FIBERGLASS FUSELAGE WITH WOOD WING STRUCTURE COVERED IN HEATSHRINK POLYESTER FILM
LARGE OVER SIZE DOUBLE BOXING FGT. 40X22X7
WING AREA........651 SQ. IN.
ENGINE REQUIRED............2C 0.46 CU. IN.
REQUIRES RADIO.......4 CHANNELS, 5 SERVOS
Developed for the USAF as reconnaissance aircraft more than 30 years ago, SR-71s are still the world's fastest and highest-flying production aircraft. The aircraft can fly more than 2200 mph (Mach 3+ or more than three times the speed of sound) and at altitudes of over 85,000 feet. For its reconnaissance mission, the aircraft was outfitted with an advanced synthetic aperture radar system, an optical bar camera and a technical objective camera wet film system. All were once part of the aircraft's original equipment. The SR-71 was designed by a team of Lockheed personnel led by Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, at that time vice president of the company's Advanced Development Projects, known as the "Skunk Works." The first version, a CIA reconnaissance aircraft that first flew in April 1962 was called the A-11. The similar A-12 had a lower radar cross section.
An interceptor version was developed in 1963 under the designation YF-12A. A USAF reconnaissance variant, called the SR-71, was first flown in 1964. The A-12 and SR-71 designs included leading and trailing edges made of high-temperature fiberglass-asbestos laminates which among other features contributed to their reduced radar signature. Its existence was publicly announced by President Lyndon Johnson on Feb. 29, 1964, when he announced that an A-11 had flown at sustained speeds of over 2000 mph during tests at Edwards, Calif. Development of the SR-71s from the A-11 design, as strategic reconnaissance aircraft, began in February 1963. First flight of an SR-71 was on Dec. 22, 1964. The YF-12s were experimental long-range interceptor versions of the same airframe and were first displayed publicly at Edwards on Sept. 30, 1964. The SR-71 is a delta-wing aircraft designed and built by Lockheed. They are powered by two Pratt and Whitney J-58 axial-flow turbojets with afterburners, each producing 32,500 pounds of thrust. Studies have shown that less than 20 percent of the total thrust used to fly at Mach 3 is produced by the basic engine itself. The balance of the total thrust is produced by the unique design of the engine inlet and "moveable spike" system at the front of the engine nacelles, and by the ejector nozzles at the exhaust which burn air compressed in the engine bypass system. The Blackbird weighs about 34 tons empty, and can carry another 20 tons of special JP-7 jet fuel (enough for about two hours of flight time) in its fuselage and wing tanks. In flight, the fuel is redistributed automatically to maintain the plane's center of gravity and load specifications. Because the Blackbird was designed to expand during flight, it has had a history of fuel tank leaks on the ground. The airframes are built almost entirely of titanium and titanium alloys to withstand heat generated by sustained Mach 3 flight.
The aircraft's largely titanium structure is coated with a special radar-absorbing black paint that helps dissipate the intense frictional heat resulting from flight through the atmosphere at faster than three times the speed of sound. It also gives the plane its distinctive "Blackbird" nickname. Aerodynamic control surfaces consist of all-moving vertical tail surfaces above each engine nacelle, ailerons on the outer wings, and elevators on the trailing edges between the engine exhaust nozzles. Although most news reports characterize the SR-71 aircraft as `radar evading', in point of fact, however, the SR-71 was one of the largest radar targets ever detected on the FAA's long-range radars. The FAA was able to track it at ranges of several hundred miles. The explanation offered was that the radars were detecting the exhaust plume.. The SR-71A accommodates two crew members in tandem cockpits. The pilot flies the aircraft from the forward cockpit, while a systems operator monitors sensors and experiments in the rear station. For high-speed, high altitude missions, both crew members must wear full-pressure suites that resemble those worn by the early astronauts. (Information reference: www.globalsecurity.org)