Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
|An SR-71B trainer over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1994. The raised second cockpit is for the instructor.|
|Role||Strategic reconnaissance aircraft|
|National origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||Lockheed, Skunk Works division|
|Designer||Clarence "Kelly" Johnson|
|First flight||22 December 1964|
|Retired||1998 (USAF), 1999 (NASA)|
|Primary users||United States Air Force|
|Developed from||Lockheed A-12|
Design[change | change source]
The Blackbird was designed to fly at more than Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound. This meant it would become very hot during flight. To help with this, most of the aircraft was made of titanium. Radar absorbing material was also used to make the aircraft more difficult to .
SR-71 Blackbird used a special fuel called JP-7. Before the flight, the fuel tanks used to leak. This is because at ground altitude the tolerances (distance between parts of the fuel tank) were larger than at the plane's cruising altitude. Once in the air, because of the speed and air resistance, the parts became very hot. Because of this heat, the distance between the parts shrank stopping the loss of fuel.
History[change | change source]
The first Blackbird flight happened on December 22, 1964 in Palmdale, California. In January 1966, the first aircraft entered service with the USAF. No aircraft were lost in war but one crashed in an accident in 1969. Only 32 aircraft were built. Its final flight was on March 6, 1990, Blackbird S/N 61-7972. The SR-71 program was retired from service in 1998.
Records[change | change source]
The aircraft flew at an altitude of over 80,000 feet (24,000 m) and at speeds over 2,190 miles per hour (3,520 km/h). It held the world record for the jet-powered flight, flying at Mach 3.2. The record was broken in March 2004 by NASA's X-43A aircraft.
Specification[change | change source]
The SR-71 Blackbird had two crew members. It could carry 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) of equipment.
Technical data (SR-71A)[change | change source]
|Years of production||1960-1978|
|Wing area||167,22 m²|
|Weight (empty)||27.216 kg|
|Max takeoff weight||77.110 kg|
|Service ceiling||25.900 m|
|Powerplant||2x Pratt & Whitney J58|
|Power||2x 14.750 kp|