Spying on Russia at Mach 3…SR-71 Blackbird in high-res (19 HQ Photos)

Am I the only one that learned what "Skunk Works" was from a poster of the SR-71 Blackbird? On July 28, 1976 the SR-71A traveled at Mach 3.3 which is just shy of 2,200 mph. There are other records set (such as altitude record of 85,069 feet) but my favorite is the New York to London in 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds. The Pratt & Whitney J58-P4 engines used in the Blackbird were the only American engines designed to operate continuously on afterburner, and became more efficient as speed increased. Each J58 engine could produce 32,500 lbs/f of static thrust. This plane is like my Mclaren F1 poster; it is how I remember my childhood bed room.
theBRIGADE wants to know what vehicle you had a poster of as a kid
Submit your Photos here

theBRIGADE wants to know what vehicle you had a poster of as a kid
Submit your Photos here

  • JG2000

    AWESOME! The Cobra version (from G.IJoe) was equally badass!

  • Gezza

    I like this plane…but my favourite is still the F117-A

    • Botherington-Smythe

      F117-A? What madness is this? It fell from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

      • floscar

        I have to agree that as far as looks go for bad ass jets the F117-A is one ugly piece-o-s but when it comes to capability the F117-A has the blackbird beat.

    • Ivan

      Why would you compare a reconnaissance vehicle to a fighter?

      • Dom

        Actually, the F-117 carried only air to ground weapons, no A-A weapons. It was called "Stealth Fighter", but it was actually a bomber/attack aircraft.

      • thewere42

        The YF-12 would of been a cool plane if they went into production.

        The YF-12 was an SR-71 with an internal bay carrying three Hughes GAR-9/ AIM-47A air to air radar guided missiles, designed to shoot enemy airplanes flying at lower altitudes.
        Only three YF-12s were ever built.

  • whooooa

    Numbers 7 and 13 made me :O
    I'd never entertained the notion of TWO Blackbirds together, let alone THREE!
    Truly a beautiful sight.

  • Spliggs

    I love how the cockpit looks so antiquated. They built these things with slide rules, people! Awesome.

    • mith1215

      Exactly! No super computers, no hi-tech drafting programs. Just slid rules, paper and pencils. If I remember right it was 18 months from thought to production too.

  • voovoo

    Several shots are of the A12, not the SR71.

    • Rick

      Yes, there are some A-12's which was the CIA's/Skunk Works predecessor to the Blackbird

  • osborl12

    #8 looks like they're building Y-Wings. Y-Wings FTW!

  • http://blackbirds.net John Stone

    Photo 5: is the MD-21, M-21 mated with the D-21 drone(UAV) mounted on the back. Photo 14 is and A-12, Photo 15 is also an A-12. Not sure about the construction photos whether they are SRs or A-12s. BTW the A-12 was the CIA predecessor of the AF SR-71.

    • gospyro

      I thought it was the other way around. The A-12 was designed as a high speed intercepter for the Air Force, but it turned out to suck as an interceptor… but then someone realized that it would make an awesome spy plane, and the CIA took over and we had the birth of the SR-71.

  • DaddyD

    SR-71 was probably the 5th or 6th plane to come out of the Lockheed Skunk Works. Check out Wikipedia.

  • maynard

    pic #5…the escort…that's my favorite from when I was kid…F-104 Starfighter

    • Rick

      I will do a post on the starfighter, that's a given

  • threeballs

    Flew West Coast to East Coast, distance 2,404 miles, average speed 2,124.5 miles per hour, and an elapsed time of 67 minutes 54 seconds. Kick ass!

  • Screwdriver

    My father-in-law was a SR-71 pilot through the 80-90's…..He still won't tell me the true top speed. Says it's still classified.

    • Six

      He clearly doesn`t love you… bastard

      • Screwdriver

        Trust me…when he is on his death bed…I'll be asking about the top speed again…and aliens.

    • Rick

      There's always official and the truth, thank your father-in-law for all the information he gathered that the public will/and shouldn't ever know during the Cold War

  • equalizermax

    I want one for Christmas!

