SR71 Blackbird

USAFSS-ColdWarrior

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Guyfang

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I saw the SR-71C at Hill, back about 2004 I think. I had spent a year in Roy Utah, right outside the Hill AFB, in 1971. We were visiting friends and family, so I took my boys over to look at it. What a bird! Much hated by the ground crew. It had serious maintenance problems. Problem being that it wasn't a fruit, and it wasn't a vegetable. After the Air Force lost SR-71B, serial number 64-17957 (two seat trainer) in 1968 over California, the Air Force quickly realised they needed another Trainer. The Air Force still had SR-71B serial number 64-17956, but having only one trainer was not good. Too much time on the airframe. Too much maintenance needed to be pulled on the bird, not enough flight time. So the decision was made to take a static test specimen, (and I would dearly love to know if it ever had a serial number!) and mate it to a YF-12A, serial number 60-6934 that had been damaged in 1966. All these planes were basically hand built. And the SR-71C was even worse. It never flew "right". It had a serious yaw to it, due to it being a shake and bake bird. That's why it was called "The Junkyard Dog" in front of kids, and "The Bas*ard" by the crew. When the bird was shipped to Hill AFB, it had been badly looted. The Air Force removed many items from the bird to keep other planes up and flying. The YF-12 part of the bird had about 180 hours on it, the SR-71C had about 550 hours on it.


I watched some of the other youtube films on the SR-71. All good, and very interesting. But there are some things that were "forgotten". Take note, that there is little, or no mention is given of the A-12. If you watch these documentaries, you would thing that the SR-71 dropped out of the sky, from heaven. There is much trumpeted about the SR-71, but it's not all just like it's presented. One reason is that the A-12 project was purposely kept under wraps long after the SR-71 was unveiled. There is still much talk of the fact that the A-12 was probably faster then the SR-71, and it definitely flew higher. The A-12 flew many combat missions, and was still flying up until the SR-71 was just getting started with missions. The big difference was the Air Force was flying the SR-71. The C.I.A. was flying the A12. The "Company" kept hold of its information up until the mid 90's. By that time, everyone knew about the SR-71. There were books out on the market. But not the A-12. All surviving birds were hidden away in a Lockheed hanger. Take a gander at the Youtube stuff on the A-12.
 
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Tracer

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YF-12A.jpg Photo of the YF-12A in flight. Guyfang ya got me digging. More to come...
 
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Tracer

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M-21 1.jpgM-21 2.jpgM-21 3.jpgM-21 4.jpgM-21 5.jpgM-21 6.jpgD-21 Drone 2.jpgB-52_with_two_D-21s.jpg Some photos of the only remaining M-21 with a D-21 reconnaissance drone attached. Some of the pictures are from the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The D-21 was booster launched from the M-21, SR-71 or B-52 aircraft, and then recovered by parachute. The mother craft could also activate a self destruct system on the drone should the drone malfunction. One drone was self destructed over China, and the remains are in a Chinese air museum.
 

Another Ahab

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View attachment 689220View attachment 689225 Some photos of the only remaining M-21 with a D-21 reconnaissance drone attached. Some of the pictures are from the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The D-21 was booster launched from the M-21, SR-71 or B-52 aircraft, and then recovered by parachute..
Excellent pic gallery, Tracer!

That Seattle Flight Museum is some kind of impressive. [thumbzup]

But then I'm guessing that it's sponsored by the Boeing Corporation, is that the story?
 
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USAFSS-ColdWarrior

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View attachment 689220View attachment 689221View attachment 689222View attachment 689223View attachment 689224View attachment 689225View attachment 689226View attachment 689227 Some photos of the only remaining M-21 with a D-21 reconnaissance drone attached. Some of the pictures are from the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The D-21 was booster launched from the M-21, SR-71 or B-52 aircraft, and then recovered by parachute. The mother craft could also activate a self destruct system on the drone should the drone malfunction. One drone was self destructed over China, and the remains are in a Chinese air museum.

Thanks for that.
Just for emphasis....

M-21 - The Mother ship.

D-21 - The Daughter ship - aka: Drone.

They were the Skunk Works' KELLY JOHNSON's designations that stuck.
 

Tracer

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Excellent pic gallery, Tracer!

