Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: SR-71 Blackbird best view panorama

A handful of nice surface grinding aluminum pictures I discovered:

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: SR-71 Blackbird best view panorama

Image by Chris Devers
See far more images of this, and the Wikipedia report.

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

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 quickest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s functionality and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technologies developments during the Cold War.

This Blackbird accrued about two,800 hours of flight time for the duration of 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its final flight, March 6, 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 3,418 kilometers (2,124 miles) per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane over to the Smithsonian.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Lockheed Aircraft Corporation

Clarence L. &quotKelly&quot Johnson


Country of Origin:
United States of America

General: 18ft five 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. (five.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)


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-kind material) to minimize radar cross-section Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines function big inlet shock cones.

Long Description:
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated in a lot more hostile airspace or with such full impunity than the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the quickest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines. The Blackbird’s 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 complete-blown crisis in the mid-1950s. U.S. military commanders desperately needed accurate assessments of Soviet worldwide military deployments, specifically close to the Iron Curtain. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s subsonic U-two (see NASM collection) reconnaissance aircraft was an able platform but the U. S. Air Force recognized that this comparatively slow aircraft was currently vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. They also understood that the rapid development of surface-to-air missile systems could place U-2 pilots at grave risk. 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 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 design and style for standard 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 and style engineer Clarence L. &quotKelly&quot Johnson) developed the A-12 to cruise at Mach 3.2 and fly nicely above 18,288 m (60,000 feet). To meet these challenging specifications, Lockheed engineers overcame numerous daunting technical challenges. Flying far more than three instances the speed of sound generates 316° C (600° F) temperatures on external aircraft surfaces, which are sufficient to melt conventional aluminum airframes. The design team chose to make the jet’s external skin of titanium alloy to which shielded the internal aluminum airframe. Two standard, but really potent, afterburning turbine engines propelled this exceptional aircraft. These energy plants had to operate across a massive speed envelope in flight, from a takeoff speed of 334 kph (207 mph) to far more than three,540 kph (two,200 mph). To avert supersonic shock waves from moving inside the engine intake causing flameouts, Johnson’s team had to design and style a complex air intake and bypass method for the engines.

Skunk Operates engineers also optimized the A-12 cross-section style to exhibit a low radar profile. Lockheed hoped to achieve this by carefully shaping the airframe to reflect as small transmitted radar power (radio waves) as feasible, and by application of special paint created to absorb, rather than reflect, these waves. This therapy became one of the very first applications of stealth technology, but it by no means completely met the design ambitions.

Test pilot Lou Schalk flew the single-seat A-12 on April 24, 1962, right after he became airborne accidentally in the course of high-speed taxi trials. The airplane showed wonderful guarantee but it necessary considerable technical refinement ahead of the CIA could fly the very first operational sortie on May possibly 31, 1967 – a surveillance flight over North Vietnam. A-12s, flown by CIA pilots, operated as portion of the Air Force’s 1129th Special Activities Squadron below the &quotOxcart&quot program. Even though 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 Works, 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 constructed fifteen A-12s, including a particular two-seat trainer version. Two A-12s have been modified to carry a unique reconnaissance drone, designated D-21. The modified A-12s were redesignated M-21s. These had been developed 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 high enough to ignite the drone’s ramjet motor. Lockheed also constructed 3 YF-12As but this variety never ever went into production. Two of the YF-12As crashed throughout testing. Only one survives and is on show at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aft section of one particular 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. 1 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 first SR-71 flew on December 22, 1964. Since of intense operational expenses, military strategists decided that the a lot more capable USAF SR-71s should replace the CIA’s A-12s. These were retired in 1968 following only one particular year of operational missions, largely more than southeast Asia. The Air Force’s 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (part of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) took over the missions, flying the SR-71 beginning in the spring of 1968.

Soon after 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 high altitudes.

Encounter 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 equipment 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 designed 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 high altitude. It could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach 3.3 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 similar to these worn by astronauts. These suits were required to protect the crew in the event of sudden cabin stress loss whilst at operating altitudes.

To climb and cruise at supersonic speeds, the Blackbird’s Pratt &amp Whitney J-58 engines were made to operate constantly in afterburner. Even though this would seem to dictate higher fuel flows, the Blackbird really achieved its greatest &quotgas mileage,&quot in terms of air nautical miles per pound of fuel burned, for the duration of the Mach 3+ cruise. A typical Blackbird reconnaissance flight might call for many aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Each time the SR-71 refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker’s altitude, normally 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 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 had been filled, the jet’s crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and once again climbed to high altitude.

