F-89 Scorpion

Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerNorthrop Corporation
First flight16 August 1948
IntroducedSeptember 1950
Numbers built1,050
Unit costsUS$801,602 (F-89D)[1]
US$988,884 (F-89H)
Max speed635 mph (552 knots, 1,022 km/h) at 10,600 ft (3,200 m)
Max rangeFerry range: 1,366 mi (1,188 nm, 2,200 km)
Service ceiling: 49,200 ft (15,000 m)
DimensionsLength: 53 ft 9½ in (16.40 m)
Wingspan: 59 ft 8½ in (18.20 m)
Height: 17 ft 6 in (5.33 m)
Wing area: 606 ft² (56.30 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 25,194 lb (11,428 kg)
Loaded weight: 37,190 lb (16,869 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 42,241 lb (19,161 kg)
Powerplant2 × Allison J35-A-35 afterburning turbojets
Dry thrust: 5,440 lbf (24.26 kN) each
Thrust with afterburner: 7,200 lbf (32.11 kN) each
104× 2.75 in (70 mm) "Mighty Mouse" folding-fin aerial rockets
16× 5 in (127 mm) aerial rockets on underwing racks or

Bombs: 3,200 lb (1,500 kg)
OperatorsUnited States

The Northrop F-89 Scorpion was an American all-weather interceptor which initially built as a jet-powered fighter. Even though its straight wings reduced its performance, it was one of the first USAF jet fighters with guided missiles, and obviously the first fighter aircraft equipped with the unguided Genie rocket, an air-to-air nuclear weapon.

The Design and Development of F-89 Scorpion

The Scorpion was developed in 1945 from United States Army Air Forces Army Air Technical Service Command specification which explaining about Military Characteristics for All-Weather Fighting Aircraft for a jet-powered night fighter to take the place of the P-61 Black Widow. Several manufacturers including Bell Aircraft, Consolidated-Vultee, Douglas Aircraft, Goodyear, Northrop and Curtiss-Wright handed in proposals.

Northrop presented four different designs, made by Jack Northrop’s team, together with a radical flying wing but resolved on the N-24, a slim-bodied airplane with a cantilevered mid-mounted wing and two Allison J35 turbojet engines with afterburners. The N-24 had radar and a crew of two, with an armament of four 20 mm (. 79 in) cannon in a unique trainable nose turret.

One of the unconventional elements of the design was the employment of Northrop’s “Deceleron” which combined aileron/dive brake/flap that could be integrated with the slim wing design. Contracts for two prototypes were given in December 1946. At the same time Curtiss (with their XF-87) and Douglas (for their XF3D-1 Skynight Blackhawk) prototypes were also granted development contracts.

The first XP-89 prototype had its maiden flight on 16 August 1948. For much of the testing period, Curtiss’s prototype had been the front-runner for the contract, but the Northrop design demonstrated to be better. Other USAF interceptors including the F-94 Starfire and F-86 Sabre had been designed from day fighter designs.

Some Variants of F-89 Scorpion

  • XF-89 – First prototype, powered by two 4,000 lbf (17.8 kN) Allison J-35-A-9 engines.
  • XF-89A – Second prototype. Fitted with more powerful J-35-A-21A engines and revised, pointed nose with cannon armament.
  • F-89A – First production version, eight built. Fitted with revised tailplane and six cannon armament.
  • DF-89A – F-89As converted into drone control aircraft.
  • F-89B – Second production version with upgraded avionics. 40 built.
  • DF-89B – F-89Bs converted into drone control aircraft.
  • F-89C – Third production version with more powerful engines reheat J-35-A-21 or -33.
  • YF-89D – Conversion of one F-89B to test new avionics and armament of F-89D.
  • F-89D – Main production version which saw deletion of the six 20 mm cannons in favor of 104 rockets in wing pods, installation of new Hughes E-6 fire control system, AN/APG-40 radar and the AN/APA-84 computer.
  • YF-89E – One off prototype to test the Allison YJ71-A-3 engine, converted from F-89C.
  • F-89F – Proposed version with new fuselage and wings and J71 engines, never built.
  • F-89G – Proposed version equipped with Hughes MA-1 fire control and GAR-1/GAR-2 Falcon air-to-air missiles, never built.
  • YF-89H – Modified F-89D to test features of F-89H. Three converted.
  • F-89H – Version with E-9 fire control system, six GAR-1/GAR-2 Falcon missiles and 42 Folding Fin Aircraft Rockets (FFAR).
  •  F-89J – Conversion of F-89D with underwing hardpoints for two MB-1 Genie nuclear armed rocket and four Falcon missiles, and either carrying the standard F-89D rocket/fuel pod or pure fuel tanks.

F-89 Scorpion videos

Northrop F-89 Scorpion


F-89 Scorpion Fires Mighty Mouse Rocket

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