ANATOMY OF A RECORD­SET­TING JET

iD magazine - - Technology -

More than 50 years ago the en­gi­neers of the Lock­heed Corporation re­ceived an or­der to con­struct a spy plane that would chal­lenge the very bound­aries of physics. Stealth tech­nol­ogy, three times the speed of sound, re­fu­el­ing in mid-air— the goals set by the CIA sounded quixotic. But a few years later the first Black­bird took off. How do you build an air­craft that flies faster and higher than had been thought pos­si­ble?

CAM­ERAS Var­i­ous es­pi­onage sys­tems are in­stalled on the fuse­lage of the air­craft, in­clud­ing high-res­o­lu­tion and in­frared cam­eras and radar sys­tems. WINGS The Black­bird’s wing­span is al­most 56 feet. In to­tal the sur­face area of the wings is 1,605 square fe

EX­TE­RIOR The shell of the jet is made of ti­ta­nium. This metal is light and sta­ble so it’s ideal for the Black­bird, the outer skin of which reaches tem­per­a­tures of over 750°F due to air re­sis­tance. EN­GINES A new fuel had to be specif­i­cally de­vel­oped for t

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