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Frank Piasecki exhibition — home



A famous aircraft that became an inspiration even before it was revealed to the world. Due to secrecy wreathing the first stealth aircraft the imagination of the public was inspired to produce various fantastic ideas of how the plane could be like. It was not even clear what its designation will be.

Finally, in 1988 the design was revealed to the world and shown to the public in 1990. It proved a sensation with its ungainly, angular form which seemed to defy the laws of aerodynamics. Indeed, the plane needed a novelty fly-by-wire control system to enable the pilot to fly at all. Another feature was the tail, designed according to Jerzy Rudlicki's patent. The butterfly tail, with its oblique surfaces, proved effective in deflecting radar signals as envisioned by the theory behind stealth concept.

The Nighthawk proved its mettle in the conflicts of 1990s and 2000s, delivering precise blows to its targets with impunity, apart from a single loss to enemy air-to-air missile system. Retired in 2008, it was superceded by improved stealth designs, but the shape of a F-117 still comes to mind when stealth technology is mentioned.

Specifications (F-117A)

wingspan: 43 ft 4 in (13.2 m)
length: 65 ft 11 in (20.09 m)
max. takeoff weight: 52,500 lb (23,800 kg)
max. speed: Mach 0.92 (617 mph, 993 km/h)
ceiling: 45,000 ft (13,716 m)
range: 930 nmi (1,720 km)
powerplant: two General Electric F404 turbofans, 10,600 lbf (48.0 kN) each