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The Boeing P-26A of the mid-to-late 1930s introduced the concept of the higher-overall performance, all-metal monoplane fighter style, which would turn out to be common throughout World War II. A radical departure from wood-and-fabric biplanes, the Peashooter nonetheless retained an open cockpit, fixed landing gear, and external wing bracing.
Most P-26As stationed overseas were sooner or later sold to the Philippines or assigned to the Panama Canal Department Air Force, a branch of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Numerous went to China and one to Spain. This 1 was based at Selfridge Field in Michigan and Fairfield Air Depot in Ohio between its acceptance by the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1934 and its transfer to the Canal Zone in 1938. It was offered to Guatemala in 1942 and flew in the Guatemalan air force till 1954. Guatemala donated it to the Smithsonian in 1957.
Gift of the Guatemalan Air Force, Republic of Guatemala
Boeing Aircraft Co.
Country of Origin:
United States of America
Wingspan: eight.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
Length:7.3 m (23 ft 11 in)
Height:three.1 m (ten ft 2 in)
Weight, empty:996 kg (2,196 lb)
Weight, gross:1,334 kg (2,935 lb)
Best speed:377 km/h (234 mph)
Engine:Pratt & Whitney R-1340-27, 600 hp
Armament:two .30 cal. M2 Browning aircraft machine guns
• • •
Quoting from Boeing History | P-26 "Peashooter" Fighter:
The all-metal, single-wing P-26, popularly known as the "Peashooter," was an totally new design for Boeing, and its structure drew heavily on the Monomail. The Peashooter’s wings had been braced with wire, rather than with the rigid struts utilised on other airplanes, so the airplane was lighter and had significantly less drag. Its initial higher landing speeds have been reduced by the addition of wing flaps in the production models.
Since the P-26 flew 27 mph quicker and outclimbed biplane fighters, the Army ordered 136 production-model Peashooters. Acclaimed by pilots for its speed and maneuverability, the small but feisty P-26 formed the core of pursuit squadrons throughout the United States.
Twelve export versions, 11 for China and one particular for Spain, have been built. One of a group of P-26s, turned over to the Philippine Army late in 1941, was among the very first Allied fighters to down a Japanese airplane in Globe War II.
Funds to acquire the export version of the Peashooter have been partly raised by Chinese Americans. Contribution boxes had been placed on the counters of Chinese restaurants.
• 1st flight: March 20, 1932
• Model quantity: 248/266
• Classification: Fighter
• Span: 28 feet
• Length: 23 feet 7 inches
• Gross weight: 2,995 pounds
• Prime speed: 234 mph
• Cruising speed: 200 mph
• Range: 635 miles
• Ceiling: 27,400 feet
• Energy: 600-horsepower P&W Wasp engine
• Accommodation: 1 pilot
• Armament: two machine guns, 200-pound bomb load
• • • • •
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated globally in more hostile airspace or with such full impunity than the SR-71, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s efficiency and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments for the duration of the Cold War.
This Blackbird accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time throughout 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its last flight, March 6, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging 3,418 kilometers (2,124 miles) per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane more than to the Smithsonian.
Transferred from the United States Air Force.
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson
Country of Origin:
United States of America
All round: 18ft five 15/16in. x 55ft 7in. x 107ft 5in., 169998.5lb. (five.638m x 16.942m x 32.741m, 77110.8kg)
Other: 18ft five 15/16in. x 107ft 5in. x 55ft 7in. (five.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)
Twin-engine, two-seat, supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft airframe constructed largley of titanium and its alloys vertical tail fins are constructed of a composite (laminated plastic-type material) to minimize radar cross-section Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines function large inlet shock cones.
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated in far more hostile airspace or with such complete impunity than the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the quickest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines. The Blackbird’s efficiency and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments in the course of the Cold War. The airplane was conceived when tensions with communist Eastern Europe reached levels approaching a full-blown crisis in the mid-1950s. U.S. military commanders desperately required precise assessments of Soviet worldwide military deployments, especially near the Iron Curtain. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s subsonic U-2 (see NASM collection) reconnaissance aircraft was an capable platform but the U. S. Air Force recognized that this reasonably slow aircraft was already vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. They also understood that the rapid development of surface-to-air missile systems could put U-2 pilots at grave danger. The danger proved reality when a U-2 was shot down by a surface to air missile more than the Soviet Union in 1960.