  • Lulatsch

    #8 looks like the secret base of the Rebels on Alderan in Starwars!

    Fucking love that jet!

  • V4Vendetta14

    History Channel had awesome show on Blackbird. Pilot explained that when they were running low on fuel they only had to speed up… Blows the mind.

    The fuel tanks were not fully sealed at room temperature and would leak fuel until the plane reached altitude. Then the fuselage would heat up and seal the tanks shut.

    Almost every process involved with that plane was invented specifically for the task, from the titanium machining to the paint. That is a true marvel of American invention.

  • lolkimi

    MiG-25 was faster…..but this thing is friggen sweet!

    • G Monie

      I'd like to know where you heard that gem…

      • lolkimi

        5 October 1967. Speed over a closed circuit of 500 km: 2,981.5 km/h. Absolute world record.
        25 July 1973. Altitude without payload: 36,240 m. Absolute World record.
        Aircraft: Ye-266(not the official name, just the reported name, basically, It was a prototype MiG-25)
        Pilot: A. V. Fedotov.

        • G Monie


          I think this site will tell you all you need to know…

          • lolkimi

            ah, you see,
            I was getting my information from a book written by well known expert and MiG's general designer R.A. Belyakov entitled MiG: 50 Years of Secret Aircraft design.
            but, I guess the if you decide to overlook some critical facts, this random website page of yours makes an excellent point.

            • america

              well your lack of an adequate citation is really helping to prove your point…

              • lolkimi

                would you like it in MLA or APA?

                • griffin

                  Your claimed speed is still almost 350 mph slower than the Blackbird's best.
                  Blackbirds outran EVERYTHING,
                  including soviet missiles.
                  They didn't chase their tails like the Mig-25-
                  flying in circles.

                  The Mig engines would burn up at speed and it never could keep up anyway.

                  The Blackbirds were at shot at with EVERYTHING…
                  and NEVER shot down!

        • V4Vendetta14

          The records you specify were for 50,000 feet, and the plane was likely a one-off. The general service Mig-25 had a "factory set" redline of Mach 2.8, so the pilots didn't kill the engines.

          The Mig-25 can only sustain Mach 2.8 for a short duration due to engine overheat.

          The Mig-25 can only sustain an altitude of 78,740 feet for two minutes maximum.

          The SR-71 routinely cruised at Mach 3.2 in continuous afterburner at 80-85,000 feet.

  • Mike

    The SR-71 is badass… go see one at the Seattle Museum of Flight: http://www.museumofflight.org/exhibits/blackbird

  • http://twitter.com/3lementalmagick @3lementalmagick

    This is truly an AWESOME bit of kit!!!

    As for my poster. Lamborghini Countach ( The one in white, with the scantily clad lady sat on the rear wing) =)

    • Rick

      I had that one too

  • tag

    Its too bad we don't make things like this anymore. I understand that the mission can now be done better with satellites, but its the fact we could develop something like this that captures me. Maybe even develop a faster one?

    • Rick

      bummer but such is life, we do but it's not flown by a pilot in the air; future post

      • lolkimi

        idk, there was(or was not, it depends on who you listen to) the Aurora spy plane.

        • Guse

          The Aurora is a joint-strike fighter, not a spy plane.

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  • Leonard Palace

    Yeah… We do better now man!… Much better!…

  • jojo

    whats up with #16, rear cockpit is higher than the forward one, trainer???, and it's there in #13, and another in #14!!!!

  • http://MobileMe John Maxwell Stonham

    When I was a child I used to dream of such
    A project, I wanted to be come an engineer,
    There was no place for me, so I become a
    Bookbinder and watched in amazement at
    The progress of technology. I grow up on
    A farm which had a black smith work shop
    For making horse shoes and dray tiers.

  • Gman

    I feel very lucky to have worked with the SR (Lead sled) the U-2 and the F117 all in different capacities.. You only realize how cool it is after you're done..

  • nelj

    It turns out that I am currently dating the great niece of Ben Rich, the second head of Skunk Works. He's also the reason why the Blackbird is painted black. I swear I found this out AFTER I started dating her

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