XB-71 Valkarie Test Pilot Joe Cotton Signed Flight Foto
- Source: eBay
The XB-70 Valkyrie was a bomber conceived during the height of the Cold War. The U.S. Air Force desperately wanted a supersonic bomber to counter the nuclear threat of the then Soviet Union. The B-52 was a useful heavy bomber but was subsonic and increasingly vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. The Convair B-58 Hustler was capable of Mach 2 but was a maintenance headache as well as a dreaded “widowmaker” aircraft. North American Aviation accepted the Air Force challenge to build an aircraft capable of taking off from bases in the United States and flying to any target in the Soviet Union at Mach 3 speeds and 70,000 feet altitude carrying a payload of 25,000 pounds. The aircraft was a marvel of new technology as it incorporated many radical design features such as folding wingtips, huge variable area inlet ducts, canard surface with flaps, a 4,000-psi hydraulic system, and a moveable windshield. Designed to be the next generation of heavy bombers for the U.S. Air Force, ultimately politics and missiles development relegated the airplane to a research platform. Nonetheless, the XB-70 was the largest Mach 3 aircraft ever flown with a takeoff weight of over 500,000 pounds!.
Sadly only two prototypes were built and flown, A/V-1 and A/V-2. A/V-1 reached... read more