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Old 27th June 2017, 10:03   #1
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Default A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

When people generally go to the USA, it's the same old yada yada New York City, Hollywood, blah blah blah they want to see. I was damn sure what I wanted to see ! And I fortunately had the chance to see one the greatest man made machine ever made. On the way to New Orleans from Chicago, I had the chance to stop by at a base to see a dinosaur like no other !

Throughout history man has developed from ape to cave man with a spear and rudimentary tools. But since the beginning of mankind there has never been such a marvelous creation that has traversed this earth with such grace and elegance especially at this bird's speeds, especially with the sleek sinister and sexy sharpness it exudes.

To say that the SR-71 is a marvel of the mind (since it began in the mind) and an engineering feat is an understatement. I consider myself quite lucky to have been in the presence of a machine that is faster than a bullet ().

Brief history on the bird:

The SR-71 is a Mach 3+ long-range reconnaissance spy plane developed by Lockheed during the 1960s for an obvious reason. To give America an edge over the Russians, North Koreans, and Vietnamese as far as aerospace warfare and tactics were concerned. The U-2 was a spy plane that was a predecessor to this but it was high flying but slow. Altitude didn't mean much - this was clear when the U-2 was shot down in Cuba by a missile sparking a huge diplomatic row. The CIA knew something had to be different.

That's when they gave a contract to Lockheed to build the ultimate reconnaissance and spy plane - the aircraft personification of James Bond of the skies.

Specs
Max Speed: Mach 3.3 at 80,000 Feet (so high up you can see curvature of earth - a perfect plane to crush any flat earth believers ) (Kashmir to Sri Lanka in less than an hour)
Range: 3000 miles
Engines: Pratt & Whitney J75


Fun Facts:
1.Mach 3.5 is claimed by a former pilot to have been achieved while outrunning a missile over Libya in 1986.)
2. Once set the record for flying from New York to London in 1 hour and 54 minutes.
3. The chines—the knife-like tapered edges of the fuselage—were even coated with early radar-absorbent iron-ferrite paint to help lower radar detection ranges.
4. Most of all the most mind boggling fun fact is if a missile was ever aimed at this thing all the pilot had to do was increase speed and it couldn't be touched.


P.S.: We had a slight issue at the air base where this thing was parked. The friend I went with is from a communist country - and they took our IDs at the gates and were suspicious. Two American military suited men escorted us through the entire visit and were watchful of us though they gave us our space ! Maybe they thought my friend from the communist country was here to steal a part or something !

Picture yourself sitting in this thing and being told that there's a missile coming after you, a normal airplane would become tandoori but with this thing you just increase throttle and altitude and problem solved.
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Last edited by D33-PAC : 27th June 2017 at 10:16.
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Old 27th June 2017, 10:24   #2
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Beautiful!

Long back I watched a program on NatGeo and it was amazing to see what all they had to do to build this. Some of the points that I remember are
  • The name was actually supposed to be RS-71. But in the press announcement, the president read it as SR-71 and they continued with it.
  • The raw material was available in USSR and US had to create fake companies all over the world to buy the metal from USSR.
  • The fuel tank was designed to be completely sealed only when it the plane is hot (it is hot when the plane is in air) and hence, the plane was always leaking fuel when parked.
  • And because of this leak, the fuel was a special one with very high flash point and even on contact with fire, it was not ignited.

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 27th June 2017 at 10:26.
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Old 27th June 2017, 10:38   #3
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Brilliant, brilliant pics!

Reminded me of this famous anecdote about the SR-71

http://tribunist.com/technology/sr-7...d-speed-check/

Cheers,
Vikram

Last edited by comfortablynumb : 27th June 2017 at 10:42.
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Old 27th June 2017, 10:46   #4
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Interesting. However, in today's day and age of hypersonic missiles, this plane would be redundant since Mach 4 SAMs are becoming a reality with ramjet technology.

Beautiful bird nonetheless and a pioneer for sure. Thanks for sharing.

