// 07.Sep.2009

DWotW #10

Desktop Wallpaper of the Week: This week’s desktop wallpaper is this stunning shot by .mushi_king of one of my favourite aeroplanes, the remarkable Lockheed SR-71. The “Blackbird”, as it came to be known, was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance platform developed at Lockheed’s famous “Skunk Works”. This amazing aircraft was so fast and flew so high that its standard defence against a missile attack was simply to accelerate!

To resist the heat from the surface friction of extended periods of flight at Mach 3+, the Blackbird’s airframe was made mostly of titanium which, ironically at the height of the Cold War, was bought from the Soviet Union.

The SR-71 was the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational manned aircraft throughout its career. From an altitude of 80,000 feet (24,000 m), it could survey 100,000 square miles (260,000 km2) per hour of the Earth’s surface. In addition, it was accurate enough to take a legible picture of a car’s license plate from this altitude.

Blackbird also set numerous world records for altitude and speed. The SR-71 holds the “Speed Over a Recognized Course” record for flying from New York to London in 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds, set on 1 September 1974 while flown by U.S. Air Force Pilot Maj. James V. Sullivan and Maj. Noël F. Widdifield, reconnaissance system officer. This equates to an average velocity of about Mach 2.68, including deceleration for in-flight refueling. Peak speeds during this flight were probably closer to the declassified top speed of Mach 3.2+. (For comparison, the best commercial Concorde flight time was 2 hours 52 minutes, and the Boeing 747 averages 6 hours 15 minutes.)

The SR-71 Blackbird truly was one-of-a-kind and surely one of the most beautiful planes ever to take to the skies.

You can download the full-size version of this image, without watermark, here (2,048 × 1,380 pixels) — 159KB Zip Archive.

Last Revision: September 7th, 2009 at 11:15

2 Comments for “DWotW #10”

  1. I’ll never forget seeing a Blackbird give an aerial display at an Air Show I was lucky enough to see in Italy many moons ago. Good lord are they ever fast. Did I mention they were fast?

  2. And that, sir, is a pleasure I’ll never have since the aircraft is no longer in service.

    I understand that there’s an SR-71 at rest here in England at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire. I’ll have to go down there one day to see it.

    I think it’s one of the most amazing aircraft ever made, and one of the most beautiful (with that cute Darth Vader face!)