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The Insane Engineering of the F-117 Nighthawk
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1,370,587 Views • Jun 8, 2024 • Click to toggle off description
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Producer/Writer/Narrator: Brian McManus
Head of Production: Mike Ridolfi
Editor: Dylan Hennessy
Writer/Research: Josi Gold
Animator: Eli Prenten
Animator: Stijn Orlans
Sound and Production Coordinator: Graham Haerther
Sound: Donovan Bullen
Thumbnail: Simon Buckmaster
Head of Moral: Shia LeWoof
Special Thanks To Lockheed Martin for providing archival footage

Select imagery/video supplied by Getty Images
Thank you to AP Archive for access to their archival footage.

Music by Epidemic Sound: epidemicsound.com/creator

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Views : 1,370,587
Genre: Science & Technology
Date of upload: Jun 8, 2024 ^^

Rating : 4.924 (860/44,197 LTDR)

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User score: 97.14- Overwhelmingly Positive

RYD date created : 2024-06-15T06:38:47.896457Z
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YouTube Comments - 1,854 Comments

Top Comments of this video!! :3


6 days ago

The most interesting thing about the F-117 to me is that, without the computational power to effectively simulate radar returns at high fidelity yet, engineers had to simplify things. Which is why it has simplified flat panels, while modern stealth aircraft have complex curves. The F-117 is literally a low poly stealth aircraft.

4.9K |


6 days ago

I remember watching an interview with one of the F-117 pilots from the strike and he talked about his post-strike count to make sure everyone in his airgroup made it (using satellite markers, I think, no radio traffic) and he kept coming up one short, and as he was on the way to panic-land, he realized he forgot to count himself.

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6 days ago

Him constantly calling bombs missiles is bugging me, respectfully.

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6 days ago

23:20 The F-117 lost in Serbia wasn't due to the Serbians' doctrine. In fact, they had to violate the doctrine by activating the radar a second time in the same location. This second sweep happened when the pilot had the bomb bay doors open, so the radar was able to detect the Nighthawk. Additionally, the Serbians wouldn't have known where to look if USAF hadn't gotten lazy and used the same flight paths for multiple strikes.

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6 days ago

One of my favorite stories of the development of the Nighthawk is when during testing, Skunk Works put a model of it up on a pedestal and hit it with different radar waves to see if they could get a return off of the model. They ended up getting a return off of the pedestal, then hovering a few feet above it they got a return from an object about the size of a bird. The technicians then looked out at the model and saw, sitting on the cockpit, a small bird.

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6 days ago

I could let slide that you kept calling laser guided glide bombs, missiles. But then you had a graphic of a bomb with fire coming out of the back of it and that made me laugh.

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6 days ago

0:20 is a laser guided bomb not a gps guided missile

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6 days ago

The Nighthawk that was shot down, also had the fact it flew a regular route at a regular time, and advance spotters visually confirming the takeoff and route relaying that information to the aerial defense. I think knowing the route and time really played against the aircraft's effectiveness.

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6 days ago

My Uncle Tommy was an engineer for the -117. One thing that I love about that airplane is the fact that Have Blue used so many off the shelf parts to make it happen. They used bits and bobs from the F-15, F-16, F-18, F-111, B-52(!!!) and it came in on time, on budget, and changed the future of air power as much as, if not even more than, jet engines.

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6 days ago

That F-117 shootdown has allot more nuance to it than described. The reason the radars were so often moved around was not to counter stealth, but to prevent themselves from being slapped around by Anti-Radiation missiles like the AGM-88. The Serbs had people watching the runway where F-117's were based, and reporting what aircraft were taking off. That night, the F-117's had no EW or fighter support, and were the only ones in the air. The Serbian air defenders knew ahead of time that only the F-117's would be up, and left their radars on (Something which would be a death sentence any other night). The first two times the commander of the battery which shot down that F-117 turned on his radar, he saw sweet fuck all. The F-117 was only picked up when it opened its bomb bay doors, and the first missile didn't even hit, having been guided in Low-Frequency mode (Less accurate) to have a better chance of picking up the F-117 at all. The shootdown was a result of equal part complacency on the US's part, and very high luck on the Serbs part.

337 |


6 days ago

Your graphics team needs its own "The insane..." episode to truly understand its magnificent work off late. It's impressive. Thank you for choosing to put such effort and still keep it free here. You'll always see me cheering your team and you.

254 |


6 days ago

During Desert Storm. The Saudis nicknamed them "ghosts." If you haven't already. I highly recommend the book Skunk Works by Ben H. Rich.

261 |


6 days ago

Just made dinner, just opened YouTube and Real Engineering just uploaded a video on the nighthawk.

409 |


6 days ago

0:19 Those are laser guided bombs, not GPS guided missiles. The Nighthawk never carried missiles; it was a very light bomber.

50 |


6 days ago

I am reading "Skunk Works" by Ben Rich. Not only it is an illuminating story about how these incredible aircrafts were developed, but also some lessons about leadership and manufacturing. When 2 operational F-117 test models were taking test flight, someone asked Ben Rich: "How much do they cost?" Ben Rich answered "35 millions." The other man asked again "No, not each of them. I mean the entire development." Ben replied "35 millions." This was developed when Lockheed was in financial trouble. Ben put faith in his engineers at Skunk Works to create the breakthrough of aviation technology, while keeping it perhaps the only case of a cost "under-run" in military technology development.

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6 days ago

With so many channels using text-to-speech programs, reading only the first numerical information found by googling without fact-checking and deliberately making mistakes so people comment how the video is wrong, therefore bringing engagement, It's nice to see well-researched, high quality documentaries that have clearly had a lot of thought and effort put into them.

250 |


6 days ago

My dad likes to tell a story about when he was first stationed at Randolph AFB in the early 90s. Apparently he and his CO were walking around the base, and they kept hearing soft thumps coming from the hangar with the 117s. Upon investigation, they found several unconscious bats along the floor. It seems the fighters disorient the bats’ echolocation systems and they end up slamming against the walls. They eventually had to relocate the bats and set up anti-bat deterrents to stop any more from moving in.

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6 days ago

19:01 The elevons deflect downward, but the plane pitches upwards. It is shown correctly at 16:52 .

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6 days ago

I currently work at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Nebraska, home of F-117 Nighthawk 85-0831, which currently holds the record of most flight hours of any Nighthawk and was the one that flew with the Skunkworks logo on its belly for the retirement of Ben Rich.

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