Did you get a chance to step inside? any cockpit pics?
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Old 27th June 2017, 11:10   #5
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Very nice, I’m a big fan of this plane, thanks for sharing. I have seen several around the world. Met up with one of it’s former pilots too.

These pictures were taken at Duxford, UK (link to thread)



It’s engine:



Just if you’re interested, here are all the locations you can still see a SR71:

Name:  map.gif
Views: 11033
Size:  13.5 KB

Link

There are some really interesting books around on this plane too.

Jeroen

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 27th June 2017 at 20:34. Reason: Re-uploaded last pic from the link and shared the link. Thanks!
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Old 27th June 2017, 12:14   #6
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post

These pictures were taken at Duxford, UK
Why would such a national treasure be allowed to be displayed overseas ? Brits and Americans are that close ?

Espionage is a serious thing especially with Chinese gov nuts about one-upping everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by himanshugoswami View Post

Did you get a chance to step inside? any cockpit pics?
Unfortunately no. Oh man if I did that'd be a remarkable once in a lifetime thing.
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Old 27th June 2017, 12:56   #7
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

@hehanth.anand; Are we talking about Titanium? Yes, the Soviets have the lead in Titanium metallurgy. Remember most Ti components are made with Powder Metallurgy. However, i guess the skin was not made that way.

Remember the production MiG 25 - Foxbat was Ti clad. When the two parts of Germany were reunited the Luftwaffe inherited some Foxbats. The yanks were initially dismissive of the 'mottled' Ti skin. It was only later they realized the surface retained the air close to it, and helped in the performance. Yes, the range of the SR71 was phenomenal. From the pics it is also obvious that the SR71 had a lot of stealth elements - compare with thr B1!

Last edited by tsk1979 : 29th June 2017 at 12:21.
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Old 27th June 2017, 14:27   #8
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Thanks for sharing, brought back memories of Fredrick Forsyth's 'Devils Alternative'.
Aerospace technology advanced a lot back then, the Concorde and Tu144 were other engineering marvels.
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Old 27th June 2017, 16:25   #9
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Quote:
Originally Posted by D33-PAC View Post
To say that the SR-71 is a marvel of the mind (since it began in the mind) and an engineering feat is an understatement. I consider myself quite lucky to have been in the presence of a machine that is faster than a bullet ().
The SR-71 along with Concorde would be two aeronautical gems which would be any enthusiast's dream to see once. You, sir are a very lucky person to see it in flesh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
VThere are some really interesting books around on this plane too.
Jeroen
I remember when i read about this in Skunkworks and being awestruck at the engineering marvel that this beauty is. Lovely book to read if you love anything about planes.
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Old 27th June 2017, 16:26   #10
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Quote:
Originally Posted by D33-PAC View Post
Why would such a national treasure be allowed to be displayed overseas ? Brits and Americans are that close ?

Espionage is a serious thing especially with Chinese gov nuts about one-upping everyone.
Yes, the Brits and the Americans have always been close when it comes to military cooperation and intelligence sharing. Or at least ever since the second world war. There is a lot of formal and informal exchange of information and of course they are part of NATO as well.

Duxford is an old Second World War airfield, the Americans at the time had a huge presence. It is one of the best and probably largest aviation museums in the world. I visit it regularly. Due to it’s American history the American have their own hanger on the field/musueum as well. Anything from a B52, SR71, B29, B17, F4, T33 etc. etc. is on display.

I wrote about one of my visits here:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/shifti...uxford-uk.html (Imperial War Museum Duxford, UK)

Or have a look here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iw...can-air-museum.

It is up for debate what defines an aircraft as a national treasure. When it comes to military planes I would think planes such as the B52, B17, B29, P51 Mustang and C47 have had a much more pronounced and visible impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across multiple continent. You will find many fine examples of these planes across the globe in museums as well.

