At one end of the plant was a room, which Ben had converted into an anechoic chamber, meaning that its walls were almost perfectly radar absorbent. The walls, floor, and ceiling were lined with rows of sharply pointed metal studs arranged in rows; any stray electromagnetic signals would scatter among the hundreds of studs and be absorbed by the surfaces behind the studs.
Paul and Steve supervised as the 25 foot next-step-up subscale model took shape outside the anechoic chamber. Already, in the smooth plywood model, the mixed beauty and ugliness of the aircraft were becoming apparent.
"You either love this baby or you hate it," said Dick Scherrer, who was in charge of the initial design work, laying out the overall shape. Paul was beside him, checking out a measurement.
At his side laughed Ed "Baldy" Baldwin, who would have responsibility for moving the optimized shape onto a workable airframe. Baldy had been with the company since at least 1945, when he and Kelly had worked on the first U.S. jet fighter, the P-80. "Yeah," Baldy said, running a hand dubiously along the model's sharp edge. "This one is going to be one hell of a challenge." Baldy was known for his temperament. As of yet, he was still of pleasant mien. "I gotta make this thing fly, huh?"
"You could make a brick fly," Paul said, climbing around among electrical cables that made a spaghetti at the foot of the model.