The SR-71 Blackbird- a bit of interesting information

January 5, 2008 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Jet, Plane | Leave a comment
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The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a US spy plane which first flew in 1964. It was used to spy mostly on Russia for many years. It was first built to replace the Lockheed U2, another older spy plane. The U2 was very good but when one was shot down by a Russian interceptor, it was thought that a new, better spy plane was needed. In those days, when Stealth technology did not exist, the way to make spy planes hard to detect and hard to shoot down was speed and height. Though no longer in service, the SR-71 has set many speed and height records and remains the fastest (with speeds of over Mach 3.2) and highest (with heights of about 85,000 feet) flying plane ever built. Now speed and height is not needed quite so much for spy planes, thanks to Stealth technology, making a plane invisible to radar.

The SR-71 Blackbird was developed from the A-12 Blackbird which looks so similar it is almost impossible to tell them apart. Originally it was going to be designated as the RS-71 for Reconnaisance Strike. But the USAF chief of staff (Curtis LeMay) wanted to call it the SR-71 for Strategic Reconnaisance, which he preferred. So, he modified President Johnson’s speech about the aircraft to say SR-71 instead of RS-71, which created the belief that Johnson had made a mistake. It was easy to believe that Johnson had made a mistake, as he had done it before, calling the A-12 the A-11.

Another close cousin of the SR-71 Blackbird is the YF-12 Blackbird. This, also looking extremely similar (except the end of the nose) was a high speed interceptor version of the SR-71. It was never used.

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The SR-71 can be seen at Duxford Aviation Museum

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A-12 BlackbirdSR-71 BlackbirdYF-12 Blackbird

Left: A-12 Blackbird from http://greyfalcon.us/

Middle: SR-71 Blackbird from http://www.globalaircraft.org

Right: YF-12 Blackbird from http://www.wvi.com

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