Lockheed Blackbird Family

Unread postPosted: 06 Oct 2007, 22:17
by parrothead
Most of the people around here know about the A-12 AKA Project Oxcart. I suspect that not many have heard this story, however :wink: .

I got to videotape some of the old hands at the Road Runners reunion when they got up to speak about their time up at "The Ranch" and some of what happened up there. One of the speakers was Brigadier-General (Retired) Dennis Sullivan. Gen. Sullivan was one of the A-12 pilots who flew the jet out of Groom Lake as well as out of Kadena, Okinawa on operational missions. Gen. Sullivan's entire presentation (I got it all on tape) was great - especially hearing about the time he had six or seven SA-2 missiles launched at him over North Vietnam and how he was able to watch them push over at about 90,000 feet, go to pursuit, and detonate behind the jet before they could catch him. There was only one fragment of a missile found in the chine area which was about the size of a fingernail - and he still has it 8) .

One of the stories he told was about the world record that would never be broken - Mach 3.2 with the landing gear down :shock: ! No, he wasn't the pilot who did it, but it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard :lmao: !

Here's the video of Gen. Sullivan telling that story:

Click here to see the video

Enjoy :thumb: !

RE: A-12 Oxcart - Mach 3.2 and GEAR DOWN

Unread postPosted: 06 Oct 2007, 23:32
by flames
Is the A-12 AKA Project Oxcart like a SR-71 blackbird??

Unread postPosted: 07 Oct 2007, 05:39
by parrothead
Flames,

Yep, the A-12 was the first of the family and looks very much like an SR-71 :wink: . The main differences were that the A-12 was a single seat jet with one big sensor bay (or "Q-bay") while the SR-71 carried a pilot and a reconnaisance systems officer (RSO) and had four Q-bays. The A-12 could fly higher and faster than the SR-71 but was judged to be less versatile. One other detail - the A-12 wasn't declassified until 1982 :shock: !

For a comparison of the A-12 and SR-71 by the CIA, click here.

Here's a picture of each aircraft. A couple of differences that aren't as visible are that the A-12 was a bit shorter, had a much shorter "tail stub" behind the line of the elevons. Also, there's a somewhat sharper taper of the chines from the sides of the aircraft to the tip of the nose on the A-12 than on the SR-71. Lots of good info over on www.roadrunnersinternationale.com :)

Unread postPosted: 11 Oct 2007, 03:55
by Scorpion1alpha
That's amazing! Wonder how the gears didn't rip off or how the aircraft still reach or attained that speed!?!

Unread postPosted: 11 Oct 2007, 14:38
by Guysmiley
The gear was fine because he was at a relatively low indicated airspeed. At high altitude the speed of sound is lower than at sea level. He was at Mach 3.2 but 300 knots indicated airspeed, the airstream "felt" like 300 knots at sea level. He said the pilot nosed up to slow a little, I don't know what the Vne is for the A-12 but the SR-71's nominal gear extension speed is 250 knots. Great story! :D

Unread postPosted: 12 Oct 2007, 05:13
by johnwill
Yes, the speed of sound is somewhat lower at altitude than at sea level, but that has little to do with the airstream "feeling" like 300 knots at sea level. 3.2 mach at sea level is 2117 kts true airspeed, while at 80,000 ft it is 1833 kt true airspeed. The reason it "feels" like 300 kt is the much lower density of air at higher altitudes (3% of sea level at 80,000 ft).

Dropping the gear at 3.2 mach, even if it was only 300 kt IAS, was a dangerous thing to do. The gear, especially the doors, was designed for 300 kt subsonic. 300 kt at 3.2 mach would have essentially the same air pressures on the doors, but the distribution of the pressures would be radically different and could have easily torn the doors off, rupturing skin panels, fuel tanks, hydraulics, and control surfaces on the way out. .

The pilot did not know it was dangerous because he followed the -1 limit, 300 kias. So whoever put the limit in the -1 was at fault. The F-16 -1 gear down limit is 300 kias / .65 mach.

Unread postPosted: 12 Oct 2007, 08:36
by parrothead
Scorpion1alpha,

I think a bit of background might help :) . Many of the early A-12 flights took off from Groom and headed northeast over Mountain Home AFB before looping back down over the base. These missions were unrefueled and with the airplane light on fuel, the A-12 could be up around 90,000 feet and Mach 3.2 or higher during flight test. At that speed and altitude it took quite a while to slow down - usually going nearly down to Mexico. Another one of the pilots told me that the pilot who dropped the gear had pulled the nose up to see if he could get up around 100,000 feet, then thought he'd like to get down to the base quicker than taking the long slow down route. With no speedbrakes, he figured he'd use the landing gear to add some drag to the aircraft :wink: . So it wasn't about reaching or maintaining speed and altitude, but losing it instead.

Guysmiley,

Glad you liked it :thumb: ! I would've been worried about thermal effects on the gear as well - it wasn't designed for direct aerodynamic heating.

johnwill,

Thanks for stepping up and explaining the differences 8) ! Your thoughts about ripping the skin and tanks go together especially closely with the A-12, YF-12, M-21, and SR-71 because most of the fuel tanks use the outer skin of the aircraft as the outer wall of the fuel tank! Rip that open and you'd better get ready to eject.

Glad y'all liked it :thumb: !

