SS10245 SR-71 Blackbird in Action - NEW!
Even before the Soviets shot down the U-2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers in May 1960, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had felt a need for a high-altitude, high-speed surveillance aircraft with a lower radar cross-section. Lockheed's design A-12 with its unique titanium skin met all the CIA's requirements and a dozen aircraft were ordered. The aircraft was so advanced that it required a unique fuel, special rubber compounds for the tires - even the manufacturing techniques for the aircraft had to be invented! May 1967 witnessed the first Blackbird flight over Vietnam. When the CIA's A-12 was retired from Vietnam service in June 1968, its place was taken by the Air Force version of the plane with the now more familiar name of "Strategic Reconnaissance" SR-71. During the Vietnam War, SR-71 overflights averaged one per day, during which time the enemy unsuccessfully fired 800 surface-to-air missiles against the aircraft. Though exceptionally good at what it did, the highly specialized nature of the SR-71 made it expensive to operate and by the late 1980s, the Air Force was ready to shelve the Blackbird in order to fund other projects. Despite the objections of ground force commanders and indeed even against the wishes of Congress, the aircraft were retired in the late 1990s. In addition to the A-12 and SR-71, Lockheed's famed Skunk Works also turned out the M-21, a version of the Blackbird whose sole purpose was to launch D-21 drones. Still another version of the aircraft, the YF-12, was tested as a high-altitude interceptor but never made it to series production. Uncover the once top-secret history of the famous Blackbird through this all-new 80-page book, packed with detailed line drawings and over 200 photographs.