Dubbed the World's Fastest Aircraft, Here Are 12 Must-Know Facts About the SR-71 Blackbird

Dubbed the World's Fastest Aircraft, Here Are 12 Must-Know Facts About the SR-71 Blackbird
12 Must-Know Facts About the SR-71 Blackbird

International Military - Undeniably, currently the Lockheed Martin SR 71 Blackbird is the fastest military aircraft in the world. Of the 32 SR 71 Blackbirds built during the Cold War, tragically, a dozen were lost in accidents. However, the crash of the SR 71 Blackbird did not fall due to the actions of the enemy.

This 2022, the SR 71 Blackbird holds the world record set in 1976 as the fastest manned aircraft, previously held by the associated Lockheed YF-12. It doesn't stop there, there are at least 12 other, mostly unknown facts about the super-fast military aircraft SR 71 Blackbird:

1. The old April Fools' Day joke is still making the rounds that Russia might shoot someday. The fact that all the planes produced must be taken into account to dispel rumors that one is missing, but in 2018, the aviation news site Hush-Kit ran a story that the Russian Ministry of Defense shared evidence that an SR-71 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union during the War. Cold, and suggesting there's a US Department of Defense cover-up.

Three SR-71 Blackbird

Savvy readers will note that the story aired on April 1st, but the 'news' story is still being used as 'evidence' that the SR-71 was shot down.

2. The SR-71 can fly at a speed of about 36.55 miles per minute or 3,216.4 feet per second; it was faster than a bullet fired from a World War II-era M1 Garand rifle, which had a muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second. Quoted from 19fortyfive.com, the world can argue that the SR-71 can be as fast as Super Man, but so far, Man of Steel has never raced a Blackbird.

3. Even though not a single Blackbird was ever shot down by an enemy, the SR-71 pilots couldn't sit back and relax. Flying at high speed is not for the faint of heart. In addition, the pilots had dodged about 4,000 missiles fired at it.

4. Only one aircraft has the distinction of achieving radar lock on fast-flying United States Air Force reconnaissance aircraft. However, it was not a Soviet interceptor like the MiG-25, but a Swedish-made Saab J37 Viggen fighter that managed to achieve missile lock-up and visual contact with the fast spy plane.

5. The first time an SR-71 Blackbird was shot by a missile was on July 26, 1968, during a reconnaissance flight over North Vietnam. Although the SR-71 carries radar countermeasures to avoid interception attempts, its greatest protection is still the combination of high altitude and breakneck speed, which makes it almost (but not completely) invulnerable.

Along with a low radar cross-section, these qualities provide short time for enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites to acquire and track aircraft on radar.

6. Although the Saab J37 Viggen was the only aircraft to achieve radar lock-in on the SR-71, a pair of Swedish fighter jets also escorted the damaged SR-71 after one of its Pratt & Whitney J58-1 afterburning turbofans lost power. Sweden proved to be a guardian angel for the SR-71 and ensured that no Soviet fighter pilot tried to interfere with the spy plane.

7. Developed at Lockheed's not-so-secret Skunk Works facility, the SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design. It may be known as the Black Bird, but it is actually painted a very dark blue that appears black. This is to increase internal heat emission and also to act as camouflage against the night sky.

Photo showing an SR-71 Blackbird at a US Air Force Base

8. The SR-71 Blackbird is made with Soviet titanium. During the Cold War, the United States did not have a significant source of the metal, nor did US allies. As a result, the titanium used in the plane ended up being sourced from the same country the plane was designed to spy on, namely, the Soviet Union. Raw materials are purchased from third world countries using fake companies set up by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

9. The SR-71 Blackbird is also not an easy aircraft to operate. Unlike most modern warplanes, which can be 'scrambled' and in the air within minutes, the SR-71 was more like a space launch of the era. Taking the Blackbird to the skies required hours of preparation and a huge team to make sure everything was in order.

10. The SR-71 does not use standard aviation fuel but rather a special military specification fuel called MIL-T 38219, or Jet Propellant 7. Shell Oil was actually called upon to create a compound blend to meet military requirements, and the result was three times more expensive than the type. the fuel used by airplanes at that time.

11. The SR-71 Blackbird cannot fully refuel on the ground. This is because the titanium fuselage panels are also loosely attached to the fuselage to allow for thermal expansion, while the fuel system is also unsealed because there is no seal that is flexible and durable enough to withstand the type of temperature and shrink expansion cycles.

As a result, the plane's fuel will leak while on the runway, but the leak will stop once the plane reaches temperature! The SR-71 must be refueled right after takeoff.

12. The SR-71 Blackbird is indeed the US military's eye in the sky. Because Blackbirds can cross continents in just a few hours, and at an altitude of 80,000 feet, Blackbirds can observe 100,000 square miles of land below per hour. In July 1976, the SR-71 Blackbird even set two world records, one an absolute speed record of 2,193,167 mph while the other an absolute altitude record of 85,068,997 feet.

It is known that the operational costs of the SR-71 Blackbird are very expensive and fantastic. This is evidenced in his information that the operational cost of the SR-71 Blackbird per year can reach USD 200 - 300 million.

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