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It happened at a time when the British were very interested in the single-engine dive bomber Wooly "Venzens", which was produced under license at the Northrop firm. It was 1940, and Germany's attempt to bring Great Britain to its knees with a massive air campaign had just ended in failure. The Luftwaffe lost the Battle of England, after which they switched from day to night raids. The British countered the night raiders with improvised night fighters like the Bristol Blenheim Mk.IF.

The British needed a night fighter equipped with a radar to fight enemy bombers. It was this need that made it possible to formulate the tactical and technical requirements for the aircraft and subsequently the Northrop company to create an excellent aircraft P-61 Black Widow .

The US government has ordered 700 P-61 Black Widow bombers from Northrop. During World War II, Northrop Aircraft produced over a thousand aircraft.

Jack Northrop died on February 18, 1981. Ironically, the Northrop B-2 Spirit bomber, which embodied Northrop's technical solutions, went into production eight years after his death.