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Posted 9/27/2007 Printable Fact Sheet
Northrop F-89H-5-NO "Scorpion"
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Northrop F-89H-5-NO "Scorpion"
S/N 54-0322

Crew:   Two
Engines:   Two Allison J35 turbojets; 4,000 lbs thrust ea
Wingspan:   59 ft 10 in
Length:   53 ft 10 in
Height:   17 ft 6 in
Weight:   47,719 lbs loaded
Speed:   cruise: 465 mph; max: 630 mph
Range:   1,600 miles
Service Ceiling:   45,000 ft
Armament:   Forty-eight 70mm rockets or two Genie nuclear rockets
Cost:   $1,009,000

In the late 1940s the U.S. Air Force called for a jet-powered aircraft that could destroy Soviet long-range aircraft carrying nuclear weapons that might attack American cities. The Scorpion was thus designed as an all-weather interceptor to fit this requirement.

Designed to replace the Northrop-built P-61 "Black Widow", the F-89 was built around a powerful radar set. A second crew member operated the radar and could lock onto a target in total darkness or in any type of weather, align the aircraft with the enemy target, and fire forty-two to forty-eight 70mm unguided rockets, "shotgun" style.

The first F-89s had four 20mm cannons in the nose, which were later increased to six. In the D model, 104 rockets replaced the cannons. This armament was later modified to 48 rockets (three being carried under each wing). The Genie rocket was added to the H model, and then the Hughes Falcon missile in the J model.

Hill AFB was a prime depot for Northrop aircraft parts, particularly for the F-89. The Ogden Air Logistics Center was assigned complete responsibility for the F-89 aircraft and all related equipment in October 1953. Earlier that same year the Depot received responsibility for repair of the J35 turbojet engines used in the aircraft.

This particular F-89H-5-NO, S/N 54-0322, was manufactured by Northrop Aircraft in Palmdale, California, and delivered to the Air Force on 29 May 1956. It was assigned to the 321st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Air Defense Command, at Paine AFB, Washington, with later deployment to McChord AFB, Washington. In December 1957 it was sent to the 123rd Fighter- Interceptor Squadron, Air National Guard, in Portland, Oregon. In April 1958 it was transferred to the 142nd Fighter Group, Air National Guard, still at Portland.

The aircraft was dropped from the active USAF inventory in October 1960 and transfered to museum status. It was then placed on static display at the Portland International Airport. The aircraft was moved to Hill Aerospace Museum in 1983.

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