Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: SR-71 Blackbird (starboard profile)

Some cool plastic tooling china pictures:

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: SR-71 Blackbird (starboard profile)
plastic tooling china
Image by Chris Devers
See much more pictures of this, and the Wikipedia write-up.

Information, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird:

No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated globally in more hostile airspace or with such total impunity than the SR-71, the world’s quickest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s overall performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments throughout the Cold War.

This Blackbird accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time in the course of 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its last 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, four 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.

Manufacturer:
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation

Designer:
Clarence L. &quotKelly&quot Johnson

Date:
1964

Nation of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
All round: 18ft five 15/16in. x 55ft 7in. x 107ft 5in., 169998.5lb. (five.638m x 16.942m x 32.741m, 77110.8kg)
Other: 18ft five 15/16in. x 107ft 5in. x 55ft 7in. (5.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)

Components:
Titanium

Physical Description:
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-sort material) to minimize radar cross-section Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines function huge inlet shock cones.

Long Description:
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated in a lot more hostile airspace or with such comprehensive impunity than the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the fastest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines. The Blackbird’s functionality and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technologies developments during 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 necessary precise assessments of Soviet worldwide military deployments, specifically near the Iron Curtain. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s subsonic U-2 (see NASM collection) reconnaissance aircraft was an able platform but the U. S. Air Force recognized that this fairly slow aircraft was currently vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. They also understood that the fast improvement of surface-to-air missile systems could put U-two pilots at grave threat. The danger proved reality when a U-two was shot down by a surface to air missile over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Lockheed’s 1st proposal for a new higher speed, high altitude, reconnaissance aircraft, to be capable of avoiding interceptors and missiles, centered on a style propelled by liquid hydrogen. This proved to be impracticable since of considerable fuel consumption. Lockheed then reconfigured the design for traditional 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 design engineer Clarence L. &quotKelly&quot Johnson) designed the A-12 to cruise at Mach 3.two and fly nicely above 18,288 m (60,000 feet). To meet these challenging needs, Lockheed engineers overcame a lot of daunting technical challenges. Flying a lot more than three instances the speed of sound generates 316° C (600° F) temperatures on external aircraft surfaces, which are sufficient to melt standard 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 quite powerful, afterburning turbine engines propelled this outstanding aircraft. These energy plants had to operate across a massive speed envelope in flight, from a takeoff speed of 334 kph (207 mph) to a lot more than 3,540 kph (two,200 mph). To avert supersonic shock waves from moving inside the engine intake causing flameouts, Johnson’s group had to design and style a complicated air intake and bypass technique for the engines.

Skunk Works engineers also optimized the A-12 cross-section design and style to exhibit a low radar profile. Lockheed hoped to achieve this by meticulously shaping the airframe to reflect as tiny transmitted radar energy (radio waves) as attainable, and by application of specific paint designed to absorb, rather than reflect, those waves. This treatment became a single of the initial applications of stealth technology, but it by no means totally met the design and style targets.

Test pilot Lou Schalk flew the single-seat A-12 on April 24, 1962, after he became airborne accidentally for the duration of higher-speed taxi trials. The airplane showed great promise but it needed considerable technical refinement just before the CIA could fly the initial operational sortie on Might 31, 1967 – a surveillance flight more than North Vietnam. A-12s, flown by CIA pilots, operated as element of the Air Force’s 1129th Unique Activities Squadron beneath the &quotOxcart&quot plan. 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 Performs, however, proposed a &quotspecific mission&quot version configured to conduct post-nuclear strike reconnaissance. This method evolved into the USAF’s familiar SR-71.

Lockheed built fifteen A-12s, including a unique two-seat trainer version. Two A-12s have been modified to carry a special reconnaissance drone, designated D-21. The modified A-12s were redesignated M-21s. These have been created to take off with the D-21 drone, powered by a Marquart ramjet engine mounted on a pylon between the rudders. The M-21 then hauled the drone aloft and launched it at speeds higher enough to ignite the drone’s ramjet motor. Lockheed also built 3 YF-12As but this sort never ever went into production. Two of the YF-12As crashed in the course of testing. Only one survives and is on show at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aft section of 1 of the &quotwritten off&quot YF-12As which was later utilized along with an SR-71A static test airframe to manufacture the sole SR-71C trainer. A single SR-71 was lent to NASA and designated YF-12C. Like the SR-71C and two SR-71B pilot trainers, Lockheed constructed thirty-two Blackbirds. The first SR-71 flew on December 22, 1964. Because of extreme operational charges, military strategists decided that the far more capable USAF SR-71s should replace the CIA’s A-12s. These have been retired in 1968 right after only one year of operational missions, mostly over southeast Asia. The Air Force’s 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (element of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) took over the missions, flying the SR-71 beginning in the spring of 1968.

After the Air Force started to operate the SR-71, it acquired the official name Blackbird– for the special 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 high altitudes.

Experience gained from the A-12 plan convinced the Air Force that flying the SR-71 safely necessary 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 gear included a sophisticated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) system that could jam most acquisition and targeting radar. In addition to an array of advanced, high-resolution cameras, the aircraft could also carry equipment developed to record the strength, frequency, and wavelength of signals emitted by communications and sensor devices such as radar. The SR-71 was made 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 3.3 at an altitude far more than sixteen miles, or 25,908 m (85,000 ft), above the earth. The crew had to wear stress suits similar to these worn by astronauts. These suits have been essential to defend 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 &amp Whitney J-58 engines had been developed to operate constantly in afterburner. Whilst this would seem to dictate higher fuel flows, the Blackbird truly achieved its best &quotgas mileage,&quot in terms of air nautical miles per pound of fuel burned, for the duration of the Mach 3+ cruise. A common Blackbird reconnaissance flight may possibly need several aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Each and every time the SR-71 refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker’s altitude, generally about 6,000 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 impact triggered the aircraft’s skin panels to shrink considerably, 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 have been filled, the jet’s crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and again climbed to higher altitude.

Air Force pilots flew the SR-71 from Kadena AB, Japan, throughout its operational career but other bases hosted Blackbird operations, as well. The 9th SRW sometimes deployed from Beale AFB, California, to other locations to carryout operational missions. Cuban missions were flown directly from Beale. The SR-71 did not commence to operate in Europe till 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 gather intelligence from internet sites deep within Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover each geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a important tool for international intelligence gathering. On a lot of occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR-71 offered data that proved important in formulating successful U. S. foreign policy. Blackbird crews supplied 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 functionality of space-based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-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. Regardless of protests by military leaders, Congress revived the program in 1995. Continued wrangling more than operating budgets, nevertheless, quickly led to final termination. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retained two SR-71As and the one SR-71B for high-speed investigation projects and flew these airplanes until 1999.

On March 6, 1990, the service profession of a single Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird ended with a record-setting flight. This unique airplane bore Air Force serial number 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, four minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging a speed of three,418 kph (two,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, a lot more than that of any other crewman.

This distinct 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 much more than a dozen ‘972 operational sorties. The aircraft spent twenty-4 years in active Air Force service and accrued a total of two,801.1 hours of flight time.

Wingspan: 55’7&quot
Length: 107’5&quot
Height: 18’6&quot
Weight: 170,000 Lbs

Reference and Additional 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 Performs. Leicester, U.K.: Midland Counties Publishing Ltd., 1995.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.

DAD, 11-11-01

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s