Define "its likes"
F*cking love that plane. The engine intakes alone were a work of genius. Used to grow about a foot in length overall during flight due to friction heating as a result of the air passing over it. Apparently it used to leak fuel on the runway as a result but not sure about that.
Seen it in the flesh and its quite amazing.
It's straight out of science fiction still today let alone 50 years ago in its heyday, everything about it is just so extreme, the looks, the propulsion, the payload, but most of all the performance.
There are some amazing SR-71 stories out there on the web. One from someone who survived an airframe disintegration at mach3+ in the cruise.
I doubt we'll see its like again but we're surrounded by its legacy. I wish I'd seen one fly, I'd still love to just see one up close :)
Might not see that combination of unique looks AND extreme speed. Maybe there IS something right now but we'll never get to know :-)
I was always a fan of uncompromising design so, despite neither plane perhaps having QUITE that "je ne sais quoi" that the SR-71 enjoys, I would actually put the A-10 'Thunderbolt' (still in service and until recently expected to remain in service until 2028!) and the F104 up there with the SR-71
At the other edge of the parameter I nominate the Fairey Swordfish -my absolute favourite plane of all time and so slow that the Bismark's gunners could not calibrate their weapons enough to get a fix on it. Allegedly.
If you go to the American Air Museum at Imperial War Museum Duxford they have one. You can walk right underneath it, touch it even- it's pretty awesome just to look at, so I can't imagine what it would have been like in flight. Unfortunately alot of my university exam revision time gets lost to reading about things like this on wikipedia etc!
If you lived near RAF Mildenhall in the mid-eighties then you certainly knew when one of these beauties took off.
Agreed. My favourite sled driver story. It's been on here before, but it's worth reposting...
It used to be a regular at the Abbotsford Airshow. During the show, aircraft would fly over our house, so I'd run outside to look at what was going on overhead. Mostly the usual military fighters and transports. One time I heard a plane flying around, sounding like it was idling. Sure enough it was the SR71 and it was moving very fast --- but idling.
Amazing, but my grandmother hated it. She lived dead opposite Mildenhall and they used to wake her up taking off very early in the morning, and as the engines weren't very efficient pre warm on the ground they were pretty noisy
And it's successor
I read that it was originally called the RS-71, but the president at the time said it wrong in public, so they stayed with the new letter order.
George bush came much later :)
"Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay preferred the SR (Strategic Reconnaissance) designation and wanted the RS-71 to be named SR-71. Before the July speech, LeMay lobbied to modify Johnson's speech to read SR-71 instead of RS-71. The media transcript given to the press at the time still had the earlier RS-71 designation in places, creating the story that the president had misread the aircraft's designation."
According to Wiki.
For extreme performance that wins... still holds the speed record set in the 60s for manned flight... nearly mach 7. Basically a manned guided missile.
Held altitude records for years and most pilots who flew it were technically in space and declared astronauts!
But if I was a billionaire what would I fly? For pure computer game looks...
Wow, the x-15 just this http://www.dan-dare.org/FreeFun/Images/CartoonsMoviesTV/WileECoyote.jpg
and the x-29 looks amazing :)
I do love the cobra maneuver... few planes can do it but it's pretty bad ass.
I can make you jealous then. A10s used to regularly practice bomb runs at the factory I worked at.
A-10s would routinely fly around E Anglia where I lived lining up on things like tractors. You could wave to the pilots
Dont know whether we will see manned aircraft like that again but certainly unmanned aircraft will be doing speeds beyond anything we have ever seen.
if I remember correctly BAe systems and the MOD recently revealed details of a stealth unmanned drone abouth the size of a conventional fighter jet as part of a top secret technology demonstrator project. I distinctly remember the BAe test pilot saying the aircraft can fly at twice the speed of anything we have flown before.
I guess not faster than X-15 though? That outruns missiles!
And perhaps more importantly, unmanned planes will be much more manoeuvrable than current ones. Modern planes can pull g forces far in excess of what pilots can cope with (though no doubt they are limited to prevent that). Without a pilot, there could be some pretty spectacular dog fights!
To all of you who like this plane, you should get this book.
Very interesting stories about the whole design process of their planes.
just googled X-15 a speed of more than 4000mph came up....that's fast though looking at the pictures it was a rocket with a seat and doesnt look particularly agile. just found this on the BBC about the BAE and MOD project looks interesting
I suppose as technology increases fully automated aircraft/weapons/reconnaissance platforms will be the norm. like you say increased manoeuvrability and combine that with greater speeds and reach will mean countries will be able to deliver fighter support/ air superiority, reconnaissance and bombing missions more swiftly and concisely. will probably end up in a situation with countries like the UK having armed and combat ready fully automated aircraft in the skies constantly24hrs a day with the aircraft able to look after its self in respect of defensive manoeuvres etc and humans taking responsibility for the releasing of weapons during the periods of conflict.
interesting from a technology perspective but frightening in a real world scenario!
Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death ..I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing! (Sign over the entrance to the old SR-71 operating base Kadena, Japan).
Yep... rocket with a seat! But still a plane technically. Mach 6.7 is just 'plain' crazy. I think it was used in the development of the SR-71 (some flight surfaces etc). It has the same style of body certainly.
I suspect that anything capable of over Mach 3 is never going to be remotely manoeuvrable. Modern jet fighters are all highly unstable to allow them to manoeuvre as such (being computer controlled) or for stealth reasons (such as the F-111 which was shit aerodynamically speaking) but all those fast supersonic/hypersonic craft are either inherently stable or only slightly unstable.
Perhaps with advances in aero-elastic or reshapable control-surface planes they will be able to convert from a stable to unstable configuration depending on whether high speed or agility is required. Obviously thrust vectoring goes some way to helping manoeuvrability too.
And Clint Eastwood pinched one in Firefox :-)
What does maneuverable at speed mean? At mach3 a flying 25km dia circle is a 7g maneuver. Aircraft like the F22 and the Eurofighter combine high speed/climb-rate (though not very high) with high maneuverability at lower speeds. Older aircraft like the Lighting have sacrificed one for the other.
If the SR-71's so bloody good, then how come it hasn't got a single confirmed dogfight kill to it's name?
Yes. Except better. Google "Skylon".
Yes but it will be pilot less, and twice as fast.
I maybe wrong buts it is not that kind of aircraft. More for spying
It's supposed to be a military aircraft, isn't it? What's the point of having a military aircraft without guns?
If I'd designed it, then I'd have ensured that it had a set of .303 Browning's, like the Spitfire did... Or maybe a pair of Hispano cannons. Guns, anyhow.
The SR-72 is a fast air breathing aircraft that bolts two well understood but separate engine designs into one airframe. It only operates in-atompshere.
The Skylon has a single engine design that functions across the regimes of both the turbine and ramjet in the SR-72, and that also functions in space as a rocket engine. A derivate atmospheric only design should still trump the SR-72 approach as the LH2/pre-cooler unit significantly increases the efficiency of the air intake and subsequent burn. On the other hand, the use of liquid hydrogen probably rules against something as small as the SR-72.
I don't want to pilot one of these things, I want to ride it as a fare paying passenger into space. Or from Borris Island Spaceport to New Zealand in 4 hours.
yeah at the minimum should have had an openable window so they could drop grenades or fire pistols out of.
Don't be ridiculous, it goes faster than bullets. Do it to shoot itself down?
I've always thought that the Boeing 737 would make a good stealth aircraft.
Fit one of those babies out with a set of wing-mounted machine guns and convert the baggage hold into a bomb bay. Nobody would ever suspect that easyJet was about to bomb them, if war was declared?
LOL! I hope that's a joke.
This was designed for spying alone... this was before spy satellites remember! It didn't need guns or anything as nothing could catch it due to altitude and speed. Also, it would be flying too fast and high to ever try and make an attempt at shooting anything down.
You'd fit rear-facing machine guns, you fool... What do you take me for? Some sort of an imbecile?
I refer to the ability to engage other aircraft in combat, rather than any outright g-force figures. A 25km circle at mach 6 (giving a 14g manoeuvre I assume) would be useless at any air-air combat. To fire most air-air missiles, you need to get reasonably close to the other aircraft.
You wouldn't want a drag car doing F1 :)
So, if you put one of them on a treadmill and fired its guns backwards, would the bullets go forwards?
Now you're talking my language. First target, I hope, Terminal 3 at Heathrow [empty of people of course].
Well, no. Simply because no one could afford the charges for filling up the hold with bombs.
Thats before getting into the additional charges for actually having the fuses armed.
Then once you have paid all that you will find they blew up somewhere about 50 miles from the target.
Having always admired them, I finally went to see the one parked on the old carrier in New York. Quite stunning.
So, what about the Aurora ?
You make some valid points... And the airport probably wouldn't be too happy about having any unused bombs trundling around on their baggage carousels.
Now that I come to consider this properly, it's probably a bit of a non-starter.
Think you mean Ryanair. Easyjet use Airbus
You're correct, of course... I was just throwing it out there but, as I say, I'm having a few doubts about the whole feasibility of it all now. I mean, I haven't even considered the potential impact of cancellations or delays on bombing missions.
On the other hand it may get the baggage handlers to be more careful with luggage in general. Just need to disguise the bombs so they are never sure if it is a suitcase or a tactical nuke with an impact fuse they are about to throw across the room.
Ah! A sensible post at last!
Anything involving planes on treadmills has got to be sensible. I was starting to fear that this subject had disappeared from UKC. It's a breath of fresh air to see it back.