Bear in mind this SR71 is very dated, nothing secret about it anymore. Every detail is known. All manuals are online, endless very detailled books describing every detail have been available for many years. Even most of the mission records have been de-classified I seem to recall?

I haven't seen all the SR71 on display in the USA. I’ve seen about 5-6. But the one in Duxfor is particular nice. It is very well preserved and you can actually walk right up to it. The one on display on the various carriers are a bit in a sorry state of repair. The one in Kansas and in the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace museum are nice but suspended in the air. Looks cool, but you can’t get near.

Even so, if you ever get the change to visit the SAC museum do, it’s great!

http://sacmuseum.org/what-to-see/air...71a-blackbird/

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgiitk View Post
Yes, the range of the SR71 was phenomenal. From the pics it is also obvious that the SR71 had a lot of stealth elements - compare with thr B1!
Well, yes and no. It was a large range for a supersonic aircraft. But at those speeds it meant it had to be refueled (in the air) every hour! So missions had to planned very carefully. Where and when to ascend and accelerate and subsequently descend and de-celerate to hook up with a tanker such as KC130.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KMT View Post
Aerospace technology advanced a lot back then, the Concorde and Tu144 were other engineering marvels.
It did. The SR71 is one of the planes that came out of Lockheed’s famous Skunkworks. What is even more amazing is the pace at which they developed these groundbreaking new aircraft. Literally only a few years, from idea to a plane in the air.

Much has been said about Concorde and Tu144 already. Concorde was brilliant and to date is the only plane that could maintain supersonic speed (Mach 2) up to several hours, carrying about a hundred passengers in perfect comfort. Whereas the Tu144 actually flew a few months before the first Concorde, it was at the end of the day a poorly designed and developed plane. It was plagues with many technical problems that never got sorted. (even some of the Concorde design staff helped out).

Jeroen

Last edited by tsk1979 : 29th June 2017 at 12:22.
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Old 27th June 2017, 17:31   #11
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!



My My ...... I'm sure my brain doesn't have so many veins as the veins on this engine . Amazing, amazing machine if you recall that all of this was developed in 1960's
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Old 27th June 2017, 19:30   #12
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Originally Posted by sajid33 View Post
Amazing, amazing machine if you recall that all of this was developed in 1960's
Yes, it is amazing, especially considering the very short development and design process. Some of the technologies they used, did not exist, some of the basic research did to exist, some of the materials did not exist. And they did it all within a few years and with hardly no computers at all. This was still the era of sliderules by and large!

Jeroen
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Old 27th June 2017, 19:50   #13
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What's more interesting about the plane is that it is developed at Area-51, a land of legends and many myths. Most people mistake Nevada for being synonymous with Las Vegas and a desert but it gave birth to the development of one of the most incredible machines ever made.
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Old 27th June 2017, 20:11   #14
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgiitk View Post
Remember the production MiG 25 - Foxbat was Ti clad. When the two parts of Germany were reunited the Luftwaffe inherited some Foxbats.
The LSK(East German AF) never had MiG-25s in their fleet, though Soviet MiG-25s may have been based at East German air bases. After unification of the two Germanys, the Luftwaffe had operational control over ex-LSK MiG-21s, 23s, 29s, Su-17/22s and other soviet built helicopters and transports.

Except the MiG-29s, which the Luftwaffe retained in both air defense and aggressor roles, all other assets were either obsolete or incompatible with NATO technical standards, and were sold to other countries. So, MiG-25s were never a part of the Luftwaffe.
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Old 27th June 2017, 20:42   #15
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Default re: A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!

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Originally Posted by D33-PAC View Post
When people generally go to the USA, it's the same old yada yada New York City
I am smiling at this statement, because I saw my only SR-71 very much in yada yada NYC, at pier 86. Although, some say it is the A-12, the predecessor of SR-71. I don't know enough to differentiate them.

This was shot 3 weeks before 9/11 attack, I am the one in green shirt in front of the aircraft.

A day with the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest aircraft!-dcp_0233.jpg
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