A few good china prototype manufacturing photos I located:
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Photomontage of SR-71 on the port side
Image by Chris Devers
Posted by means of e-mail to ☛ HoloChromaCinePhotoRamaScope‽: cdevers.posterous.com/panoramas-of-the-sr-71-blackbird-at…. See the full gallery on Posterous …
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No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated globally in a lot more hostile airspace or with such complete impunity than the SR-71, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s efficiency and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technologies developments throughout the Cold War.
This Blackbird accrued about two,800 hours of flight time in the course of 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its final flight, March six, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging three,418 kilometers (two,124 miles) per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane more than to the Smithsonian.
Transferred from the United States Air Force.
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson
Nation of Origin:
United States of America
Overall: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 55ft 7in. x 107ft 5in., 169998.5lb. (5.638m x 16.942m x 32.741m, 77110.8kg)
Other: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 107ft 5in. x 55ft 7in. (5.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)
Twin-engine, two-seat, supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft airframe constructed largley of titanium and its alloys vertical tail fins are constructed of a composite (laminated plastic-kind material) to minimize radar cross-section Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines feature massive inlet shock cones.
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated in a lot more hostile airspace or with such total impunity than the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the quickest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines. The Blackbird’s overall performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technologies developments in the course of the Cold War. The airplane was conceived when tensions with communist Eastern Europe reached levels approaching a full-blown crisis in the mid-1950s. U.S. military commanders desperately needed correct assessments of Soviet worldwide military deployments, especially close to the Iron Curtain. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s subsonic U-two (see NASM collection) reconnaissance aircraft was an in a position platform but the U. S. Air Force recognized that this comparatively slow aircraft was currently vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. They also understood that the speedy development of surface-to-air missile systems could put U-2 pilots at grave risk. The danger proved reality when a U-2 was shot down by a surface to air missile more than the Soviet Union in 1960.
Lockheed’s 1st proposal for a new high speed, higher altitude, reconnaissance aircraft, to be capable of avoiding interceptors and missiles, centered on a design and style propelled by liquid hydrogen. This proved to be impracticable since of considerable fuel consumption. Lockheed then reconfigured the style for conventional fuels. This was feasible and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), already flying the Lockheed U-2, issued a production contract for an aircraft designated the A-12. Lockheed’s clandestine ‘Skunk Works’ division (headed by the gifted style engineer Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson) created the A-12 to cruise at Mach 3.2 and fly well above 18,288 m (60,000 feet). To meet these challenging requirements, Lockheed engineers overcame a lot of daunting technical challenges. Flying far more than three occasions the speed of sound generates 316° C (600° F) temperatures on external aircraft surfaces, which are sufficient to melt traditional aluminum airframes. The design group chose to make the jet’s external skin of titanium alloy to which shielded the internal aluminum airframe. Two conventional, but very effective, afterburning turbine engines propelled this remarkable aircraft. These power plants had to operate across a enormous speed envelope in flight, from a takeoff speed of 334 kph (207 mph) to far more than three,540 kph (2,200 mph). To prevent supersonic shock waves from moving inside the engine intake causing flameouts, Johnson’s group had to style a complex air intake and bypass program for the engines.
Skunk Performs engineers also optimized the A-12 cross-section style to exhibit a low radar profile. Lockheed hoped to achieve this by meticulously shaping the airframe to reflect as little transmitted radar energy (radio waves) as attainable, and by application of specific paint made to absorb, rather than reflect, those waves. This treatment became one of the very first applications of stealth technology, but it never ever completely met the design ambitions.
Test pilot Lou Schalk flew the single-seat A-12 on April 24, 1962, soon after he became airborne accidentally for the duration of higher-speed taxi trials. The airplane showed wonderful guarantee but it needed considerable technical refinement just before the CIA could fly the very first operational sortie on May 31, 1967 – a surveillance flight over North Vietnam. A-12s, flown by CIA pilots, operated as component of the Air Force’s 1129th Unique Activities Squadron beneath the "Oxcart" program. While Lockheed continued to refine the A-12, the U. S. Air Force ordered an interceptor version of the aircraft designated the YF-12A. The Skunk Operates, nonetheless, proposed a "specific mission" version configured to conduct post-nuclear strike reconnaissance. This program evolved into the USAF’s familiar SR-71.
Lockheed built fifteen A-12s, which includes a specific two-seat trainer version. Two A-12s had been modified to carry a unique reconnaissance drone, designated D-21. The modified A-12s have been redesignated M-21s. These have been developed to take off with the D-21 drone, powered by a Marquart ramjet engine mounted on a pylon amongst the rudders. The M-21 then hauled the drone aloft and launched it at speeds high adequate to ignite the drone’s ramjet motor. Lockheed also built 3 YF-12As but this type never ever went into production. Two of the YF-12As crashed for the duration of testing. Only a single survives and is on display at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aft section of a single of the "written off" YF-12As which was later utilised along with an SR-71A static test airframe to manufacture the sole SR-71C trainer. One SR-71 was lent to NASA and designated YF-12C. Including the SR-71C and two SR-71B pilot trainers, Lockheed constructed thirty-two Blackbirds. The 1st SR-71 flew on December 22, 1964. Simply because of extreme operational charges, military strategists decided that the much more capable USAF SR-71s need to replace the CIA’s A-12s. These had been retired in 1968 soon after only one year of operational missions, largely over southeast Asia. The Air Force’s 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (part of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) took more than the missions, flying the SR-71 starting in the spring of 1968.
