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Did The SR-71 Go Mach 7?  
User currently offlineLiedetectors From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 360 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 20925 times:

I saw once on a show on TV that an SR-71 pilot stated they flew the SR-71 to Mach 7. I only thought it went to Mach 3.3. Can anyone verify/heard of this?


If it was said by us, then it must be true.
45 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 20912 times:

You're not thinking of the X-15, by any chance?

User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 10906 posts, RR: 37
Reply 2, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 20914 times:

You must be mixing up with the X-43A that flew at Mach7 without pilot (unmanned aircraft).
I am not sure about "Aurora" if it ever existed and/or if it ever flew at Mach7.



There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
User currently offlineNomadd22 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1881 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 20882 times:

Officially the X-15 got to mach 6.72.


Andy Goetsch
User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2368 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 20861 times:
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Sure it did. Right after launching off a Nimtz doing 45kts...

But seriously, no. The thermal issues alone would make it impossible.


User currently offlineDreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8866 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 20860 times:



Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 2):
I am not sure about "Aurora" if it ever existed and/or if it ever flew at Mach7.

Aurora did indeed exist and still does. It was the project name of the B-2 bomber in the early 80s, according to this book:

Rich, Ben, Leo Janos. Skunk Works. Little, Brown & Company, 1994. ISBN 0-316-74300-3



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlineSpudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 301 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 20843 times:



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 3):
Officially the X-15 got to mach 6.72.



Quoting Rwessel (Reply 4):
Sure it did. Right after launching off a Nimtz doing 45kts...

But seriously, no. The thermal issues alone would make it impossible.

3rd October 1967, X-15-A2 piloted by Captain William J. Knight reached a maximum altitude of 102,100ft, levelled off and accelerated to Mach 6.7 (4,520) a new world record (still is I believe) for 'conventional' flight. The airframe reached 2,700 deg F. The aircraft barely survived but was so badly damaged that it was uneconomical to repair and never flew again. The X-15 used an ablataive coating and this speed was its limit. Anything faster could only be achieved by newer technology as used on the Shuttle.


User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2368 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 20828 times:
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Quoting Spudh (Reply 6):
Quoting Rwessel (Reply 4):
Sure it did. Right after launching off a Nimtz doing 45kts...

But seriously, no. The thermal issues alone would make it impossible.

3rd October 1967, X-15-A2 piloted by Captain William J. Knight reached a maximum altitude of 102,100ft, levelled off and accelerated to Mach 6.7 (4,520) a new world record (still is I believe) for 'conventional' flight. The airframe reached 2,700 deg F. The aircraft barely survived but was so badly damaged that it was uneconomical to repair and never flew again. The X-15 used an ablataive coating and this speed was its limit. Anything faster could only be achieved by newer technology as used on the Shuttle.

I was commenting on the SR-71, not the X-15.


User currently offlineSpudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 301 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 20814 times:



Quoting Rwessel (Reply 7):
I was commenting on the SR-71, not the X-15.

Oops, sorry about that, yeah you're right there. Although I'm sure it was a bit faster than its quoted max. I think its quoted at cruise Mach 3.2 with max at 3.3 but like a lot of stats this is probably an operational limit rather than structural. I'd bet if they needed to they could dash a good bit more out of it.
I think I remember reading somewhere that it was the shock cones on the engine inlets were the limiting factor. Can't remember the 'unofficial' figure though, something like 3.6 but not sure.


User currently offlinePC12Fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2453 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 20778 times:

Funny story. Friend of a friend was talking to an SR-71 pilot and was asking him about the "actual" top speed of this aircraft. He'd keep pestering him saying, "no really, has fast can this thing really go". He kept after him, and after several tries the pilot barked at him finally saying, "look, I can't tell, you ok?!?!!!!"

My bet is 3.5+ unofficially.



Just when I think you've said the stupidest thing ever, you keep talkin'!
User currently offlineHaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2116 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 20745 times:

The one thing I remember distinctly is that when a Sled driver was asked what we would do if the Russians took back the speed record, his comment was "well then we'd go up and press a lil harder on the gas pedal" or something to that effect. It's clear that it could go at least a bit faster than has been acknowledged, and there surely is a difference between operational top speeds and absolute. Also there has to be some reason the real stats are still classified and will be for many more years, I think til around 2021. If it's not any faster than already known, why the hush hush?  Wink


Here Here for Severe Clear!
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15781 posts, RR: 27
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 20627 times:



Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 10):
It's clear that it could go at least a bit faster than has been acknowledged, and there surely is a difference between operational top speeds and absolute.

That is the case with most performance data on most military aircraft.

I do remember from a TV show that the SR-71 had the distinction of being shot at (unsuccessfully) by the Egyptians and Israelis during the same mission.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineCpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4879 posts, RR: 37
Reply 12, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 20631 times:

Quoting Liedetectors (Thread starter):
I saw once on a show on TV that an SR-71 pilot stated they flew the SR-71 to Mach 7. I only thought it went to Mach 3.3. Can anyone verify/heard of this?

The highest speed known is somewhere slightly above Mach 3.5 (but probably below M4.0).

