Airborne Awesomosity

Finally, A Flying Bicycle.


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Airborne Awesomosity, Technostalgia



MD-21 #6940 in flight.

When the A-12 design had been completed in 1960, the CIA had the idea that the aircraft might make a good platform for launching high-speed unmanned surveillance drones to be used for mission over hostile countries. Not long after the CIA ordered its first batch of A-12 reconnaissance aircraft to supplement the work being done by the U-2, Major1 Gary Powers was shot down in a U-2 by the USSR over Soviet territory, and the CIA put the drone project into high gear.

The drone was initially given the designation “Q-12” and was designed to be expendable to keep costs down. It would have an ejectable capsule in its nose containing its camera and guidance system that would be retrieved mid-air by a C-130, while the main body of the drone would self-destruct after it had lost enough altitude to trigger the onboard explosives and barometric detonator. The drone was nearly 43 feet long, ~20 feet wide and ~7 feet high, weighed 5 ½ tons and looked like a length of stovepipe with an inlet spike and wings. It was built using the same titanium and composite materials as the A-12 with its stealthy design and used a modified version of the ramjet engine used in the Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc long-range surface-to-air missile to reach speeds of mach 3.3.

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