Unread postPosted: 03 Dec 2007, 03:00
by FlightDreamz
As far as differences between the YF-12 and the SR-71 go, didn't the YF-12 have an infrared sensor and a LLTV in the
leading edge of the fuselage chines (which where cutback on the YF-12)?

Unread postPosted: 03 Dec 2007, 08:09
by parrothead
FlightDreamz,

Close on the YF-12 :wink: . The shortened chines on both sides had IR sensors. I didn't know how they were supposed to function at those speeds and temps until I asked Jim Eastham who flew some of the missile launch missions and also flew the YB-58 outfitted with them and the missiles for flight test. It turns out that they were cooled by liquid argon :shock: !

Another big difference in the YF-12 vs. SR-71 was the radar up front and the shape of the nose to house that antenna. Of course, there were also the missile bays etc.

Unread postPosted: 05 Dec 2007, 05:44
by habu2
YF-12:

Image

Image

Unread postPosted: 05 Dec 2007, 08:24
by parrothead
Thanks for the great pics Habu2 :thumb: !

A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 12 Dec 2007, 20:13
by snypa777
If anyone is interested, the A-12 "Blackshield" missions of the 60`s have been recently declassified. One part that piqued my interest was one mission in 1967 where SA-2`s were launched at an A-12. Fragments of one missile were found lodged in a fuel tank but the pilot got her home.

I long held the belief that not one A-12 or Blackbird took a scratch even though hundreds of missiles were fired at them. I think only the fine men flying those aircraft and the incredible technology prevented disaster at times, with a little luck. Missiles certainly got very close on occasion and caused damage.

Good stuff here from a historical perspective too. One part describes seeing missiles flying almost alongside the airplane!

Actual mission analysis, in detail with maps and diagrams I am told, just starting to read now....

http://www.foia.cia.gov/search.asp?page ... Order=DESC

RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 12 Dec 2007, 21:07
by snypa777
Guys, more good info` on the CIA site!! Some very good comparisons between the SR-71 and the A-12.... Here are a few excerpts.

"The radar cross section of the two aircraft in a clean configuration is relatively low for both the SR-71 and the A-12. The SR-71 in its full sensor configuration is somewhat higher due to its larger size and appreciably larger with the side looking radar antenna installed, but this will not increase vulnerability to the S-band, SA-2 significantly, providing installed ECM systems are utilized."

This is my favourite line..."the probability of kill in North Vietnam is nil for either aircraft with presently utilized configurations and flight profiles, as long as the ECM techniques used remain viable."

This a pilot account of a Black shield mission BX 6734...

"The missiles were in a steep climb through the aircraft altitude of approximately 83,500 feet, then they made a sharp push over to a moderate dive angle,leveled out at my altitude and guided towards detonation. The missiles varied slightly in azimuth compared to my line of flight in their climb, but all corrected in azimuth to a dead astern position during push over. (Missile altitude) estimated 90,000 feet is probably quite close, but could vary a few thousand feet either way. It was not possible to view the entire contrail until down track a few miles due to narrow angle view in rear periscope." (The pilot was referring to 3 missiles.)

"Additionally, the pilot reported observing a missile approximately 100 to 200 yards to the right of the aircraft ahead of the cockpit. .......In his summary the pilot felt that he saw at least SIX missiles contrails and three detonations all to the rear of the aircraft."

"At least six and possibly as many as nine surface to air missiles were launched at the mission aircraft....System V1 analysis indicates the Electronic Warfare Systems performed as designed in jamming a multi signal environment"


Wow, NINE missiles fired at him! It was also reported that the North Vietnamese had moved additional SAM sites into the Hanoi area just to get them some Oxcart Azz! I think the report relays that as many as half a dozen SAM/radar locations lit up the aircraft.

This is an enormous effort taken to attempt a shoot down of a single aircraft. Thank God for ECM. Remember, this was 40 years ago. The Oxcart seemed to hold a speed and altitude advantage over the SR-71 in the early years (It was lighter after all). It certaunly raises the eyebrows to see speeds of Mach 3.3 mentioned and well above 80,000 feet. I think the cat is finally out of the bag, at least concerning some of the remarkable abilities of these aircraft.
Damn, incredible aircraft! I am going to be up half the night :lol:

RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 12 Dec 2007, 22:58
by ATFS_Crash
Great info and link. However I do have one small dispute with “recently classified” some if not all of this information has been publicly available for years. (I'm splitting hairs) ;)

For several years now there has been this quote available.

“On 31 Aug 1981 C. L. "Kelly" Johnson announced that the SR-71 *(class) has had over 1000 missiles launches against it, but none successful”

Source: http://www.voodoo.cz/sr71/timeline.html

*note When I make this quote, I add the word "class" because I think Kelly Johnson was referencing the whole blackbird family and just generalized by saying the SR-71.

For several years this information has been publicly available.
“On 30 October 1967, at least six SA-2 SAMs were fired at an A-12 during its second pass on the outward leg, but all failed to guide although one did explode close enough to the jet to leave a small fragment of missile shrapnel embedded in the lower wing area which was discovered upon recovery at Kadena.”

http://www.roadrunnersinternationale.com/a12_story.html

Now is easy to take Kelly Johnson's quote as meaning that a blackbird never was hit. However I think he was very careful and accurate in how he phrased it. He could've meant that no SR-71 was hit, but what I really think he meant was that it couldn't be considered a success for the enemy to launch over a thousand missiles at the blackbirds and only get a fragment in one, that did not shoot the blackbird down. From what I understand the pilot didn't even realize the plane had been hit by a fragment until after he landed in the aircraft was inspected. I would hardly call it a success since, it didn't even compromise the mission or deter additional flights.

