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SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird (Aircraft Specials 6067)
By Jim Goodall, Don Greer

Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1995 82 Pages
ISBN: 0897473388

In 1953 military aviation was in a transition from subsonic to super­sonic flight. Chance-Vought had delivered the last propeller driven fighter: a F4U Corsair, to the Navy that February. In May. just three months later, the first YF-100A Super Saber was delivered to the U.S. Air Force. This was the start of the Century series fighters. This transi­tion was made possible by the development of more powerful turbojet engines such as the Pratt & Whitney J-57, which went into production during 1953. You could now go higher, faster and farther than ever before possible. Higher altitudes meant less risk for the bombers and future reconnaissance aircraft. As far back as 1953. the altitude goal most frequently mentioned during that period was 30.000 meters or 97.000 feet. Greater range was not neglected as a design goal, but with inflight refueling, the need for range could be compromised in favor of other design goals.
With the outbreak of the Korean war. John D. Seaberg. an aeronautical engineer at Chance-Vought, was called to active duty as a major in the Air Force. Major Seaberg's first assignment was to Wright Field as part of a new development office for bombardment aircraft. What Seaberg saw in the new generation of turbojet engines, with their inherent high altitude potential, was the opportunity of match engine and airfoil (wing shape) to achieve an aircraft of low wing-loading which would be capa­ble of operations at higher altitudes than anything yet conceived. The ideal application for such an aircraft was reconnaissance, where its high altitude capability would make detection very difficult and provide pro­tection from interception until effective electronic counter measures were developed.


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