Manufacturer: Northrop

Model: N-3

Name: Rocket

Type: Multi-purpose

Date: 1940

Status: Demonstrator

Country: United States of America

Service: Export

Designation: none


This is an imaginary 1940 ad for an imaginary variant of a real aircraft. I rarely go into that much detail as to how I get my inspiration, but I think this one is especially interesting, so here is the story behind it...

FACTS: In 1940, the Northrop aircraft company sold a batch of 24 aircraft designated N-3PB (Northrop, 3rd design, Patrol Bomber) to Norway. The first remarkable aspect of the "Norse Seaplane" contract was that Northrop never did seaplanes before or after that. It was just not their field. The second remarkable thing is that the N-3 model was only ever produced for that Norway contract! It was quite an elegant machine that performed well, and yet the N-3 was not seen anywhere else beside Norway!

GENESIS OF THIS PROJECT: Two years ago, I started toying with the notion that the N-3PB was just too good a design not to deserve a chance as a landplane. I started reworking period photos of the Norwegian "PB" version by simply removing the float to obtain a plain "N-3". The aircraft looked good indeed. But then I left these aside and concentrated on doing a color profile for another imaginary variant for Britain with an inline engine. I called it the N-3G (for "Great Britain") and dubbed it the Sparrowhawk. But the photomanipulation bit was left on the shelf at the time.

REBIRTH OF THIS PROJECT: On discovering that not only Northrop HAD actually considered a landplane variant, but that it was to be designated as plain "N-3.", suddenly my old project made a lot of sense! The aircraft that I had envisioned could have been a reality in 1940, had the involvement of America in the second World War begun maybe a year before. This prompted me to grab my retouched photos, finish a couple of details, and organize them into an imaginary period advertisement for the Northrop N-3.

COMPLETION OF THIS PROJECT: I thought it would be logical for Northrop to come up with a nom de guerre for their N-3 if they wanted to successfully market it. The name Rocket sounded good. For the record it was actually picked by one of Northrop's foremost competitors, Republic Aircraft, for a couple of fighter projects contemporary to the N-3. The logo is a genuine Northrop one, and so is the text... well almost. I changed a couple of words around, but both the logo and the text were from a Northrop advertisement from the early war years. "Musketeers of the Air" was the title of famous book for children at the time; I picked the title from the cover and removed the "s." Other bits and pieces were snatched from other 1940s ads.

Viewers' comments:
  • It looks very convincing indeed, quite a nice job you did there!! :3 (kanyiko)
  • Very cool, Stéphane! Always loved the N-3PB. (comradeloganov)

My comments: