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Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

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Initially designated the A-12, the Blackbird was designed at the request of the CIA for an mach 3+ over-flight reconnaissance aircraft to replace the U-2.

The A-12's performance led to the development of fighter and bomber variants designated as the F-12 and B-71.  Three prototype YF-12A fighters were built while the reconnaissance bomber version was dropped.

In the meantime, a more capable reconnaissance version was developed which kept the bomber version's sequence number but used the one-of-a-kind SR designation (strategic reconnaissance).

Another version (the D-21) was built to carry the D-21 reconnaissance drone.

The first SR-71 flew in 1964 and entered service in 1966. The USAF retired its SR-71 fleet in 1990 due to high operating costs.  The Blackbird began flying missions again in 1997 and returned to retirement in 1998.

During its operational career, the SR-71 was the world's fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft with an absolute speed record of 2,193 miles per hour and absolute altitude record of 85,069 feet.

 Specifications (SR-71A)  Designations
Type: Strategic Reconnaissance
Engines: two 32,500 lb (145 kN) Pratt & Whitney J58 afterburning bleed turbojets
A-12: Forerunner of the SR-71, first flew in 1962.
YF-12A: Prototype fighter (high speed/altitude interceptor) version (3 built)
M-21: "Mother" ship version to carry the D-21 reconnaissance drone (2 built)
B-71: (Reconnaissance) Bomber versions (not built)
SR-71: Strategic Reconnaissance aircraft
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page updated 13 February 2008



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Kenneth W Shanaberger 2000 - 2010