That Seattle Flight Museum is some kind of impressive. [thumbzup]

But then I'm guessing that it's sponsored by the Boeing Corporation, is that the story?
Red Barn 0.jpgRed Barn 1.jpgRed Barn 2.jpgRed Barn 3.jpgRed Barn 4.jpgClipper 1.jpg Brother Ahab, this is the original Boeing Plant 1 built by William Boeing in 1916 (photo 1). The building was almost demolished in the 60s, but was saved, restored, and barged down river in 1975 to it's present location (photo 2,3,4,5), next to the Museum of Flight building. There were many Aircraft built at plant 1 over the years, included the Boeing P-26 peashooter, and the Boeing Clipper (photo 6). If you and the wife are ever in Seattle, the Museum of Flight is a must see, as well as the Seattle water front.........the restaurants there are amazing. PS Great craft beer too!
 

Guyfang

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View attachment 689220View attachment 689221View attachment 689222View attachment 689223View attachment 689224View attachment 689225View attachment 689226View attachment 689227 Some photos of the only remaining M-21 with a D-21 reconnaissance drone attached. Some of the pictures are from the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The D-21 was booster launched from the M-21, SR-71 or B-52 aircraft, and then recovered by parachute. The mother craft could also activate a self destruct system on the drone should the drone malfunction. One drone was self destructed over China, and the remains are in a Chinese air museum.
Here's a little info on the M-21.

The original project was called Operation Tagboard. Two A12, (tail number 69-640 and 69-641) aircraft were modified to carry a D-21 drone, (as seen in picture 5). Maiden flight was 22 Dec. 1964. The drone, (D-21) was also designed and built by Lockheed. It was also made of Titanium and composites like the entire Blackbird family. The drone was placed on a pylon, mounted on the back of the M-21. The "E" bay compartment, that normally held the huge camera that the A-12's carried was modified to accommodate the Launch Control Officer, (LCO). Flight testing was conducted, carrying the D-21 at ever increasing speeds and altitudes. At first the D-21 was given a ceramic cover, for and aft, to keep the air resistance down. But the first time the covers were deployed in a test, the damage to the drone was so great, that they were never used again. The primary aircraft used was 641 for testing, and 640 was used for chase and photo work. It was afterall, the only plane capable of keeping up! As testing went along, the drone was successfully launched on 3 July 1966. The third launch test, was conducted on 31 July, 1966, at Mach 3 +, at approx 72,000 feet, in aircraft 69-641, Piloted by Bill Parks, and the LCO position filled by Ray Torrick. The test area was approx. 300 miles west of Point Mugu, California, over open seas.

When the test was about to start, the LCO reported that the D-21 war receiving enough air, (Mach 3.2+) and released the drone with a burst of compressed air. The mission had been up till now flawless. From this point on, it went horribly wrong. Just as the drone started to lift away from the mother ship, the drone experienced an "Unstart". This caused the drone to slam back down into the pylon. The force of the drone hitting the pylon caused the aircraft to pitch-up. Bill Parks was unable to regain control of the aircraft. The immense pressure of air flow, (3.2 mach) on the aircraft Chine caused the aircraft to break apart. The forward section began to tumble out of control, the G force pinning the crew in the wreckage. The aircrew survival suits pressured up, but the crew could do nothing to escape the crew section as it plunged downward. At some point, Bill Parks managed to eject both himself and Ray Torricks out of the wreckage. Amazingly enough, both pilot and LCO survived the crash, and landing in the sea. But, sadly, Ray Torricks drowned. There has been much speculation as to why. One story was that he drowned in his suit, as it filled with water, and he was not able to remove his helmet. Another story told is that his floatation device was damaged, and forced his head under water. Bill Parks survived. He has survived more Mach3+ ejections then any man alive. This was not his only one.

Kelly Johnson was so upset by this loss of life, that he canceled the project. The link below, is a film narrated by Kelly Johnson that shows the breakup of 69-641 inflight.

https://youtu.be/GMyC2urCl_4?t=1
 
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Tracer

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Here's a little info on the M-21.

The original project was called Operation Tagboard. Two A12, (tail number 69-640 and 69-641) aircraft were modified to carry a D-21 drone, (as seen in picture 5). Maiden flight was 22 Dec. 1964. The drone, (D-21) was also designed and built by Lockheed. It was also made of Titanium and composites like the entire Blackbird family. The drone was placed on a pylon, mounted on the back of the M-21. The "E" bay compartment, that normally held the huge camera that the A-12's carried was modified to accommodate the Launch Control Officer, (LCO). Flight testing was conducted, carrying the D-21 at ever increasing speeds and altitudes. At first the D-21 was given a ceramic cover, for and aft, to keep the air resistance down. But the first time the covers were deployed in a test, the damage to the drone was so great, that they were never used again. The primary aircraft used was 641 for testing, and 640 was used for chase and photo work. It was afterall, the only plane capable of keeping up! As testing went along, the drone was successfully launched on 3 July 1966. The third launch test, was conducted on 31 July, 1966, at Mach 3 +, at approx 72,000 feet, in aircraft 69-641, Piloted by Bill Parks, and the LCO position filled by Ray Torrick. The test area was approx. 300 miles west of Point Mugu, California, over open seas.