In reply to Darren Jackson:
Don't be ridiculous, it goes faster than bullets. Do it to shoot itself down?
I heard a story when I was in the raf about a jaguar which shot itself down by overtaking its own bullets in a dive (which then caught it up as it pulled out at the bottom) dont know if it was true though.
Please don't encourage him. I don't think that he's taking this thread too seriously.
Apparently it happened to a US test pilot.
More like 50g (a=v^2/r) edit: sorry, total brain fail... 28g! My point was that you can't really combine extreme speed and even moderate (supertanker!) maneuverability unless they are two completely different parts of the same aircraft's capability used in isolation. You certainly can't combine them for a manned aircraft and not once you're anywhere near the speed/altitude limits of the airframe.
That was my point too :)
Can believe I'm wading in to this, but in my best nerdy voice...
I think you'll find there was indeed a prototype fighter version, labbeled the YF-12 (I think), which was distinctive due it its fire control radar lobes on the forward Chine.
I knew it!... And to think that people laughed at me when I proposed equipping it with Browning machine guns!?!
Well - similar to the late Bob Monkhouse who told people that he wanted to be a comedian when he grew up - they're not laughing now!
Well, they may still laugh at the idea of an old .303 Browning in the nose (rather than the big f'off missiles it had), but yes, you were indeed on the money.
You will be teased no more.
I am sure some light teasing could still be arranged :)
We've already established that the Brownings will need to face to the rear in the interest of it not shooting itself down. I propose mounting them in the wings... And it's not going anywhere near a treadmill.
Do try to keep up! ;-)
chances about the same as me pinning another one on bedroom wall like 30 years ago. better than the crazy idea of colonising other planets anyway..
I read that Swordfishes used to lure German planes into following them into gaps in the coastline where they'd crash with the Swordfishes being slow enough to fly out again unharmed.
An oblique reference to this topic but may be worthwhile.
About 10 yrs ago I visited a company to sell some training and met an engineering manager who had pictures of the Bell X1A on his wall. I noted his surname and asked "Are you related to Chuck Yeager?" "Yes he said, he was my Dad". After about 30 minutes talking about fast planes and rocket engines we did a deal. I had connected - People buy people.
This is not a cynical sales pitch but an illustration of how when you connect with someone it becomes easier to talk. We did a good job and got great reviews but would not have got in there without the X1A connection.
Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager is still alive I believe.
All tech taken from the British and never reciprocated (well not all, but without the British tech about supersonic flight surfaces they never would have done it).
F*cking yanks. Anyway, we had the first supersonic flight from the ground (John Derry who our DT centre at school was named after).
I think the British supersonic airliner was in fact a greater achievement. Sadly to has been left to mothball
Very true. arguably the most beautiful passenger plane of the modern era (with the Comet being up there too).
A little know fact is that the Concorde partially derived from the people and research behind the Avro 730, a British contemporary to the SR-71. Back in the day the UK was at the forefront of aviation and was in many ways ahead of the USA and the soviets. However, setting a pattern for almost all our advanced projects, this fantastic looking aircraft was cancelled in the early days of its design, so sadly never got to give the Blackbird a run for its money.
Despite 40 years of disinterest from success governments and the gradual gutting of our aviation industry some of the key people are still going, and the knowledge and experience still live on in the Skylon spaceplane and hypersonic stratoliner project.
Fascinatingly they are using reentry shapes and concepts dating back to 1950s era UK research into "space shuttle" type vehicles, and having revisited these with modern simulations they are sticking by their claims that NASA and the Russians got it all wrong and that they're going to re-write the textbook on hypersonic reentry.
If/when it flies the Skylon has valid claim to being one of the most significant advances in both aviation and rocketry, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to the 1950s Avro 730...
Have to wonder about the impact of sticking a few billion into this project - might pay for HS2?
Remember that from top trumps in the 80's , a good card to have.
I love the fact no one has shot this post down for talking about aircraft on a climbing forum! :)
I do love the SR71 but my favourite aircraft of all time are:
1 - TSR2
2 - Vulcan Bomber
3 - Javellin
All British cold war classics!
Was seconded from BAe Kingston to Weybridge for a few months in 1988 - the team ~I was with were very old hands and one of them still had engineering drawings for the TSR2 in his desk
AND Fireball XL5!!
When I lived on the farm as a kid (early 80's), A 10's were a regular feature, so low on the hillside you could get a "top gun" salute off the pilots.
Tornados used the farm house as a target, approaching so low you could look down on them, skipping over the farm on full re-heat as the wings went back.
One incident sticks in my memory, of a Jet Provost/Strikemaster so low that the wing tip passed between the houses at the bottom of the lane as I was walking home from school.
In that case, you should get yourself this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Empire-Clouds-Britains-Aircraft-Ruled/dp/0571247954/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&q...
I'm just coming to the end of it myself, a cracking good read.
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