From what I understand, the enemy couldn't really track the blackbird itself on radar, however from hundreds of miles away they could detect and track the supersonic shock wave on radar or the exhaust plume.

The plane was stealthy for the most part; however once it became supersonic the shock wave and exhaust plume was pretty much a dead giveaway that it was in the general area.

The radar really wasn't tracking the blackbird itself, it was tracking the shock wave or and exhaust plume, as a result most of the missiles fell far short of their intended target. Most missiles went well behind the aircraft. Sometimes it was laughable, miles behind aircraft. The blackbird traveled so fast that all it had to do was to make a slight throttle change and turn and that could usually defeat most missile or aircraft intercepts because it would run them out of fuel/range.

However like I said they won't really detecting the aircraft, they were detecting the shock wave or a exhaust plume. As a result most of the missiles that they fired fell short. Apparently they anticipated this and fired the missiles in a way that would give the missiles lead on the shock wave/exhaust plume in an attempt to hit the blackbird.

Then he was successful in hitting the aircraft, however it still was a mission failure for the enemy. They gave the blackbird crews a souvenir and great story.

RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 13 Dec 2007, 00:15
by snypa777
`Crash, what I like about the links are the official stamp they carry. I am not naive enough to think that some information hasn`t been "massaged" a bit, maybe.
I have only seen suggestions that the A-12 and SR` reached significantly higher alts` and speeds than the usual glib 80,000 ft and M3. This CIA data just confirms it for me at least, and backs KJ`s previous "hints" or documented interviews.
These particular documents were de-classed this year I am led to believe. They add gloss to all of the stories at least. I have only skimmed so far, these are the most detailed documents I have seen although I am hardly the most read on the A-12/SR-71.

`Crash, I am not really convinced that the SR-71 or A-12 approached the same level of stealth as say, the F-117 and I know you aren`t saying it, but I think the inability of the Rooskies or anyone else for that matter to kill one, was more a testimony to careful planning, outright performance and excellent ECM, rather than inherrent Stealth characteristics, IMO. I know the A-12 employed some early stealth techniques but neither the A-12 or SR-71 were exactly invisible to radar. The fact that they had over a thousand missiles fired at them makes me think that.

I could be wrong here but doesn`t detecting wake turbulence require long wave radar? This type of radar isn`t used for locking a target? In the various mission descriptions, the ESM gear repeadtedly detected radar painting the aircraft, I have as yet seen no mention of detecting the A-12 via the methods you mentioned? Ok, this doesn`t mean it didn`t happen. if you find anything to back that up, please point me in the right direction, I would be grateful.:wink:

Either way, it makes great reading! Very interesting was the evolving battle between the ECM guys in the US and the Russian SAM developers, being played out in the skies above Vietnam, with the Fan Song operators trying to get the drop on the A-12 guys by varying their output and PRF to spoof the Mad Moth ECM in the A-12.

Unread postPosted: 13 Dec 2007, 03:56
by parrothead
Very cool thread :thumb: !!!

I found this a while back but didn't post it for some reason. Lots of good info in the FOIA reading room :wink: . Gotta love those stories!

I need to get more video from the Road Runners' reunion edited and posted - lots of good stuff there. Turns out that the aircraft was fairly hard to see by U.S. radars, but the inlets were just great at showing up on the Soviet "Tall King" radars, so they knew when it was coming. They also were able to track it with the SA-2 missile radars because one of the countermeasures they credited with assisting with some of the misses was the "Blue Dog" which recorded the command instructions from the SA-2 and played them back to confuse the missiles. The part about the Tall King was from one of the speakers at the reunion and the part about the Blue Dog came from the CIA FOIA website :) . Oh yeah, there's also some pretty good details of some of the other flights and operations, too.

The guy who was shot at by those missiles was BGen Dennis Sullivan - same guy as in the Mach 3 Gear Down video - and I have the video of him recounting that day as well. He still has that missile fragment 8) .

Unread postPosted: 13 Dec 2007, 04:24
by EBJet
Their censors dropped the ball.

If you look in "results 111-120" specifically #114, titled: "OXCART Recon of North Vietnam (w/attachment)" created on 5-15-1967

Go to page 17 in subsection 2 and you'll see they missed censoring where the A-12's were based. Oopsie.

Other documents mention "Detachment 1-1129th"

Some really interesting reads.

Unread postPosted: 13 Dec 2007, 04:57
by ATFS_Crash
I don't necessarily mean automatic tracking. I'm not sure how it was done. I've heard many stories. In those days it was easy to tweak things to get the results you wanted if the equipment was working correctly. What I'm calling tracking could be as simple as looking at weather radar, and plotting the course, direction and speed manually between each sweep or every few sweeps, thusly a prediction could be made where they aircraft will be, then a missile or aircraft can be dispatched to the location that they project the aircraft will be. It can be kind of a Hail Mary pass as far as missiles go.

The blackbird may not be as stealthy as current aircraft, but that doesn't mean it wasn't stealthy compared to other aircraft from its era. Any aircraft can be detected with radar, it is a matter of what degree when and where.

If you look up at the skyline at night you can see many stars, but that does not mean that you can easily track, identify, lock and attack the stars.

