Originally posted by iskander
“Only one small U.S. company milled titanium, but sold it in sheets of wildly varying quality. We had no idea how to extrude it, push it through
various shapes or weld or rivet or drill it. Drilling bits used for aluminium simply broke into pieces trying to pierce titaniums unyeilding hide.
This exotic alloy would undoubtably break our tools as well as our spirits.”
And then a miracle happens.
what-lies-beneith, believe what you want.
On one hand we have a crew that literally developed titanium use in aircraft, they were all out of their jobs, and most end up working for US
On the other hand we have a crew that’s been operating since 1943, and taking on a project of such magnitude with out ever worked with titanium, and
end up creating a Mach 3 UFO.
I believe in miracles too, but when it comes to aerospace engineering, it’s a learning curve based on trial and error.
Advanced aircraft like SR don’t just appear from nowhere, previous and extensive experience with high speed, high temperature, high tolerance
EVERYTHING is simply necessary.
If you really believe that a crew that never worked with titanium can put together a bird that actually stretches in flight, and did it with out
outside help, I can only say that Iranians might as well miraculously come up with a 5th gen stealth fighter, even though they never worked with
The use of titanium in aircraft wasn't new at all when the A-12/SR-71 made its entrance. It all really started in 1940
, when Krolls new,
superior process of titanium production found its way onto the playing field and was quickly adopted by many metallurgical companies. Only a few years
later (around 1944-45) the US DoD finalized their assessment of the metal that they could now potentially have proper access to (as opposed to the
situation with the previous inefficient extraction methods that were hugely expensive and at the end of the day yielded insufficient amounts for large
scale industry and applications). Seeing its benefits, they subsequently began promoting it to be adopted by the aerospace industry. Heeding the call,
many aircraft manufacturers immediately
began researching it.
This initial research on the use of titanium in aerospace first bore fruit in the Douglas X-3 (conceived only yet another few years later, approved
for prototyping in 1949, first flew in 1952) and the North American F-100 (approved in 1951, first flew in 1954). The X-3 was a high speed research
craft and the first to be designed with substantial amounts of titanium incorporated in the airframe, the F-100 followed suite and was a more
successful project that met its goals and being a combat aircraft also ended up on duty (the X-3 fell far short of its performance goals during its
job as a research aircraft, mainly due to weak engines and flawed understanding of aerodynamics, e.g. pre-Whitcomb). Titanium also made its way into
the structure to varying extents of other projects around that time and in the following years. Too numerous to mention, really, but for example the
Convair B-58, the North American A-5, the Convair F-102 and F-106 and so on.
So at this point we've had access to (and therefore knowledge of) titanium since the 1800's, proper research on it since the early 1900's, proper
large scale production since the early 40's, aircraft manufacturers taking a good look at titanium since the mid-40's, ditto incorporating it in
actual designs from the late 40's and production of aircraft utilizing the metal from the early 50's and on.
Obviously good ol' Lockheed was no exception, they began incorporating titanium as an important component of projected designs at the same time as the
others. By 1957 they had spent quite some time observing what others did with the metal, they had trialled it in minor components before and they felt
ready to incorporate it on a larger scale (and hopefully beating others to it, especially Convair who was competing with them about the new
interceptor contract at that point). By 1960 the basic A-12/SR-71 design was finalised and approved. The A-12 with a liberal use of titanium flew in
1962, being the culmination of a 17 year long titanium race.
At the same time, the Soviets were just as immersed in titanium (and had an advantage vis a vis the US with much greater access to it as well). They
incorporated it in components starting in the mid-50's and by the 60's they began using it on a grand scale, for example for the titanium hulled
Soviet submarine K-162 that set sail in 1964.
So where's the "miracle" at? Because I don't see it. Anecdotes about how hard it was to work with is a different story. It was always hard to work
with, but not impossible at all (in fact, titanium machining was around pre-Kroll, albeit on a much smaller scale). It's hard to climb Mt. Everest too
but people do it all the time even though it's a pain in the butt.
edit on 27-3-2013 by entoman because: (no reason given)