Lockheed’s initial proposal for a new high speed, higher altitude, reconnaissance aircraft, to be capable of avoiding interceptors and missiles, centered on a design propelled by liquid hydrogen. This proved to be impracticable simply because of considerable fuel consumption. Lockheed then reconfigured the design and style for conventional fuels. This was feasible and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), already flying the Lockheed U-two, issued a production contract for an aircraft designated the A-12. Lockheed’s clandestine ‘Skunk Works’ division (headed by the gifted design and style engineer Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson) created the A-12 to cruise at Mach 3.two and fly effectively above 18,288 m (60,000 feet). To meet these challenging needs, Lockheed engineers overcame numerous daunting technical challenges. Flying a lot more than three instances the speed of sound generates 316° C (600° F) temperatures on external aircraft surfaces, which are enough to melt traditional aluminum airframes. The design team chose to make the jet’s external skin of titanium alloy to which shielded the internal aluminum airframe. Two traditional, but really potent, afterburning turbine engines propelled this remarkable aircraft. These energy plants had to operate across a large speed envelope in flight, from a takeoff speed of 334 kph (207 mph) to more than three,540 kph (two,200 mph). To stop supersonic shock waves from moving inside the engine intake causing flameouts, Johnson’s team had to design and style a complex air intake and bypass technique for the engines.
Skunk Operates engineers also optimized the A-12 cross-section design to exhibit a low radar profile. Lockheed hoped to attain this by cautiously shaping the airframe to reflect as small transmitted radar energy (radio waves) as possible, and by application of special paint created to absorb, rather than reflect, these waves. This treatment became a single of the very first applications of stealth technologies, but it in no way fully met the style targets.
Test pilot Lou Schalk flew the single-seat A-12 on April 24, 1962, after he became airborne accidentally throughout high-speed taxi trials. The airplane showed excellent guarantee but it required considerable technical refinement before the CIA could fly the 1st operational sortie on Could 31, 1967 – a surveillance flight more than North Vietnam. A-12s, flown by CIA pilots, operated as component of the Air Force’s 1129th Unique Activities Squadron beneath the "Oxcart" program. Even though Lockheed continued to refine the A-12, the U. S. Air Force ordered an interceptor version of the aircraft designated the YF-12A. The Skunk Works, nonetheless, proposed a "specific mission" version configured to conduct post-nuclear strike reconnaissance. This technique evolved into the USAF’s familiar SR-71.
Lockheed constructed fifteen A-12s, which includes a special two-seat trainer version. Two A-12s were modified to carry a specific reconnaissance drone, designated D-21. The modified A-12s were redesignated M-21s. These have been designed to take off with the D-21 drone, powered by a Marquart ramjet engine mounted on a pylon amongst the rudders. The M-21 then hauled the drone aloft and launched it at speeds higher adequate to ignite the drone’s ramjet motor. Lockheed also built 3 YF-12As but this variety in no way went into production. Two of the YF-12As crashed for the duration of testing. Only one particular survives and is on show at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aft section of 1 of the "written off" YF-12As which was later utilised along with an SR-71A static test airframe to manufacture the sole SR-71C trainer. A single SR-71 was lent to NASA and designated YF-12C. Including the SR-71C and two SR-71B pilot trainers, Lockheed constructed thirty-two Blackbirds. The 1st SR-71 flew on December 22, 1964. Due to the fact of extreme operational fees, military strategists decided that the more capable USAF SR-71s need to replace the CIA’s A-12s. These were retired in 1968 following only one year of operational missions, mostly over southeast Asia. The Air Force’s 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (element of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) took more than the missions, flying the SR-71 starting in the spring of 1968.
After the Air Force started to operate the SR-71, it acquired the official name Blackbird– for the special black paint that covered the airplane. This paint was formulated to absorb radar signals, to radiate some of the tremendous airframe heat generated by air friction, and to camouflage the aircraft against the dark sky at higher altitudes.