It's much like the old scenario of picking fly dung out of pepper. Theoretically it is possible and can be done, but it currently is not easy or practical. ;)

Unread postPosted: 13 Dec 2007, 21:30
by snypa777
:lol: I should have known Parrothead would have cast his eyes over these papers already!

ATFS_Crash wrote:The blackbird may not be as stealthy as current aircraft, but that doesn't mean it wasn't stealthy compared to other aircraft from its era. Any aircraft can be detected with radar, it is a matter of what degree when and where.



In the papers, the CIA did an appraisal of possible missions over Cuba, circa 1964. They estimated the A-12 would be detected by Cuban radar at 160 to 180 miles range. That is pretty far away I would say. This detection would occur at the mission altitude and speed.

The pro`s and con`s were really interesting. The CIA wanted to take a deek at Cuban and hence, Soviet defences. They were uncomfortable with the fact the Soviets would be able to fine tune their SA-2 and air defence systems to counter the airplane. This fine tuning would also allow them to tweak defences over Russia. The A-12 was lower observable but not low observable I think. In its day it was a lower profile aircraft as they described it, stealthy? Stealthy for its day but not in the modern sense.

Unread postPosted: 14 Dec 2007, 05:01
by parrothead
Yep, I'm all over it :) ! Something really cool at the reunion was the A-12, YF-12, SR-71, M-21, and D-21 flight manuals and full tech orders out on the table for perusal - the ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS :shock: :thumb: ! Y'all should hear some of the fun they had while working with the TEB :P !

Something a whole lot of people don't realize about the idea of stealth when the A-12 was being designed was that part of the A-12's plan for defeating radar was to go fast and high enough that manually plotted tracks would be very difficult. Computers made this part go out the window. There was also extensive use of composites on some of the aircraft, especially #122 (now on the Intrepid) where they used asbestos in resin to make up the vertical stabilizers and leading edges.

One of the reasons the A-12 wasn't used over Cuba was that it was still officially in flight test. There were plans to get some of them qualified, but in the end it just didn't happen and Black Shield was the only operational use of the A-12.

Let's not forget that there were also plans to sell the A-12 to Iran :shock: ! Click here for the original documents.

Unread postPosted: 15 Dec 2007, 03:13
by sprstdlyscottsmn
wasnt the YF-12 designed to carry three missiles that would make a Phoenix blush?

Unread postPosted: 15 Dec 2007, 08:51
by ATFS_Crash
sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:wasnt the YF-12 designed to carry three missiles that would make a Phoenix blush?

It was essentially an early evolution version of the AIM-54. They were going to put a nuke on it. However they had second thoughts about putting nukes on them and put conventional warheads on them. The early one was the AIM-47. The early ones (AIM-47) were SARH. Eventually they made it fully active AIM-54.

It’s rumored they might have made a few nuke warheads. However the last I heard they will not confirm or deny it. The rumor is the nuke warhead would fit on either the AIM-54 or AIM-47 (GAR-9)

http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-47.html

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YF-12 & AIM-47
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YF-12 & AN/ASG-18
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April 1 AWACS version of the SR-71 ;)
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Unread postPosted: 16 Dec 2007, 04:14
by sprstdlyscottsmn
thats for the info of the AIM-47. That awacs BBird looks more like they parked an E-3 behind it.

Unread postPosted: 18 Dec 2007, 19:03
by SixerViper
The A-12 and SR-71 had round instruments. The YF-12 had vertical tapes which looked virtually identical to those in the F-111. These instruments were different from those on the F-105D and the F-106, and the C-5/C-141.

Unread postPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 03:17
by TC
Another nearly seamless merge! When you're good, you're good! 8) Honestly, I felt like there were too many different threads on this board that started with "A-12". At first glance, when you'd see simply, "A-12", one might have wondered to which A-12 were we referring. So, I have made both threads easy to quickly reference. If you are looking for the A-12 Blackbird, you came to the right place. If you wanted the "Flying Dorito", I have its page clearly labeled for you. Enjoy!

Unread postPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 05:55
by parrothead
Thanks, TC :thumb:

Now for some really good reading, head over to the CIA FOIA Reading Room and enter Oxcart in the search field 8)

Unread postPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 06:21
by geogen
Must have respect for the A-12 bird of the day.. Fantastic pics must say.

As for today? Black ops?? Consider an FB-22 with internal launched air-air launched version of SM-2 IIIB (or equiv) (conventional head only needed).

Such a config would be the most superior interceptor conceived in modern times (as a secondary role to superior strike/B-3 alternate option), 15 yrs forward. Enemy bombers take a seat please.

Unread postPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 15:50
by Viperalltheway
Geogen you don't like bombers do you? lol :)

This make me think of a tactic that stealth aircraft could use to to force SAMs to shoot. They could increase their RCS momentarily with the reflectors they have for that purpose, and get within the SAMs launch enveloppe. If a radar is turned on they "fry" it with their radar. If SAMs are launched at the aircraft they return to stealthy mode immediatly and the missiles are lost.

This could work well with the F-35 I guess thanks to its DAS that would detect missile launches with a high probability.

Unread postPosted: 07 Dec 2008, 23:09
by ATFS_Crash
snypa777 wrote: In the papers, the CIA did an appraisal of possible missions over Cuba, circa 1964. They estimated the A-12 would be detected by Cuban radar at 160 to 180 miles range. That is pretty far away I would say. This detection would occur at the mission altitude and speed.


