Old B-2 Exhibit
Those who visited the museum a long time ago may remember that we didn't always have the iconic B-1B aircraft out front as we do now.
We actually used to have a large 3/4 scale B-2 Spirit model on display that has a interesting back story behind it...
You can link to and view the commercial here.
Bill Bennet was the director of photography for the firm that shot the commercial for the Honda CRX Si when this model was used. He sent an email to another gentleman named Rob who had inquired about the model and it's orgin. Bill's amended email is as follows:
This aircraft mockup was built to approximately 3/4 full scale. It was designed and built by John Ward, a mechanical special effects technician, based at that time in Agua Dulce, CA, just north of Los Angeles.
The thing that made the commercial unique was the fact that he built the plane in California, transported it on 5 trucks to Florida where the commercial was shot, and the commercial was released all before the Air force and Northrop revealed this very secret aircraft to the public.
At the time of design and construction, there existed only a very vague "artists conception" drawing of the B-2 that had appeared in the Los Angeles Times newspaper. It showed the shape of the cockpit, the shape of the engine intakes, and the unique shape of the trailing edge of the wing. John made a guess at that point that Northrop, having built the YB-49 many years earlier, would not throw away all that design work, but would rather simply build upon that design. And as it turns out, that is exactly what they did: the sweep angle of the wings is exactly the same between the B-2 and the YB-49, the wing span is the same, etc. Thus, the airplane we built and photographed was almost exactly the same as the actual B-2, though ours was 3/4 scale.
Word has it that when the commercial was first run, about 2 weeks before the official Air force rollout, the phone literally exploded off the walls at both the Pentagon and Northrop headquarters, with all these top brass military and politicians demanding how some Japanese car company got the design of the plane before it was even released.
When we were shooting on this airfield out in the middle of the Everglades, 60 miles west of Miami, Florida, the Stealth mockup was spotted by the US surveillance satellites. We got a visit from a couple of Air Force fighters one afternoon. They landed, taxied over, opened the cockpit and yelled down, "What on earth is that?" We responded that it was a non-flying prop for a commercial, and they smiled, waved laughing and departed.
After the commercial was released, the museum in SD bought the mockup, disassembled it , and transported it to their facility, where it is now on display.
Director of Photography
The Honda Stealth rusted over time and was eventually destroyed. It was made mostly of aluminum and it didn’t hold up to the weather. It was replaced by the B-1B Lancer that is now out front on display.
So if you come by the museum, you now know the precursor to the B-1B!
This post is also dedicated to all those individuals who have seen it in the past, and then asked about it when they came in at a later time. We thank you for coming in again and we wish you to keep on enjoying aviation!