65 votes
Accepted

Why was the production of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird halted?

Why did they stop building it? Because they built 32, and that was as many as was needed at the time. 32 spy planes was plenty for the USAF/CIA to use, so building more would have been a waste. By ...
Jon Story's user avatar
  • 10.4k
44 votes

Why does the SR-71 Blackbird sometimes have dents in the nose?

The SR-71 had a detachable nose (photo #2), and could change between three different nose cones depending on the mission. I haven't found a lot of information on the three, other than what this site ...
bjelleklang's user avatar
  • 4,096
29 votes

Why does the U-2 Dragon Lady not have swept wings?

Sweeping a wing costs weight, for several reasons. Therefore, if the goal is to fly high and achieve long range, an unswept wing is the better choice. Only when transport performance needs to be ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

What U-2 design challenges are still challenging?

The really big challenge on the U2, which is actually based on a F-104 Starfighter fuselage as a foundation, was creating an air breathing engine that would run at 70000 ft. P&W produced a ...
John K's user avatar
  • 131k
20 votes
Accepted

Identifying WWII reconnaissance plane wing

It looked too short to be a C-47 wing, which meant it was most likely a Beech 18. And sure enough, in the cropped image below (taken from a copyrighted image - uncropped pic at the link above), you ...
John K's user avatar
  • 131k
17 votes
Accepted

Why was the U-2 so different from the SR-71?

Because the requirements were different. When U-2 was developed, the requirement was for an aircraft which would fly high at 70,000' due to the (mistaken) belief that the Soviets would be able to ...
aeroalias's user avatar
  • 100k
15 votes
Accepted

Why isn't the U-2 used for commercial purposes?

It is expensive to operate, and there is no economic value in what it does. Apart from reconnaissance and espionage, the U-2 is used for high-altitude atmospheric research, but since it is operated ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
13 votes

Why was the production of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird halted?

For several reasons: First off, the SR-71 was a plane which was never intended. An earlier Blackbird incarnation, the single seat A-12 had been in service for several years with the CIA under the ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
  • 73.7k
13 votes

How slow could the U-2 fly at 50,000 ft?

You can find the official speed envelope in this copy of the flight manual from '68 that was recently declassified, looks like at FL500 you are right around 105 Kts indicated (convert using figure 2). ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
13 votes

What U-2 design challenges are still challenging?

What U2 design challenges are still challenging? I think that most of the technological limitations of that era would be today quite a bit less restrictive, basically in all fields of competencies. ...
sophit's user avatar
  • 11.9k
8 votes

Why does the U-2 Dragon Lady not have swept wings?

Basically, because of its mission requirements. It wasn't intended to fly fast, and because it didn't need to go particularly fast, there was no need to sweep the wing. Instead, it was supposed to ...
JBeck's user avatar
  • 335
8 votes
Accepted

What are the differences between the SR 71 variants?

Like every military aircraft built over the years, the aircraft evolve. So to address the aircraft's history and all variants, let's refer to it as the Blackbird. The Blackbird started out as the A-...
Gerry's user avatar
  • 19.8k
8 votes

Why was the U-2 so different from the SR-71?

First off, the U2 was an earlier design, and engineered around the philosophy that the primary threat to a reconnaissance aircraft were cannon armed fighters. Kelly's thinking was that if he could ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
  • 73.7k
8 votes

What U-2 design challenges are still challenging?

lets say I wanted to make my own U-2 The advantage these days is real-time transmission of data rather than bringing film back and developing it. Back in the 1950s it was essential to get the results ...
Robert DiGiovanni's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Did SR-71s have a switch for seat height adjustment for the pilot or were there strict height requirements in order to fly it?

According to the POH the pilot could indeed move the seat up and down (source) Its worth noting that the SR-71 was a spy plane and visibility from the cockpit was not necessarily a critical aspect of ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
6 votes

Why isn't the U-2 used for commercial purposes?

Because the owners of the U-2s (the USAF and NASA) don't make them available for commercial use. Presumably, the U-2s on display in Norway and the UK and the US aren't operable and were supplied on ...
David Richerby's user avatar
6 votes

Could a SR-71 be shot down today?

I think that tj1000's answer is a rather romantic version. The SR1 stopped overflying the USSR because the MIG31 Foxhound had the legs to close on the SR71 and vector it's missiles if it took off at ...
PDJK's user avatar
  • 61
6 votes
Accepted

Strange C560 flight over the Netherlands - circling and extreme variations in altitude. Possible reconaissance or military?

It only looks strange to a non aviator This is a pretty typical training/practice/burn some fuel flight. What actually happened; they were inbound to the airport and likely issued a hold south of ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
5 votes

Why does the SR-71 Blackbird sometimes have dents in the nose?

The dents are there to provide a proper thickness window for DEF systems. Ferry noses had no need for DEF systems and so didn't have the bulges. If you look carefully at the noses you will see that ...
Chris Stratford's user avatar
5 votes

Why is there no reconnaissance version of the B-2 stealth bomber?

Most of the uses the SR-71 had been developed for are now covered by satellites. Optical sensors spy on new structures and objects, infrared sensors find fires, rocket launches and explosions and ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
4 votes

Why was the production of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird halted?

Production of the SR-71 halted, quite simply, because they had built as many of them as they needed (or, perhaps, as many as they could afford). Pretty much like everything else, really.
David Richerby's user avatar
4 votes

Why was the U-2 so different from the SR-71?

The main idea was completely different behind the 2 designs. The U-2 was designed in an era when the main threat to aircraft were anti aircraft guns and gun carrying point interceptors. Neither could ...
jwenting's user avatar
  • 15.9k
4 votes

Why does the U-2 Dragon Lady not have swept wings?

A swept wing would most likely adversely affect the handling of a U2 during a typical mission profile, and would adversely affect the structure required (weight) of the aircraft. A swept wing ...
mongo's user avatar
  • 17.7k
4 votes

What are the differences between the SR 71 variants?

You may be referring to the fact that pilots felt that all Blackbirds seemed to have a distinct personality e.g. 962 was a hangar queen - a real lemon - whereas 972 never let you down. Blackbirds ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
  • 73.7k
4 votes

What U-2 design challenges are still challenging?

The major issue with the U2 / TR1 is that at altitude the stall speed and sound barrier are nearly the same. With the thin air there is less lift, requiring the large sailplane like wings. At the same ...
Jim's user avatar
  • 961
3 votes

Why does the SR-71 Blackbird sometimes have dents in the nose?

Bjelleklang is right, the nose is detachable and would be switched out according to the mission's needs. The bulges are a key component of the (for that time) very sophisticated radar imaging system, ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 47
3 votes

What are the differences between the SR 71 variants?

There are a few variants of the SR-71 but there is only 1 that was ever used in an active military role. The YF-12 was the SR-71's initial test airframe. Of the three airframes build tests were ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
3 votes

Why was the production of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird halted?

The SR-71 was a special plane with capabilities beyond what are commonly known. It was also incredibly expensive and was limited by high maintenance costs and special equipment requirements which ...
dlb's user avatar
  • 130
3 votes

Could a SR-71 be shot down today?

On paper, a 1980's vintage SR71 with 1980's countermeasures and support, would probably be vulnerable to the latest SAM's. However... if a nation were to field a hypersonic aircraft with the SR71's ...
tj1000's user avatar
  • 8,777

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