The way I understand it. Allegedly.

Even though the SR-71 was fairly stealthy on radar, the shock wave from the SR 71 when it was traveling at high speed could be seen from hundreds of miles away. The shock wave is so huge that it can be seen on weather radar as a huge anomaly. Even nonmilitary/FAA radar was able to detect the shock wave SR-71, when the transponder was on civilian mode the radar interpreted the shock wave as an aircraft, even though the aircraft itself was (essentially) not detectable on radar.

Because the shock wave gave away the general location of the aircraft, it enabled an adversary to scramble aircraft to attempt to intercept the SR-71. There was also many attempts to shoot SAMs in the general area of the shock wave and hope they got lucky. There were over 1000 attempts to shoot down the SR-71, none of them successful.

The most successful program was the SR-71 family. On 31 Aug 1981 C. L. "Kelly" Johnson announced
C. L. "Kelly" Johnson wrote:that the SR-71 (class) has had over 1000 missiles launches against it, but none successful
:D
Source http://www.blackbirds.net/sr71/sr-timeline/srtl80.html

The way I understand it the adversary radar/SAM operators probably thought that they were tracking and locking directly onto the SR-71, when in reality, it was the shock wave. Allegedly that’s part of the reason why so many missiles fell short of the SR-71. ;)

Unread postPosted: 08 Dec 2008, 07:04
by parrothead
The countermeasures in the A-12 helped, too. Somewhere in the FOIA is the complete operational specs for the electronic countermeasures they carried :)

Unread postPosted: 11 Jun 2010, 18:39
by mustang65
Were was the periscope located on the Blackbird and did they have one facing forward on the plane too?

Unread postPosted: 11 Jun 2010, 22:56
by That_Engine_Guy
Not even the "trainer" A-12 (#60-6927) had a periscope from what I know... http://www.sr-71.org/photogallery/blackbird/06927/
Don't think any of the Blackbirds had periscopes... :shrug: TEG

Unread postPosted: 12 Jun 2010, 02:57
by Gums
Salute!

Besides the bird cranium's links to the actual folks that flew the jets and designed them and maintained them, you can look at great stuff in the Dash-One.

http://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/

I only know two guys that flew the jet, but didn't hear anything about a "periscope".

Gums sends ...

P.S. The RCS of the Blackbird was much lower than most folks realize. Another thing was the fact that a slowly rotating, long-range radar antenna would only see the thing maybe 5 or 6 miles apart between sweeps. So auto-correlation didn't work. A JAX radar operator had a war story when he picked up a Blackbird one night. Don't know why he was using "raw" radar display, but said the blips were at least 6 or 7 miles apart. Estimated groundspeed was about 2400 knots. Ohh baby, ohhh baby!

Unread postPosted: 12 Jun 2010, 03:50
by That_Engine_Guy
Brother Gums to the rescue...

...after consulting the proper technical data... The SR-71 and YF-12s had "Rear View Periscopes" that gave some rearward visibility to the pilots in flight.

REF: http://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/yf-12a-1/1/1-113.php

Thanks Gums, why didn't I think of that!?! :cheers: TEG

Unread postPosted: 28 Jun 2010, 03:50
by mustang65
It seems that the YF-12 was the only plane to have the rear facing periscopes but it would make more sense even on the Sr-71 for them to be facing forward instead.

Unread postPosted: 09 Jul 2010, 03:46
by mustang65
How long could the black bird fly at mach 3.3 if the CIT was below 427C. And why didn't they give the Blackbird a forward facing periscope instead?

Unread postPosted: 09 Jul 2010, 21:52
by Kryptid
P.S. The RCS of the Blackbird was much lower than most folks realize.

I own a book, "Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach" by Dr. Daniel P. Raymer, which lists the A-12 as having an RCS of 0.014 square meters, which I find very impressive.

However, that makes me wonder if the USAF has some solid definition of what "low observable" means? Is there some given RCS requirement (i.e. no more than X square meters in such-and-such band radar)? Or is that classified?

Unread postPosted: 11 Jul 2010, 03:24
by mustang65
So can the SR-71 mach 3.2 without any problems since that was the design mach for the plane? But how long can it maintain mach 3.3 if the CIT were below 427C?

Unread postPosted: 18 Jul 2010, 01:10
by mustang65
How long could the Blackbird maintain Mach 3.2, and why were they only allowed to go to cruise at mach 3.17?

Unread postPosted: 30 Jul 2010, 17:10
by stobiewan
mustang65 wrote:It seems that the YF-12 was the only plane to have the rear facing periscopes but it would make more sense even on the Sr-71 for them to be facing forward instead.


The Blackbird had decent enough forward vision to fly by - the periscope was installed to permit the crew to check out some areas of the aircraft that were otherwise out of sight. From my memories of SR71- Myths and Legends, which I don't have to hand, I believe this was after an early loss or near loss due to some control surfaces being damaged and the crew being unaware of this fact.

Fitting periscopes to aircraft for this reason isn't uncommon and I believe the Victor, Vulcan and also the Valkyrie were similarly equipped.

The only proposals for aircraft to have forward facing periscopes that I recall were the Thunderwarrior and the British fast bomber proposal - the AVRO 730 in the 1950's - both for similar reasons - the intended cruise speed was too fast for any existing transparent material to survive in flight.

Ian

Unread postPosted: 15 Aug 2010, 03:05
by mustang65
Yeah but today they have material that can withstand the heat.

