They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

51 71 Flight

So... 23 December 1963 (io9 article on the engines) or 22 December 1963 (Wikipedia) was the first test flight of the legendary Lockheed SR-71.

Of course the whole history of the Mach 3+ superplane is both murky and convoluted.

The whole line includes the single-seater CIA A-12 ***, prototype USAF interceptor YF-12A, drone carrier M-21 (the single engined D-21 drones were carried on the back) and the two-seater SR-71A, SR-71B trainer and "the bastard" SR-71C trainer kitbashed from the YF-12A and an SR-71 rear section that had been used for engine testing. The latter had a reputation for not flying straight. (grin)

Anyway, it amazes me that the whole SR-71 program came and went during my life.

Alas, I have never seen an SR-71. But SR-71B two-seat trainer tail number 61-7956 is at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo -- I have yet to make a pilgrimage to see it.

And one of my favorite pictures of an SR-71B -- too big to embed here.

Dr. Phil

*** Adding to the confusion over the years, I often would read about the CIA A-11s. And wasn't A the designation for attack aircraft like the A-6 and the A-10 Warthog? As near as I can figure out, Archangle was the Skunk Works Mach 3 successor to Angel, which became the U-2 spyplane -- U for Utility to make the plane sound boring. By the A-11 design, the project was about to be greenlit. But they switched from a single tail to the iconic twin tails from the A-11 to the A-12 design, and the A-12 is what was built. So that's why there are A-12 and YF-12A actual aircraft.

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