The Reddit user who posted the first image of the B-21’s rear end has now uploaded new high resolution images. The photos show what appear to be open auxiliary air intakes.
As we reported last week, the first image of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber during ground taxi tests outside of its Palmdale hangar appeared online on Reddit on Oct. 25, 2023. The picture, that showed the new stealth bomber’s rear end for the first time, was taken by a user who had signed the photo with the name u/Mug_Of_Fire and had deleted the post shortly thereafter (although the shot could still be found online, as it had been copied and re-uploaded multiple times).
The very same person who took the photo returned to Reddit to provide some more details about the image he had posted, to clarify the reasons why he had deleted the post and why he had used that name to sign the photo (a username that didn’t have a history of aviation-related posts).
“I took it on the 24th of Oct at around 4:30pm. It was taken on the intersection of 40th and N, on the sod farm property. (So yes it was taken legally). It was taken using a Canon 80D using a Sigma 150-600mm C lens. After posting the picture I started to get nervous that police would show up at my door, so I took down the post. But of course some individuals downloaded the photo/took a screenshot of the photo before I took it down. They then posted it, causing the photo to leak to the public,” says user that goes by the username of u/Folding_WhiteTable.
“u/Mug_Of_Fire is my custom name, I put that in the picture Instead of my profile name because it’s a bit odd of a name. I wasn’t aware that there was a guy that did pixle art that had the Mug_Of_Fire name. I’ve seen all the posts and news articles about the B-21s rear end, and I was starting to get really nervous. But since there hasn’t been any white vans outside my house, and I’m still alive, I guess Northrop doesn’t care a whole lot that the back end was exposed. I’m sure they knew this was going to happen because they brought it out in broad daylight, surprisingly.”
In fact, as commented in our previous post, the photo appears to have been taken from outside the airport fence and the fact that the aircraft was being moved in daylight, seems to suggest they weren’t too concerned the aircraft could be photographed by aviation spotters (or by satellites…).
The spotter used a small handheld radio scanner to listen to the B-21s transmissions. “I heard that it’s call sign was LEAHI65, and that it was going to sit on the runway untill 5pm. So what I’m saying is that anybody could have seen the B-21 for themselves if they had the right tools.”
Along with the additional details, u/Folding_WhiteTable also posted three high-resolution images (including the one we have already seen).
The hi-rez images show what the photographer calls “two white spikes sticking out from the top fo the engines” that would be “air intakes that were opened because not enough air gets to the engines wail on the ground not moving.” Indeed, also the B-2 Spirit has a pair of auxiliary intake doors, opened from the rear by the engine control computer when the main intakes are not providing enough air for the power setting of the engine.
Several aircraft types use auxiliary inlet doors to provide additional air supply to the engine for added thrust in certain conditions: if required, they are opened for take off and automatically close when the airspeed is enough to properly feed the engine(s).
The photo below, for instance, shows a now retired F-104 Starfighter with its auxiliary inlet doors open on take off.
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Back to the B-21 Raider, if confirmed, the presence of two doors might suggest the 6th generation aircraft is powered by two engines, as compared to the four ones of the B-2, unless a single door is used to feed two engines. We will see.