Unread postPosted: 16 Aug 2010, 05:42
by Roscoe
[quote="KryptidIs there some given RCS requirement (i.e. no more than X square meters in such-and-such band radar)? Or is that classified?[/quote]

Yes...and yes.

Unread postPosted: 08 Sep 2010, 01:57
by mustang65
How long can the Blackbird fly at Mach 3.2? Also if they were to put a forward facing periscope today we have transparent material today that can withstand the heat. They probably had the material in the sixties as well too.

Unread postPosted: 08 Sep 2010, 05:05
by Guysmiley
Again with this?? "How long can the Blackbird"? Right now a Blackbird can fly precisely 0.00000 minutes at Mach 3.2.

Unread postPosted: 08 Sep 2010, 05:19
by aaam
mustang65 wrote:How long can the Blackbird fly at Mach 3.2? Also if they were to put a forward facing periscope today we have transparent material today that can withstand the heat. They probably had the material in the sixties as well too.


How long? As long as there's fuel and lubricants.

Forward facing periscope? What do you gain?

Unread postPosted: 22 Sep 2010, 03:09
by mustang65
Obviously the Blackbird isn't flying now good observation Gunsmiley. All I wanted to know was how long usually it could fly at mach 3.2 because it is the design speed of the airframe. Also why was mach 3.17 the max scheduled cruise speed for the Blackbird?

Unread postPosted: 23 Sep 2010, 00:22
by That_Engine_Guy
mustang65 wrote:why was mach 3.17 the max scheduled cruise speed for the Blackbird?


MAX is beyond which things become damaged or begin to break.
CRUISE is where you get the best speed versus fuel consumption, versus altitude, versus range.

Max is what you COULD do, Cruise is what you SHOULD do for the best mission profile.

Give up on the 'what if' thing concerning the periscope. If it had needed one, it would have had one.

TEG

Unread postPosted: 23 Sep 2010, 03:03
by mustang65
I didn't mention the periscope in the last post, but I thought that the Blackbird was capable of safely flying at Mach 3.2 since that was the design speed, but 2110 mph is really fast too especially for 90 minutes at a time. I'm sure you would not get as much range at that speed but it could fly at that speed relatively safely (with all of the unstart problems and such) for a descent amount of time even thought the Blackbird is not flying anymore.

Unread postPosted: 23 Sep 2010, 22:58
by aaam
For non-operational and regular missions, the normal recommended cruise was M3.17, @ 24,384m/80,000 feet based on the normal Compressor Inlet Temperature limit of 427C. For non-operational missions, there was no point in going any faster. On operational missions, higher speeds could be authorized by the Commander. Speeds of M3.2 to 3.31 were not uncommon. Of course, the crew could use its own discretion (those were the days!) should the operational situation require. Higher speeds also required a change in the descent profile to dissipate excess heat.

The fastest USAF has ever officially acknowledged SR-71s have traveled was M3.5. The aircraft suffered no problems or damage, but that was pushing the absolute limit and was not ordinary. Of course atmospheric temperature comes into play and since there was variation between each bird, that would come into play as well.

Unread postPosted: 26 Sep 2010, 22:23
by mustang65
Yeah but were speeds between mach 3.2 and 3.31 sustained for a good part of the mission if the crew needed to operate at those speeds? The CIT problem only happened after they exceeded mach 3.31.

Unread postPosted: 26 Sep 2010, 22:53
by That_Engine_Guy
The CIT limit was reached depending on atmospheric conditions versus altitude versus speed.

At a lower altitude, higher density, the CIT would raise faster than 'up high'. To get the real high MACH 3.2+ speeds the Blackbird's altitude would be near or at limits as well. Thinner air is better for the speeds involved and keeping CIT from being exceeded.

IE an SR-71 can't reach MACH 3 at lower altitudes, the air is too thick.

So again it depended on where, when and why the pilot was operating a Blackbird as to his maximum MACH for a particular sortie.

TEG

Unread postPosted: 28 Sep 2010, 05:16
by mustang65
Wasn't 85000 ft the altitude for the max Afterburner profile?

Unread postPosted: 02 Oct 2010, 08:45
by TC
The max altitude of the SR is still classified.

Unread postPosted: 02 Oct 2010, 15:11
by mustang65
I wasn't talking about max altitude I was saying that 83000-85000 ft would be the altitude for the SR to travel at mach 3.2 to mach 3.3 safely so the CIT does not get to high and they can maintain that speed. If the situation called for it how long could the Blackbird fly at mach 3.2 or a little above so the CIT does not get to high?

Unread postPosted: 06 Oct 2010, 03:19
by mustang65
Has the blackbird really been to mach 3.5?

Unread postPosted: 06 Oct 2010, 05:48
by TC
Re: My last post Mustang. Same goes for airspeed. Hence, the + in "Mach 3+".

However, I will reference Brain Shul's story about making "feet wet" in the SR over the Gulf of Sidra. They were exiting Libyan airspace, following Operation El Dorado Canyon. Just before leaving the threat area, they received a mud spike, likely from an SA-2, or SA-5.

Already knowing that we had lost one of the 'Varks on the airstrike (Maj. Ribas-Dominici and Capt. Lorence), they pushed up the throttles to full afterburner to get out of range before the Libyans could take a shot and down another American jet.

Several years later, Shul said, "The Mach meter started reading off numbers we'd never seen before!"

