The Valkyrie flew at Mach 3.1, close to the SR-71's operating speed in cruise. For the SR-71:

Fuselage panels were manufactured to fit only loosely with the aircraft on the ground. Proper alignment was achieved as the airframe heated up and expanded several inches. Because of this, and the lack of a fuel-sealing system that could handle the airframe's expansion at extreme temperatures, the aircraft leaked JP-7 fuel on the ground prior to takeoff. (Wikipedia; emphasis mine)

And if my memory serves me well, and if Discovery channel got it right, the SR-71 needed to meet with a tanker right away because of this leakage.

What was the Valkyrie's workaround/fix? The Valkyrie's Wikipedia article doesn't mention leakage prior to in-flight expansion.

I wanted to initially ask about the MiG-31's fuel tank seals, as the USSR developed heat-resistant rubber[1] (and also special fuel like the SR-71 – the T-6) for that purpose, but since the MiG-31 is a lot cooler, it wouldn't have been comparable, though this piece of information might be relevant.

1: Wings of Russia TV documentary

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    $\begingroup$ The leakiness of SR-71 is often exxagerated. It's not like it was swiss cheese on ground. It pissed puddles under itself for sure, but the reason for taking off with only partial fuel load was not leaking of fuel during taxi and t/o, but safety: it was necessary to lower stresses on ldg gear and tyres (which were very special btw), and to assure stopping if t/o was aborted, and safe climbout if one engine failed after V1. For example see en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird#Fuel $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Jpe61: that makes a lot more sense, thanks! $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


According to Valkyrie - North American XB-70A by Steve Pace, leakage problems existed.

...engineering changes, weld stresses, and areas where it was not considered important to test-pressurize, combined to create an accumulation of leakage problems. Brazing repairs to the leaking areas proved ineffective.

To the point that

The rearmost fuselage tank on XB-70A No. 1 became increasingly difficult to seal and therefore was never used.

The mitigation was

A non-metallic material made by DuPont called Viton-B was eventually used to coat the porous areas.

(p. 69)

It goes on to discuss that it still didn't work that well.

Fuel tankage diagram from the book

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! With the word "Viton," I was able to find that it wasn't just used, it was developed for that issue: Consequently, a program to develop an organic sealant com­patible with fuel and capable of sustaining the 600 F [315°C] en­vironment was initiated. The resulting sealant was a fluorinated synthetic rubber (Viton), and it was used extensively in air vehicle No. 1. jstor.org/stable/44564841 $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 20:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ymb1 fascinating, thanks for the link. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ Viton is the material used for O-rings that get exposure to gasoline. Maybe a derivative? $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnK: Given that Viton was introduced in 1957, it's more likely it's not a derivative, I think. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 23:09

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