posted on Mar, 6 2007 @ 10:32 AM
Here are some interesting Blckbird facts:
There were four major types of Blackbirds built:
A-12 single-seat reconnaissance aircraft operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
YF-12A interceptor operated by the USAF and capable of launching air-to-air missiles. It had a pilot and a Fire Control Officer (FCO).
M-21 mothership for D-21 reconnaissance drone. It had a pilot and a Launch Control Officer (LCO).
SR-71 dual-seat reconnaissance aircraft operated by U.S. Air Force. It had a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Operator (RSO).
There were also trainer versions of the A-12 and SR-71. These were called the TA-12, SR-71B, and SR-71C. They had a second cockpit for an instructor
pilot. It was located above and behind the student cockpit. The SR-71C was a trainer built from the front half of a static test SR-71 fuselage, the
aft section of the first YF-12A, and a new instructor’s cockpit. It replaced the second SR-71B that crashed on 11 January 1968.
The D-21 drone is a smaller member of the Blackbird family. It was an unpiloted, ramjet-powered drone that launched from a pylon on top of the M-21
mothership. It was designed to fly at speeds of Mach 3.5 and altitudes up to 90,000 feet while carrying a camera over hostile territory. Film
packages were designed to be dropped for mid-air recovery by a C-130 crew. The D-21B was a later model, built after an accident precluded further use
of the M-21 as a launch platform. The D-21B was designed for launch from a B-52H.
The Blackbird is comprised of about 85-percent titanium (with stainless steel and some aluminum and other alloys) and 15% composite materials
(primarily asbestos-silicone laminates). The YF-12A, TA-12 and the first A-12 lacked the composite anti-radar material edge treatments.
How many Blackbirds were built?
A-12 (single-seat, Reconnaissance, CIA) 12
TA-12 (Trainer) 1
M-21 (Mothership) 2
YF-12A (Interceptor) 3
SR-71A (dual-seat, Reconnaissance, USAF) 29
SR-71B (Trainer) 2
SR-71C (Trainer) 1
D-21 (Drone, 16 later converted to D-21B) 20
D-21B (18 plus 16 converted from original D-21) 34
Sometimes, in reference to the joint USAF/NASA YF-12 research program (1969-1979), we see reference to a "YF-12C." It was actually the second SR-71A
built (serial no. 61-7951), as flown by NASA from July 1971 through September 1978. The bogus designation was used to hide the fact that NASA was
operating the SR-71. It was given a tail number from a (then secret) A-12. The number, 06937, fell into the same sequence as NASA’s YF-12A aircraft
(06935 and 06936). NASA announced that the "YF-12C" would be the third aircraft in the program, but the announcement came on the day that one of the
YF-12A aircraft (60-6936) crashed so that left YF-12A (60-6935) and the "YF-12C" to complete the program.
The maximum design cruise speed was Mach 3.2. Slightly higher speeds have been achieved when conditions permitted. Speed was limited by compressor
inlet temperature restrictions.
Fastest known flights:
YF-12A (60-6936) – Mach 3.14 (2,070 mph), USAF, official record, 1 May 1965
A-12 (60-6928) – Mach 3.29 (2,171 mph), CIA, unofficial record, 8 May 1965
SR-71A (61-7958) – Mach 3.32 (2,193 mph), USAF, official record, 28 July 1976
The Blackbirds were designed to fly as high as 90,000 feet, but typically operated between 70,000 and 85,000 feet.
Highest known flights:
YF-12A (60-6936) – 80,257 feet, USAF, official record, 1 May 1965
SR-71A (61-7962) – 85,068 feet, USAF, official record, 28 July 1976
SR-71A (61-7953) – 86,700 feet (cruise), USAF, unofficial record, CAT II test, 1968
SR-71A (61-7953) – 89,650 feet (zoom), USAF, unofficial record, CAT II test, 1968
A-12 (60-6932) – 90,000 feet, CIA, unofficial record, 14 August 1965
A total of 20 Blackbirds have crashed. They include five of the A-12 model, two YF-12A interceptors, one M-21 while launching a D-21 drone, ten
SR-71A and two SR-71B trainers.
The last Blackbird flight took place on 9 October 1999 at the Edwards AFB Air Show and Open House when SR-71A (61-7980 / NASA 844) achieved 80,100
feet and Mach 3.21.
[edit on 6-3-2007 by Shadowhawk]
[edit on 6-3-2007 by Shadowhawk]