From Archangel to Senior Crown

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The Lockheed Blackbirds hold a unique place in the development of aeronautics. In their day, the A-12, YF-12, M-21, D-21, and SR-71 variants outperformed all other jet airplanes in terms of altitude and speed. Now retired, they remain the only production aircraft capable of sustained Mach 3 cruise and operational altitudes above 80,000 feet.

This is the first book to address the technical aspects of these incredible aircraft. A NASA historian, the author describes the design evolution of the Blackbird, from the Archangel to the Senior Crown (the Air Force's SR-71). He describes in detail the construction and materials challenges faced by Lockheed, as well as the Blackbird's performance characteristics and capabilities.

He further describes NASA's role in using the aircraft as a flying laboratory to collect data on materials, structures, loads, heating, aerodynamics, and performance for high-speed aircraft. The reader will benefit from the technical and programmatic lessons learned.

This volume was produced in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563479335
  • Publisher: American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 949,856
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter W. Merlin is an archivist and historian in the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center History Office under contract to Analytical Services & Materials, Inc. He is the author of Mach 3+: NASA/USAF YF-12 Flight Research, 1969-1979 (NASA SP-2001-4525) and the co-author of Donald L. Mallick's autobiography The Smell of Kerosene: A Test Pilot's Odyssey (NASA SP-2003-4108).

Merlin has published numerous articles in a variety of periodicals, covering subjects from aerospace history to nuclear weapon accidents. He has also appeared on such television programs as Man, Moment, Machine: Shot Down—The U-2 Spy Plane; Modern Marvels: Edwards Air Force Base; Inside Area 51, UFO: Down to Earth—Retrieval; and more. A founding member of the X-Hunters Aerospace Archeology Team, he also specializes in recovering relics of crashed experimental aircraft from the deserts of the western United States.

Merlin was born in Hollywood, California. He received his B.S. in aeronautical studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He joined the Dryden History Office in 1997. He occasionally lectures on aerospace history and prehistoric archeology.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Blackbird: A Technological Case Study     1
Note to Readers     4
Form Follows Function: Design Evolution of the Blackbird     5
Convair Entries     7
Kelly's Archangel     8
A-12 Configuration     19
Aircraft Systems     23
OXCART-Progenitor of the Blackbird Family Tree     31
KEDLOCK-Advanced Interceptor     36
TAGBOARD-Mach 3 Drone     42
SENIOR CROWN-Strategic Reconnaissance     52
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention: Construction and Materials     57
Building the Blackbirds     57
Materials and Structure     65
Exotic Materials     68
Structural Features     70
Engine Materials     80
Fuels, Fluids, and Sealants     82
Landing Gear     84
Above and Beyond: Blackbird Performance Characteristics     87
Aerodynamics     87
Handling Qualities     89
Flight Control System     89
Normal Operating Characteristics     92
Propulsion System     95
Speed and Altitude     105
Cruise andClimb Performance     110
Range and Endurance     111
Payload Capacity and Operational Considerations     113
A Unique Research Tool: NASA's Mach 3 Flying Laboratory     115
Joint NASA/U.S. Air Force YF-12 Flight Research     116
Heating and Loads Research     119
Propulsion Research     121
Landing Studies     124
Flying Laboratory     129
Back in Black     139
Phoenix Rising     142
Swan Song     143
Lessons Learned     147
Kelly's Way - The Skunk Works Approach     147
An Enormous Technological Achievement     154
Results of the NASA Blackbird Research Programs     160
Blackbird Production Summary     167
Blackbird Timeline     177
Notes     183
Index     191
Supporting Materials     199
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 27, 2010

    Fantastic book if you are interested in Blackbirds and there development.

    I am very interested in the not only development, but the technological aspects of the the whole Blackbird program from the A-12 to the SR-71 and how they came about during the Cold War, and Why??

    This is a must read if you want the facts about the OXCART program, also The Blackbird Production Summary, The Blackbird Timeline, and Special Events from 1955 to 1999.

    I really became interested in The Blackbird Program last month Feb. 2010 after visiting the USS Alabama Museum in Mobile, Alabama. They have on display there an A-12 , Article # 132. It was the 2nd to last A-12 Built, in the 1st run of The Blackbird Series, later to become the SR-71 that most of us recogonize.

    What most intrigued me about the plane is a cool piece of trivia that I read while at the museum in Mobile, if you fired a rifle from the West Coast of the US to the East Coast and the bullet could keep going and not loose it's velocity, and the Blackbird took off at the same time and flew the same path at full speed, the plane would beat the bullet by 7 mins. Coast to Coast!!!

    The book also comes with a CD that you can play in your computer, that shows pictures and videos of the Blackbird Program, different planes, and flights.

    Overall like I said the book is a must have if you are interested in these Cold War Birds, and how they came about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2010

    a must read for fans of the aircraft.

    a very in-depth history of probably the finest aircraft created in the history of far.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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