When the test was about to start, the LCO reported that the D-21 war receiving enough air, (Mach 3.2+) and released the drone with a burst of compressed air. The mission had been up till now flawless. From this point on, it went horribly wrong. Just as the drone started to lift away from the mother ship, the drone experienced an "Unstart". This caused the drone to slam back down into the pylon. The force of the drone hitting the pylon caused the aircraft to pitch-up. Bill Parks was unable to regain control of the aircraft. The immense pressure of air flow, (3.2 mach) on the aircraft Chine caused the aircraft to break apart. The forward section began to tumble out of control, the G force pinning the crew in the wreckage. The aircrew survival suits pressured up, but the crew could do nothing to escape the crew section as it plunged downward. At some point, Bill Parks managed to eject both himself and Ray Torricks out of the wreckage. Amazingly enough, both pilot and LCO survived the crash, and landing in the sea. But, sadly, Ray Torricks drowned. There has been much speculation as to why. One story was that he drowned in his suit, as it filled with water, and he was not able to remove his helmet. Another story told is that his floatation device was damaged, and forced his head under water. Bill Parks survived. He has survived more Mach3+ ejections then any man alive. This was not his only one.

Kelly Johnson was so upset by this loss of life, that he canceled the project. The link below, is a film narrated by Kelly Johnson that shows the breakup of 69-641 inflight.

https://youtu.be/GMyC2urCl_4?t=1
Guyfang, I will assume that this accident is why the USAF began to launch the D-21 drone from a B-52 mother ship, and then equipping the D-21 with a rocket booster to achieve the correct speed and altitude, given the subsonic speed the B-52 mother ship. Also correct me if I'm wrong, I understand that the D-21 drone was used up in to the early 1980s. D-21_Booster_Launch.jpg
 

Guyfang

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As far as I know, the D-21 drone was never a big hit. It was modified to fly from the B52, made a number of missions over China. But one was shot down over China, and 3-4 made it back to the recovery point, only to be lost. I don't think it ever had a successful mission. It was used into the early 70's I think. I do remember a article in Air & Space about someone seeing some at the Davis Monaham Air Force bone yard. Some guy was taking pictures and after a dust storm, saw a drone next to the fence and shot a picture. ITs my understanding that the drone he photographed is the one on desply with 69-640. This sounds like I need to look around. Might be some more story's to dig up.

Well, I stand corrected on several points. It pays to read a bit every so often.

1. Project canceled in 1971.
2. First operational mission into China, was a flop. Drone flew away, past its target, and proceeded to crash in Siberia.
3. The next 3-4 missions were looking good, until recovery time. All failed to be recovered.
4. Last operational mission, crashed in China. The wreck is on display.
5. This was one of the few failures to ever come out of the Skunk Works. Most launches failed to fly.
 
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Tracer

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Thanks Chaplain. I always wondered why the SR-71 used JP-7 fuel, and now I know, along with a lot of other interesting details found in this video.[thumbzup]
 

Guyfang

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Here are two pictures of mine, you will probably see no where else. I got them from the Lockheed Skunk Works. Why are they so special? They are "doctored". At the time they were taken, the program was VERY secret. To prevent the Russians from guessing exactly where all this was going on, the backgrounds were "washed out". The location was Palmdale. The backround mountains very distinctive. May of the older pictures were doctored. Any time you see a press package picture, with the backround very clearly shown, then these pictures are mostly newer. The package I got from the Skunk Works explained that many of the old, undoctored pictures have disappeared. He meant stolen, or lost. The top picture is an A-12. The bottom a SR-71. For the life of me, I could not rotate the pictures, forgive me.




View attachment 60-6936.pdf

View attachment 64-17973.pdf
 

USAFSS-ColdWarrior

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LA Speed Story

I posted this over in the JOKES thread. But after careful consideration, thought it would be great to archive it here as well.....



We have often read what is "officially" known as the LA SPEED STORY in these forums, magazines and other print media. It's been shared around many a campfire as well. But I have never, until now, heard the story told by the actual pilot (a woman no less) without editorial (or a drunken storyteller's) embellishment.... Simply the first-person "report" of actual event.

BTW: The audio is GREAT, and someone did a good job on the video presentation as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg73GKm7GgI&feature=youtu.be

Carry on.
 
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