He never stated an actual speed, as it is still classified, but make of that what you will.

Unread postPosted: 06 Oct 2010, 23:06
by That_Engine_Guy
Most of us can't talk about the Blackbird's actual high-end numbers...

...unless you're around when that 'don't talk about any of this for the next 99 years' is up... :))

When they say MACH 3+, the PLUS is there for a good reason.

TEG

Unread postPosted: 07 Oct 2010, 20:30
by singularity
There was the one mission where the pilot says they were flying a mile every 1.6 seconds.....at the blackbirds altitude the mach number is incredibly high.

Unread postPosted: 07 Oct 2010, 21:26
by mustang65
What was the altitude that the SR usually operated at. I guess your right though but what was the typical "unclassified" mach number that the Blackbird flew at? They must have usually operated at Mach 3.17 a lot though for mission purposes since that is the speed that the engines are most efficient.

Unread postPosted: 08 Oct 2010, 01:07
by TC
Folks, several of the conversations on this thread have been about other models of the Blackbird, so I've changed the title to this thread to reflect the entire family of Lockheed's Blackbird aircraft. Feel free to discuss the A-12, M-21/D-21, YF-12A, and SR-71. This thread is now all-inclusive. Enjoy!

************************************

@ Mustang: The unclassified speed is usually said to be 3.2 Mach. Again, the operating altitude remains classified. As TEG said, anyone who's "in the know" wouldn't be able to talk about it anyway.

Unread postPosted: 08 Oct 2010, 03:45
by Guysmiley
Also, the A-12 was slightly faster and could fly slightly higher than the SR-71 could thanks to it being lighter. As to the altitude, it could depend on the high altitude ambient temperature (no kidding). The temperature could vary by a lot depending on where the jet stream was, in very non-ideal conditions they'd struggle to maintain 60,000 feet.

As TEG said, anyone who's "in the know" wouldn't be able to talk about it anyway.

You can say that over and over and over, he'll be back asking the same thing again in a month.

Unread postPosted: 08 Oct 2010, 04:01
by mustang65
Well I guess i want to apologize for getting to rapped up in this thread won't happen again promise. Seriously.

Unread postPosted: 09 Oct 2010, 07:56
by TC
Guysmiley wrote:You can say that over and over and over, he'll be back asking the same thing again in a month.


It's possible, but not when I use the "magic button". Mwhuhahaha! :twisted:

Unread postPosted: 12 Jan 2011, 22:34
by mustang65
Isn't the temperature constant above like 36000 feet? If the temperature is constant above a certain altitude then how can the temp change when an SR-71 is flying above that specific altitude were temp does not change? Apparently the unclassified material says that the SR-71 can fly mach 3.2 usually it goes a little faster or slower due to the temp but how can that be if the temp does not change above 36000 ft? Or it could go Mach 3.2 to Mach 3.3 when authorized by the commander even though it could probably routinely cruise at Mach 3.25 on standard day temps assuming the "unclassified" information is correct.

Unread postPosted: 13 Jan 2011, 06:10
by madrat
Air density.

Unread postPosted: 11 Jun 2011, 14:29
by johnwill
As I recall, there is a range of high altitudes where the temp does not change with altitude, but it does change day to day. So we have hot day, standard day, and cold day temp standards.

Unread postPosted: 11 Jun 2011, 22:52
by sprstdlyscottsmn
also, its only constant temp up to like 60,000 ft, then it rises again

RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 28 Jul 2011, 18:16
by mustachecachestache47
Actually, the Blackbird is one of my favorites. it is fast, slick, and nice-looking, and its big. I seen one in real life, and they are GIANT. Sometimes, i think that it should come back as a bomber instead of a recon. it's big, and just add a bomb bay and take away the recon equipment, and you have a bomber.

SR-71

Unread postPosted: 25 Dec 2012, 16:48
by rgeary15
I worked the SR-71 in the USAF 1979-1983

RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 26 Dec 2012, 13:00
by chris_win
beautiful plane

Re: RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 01:13
by aaam
mustachecachestache47 wrote:Actually, the Blackbird is one of my favorites. it is fast, slick, and nice-looking, and its big. I seen one in real life, and they are GIANT. Sometimes, i think that it should come back as a bomber instead of a recon. it's big, and just add a bomb bay and take away the recon equipment, and you have a bomber.


There was a strike version designed, the B-12. Weapons were in the chines, it had a radome similar to the AF-12. Lockheed promised Gen. LeMay they would not push for it, as he was still hoping the B-70 could be revived.

Re: RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 23:04
by count_to_10
aaam wrote:
mustachecachestache47 wrote:Actually, the Blackbird is one of my favorites. it is fast, slick, and nice-looking, and its big. I seen one in real life, and they are GIANT. Sometimes, i think that it should come back as a bomber instead of a recon. it's big, and just add a bomb bay and take away the recon equipment, and you have a bomber.


There was a strike version designed, the B-12. Weapons were in the chines, it had a radome similar to the AF-12. Lockheed promised Gen. LeMay they would not push for it, as he was still hoping the B-70 could be revived.

I had a plastic model of the interceptor version -- it had a single, off-center missile bay that held two Phoenix missiles head-to-tail. The bay wasn't in the chines, though.

RE: Re: RE: A-12 Oxcart secret missions- declassified.