Air Force pilots flew the SR-71 from Kadena AB, Japan, all through its operational profession but other bases hosted Blackbird operations, as well. The 9th SRW sometimes deployed from Beale AFB, California, to other areas to carryout operational missions. Cuban missions have been flown straight from Beale. The SR-71 did not begin to operate in Europe until 1974, and then only temporarily. In 1982, when the U.S. Air Force primarily 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 currently replaced manned aircraft to collect intelligence from sites deep inside Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover each geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a vital tool for international intelligence gathering. On numerous occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR-71 offered details that proved important in formulating effective U. S. foreign policy. Blackbird crews offered essential 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-based SR-71 crews flew a quantity of missions more than the Persian Gulf, revealing Iranian Silkworm missile batteries that threatened industrial shipping and American escort vessels.

As the efficiency of space-primarily based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-primarily based air defense networks, the Air Force started to shed enthusiasm for the expensive plan and the 9th SRW ceased SR-71 operations in January 1990. Despite protests by military leaders, Congress revived the program in 1995. Continued wrangling over operating budgets, even so, soon led to final termination. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retained two SR-71As and the one particular SR-71B for higher-speed investigation projects and flew these airplanes until 1999.

On March 6, 1990, the service profession of one Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird ended with a record-setting flight. This specific 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 (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, more than that of any other crewman.

This specific 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 far 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.

Wingspan: 55’7&quot
Length: 107’5&quot
Height: 18’6&quot
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: A lot more Than My Share of It All. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985.

Miller, Jay. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Operates. 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

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Space Shuttle Enterprise (crew working by a hatch by the back starboard wing)

Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Specifics, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Space Shuttle Enterprise:

Rockwell International Corporation

Nation of Origin:
United States of America

General: 57 ft. tall x 122 ft. extended x 78 ft. wing span, 150,000 lb.
(1737.36 x 3718.57 x 2377.44cm, 68039.6kg)

Aluminum airframe and physique with some fiberglass characteristics payload bay doors are graphite epoxy composite thermal tiles are simulated (polyurethane foam) except for test samples of actual tiles and thermal blankets.

The 1st Space Shuttle orbiter, &quotEnterprise,&quot is a complete-scale test car utilized for flights in the atmosphere and tests on the ground it is not equipped for spaceflight. Though the airframe and flight manage elements are like these of the Shuttles flown in space, this vehicle has no propulsion method and only simulated thermal tiles because these features were not necessary for atmospheric and ground tests. &quotEnterprise&quot was rolled out at Rockwell International’s assembly facility in Palmdale, California, in 1976. In 1977, it entered service for a nine-month-extended method-and-landing test flight plan. Thereafter it was utilized for vibration tests and fit checks at NASA centers, and it also appeared in the 1983 Paris Air Show and the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. In 1985, NASA transferred &quotEnterprise&quot to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Transferred from National Aeronautics and Space Administration

• • •

Quoting from Wikipedia | Space Shuttle Enterprise:

The Space Shuttle Enterprise (NASA Orbiter Car Designation: OV-101) was the initial Space Shuttle orbiter. It was built for NASA as component of the Space Shuttle plan to carry out test flights in the atmosphere. It was constructed without having engines or a functional heat shield, and was as a result not capable of spaceflight.

Initially, Enterprise had been intended to be refitted for orbital flight, which would have produced it the second space shuttle to fly after Columbia. Even so, during the building of Columbia, details of the final style changed, especially with regard to the weight of the fuselage and wings. Refitting Enterprise for spaceflight would have involved dismantling the orbiter and returning the sections to subcontractors across the nation. As this was an high-priced proposition, it was determined to be much less costly to develop Challenger about a body frame (STA-099) that had been created as a test post. Similarly, Enterprise was considered for refit to replace Challenger following the latter was destroyed, but Endeavour was constructed from structural spares alternatively.


Construction started on the initial orbiter on June four, 1974. Designated OV-101, it was originally planned to be named Constitution and unveiled on Constitution Day, September 17, 1976. A write-in campaign by Trekkies to President Gerald Ford asked that the orbiter be named after the Starship Enterprise, featured on the tv show Star Trek. Even though Ford did not mention the campaign, the president—who during Planet War II had served on the aircraft carrier USS&nbspMonterey&nbsp(CVL-26) that served with USS&nbspEnterprise&nbsp(CV-six)—said that he was &quotpartial to the name&quot and overrode NASA officials.

The style of OV-101 was not the identical as that planned for OV-102, the first flight model the tail was constructed differently, and it did not have the interfaces to mount OMS pods. A big quantity of subsystems—ranging from primary engines to radar equipment—were not installed on this car, but the capacity to add them in the future was retained. As an alternative of a thermal protection technique, its surface was mainly fiberglass.