M3.5 is a number that was put in writing, done on a mission over Libya with quite a bit of hostile attention focused on the plane at that point. Of course, that could be all made up as well - though it seems realistic enough.

It would be easy enough to verify, just ask the people who were tracking Mr Shul and Mr Watson on that flight and trying so desperately to shoot them down.   Far from being stealth, it was a huge target - except that it flew so fast that it was hard to shoot down.

Quoting PC12Fan (Reply 9):

My bet is 3.5+ unofficially.

I think that's right as well.

[Edited 2009-10-16 22:03:15 by cpd]

User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15781 posts, RR: 27
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 20616 times:



Quoting Cpd (Reply 12):
Far from being stealth, it was a huge target

The TV shows like to point out that the SR-71 included stealth features, which it did. It included the chines, canted tails, and RAM. Of course it was very far from being invisible, and really it is quite difficult to hide anything going at Mach 3 due to the large IR signature. That said, many later aircraft benefited from the early stealth features on the SR-71.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2368 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (5 years 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 20604 times:
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Quoting PC12Fan (Reply 9):
My bet is 3.5+ unofficially.

I'd guess a little past M3.5 too, although you're going to get into the region where you're going to do some damage to the aircraft with any length of exposure to those conditions.

Quoting Cpd (Reply 12):
Far from being stealth, it was a huge target - except that it flew so fast that it was hard to shoot down.

The SR-71 appears to be reasonably stealthy (although not by modern "stealth" standards) from the front, and a huge target from the rear.

The problem is that at altitude, if you can't lock on until the SR-71 is almost at your position (because it's stealthy on its approach), your SAM will run out of gas before it can catch up, since it’s starting a dozen nm below, even if it you managed to launch as the SR-71 passed overhead.


User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 10906 posts, RR: 37
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 20492 times:



Quoting BMI727 (Reply 11):
That is the case with most performance data on most military aircraft.

André Turcat told me - on a private visit a few years back - that during test flights he had pushed Concorde to maximum speeds much faster than the speed we know as Concorde's normal cuise speed (Mach 2.02) during test flights at Mach2.5 and up. He even barrel rolled Concorde in both directions. He said that during a test flight he stopped the 4 engines in the middle of flight. That last one I would never wanted to be on board. This is taking big risk but I am sure AT knew what he was doing.
The man was fearless.



There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
User currently offlineNomadd22 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1881 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (5 years 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 20399 times:



Quoting Rwessel (Reply 14):
Quoting Cpd (Reply 12):
Far from being stealth, it was a huge target - except that it flew so fast that it was hard to shoot down.

The SR-71 appears to be reasonably stealthy (although not by modern "stealth" standards) from the front, and a huge target from the rear.

The problem is that at altitude, if you can't lock on until the SR-71 is almost at your position (because it's stealthy on its approach), your SAM will run out of gas before it can catch up, since it’s starting a dozen nm below, even if it you managed to launch as the SR-71 passed overhead.

Neither was the primary reason the plane was so hard to shoot down. SAM 5s and MIG 25s both had the ability to lock on the plane and reach the the altitude. What they didn't have was control surfaces that worked at much over 70,000 feet. It was the same with the U2. The Soviets finally got Powers by shooting barrages of SAMs in the hope that one would happen to be close enough to get the target. The idiot SOB Macnamara refusing to change flight paths helped.



Andy Goetsch
User currently offlineHaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2116 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 20372 times:



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 16):
The idiot SOB Macnamara refusing to change flight paths helped.

The list of what he did that makes my blood boil lengthens.



Here Here for Severe Clear!
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15781 posts, RR: 27
Reply 18, posted (5 years 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 20348 times:



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 16):
The Soviets finally got Powers by shooting barrages of SAMs in the hope that one would happen to be close enough to get the target.

It took fouteen missiles and they got one of their own MiG-19s in the process.

Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 16):
The idiot SOB Macnamara refusing to change flight paths helped.

The same thing contributed to the loss of an F-16 over Bosnia and the F-117 over Serbia.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineFerrypilot From New Zealand, joined Sep 2006, 897 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (5 years 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 20314 times:



Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 15):
He even barrel rolled Concorde in both directions. He said that during a test flight he stopped the 4 engines in the middle of flight. That last one I would never wanted to be on board. This is taking big risk but I am sure AT knew what he was doing.
The man was fearless.

I doubt those things were officially condoned!
Sometimes a man can believe in himself too much and even a test pilot can have too much arrogance for his own good. Having said that a barrel roll can be acheived fairly easily in many aircraft types. ...I had a relative who was reputed to have barrel rolled a Lancaster Bomber.


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31120 posts, RR: 85
Reply 20, posted (5 years 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 20216 times:
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Tex Johnson did it ( a barrel role) in the Boeing Dash 80 over Lake Washington during Seafair.

I imagine Turcat didn't keep the Concorde beyond Mach 2.2 for long due to airframe heating issues.

As for the SR-71, I have heard rumors it could reach Mach 4, but no Sled Driver I have spoken to has ever broken OpSec on the true top speed.


