« Last post by Skyblazer on Today at 05:27:08 pm »
Considering the style of the artwork and the company's practice at that time of incorporating the design number into the paintings, I think it is a safe bet to assume that this image depicts the Northrop N363. This number is perfectly coherent with the Northrop design number chronology, placing it in 1983.
However, the would-be F-19 demonstrator, if ever built, would have been prior to that, presumably around 1981, which has led some to believe that it may have been related to another Northrop design, the smaller scale THAP demonstrator, rather than the full-scale operational CSIRS in the picture. But then a whole lot of theories and conjectures have been associated to this whole matter, so that in the end it's hard to know what to think.
One thing I know for a fact:
>> The F-19, whether built or merely planned, could NOT be the F-117A for the simple reason that the latter was always meant as a pure low altitude ground attack platform, not a fighter. The unofficial secret F-"century" series types could be anything: attack, fighter, recce... but the regular F- series was for fighters/pursuits/interceptors or whatever.
One thing I have seen (even saved, but then lost in a computer crash):
>> In the early 2000s, the webpage of an industry subcontractor (whose name I forgot) listed the projects they had been involved in, and for each of them, provided a small recap of the aircraft's performances. Surprisingly, they listed the "F-19" as a program they'd worked on and provided a whole set of specs that was clearly for a fighter and had nothing to do with the F-117A. Now why would they do that? I could not say.
One thing I very much believe:
>> With stealth being completely new and unproven, the USAF likely didn't put all their eggs in one basket and must have considered several configurations for testing and possibly several companies each working on a different type of design. Perhaps there were only Have Blue and Tacit Blue, perhaps there could have been a couple more test planes in-between that are still unheard of. But of course if there ever were such planes, they probably were failures and/or crashed, otherwise we'd have heard about them and they'd be in a museum by now. They might also have been company-financed prototypes, hence the lack of obligation by the DoD to go public about them and the lack of desire from the companies to brag about failed projects.