In mid-1976, the orbiter was used for ground vibration tests, permitting engineers to examine information from an actual flight automobile with theoretical models.

On September 17, 1976, Enterprise was rolled out of Rockwell’s plant at Palmdale, California. In recognition of its fictional namesake, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and most of the principal cast of the original series of Star Trek were on hand at the dedication ceremony.

Strategy and landing tests (ALT)

Main post: Approach and Landing Tests

On January 31, 1977, it was taken by road to Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, to start operational testing.

Whilst at NASA Dryden, Enterprise was utilized by NASA for a selection of ground and flight tests intended to validate elements of the shuttle system. The initial nine-month testing period was referred to by the acronym ALT, for &quotApproach and Landing Test&quot. These tests integrated a maiden &quotflight&quot on February 18, 1977 atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) to measure structural loads and ground handling and braking characteristics of the mated technique. Ground tests of all orbiter subsystems were carried out to confirm functionality prior to atmospheric flight.

The mated Enterprise/SCA mixture was then subjected to five test flights with Enterprise unmanned and unactivated. The objective of these test flights was to measure the flight traits of the mated combination. These tests had been followed with 3 test flights with Enterprise manned to test the shuttle flight handle systems.

Enterprise underwent five free flights exactly where the craft separated from the SCA and was landed below astronaut control. These tests verified the flight characteristics of the orbiter design and style and had been carried out below numerous aerodynamic and weight configurations. On the fifth and final glider flight, pilot-induced oscillation difficulties have been revealed, which had to be addressed ahead of the initial orbital launch occurred.

On August 12, 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise flew on its personal for the very first time.

Preparation for STS-1

Following the ALT system, Enterprise was ferried among several NASA facilities to configure the craft for vibration testing. In June 1979, it was mated with an external tank and solid rocket boosters (known as a boilerplate configuration) and tested in a launch configuration at Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A.


With the completion of critical testing, Enterprise was partially disassembled to permit particular components to be reused in other shuttles, then underwent an international tour going to France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the U.S. states of California, Alabama, and Louisiana (during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition). It was also used to fit-verify the never ever-utilised shuttle launch pad at Vandenberg AFB, California. Ultimately, on November 18, 1985, Enterprise was ferried to Washington, D.C., where it became house of the Smithsonian Institution.


Soon after the Challenger disaster, NASA regarded as utilizing Enterprise as a replacement. Even so refitting the shuttle with all of the essential equipment required for it to be employed in space was deemed, but as an alternative it was decided to use spares constructed at the very same time as Discovery and Atlantis to construct Endeavour.


In 2003, soon after the breakup of Columbia in the course of re-entry, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board carried out tests at Southwest Study Institute, which utilized an air gun to shoot foam blocks of related size, mass and speed to that which struck Columbia at a test structure which mechanically replicated the orbiter wing top edge. They removed a fiberglass panel from Enterprise’s wing to carry out evaluation of the material and attached it to the test structure, then shot a foam block at it. Although the panel was not broken as a result of the test, the effect was enough to permanently deform a seal. As the reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) panel on Columbia was two.5 times weaker, this recommended that the RCC leading edge would have been shattered. Extra tests on the fiberglass had been canceled in order not to threat damaging the test apparatus, and a panel from Discovery was tested to determine the effects of the foam on a similarly-aged RCC leading edge. On July 7, 2003, a foam effect test produced a hole 41&nbspcm by 42.five&nbspcm (16.1&nbspinches by 16.7&nbspinches) in the protective RCC panel. The tests clearly demonstrated that a foam effect of the kind Columbia sustained could seriously breach the protective RCC panels on the wing top edge.

The board determined that the probable lead to of the accident was that the foam impact caused a breach of a reinforced carbon-carbon panel along the leading edge of Columbia’s left wing, permitting hot gases generated in the course of re-entry to enter the wing and lead to structural collapse. This brought on Columbia to spin out of control, breaking up with the loss of the entire crew.

Museum exhibit

Enterprise was stored at the Smithsonian’s hangar at Washington Dulles International Airport before it was restored and moved to the newly built Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum‘s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, exactly where it has been the centerpiece of the space collection. On April 12, 2011, NASA announced that Space Shuttle Discovery, the most traveled orbiter in the fleet, will be added to the collection as soon as the Shuttle fleet is retired. When that happens, Enterprise will be moved to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City, to a newly constructed hangar adjacent to the museum. In preparation for the anticipated relocation, engineers evaluated the vehicle in early 2010 and determined that it was protected to fly on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft once once again.