User currently offlineNomadd22 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1881 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (5 years 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 20180 times:

The skin on the 71 wrinkled pretty bad with any time beyond 3.2. They'd have to iron it back down after the flight. If it went any faster than that, I'm not sure if it would have been for long.
The A-12 might have been a better subject for the thread anyhow. I'd always heard that it was a tiny bit faster than the SR-71. But, they's all Blackboids.



Andy Goetsch
User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 10906 posts, RR: 37
Reply 22, posted (5 years 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 20122 times:



Quoting Ferrypilot (Reply 19):
I doubt those things were officially condoned!
Sometimes a man can believe in himself too much and even a test pilot can have too much arrogance for his own good. Having said that a barrel roll can be acheived fairly easily in many aircraft types.

Turcat was not the only test pilot to barrel roll Concorde.
Second Chief test pilot Jean Franchi barrel rolled the aircraft and not only one time.

Listen to BA Concorde Captain Brian Walpole here at 2.55 in the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYQS3qAIjAo



There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
User currently offlineFerrypilot From New Zealand, joined Sep 2006, 897 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (5 years 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 19940 times:



Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 22):
Listen to BA Concorde Captain Brian Walpole here at 2.55 in the video.

Very cool video and well worth checking out. ...The BA pilots assertion that they had raised the nose a mere 10degrees to accomplish the Barrel Roll implies in itself that Concorde could be rolled very easily.

...I have always thought that Concorde vies with the Supermarine Spitfire for the top spot as the most beautiful flying machine ever created.


User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 24, posted (5 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 19906 times:



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 21):
The skin on the 71 wrinkled pretty bad with any time beyond 3.2. They'd have to iron it back down after the flight. If it went any faster than that, I'm not sure if it would have been for long.

The skin on the SR-71 did not wrinkle in flight, so there was no need to iron back down after flight.

The skin of the SR-71 was corrugated (from the factory).


25 Post contains links and images HaveBlue : On the top of that list for me is the North American XB-70 Valkyrie, which I always thought was a bit like a Concorde on steroids. A formation flight
26 Flighty : Like landing on the moon, those 3 aircraft were amazing achievements for their time!
27 747400sp : This could still happen. I would like to see all of the world largest jets in formation. For example a 747, C-5, An-124, A380 and An-225 all flying i
28 Vzlet : Blame MacNamara for many things, but as an executive at the Ford Motor Company at the time, he wouldn't have had much influence on the routing of U-2
29 Nomadd22 : You might want to read Ben Rich's book. One new pilot declared an emergency on his first flight because he was unaware of the effect.
30 Post contains links and images Vzlet : Does the book say how the pilot detected the wrinkles? I wouldn't think that much, if any, of the skin is visible from the cockpit, especially when w
31 474218 : I didn't have to read Ben's book. I worked in the 9th FMS Sheet Metal Shop from 1966 to 1969 and if the skin had wrinkled we would have been the ones
32 Nomadd22 : This is the excerpt. I remember when a new pilot flying the SR-71 for the first time out of Beale [AFB, near Sacramento] began shouting "Mayday, Mayd
33 474218 : Nice story but didn't happen when I was there. I am not sure the pilot can even see the nose of the aircraft.
34 Vzlet : Thanks for looking it up. Is that Ben Rich speaking, or someone else's words? It sounds a little "urban legendy" to me, but if it's Rich relating an
35 Nomadd22 : It was One of the "Other voices" Ben used. Colonel Jim Wadkins, one of the pilots, was the one quoted. Page 243 if you have the book. Can't say it ma
36 474218 : One thing about the SR-71 (and other Blackbirds) the record keeping was second to none. So it only took a couple of clicks of the mouse to see that n
37 Cpd : The story goes that one had an accident. It was damaged badly enough that it couldn't be repaired. So the bits were cut up, and the plan was to burn
38 Stitch : For a short time, I agree. But the plane was designed with a cruise speed of Mach 2.2 due to airframe heating limits and in operation generally cruis
39 Post contains links 474218 : Like I said be for it only takes a couple of clicks of the mouse to get the real story rather than repeat things you heard from people that don't kno
40 Cpd : Wow, so sarcastic. I won't mention names then. It came from someone who did know. Someone who was there at the time. No sorry, it wasn't that one. Pe
41 474218 : I guess I am sarcastic because "I was there" and everyone else is saying "I heard, I read, I was told" will I lived it. So I will not say anything el
42 Nomadd22 : Thanks for the link 474218, but I'm not sure why you think it's unreasonable for people to consider the guy who worked on building the plane and took
43 BlackProjects : I Used to have an Aerograph book which stated that the Maximum MACH Number on the SR-71a was 3.6 due to going any faster and the the Supersonic Shock
44 AeroWeanie : The fastest speed every achieved in a A-12/SR-71/YF-12 was M=3.6, by Darryl Greenamyer, on a test flight. The NASA handbook for people running experi
45 Post contains links Prebennorholm : The SR-71 holds the world speed record at 3,529.56 km/h (which is likely to be around Mach 3.3 at the high altitude). Check http://records.fai.org/doc
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