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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 air-to-air guided missile.
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 F-89J.
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 August 1959.
General characteristics
Primary function Fighter
Contractor Northrop Aircraft
Power plant Two Allison J33-A-33A/41/35 turbofans
Thrust 3,265 kg 32 kN
Max. speed 636 mph 1023 km/h
Initial climb rate 8,360 ft/min 2548 m/min
Ceiling 49,200 ft 15 000 m
Max. range 1,367 miles 2 200 km
Wingspan 60.4 ft 18,40 m
Length 53.8 ft 16,40 m
Height 17.5 ft 5,33 m
Weight empty 25,195 lb 11 428 kg
max. takeoff 46,790 lb 21 223 kg
Armament 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.
Crew Two (pilot, radar operator)


Jirka Wagner

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Last updated 13.11.2012