The era of the Cold War gave rise to many confrontations that took place on land, in the air, on the surface of the sea and in its depths. Often they were distinguished by high bitterness and threatened to lead to a new global war. The USA and the USSR used every opportunity to get at least a local victory. In this struggle, a huge amount of resources was spent, the opponents used the latest scientific and technical developments, some samples of weapons and military equipment of that time can be called masterpieces of engineering thought.
One of the most interesting confrontations of that period can be called the struggle between the American and Soviet combat aircraft, which unfolded in the stratosphere of our planet. Brought her truly unique cars.
The USSR was a closed country in which counterintelligence worked very actively and successfully, so it was problematic for American special services to obtain information from behind the Iron Curtain. They went the other way and began to develop technical means of intelligence. The main bet was made on reconnaissance aircraft.
The story of the "Blackbird"
Development of high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft in the United States began actively in the late 40s of the last century. In the late 50s, a unique machine, the U-2, began flying over the territory of the USSR. This plane could rise to a height of more than 21 kilometers, it was invulnerable to the Soviet air defense and interceptor aircraft. This continued until May 1, 1960, when the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over the Urals.
This incident caused the strongest international scandal and led to a sharp political crisis. The Americans realized that U-2 was no longer suitable for carrying out such missions and began to look for a replacement for it.
The company Lockheed led the development of a new aircraft. Today we know this plane as the SR-71 Blackbird. The media rarely wrote about this car; we know even less about the use of the SR-71 and about the missions that this aircraft was carrying out. This is not surprising, because this plane was originally created for strategic intelligence, its customer was the CIA.
The predecessor of the "Blackbird" was the aircraft Lockheed A-12, which was originally conceived as a machine capable of performing shock functions. At the same time in the United States were working on another machine, the XB-70 "Valkyrie", he was to become a high-altitude strategic bomber.
It turned out that the A-12 is much better suited to the role of high-speed high-speed reconnaissance.
Testing and refinement of the new aircraft was very difficult. During the test flight several cars were lost, the pilots died. The plane turned out so revolutionary and ahead of its time that many components and assemblies had to be created anew, right in the process of testing.
General description of SR-71 Blackbird
This aircraft was created to conduct aerial reconnaissance from high altitudes, at a speed exceeding the speed of sound several times. This machine has an absolutely “alien” design that allows it to perform its functions. The original form of the body provides the SR-71A with the highest aerodynamic characteristics, its main material is titanium.
Due to the fact that the air resistance increases with speed, the “Blackbird” fuselage is made as thin as possible, the wings have a greater sweep. The aircraft is made according to the “tailless” scheme, there are no stabilizers.
SR-71A is made using stealth technology. The hull color is black (it dissipates heat better), the crew consists of two people.
The main problems that engineers had to solve were the behavior of aircraft systems and structural materials at supersonic speeds. At a speed of 3 Mach, the plating of the car heated to 400 ºС.
For the aircraft, a special fuel with a high ignition temperature and heat resistance was developed. This fuel performs the function of cooling the cockpit and equipment.
The take-off weight of the aircraft is almost 78 tons, most of which is fuel. The plane was very "voracious", it consumes 600 kg / min. The SR-71A cannot fly with fully fueled tanks. He takes on board the minimum amount of fuel, and then refuels in the air. For these purposes, a special aircraft tanker was created. It is worth noting that the problems of leakage of special fuel have become the main headache of the designers of the SR-71A.
To service the SR-71A, it was necessary to distill special tankers to the points of its route, and to make special fuel for one type of aircraft. Therefore, the cost of operation was huge.
Another problem was providing the crew with breathing air. Then the Americans used these developments in their space programs.
Two turbo-jet engines Pratt & Whitney J58 were installed on the plane.
The SR-71A was equipped with a navigation system that was quite advanced for its time.
It has several special cameras, side-looking radar and thermal imaging equipment. During one hour of flight, this aircraft can survey an area of more than 150 thousand kilometers.
SR-71 Blackbird application history
SR-71A is quite successfully used to carry out reconnaissance missions. He repeatedly appeared in the skies of Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, was engaged in intelligence in the Middle East. He flew over the USSR.
Several hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles were launched on this aircraft, but none of them could hit it. This is the only American aircraft that could not bring down the Vietnamese.
A total of 32 aircraft SR-71A, 12 of them were lost in an accident. The Blackbird was operated from 1964 to 1998. Several times these aircraft collided with Soviet high-altitude interceptors MiG-31, and each time the SR-71A was forced to retreat to neutral territory.
SR-71A set a speed record for airplanes with direct-flow engines - 3529.56 km / h. This aircraft was actively used by NASA for research.