Following the Air Force began to operate the SR-71, it acquired the official name Blackbird– for the unique black paint that covered the airplane. This paint was formulated to absorb radar signals, to radiate some of the tremendous airframe heat generated by air friction, and to camouflage the aircraft against the dark sky at higher altitudes.
Experience gained from the A-12 program convinced the Air Force that flying the SR-71 safely required two crew members, a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO). The RSO operated with the wide array of monitoring and defensive systems installed on the airplane. This equipment incorporated a sophisticated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) program that could jam most acquisition and targeting radar. In addition to an array of sophisticated, higher-resolution cameras, the aircraft could also carry equipment designed to record the strength, frequency, and wavelength of signals emitted by communications and sensor devices such as radar. The SR-71 was created to fly deep into hostile territory, avoiding interception with its tremendous speed and higher altitude. It could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach three.3 at an altitude more than sixteen miles, or 25,908 m (85,000 ft), above the earth. The crew had to put on pressure suits comparable to those worn by astronauts. These suits have been needed to safeguard the crew in the event of sudden cabin stress loss even though at operating altitudes.
To climb and cruise at supersonic speeds, the Blackbird’s Pratt & Whitney J-58 engines have been made to operate continuously in afterburner. While this would seem to dictate higher fuel flows, the Blackbird really accomplished its greatest "gas mileage," in terms of air nautical miles per pound of fuel burned, in the course of the Mach three+ cruise. A typical Blackbird reconnaissance flight might require a number of aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Every single time the SR-71 refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker’s altitude, typically about six,000 m to 9,000 m (20,000 to 30,000 ft), and slow the airplane to subsonic speeds. As velocity decreased, so did frictional heat. This cooling effect triggered the aircraft’s skin panels to shrink significantly, and those covering the fuel tanks contracted so a lot that fuel leaked, forming a distinctive vapor trail as the tanker topped off the Blackbird. As quickly as the tanks were filled, the jet’s crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and again climbed to high altitude.
Air Force pilots flew the SR-71 from Kadena AB, Japan, throughout its operational profession but other bases hosted Blackbird operations, too. The 9th SRW occasionally deployed from Beale AFB, California, to other places to carryout operational missions. Cuban missions have been flown directly from Beale. The SR-71 did not commence to operate in Europe until 1974, and then only temporarily. In 1982, when the U.S. Air Force based two aircraft at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall to fly monitoring mission in Eastern Europe.
When the SR-71 became operational, orbiting reconnaissance satellites had already replaced manned aircraft to collect intelligence from sites deep inside Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover each and every geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a essential tool for worldwide intelligence gathering. On several occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR-71 offered information that proved important in formulating productive U. S. foreign policy. Blackbird crews offered critical intelligence about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath, and pre- and post-strike imagery of the 1986 raid carried out by American air forces on Libya. In 1987, Kadena-primarily based SR-71 crews flew a number of missions over the Persian Gulf, revealing Iranian Silkworm missile batteries that threatened industrial shipping and American escort vessels.
As the overall performance of space-based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-primarily based air defense networks, the Air Force started to drop enthusiasm for the costly program and the 9th SRW ceased SR-71 operations in January 1990. In spite of protests by military leaders, Congress revived the plan in 1995. Continued wrangling more than operating budgets, even so, quickly led to final termination. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retained two SR-71As and the one particular SR-71B for high-speed research projects and flew these airplanes till 1999.
On March six, 1990, the service profession of 1 Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird ended with a record-setting flight. This special airplane bore Air Force serial quantity 64-17972. Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding and his RSO, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Vida, flew this aircraft from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging a speed of 3,418 kph (2,124 mph). At the conclusion of the flight, ‘972 landed at Dulles International Airport and taxied into the custody of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. At that time, Lt. Col. Vida had logged 1,392.7 hours of flight time in Blackbirds, more than that of any other crewman.
This particular SR-71 was also flown by Tom Alison, a former National Air and Space Museum’s Chief of Collections Management. Flying with Detachment 1 at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Alison logged a lot more than a dozen ‘972 operational sorties. The aircraft spent twenty-4 years in active Air Force service and accrued a total of 2,801.1 hours of flight time.
Weight: 170,000 Lbs
Reference and Further Reading:
Crickmore, Paul F. Lockheed SR-71: The Secret Missions Exposed. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1996.
Francillon, Rene J. Lockheed Aircraft Given that 1913. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987.
Johnson, Clarence L. Kelly: Far more Than My Share of It All. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985.
Miller, Jay. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. Leicester, U.K.: Midland Counties Publishing Ltd., 1995.
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.