Fastest Jet Plane: SR-71 Blackbird
The world’s fastest record-holding jet plane is the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”. It is capable of over Mach 3 and still holds the world’s fastest aircraft.
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SR-71 Blackbird Built by:
This aircraft was made for great distances and high altitudes and was built by Lockheed, an American aerospace company. It was used by both the United States Air Force and NASA. Introduced in the mid-1960s, the SR71 was built on the builds left behind by its predecessor – the A12.
The A12 was one of the first jet plane to be designed with its radar cross-section. The SR71 was longer and heavier than the A12 and could travel longer distances due to a larger fuel tank.
Lockheed built 32 SR-71 jet plane, each costing around $33 million each, and while none were lost in enemy attacks, 12 aircraft were lost in accidents. 🙂
Each jet plane is painted a dark blue color to emit as much internal heat as possible and blend the aircraft with the night sky, hence the nickname: Blackbird.
Titanium is generally avoided in the aerospace industry even though its benefits far outweigh its cost. It was typically only used in components exposed to high temperatures, such as parts of the engines and exhausts and some edges of the wings. Around 80-90% of its structure revolves around titanium. The remaining aircraft body was built from polymeric compounds.
The Blackbird used JP-7 jet fuel compounded by Shell Oil Co. Its extraordinary speed and power led to the misunderstanding that the “Blackbird” has to refuel immediately after take-off. At the same time, it would indeed take off with a partial fuel load to reduce stress on the brakes and tires.
It was significantly lighter, so it could take off even if one of the engines failed. JP7 fuel is challenging to ignite hence triethyl borane or TEB.
Its tires, made by BF Goodrich, were built with built-in aluminum. Filled with nitrogen, they would withstand about 20 missions and cost about $2,500. To reduce the stress of the landing, which would be about 200 miles per hour, the SR71 deployed a parachute to increase drag.
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A pair of Pratt & Whitney J58 axial-flow turbojets produced a static thrust of 145 kN, which was an extraordinary force for the time. They were so well-tuned for high speed that the US Air Force and NASA would rely on Buick Wildcat V8s to start each engine. The Chevrolet Big-Block V8 later replaced these. If outside air were to enter the engine through the air intake, it would be reduced to subsonic speed.
The world’s fastest piloted aircraft first flew on 22 December 1964; Lockheed SR–71 Blackbird. The fastest jet aircraft in the world broke all records, reaching Mach 3.3-that’s more than 4000kph, almost 2,500mph – but was often proven to be more efficient at higher speeds, depending on the air temperature. This aircraft can travel at 2,500mph, around nine times as fast as a Bugatti Chiron and three times faster than the speed of sound.
The “Blackbird” is equipped with optical and infrared imagery systems, a side-looking airborne radar, an electronic intelligence-gathering system, and defensive systems for countering missile and airborne fighters. It was built as a reconnaissance aircraft, and it served its purpose very well without the need for any armament.
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