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Design and Development of the Blackbird: Challenges and Lessons LearnedThe 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. In this paper the author describes the design evolution of the Blackbird from Lockheed's early Archangel studies for the Central Intelligence Agency through Senior Crown, production of the Air Force's SR-71. He describes the construction and materials challenges faced by Lockheed, the Blackbird's performance characteristics and capabilities, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration'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.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Merlin, Peter W.
(NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Edwards, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 5, 2009
Subject Category
Aircraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting(Florida)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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