[LINK] SR-71 / Valkyrie was: Finally up to date on the Shuttle

Robin Whittle rw@firstpr.com.au
Mon, 17 Feb 2003 12:06:53 +1100

I have a book on the SR-71 Blackbird here somewhere which says that the
thrust of each engine was so great that if one of them flamed out, that
a major problem was the pilot being bashed sideways and being knocked

The Concorde gets hot too - apparently they circulate the fuel through
the fuselage to cool it, and if they flew for much longer than they do,
then everyone would be cooked inside. 

The white XB-70 Valkyrie research aircraft - or was it supposed to be a
bomber - was like a bigger SR-71 would burn its paint off in flight.


Curiously, ordinary, non-ram-jet, jet engines have to have their intake
air slowed down to subsonic speeds.  To do this, I think the cones in
the SR-71 engine inlets could be cranked forwards and backwards
depending on the air speed so the shockwave from it would in some way
optimise the airflow into the inlets - or am I thinking of a Russian
bomber.  Maybe both had this.   Therefore, the engines have to do extra
work to accelerate the exhaust gasses not just beyond the subsonic speed
seen by the engine, but beyond the Mach 3 etc. speed of the air which
had to be slowed down to < Mach 1 before it could be compressed by the


Like pyramids, airships, Saturn Vs and battleships, I think the SR-71,
Valkyrie and soon the Concorde will be relegated to the museum of truly
heroic and extraordinary technologies which no living person would be
able to recreate.   I wonder if one day the same will be said of
integrated circuits if civilisation degenerates to the point where we
can't support semiconductor factories.   Then we might be digging up
landfill sites to find 486 chips!   I also wonder about how the very
small feature size of modern CPUs will affect their ability to work
after a few hundred years.   Fossils are where the rock molecules
migrate over time into what remains of the organic material.  Such
migration of molecules over time would turn integrated circuit internal
structures into a non-functional blur, and the older chips would last
centuries or millennia longer because their feature size is larger.

Google finds lots of material on the SR-71, including one:


with the complete Flight Manual.  A site for the Valkyrie is:


     . . . the expenditure of $1.3 billion only resulted in 128 flights 
     and one high-maintenance aircraft at the USAF Museum.

This is a seriously exotic aircraft of the 1960s - 0.02" stainless steel
honeycomb construction, the heaviest aircraft ever built at the time, 6
engines, wings which fold downwards . . . .  intended to be easily
flyable as a bomber with a 50,000 lb payload at Mach 3.  

   - Robin