Unread postPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 23:21
by SpudmanWP
Image

Unread postPosted: 14 Jun 2013, 03:00
by aaam
Spudman's picture shows one of the potential armament loads of the B-12. Another was with four SRAMs. to give you an idea of the benefits of speed and altitude, a SRAM launched form a B-12 would have five times the range it would have launched form a B-52. I'm including a cutaway showing that load.

Sorry, Elite, that model you remember is wrong. There's no place in the fuselage to put the missiles. Whoever designed the model was probably working from some photos, including one I've attached, where a designer who didn't do much research would have been fooled by the optical illusion of this angle looking like an off-center bay. As my other photo shows, the missiles were in the chines. I've also added another cutaway, showing one of the armament config.s of the production F-12B. This one is unusual in that it shows an M-61 in the forward port bay. I don't know if this was serious, implying that an F-12 would descend and try and force a target down by damaging it, or whether it was depicted to let potential customers know you could be macho and go mano a mano if you wanted. :) The usual config discussed was four missiles (the YF-12A had three and the other bay was used for the fire control system).

Those missiles, BTW, were not the Phoenix. They were the AIM-47/GAR-9 enhanced and inherited from the F-108 program and came in both conventional and nuclear flavors. They gave birth to the AIM-54 Phoenix used by the F-14.

Unread postPosted: 14 Jun 2013, 23:37
by count_to_10
The picture shows exactly what I meant -- the bays are under the curve of the fuselage, not in the narrow angled portion of the chines. As to the missile type -- no designation came with the model, and I didn't know of any missile that had the same form as the Phoenix.

Unread postPosted: 15 Jun 2013, 19:43
by aaam
count_to_10 wrote:The picture shows exactly what I meant -- the bays are under the curve of the fuselage, not in the narrow angled portion of the chines. As to the missile type -- no designation came with the model, and I didn't know of any missile that had the same form as the Phoenix.


I recommend you look back a few posts to the drawings spudman and I posted. You'll note the location of the bays from which weapons would be deployed. These are the same bays where some of the SR-71's reconaissance modules were located, and the last time I saw those, there were four of them, two on each side, not one off-center. I am not all that sure where you are differentiating fuselage and chines. Chines are aerodynamic shapes around the fuselage and have space inside, unlike strakes (Super Hornet has very prominent ones of those), although they do serve similar purposes.

Regarding ths missle itself, I'm also attaching a picture of the AIM-47 and AIM-54, which you can also find in this very topic at ATFS Crash's post of Dec. 15, 2007. Regarding missle(s) having the same form as Phoenix, both came from the Falcon family, and I'm also including a drawing of those (GAR-9 is the AIM-47, AGM-76 was a proposed strike version of it). AIM-54 is "Son of AIM-47".

Unread postPosted: 15 Jun 2013, 20:58
by count_to_10
I think the model I had just re-used a phoenix from an F-14 model of the same scale.
As for the bays, I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this. What I see in those pictures is clearly separate from the chines.

Unread postPosted: 16 Jun 2013, 00:34
by aaam
count_to_10 wrote:I think the model I had just re-used a phoenix from an F-14 model of the same scale.
As for the bays, I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this. What I see in those pictures is clearly separate from the chines.


I beleive we are passing each other in semantics, I'm perfectly willing to agree as to where the bays are relative to the rest of the a/c. The big thing I wanted to get across was that there were four separate bays, two on each side, and not just one with tandem missiles.

Unread postPosted: 16 Jun 2013, 01:37
by count_to_10
aaam wrote:. The big thing I wanted to get across was that there were four separate bays, two on each side, and not just one with tandem missiles.

That was definitely an artifact of the model. I'm not sure if they thought there was only one bay, or they were just limiting the number of parts by only allowing one bay to be built open, but the model only had the one bay. Moreover, the bay only had two doors, no the four doors that can be seen in the picture.
It did have the folding dorsal fin that doesn't appear on the SR-71, though.

Unread postPosted: 16 Jun 2013, 23:36
by aaam
count_to_10 wrote:
aaam wrote:. The big thing I wanted to get across was that there were four separate bays, two on each side, and not just one with tandem missiles.

That was definitely an artifact of the model. I'm not sure if they thought there was only one bay, or they were just limiting the number of parts by only allowing one bay to be built open, but the model only had the one bay. Moreover, the bay only had two doors, no the four doors that can be seen in the picture.
It did have the folding dorsal fin that doesn't appear on the SR-71, though.


Did it have the raised cockpit, unike to the F-12?

Unread postPosted: 17 Jun 2013, 00:29
by count_to_10
I don't remember a raised cockpit, but I'm not sure I would notice it. The biggest difference I noticed from the SR-71 was that it had a ray-dome that wasn't blended into the chines.

Unread postPosted: 17 Jun 2013, 05:08
by That_Engine_Guy
aaam wrote:Did it have the raised cockpit, unike to the F-12?


The only Blackbirds with "raised" aft cockpit were the A-12 and SR-71B "Trainers"

See drawing below.

Also note;
A-12 = pointy nose-chine, single seat, Raised second cockpit for trainer model (non-operational)
YF-12 = longer nose-radome, chine more rounded and cropped for radar/IRST installations, tandem seats
SR-71 = more rounded nose-chine, tandem seats, Raised second cockpit for trainer model (non-operational)

The YF-12 had a smaller tail cone and the folding ventral fin for improved lateral stability.

Keep 'em flyin' :thumb:
TEG