American postwar aircraft
Northrop F-89 Scorpion
One of the most heavily armed fighter aircraft, the F-89 was the backbone of the North
American Air Defense Command for more than 17 years.
The F-89 was the first multi-seat, all-weather jet interceptor. It was the first aircraft
designed to carry an all-rocket armament and the first to carry the Hughes Falcon
Northrop was awarded a contract May 3, 1946, to build two prototypes designated XP-89. The
XP-89 rolled out of its California plant in the summer of 1948.
After a number of taxiing and brake tests were performed, the XP-89 was moved to the high
desert north of Los Angeles known as Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards AFB
It was at this time it was re-designated as F-89, classifying it as a fighter.
The air and ground crews at Muroc remarked that it looked like a scorpion ready to strike.
The name stuck and was later officially recognized by the Air Force.
The F-89 made its maiden flight Aug. 16, 1948, with the first production model being
accepted Sept. 28, 1950. At the time of its production, the F-89 had an advanced radar
system enabling the crew to track and engage hostile bombers in any weather.
The F-89 helped the Air Defense Command to protect our skies during the period when Soviet
intercontinental bombers first became a threat. The Scorpion never fired a shot in anger,
but it was a major deterrent against attack during the Cold War in the 1950s. The aircraft
on display is a F-89H, but for the purist the wing tanks are incorrect and are from a
This F-89H was delivered to the Air Force April 6, 1956, and flew its entire service life
with the 3320th Technical Training Wing, Amarillo AFB, Texas, until its retirement in
||Two Allison J33-A-33A/41/35 turbofans
|Initial climb rate
||15 000 m
||2 200 km
||11 428 kg
||21 223 kg
||6x T-31 20 mm cannon with 200 rounds per gun; 104 (52x2)x 2.75
in folding-fin rockets; AIM-4
Falcon missiles; Genie AIR-2A rockets with nuclear warheads.
||Two (pilot, radar operator)