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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I think it deserves its own thread because it's pretty much the coolest thing in the world. :thumbup:













 

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The SR-71 is a nice bird but I've always been more of an A-12 Oxcart man myself.



obin :cool:
 

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Read the book "Skunkworks" by Ben Rich. Fascinating look at the manufacturing/engineering side of the SR-71 (and others).


What I find ironic about the SR-71 (and A-12) is the fact they sourced almost all of the titanium for the airframe from the Soviet Union during the cold war. Lockheed used various fake companies to purchase the metal from the Soviets and had it shipped to the US to be used in the spy plane we used to spy on the Soviets.
 

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The designers had to develop new technologies and manufacturing techniques. Some of the more interesting tidbits:

Working with titanium metal in the 60's was something new and they had to develop new ways to forge and work with this stubborn metal. They discovered that the tools themselves were causing corrosion and weakening of the metal, so they had to make their own tools using a special blend of metals that won't attack the titanium.

They had to develop all new cooling liquids, grease, oils, and other materials to handle the severe heat the airframe would be subjected to. Even the landing gear tires where specially made using embedded metal within the rubber to handle the heat and pure nitrogen in the tires long before Formula 1 started using it in race cars.

Even the fuel itself was special....JP-7. Very high flash point fuel that would only work in the P&W J58 engines. You could literally drop a lit match in a bucket of JP-7 fuel and it would put out the match. Very safe fuel. They had a fleet of dedicated tanker aircraft specially designed to carry JP-7.

Some pilots even talked about how they ate meals while in flight. Heat from the speed would heat up the windows to them temperature of a household oven. The crew would put there meals on the inside of the windows where it would heat up and then they'd connect it to their feeding tubes on the spacesuit. Nice hot meal courtesy of airframe heating.


The typical flight ended with the airplane sitting on the tarmac for an extended period of time to allow the airframe to cool down to the point where the flight line crews could even approach the plane without getting burned. Pilot and RSO would have to sit there while the airframe cooled before they could exit.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Those are cool little nuggets of info. I also read that they use the fuel to help cool the cockpit.

Some info on how the engine work. As they go faster the cone at the front moves to get the shockwave coming off the tip of the cone to hit right at the sweet spot. And flaps open and close depending on where they want the extra air to go. By solving the problem of the extra air at the front by diverting it around to the rear they found that if they dump fuel back there the had inadvertently created a turbo ramjet. Just staggering the engineering they had to go through to be able create something does what this thing is capable of.



Anyways, more pics...

















 

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The typical flight ended with the airplane sitting on the tarmac for an extended period of time to allow the airframe to cool down to the point where the flight line crews could even approach the plane without getting burned. Pilot and RSO would have to sit there while the airframe cooled before they could exit.
I'm gonna call BS on this one, considering airframe heating would be occuring at high cruise speeds, and they're not carrying those speeds down into the lower altitudes. So there would be several minutes where the airframe would be cooling in flight as it approached landing.
 

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I'm gonna call BS on this one, considering airframe heating would be occuring at high cruise speeds, and they're not carrying those speeds down into the lower altitudes. So there would be several minutes where the airframe would be cooling in flight as it approached landing.
The problem is the airframe can not dissipate the heat fast enough to cool down before landing. Think of it as a giant black heatsink. The iron-ferrite "stealth" coating they used was known to hold heat. X-15 suffered from same thing. My dad use to work as a AC tech Staff Sargent at Fairchild AFB and had the chance to help out on several SR-71 missions. He'd tell me stories of the aircraft landing and it's skin and windows would still be several hundred degrees F. Keep in mind this aircraft would operate well above the temperature of a household oven or even a soldering iron. It's tough to get rid of that heat given the mass of the aircraft. Hell, they even used the JP-7 fuel as part of the airframe cooling system. Preheat the fuel prior to entering the engine by running it through various channels and tanks within the wings and body.
 

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that thread at GRM has one of my all-time favorite SR-71 stories on it. Pasted here for your enjoyment:



SR-71 Blackbird Communication to Tower

Written by Brian Schul—former sled (SR-71 Blackbird) driver. There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane—intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn't match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot who asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: "November Charlie 175, I'm showing you at ninety knots on the ground." Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the "Houston Center voice." I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country's space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn't matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

Just moments after the Cessna's inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in Beech. "I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed." Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.

Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. "Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check." Before Center could reply, I'm thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out? Then I got it, ol' Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He's the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: "Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground." And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done—in mere seconds we'll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it—the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: "Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?" There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request.

"Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground." I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: "Ah, Center, much thanks, we're showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money."

For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A. came back with, "Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one." It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day's work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
that thread at GRM has one of my all-time favorite SR-71 stories on it. Pasted here for your enjoyment:



SR-71 Blackbird Communication to Tower
That was good!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I can't imagine what it would feel like to stand next to that much power.





 

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My grandfather was on the design and test team for the sr71. He's been on the discover channel a few times now, and the stories he can tell are fascinating.
 

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From the first day I laid eyes on an actual SR-71 I was engulfed. I was 11 years old and to me it was a thing of beauty. I later purchased a model and spent the most detailed time assembling it to perfection. I get chills when I see it in person to this day. When I read stories about it nothing can draw my attention more. Words escape me as I think about it, and to some of you I think you know what I'm talking about. It's that feeling you get for nothing else, it's the AWE factor and the SR-71 is the only beauty that will ever make me feel that way. :thumbup:
 
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