Expertise gained from the A-12 plan convinced the Air Force that flying the SR-71 safely essential two crew members, a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO). The RSO operated with the wide array of monitoring and defensive systems installed on the airplane. This gear incorporated a sophisticated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) system that could jam most acquisition and targeting radar. In addition to an array of advanced, higher-resolution cameras, the aircraft could also carry equipment created to record the strength, frequency, and wavelength of signals emitted by communications and sensor devices such as radar. The SR-71 was designed to fly deep into hostile territory, avoiding interception with its tremendous speed and high altitude. It could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach three.3 at an altitude a lot more than sixteen miles, or 25,908 m (85,000 ft), above the earth. The crew had to put on stress suits similar to these worn by astronauts. These suits were necessary to shield the crew in the event of sudden cabin pressure loss while at operating altitudes.
To climb and cruise at supersonic speeds, the Blackbird’s Pratt & Whitney J-58 engines had been designed to operate continuously in afterburner. Whilst this would appear to dictate higher fuel flows, the Blackbird truly achieved its greatest "gas mileage," in terms of air nautical miles per pound of fuel burned, for the duration of the Mach three+ cruise. A typical Blackbird reconnaissance flight may possibly call for many aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Each time the SR-71 refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker’s altitude, generally about 6,000 m to 9,000 m (20,000 to 30,000 ft), and slow the airplane to subsonic speeds. As velocity decreased, so did frictional heat. This cooling effect caused the aircraft’s skin panels to shrink considerably, and those covering the fuel tanks contracted so much that fuel leaked, forming a distinctive vapor trail as the tanker topped off the Blackbird. As soon as the tanks were filled, the jet’s crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and once again climbed to higher altitude.
Air Force pilots flew the SR-71 from Kadena AB, Japan, throughout its operational career but other bases hosted Blackbird operations, as well. The 9th SRW occasionally deployed from Beale AFB, California, to other locations to carryout operational missions. Cuban missions were flown straight from Beale. The SR-71 did not commence to operate in Europe until 1974, and then only temporarily. In 1982, when the U.S. Air Force based two aircraft at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall to fly monitoring mission in Eastern Europe.
When the SR-71 became operational, orbiting reconnaissance satellites had already replaced manned aircraft to collect intelligence from sites deep within Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover every single geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a vital tool for global intelligence gathering. On numerous occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR-71 offered information that proved vital in formulating profitable U. S. foreign policy. Blackbird crews offered important intelligence about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath, and pre- and post-strike imagery of the 1986 raid carried out by American air forces on Libya. In 1987, Kadena-primarily based SR-71 crews flew a number of missions more than the Persian Gulf, revealing Iranian Silkworm missile batteries that threatened commercial shipping and American escort vessels.
As the overall performance of space-primarily based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-based air defense networks, the Air Force started to lose enthusiasm for the costly plan and the 9th SRW ceased SR-71 operations in January 1990. Despite protests by military leaders, Congress revived the plan in 1995. Continued wrangling over operating budgets, nonetheless, quickly led to final termination. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retained two SR-71As and the 1 SR-71B for higher-speed analysis projects and flew these airplanes until 1999.
On March 6, 1990, the service profession of a single Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird ended with a record-setting flight. This particular airplane bore Air Force serial number 64-17972. Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding and his RSO, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Vida, flew this aircraft from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging a speed of 3,418 kph (2,124 mph). At the conclusion of the flight, ‘972 landed at Dulles International Airport and taxied into the custody of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. At that time, Lt. Col. Vida had logged 1,392.7 hours of flight time in Blackbirds, much more than that of any other crewman.
This certain SR-71 was also flown by Tom Alison, a former National Air and Space Museum’s Chief of Collections Management. Flying with Detachment 1 at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Alison logged far more than a dozen ‘972 operational sorties. The aircraft spent twenty-4 years in active Air Force service and accrued a total of 2,801.1 hours of flight time.
Weight: 170,000 Lbs
Reference and Further Reading:
Crickmore, Paul F. Lockheed SR-71: The Secret Missions Exposed. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1996.
Francillon, Rene J. Lockheed Aircraft Considering that 1913. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987.
Johnson, Clarence L. Kelly: Far more Than My Share of It All. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985.
Miller, Jay. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Performs. Leicester, U.K.: Midland Counties Publishing Ltd., 1995.
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.