Comments: Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (XB-70)

Ahh, yes, one of the bombers I wished we had built. If Airframe #1 still exists, I wonder if it could be retrofitted for further tests, especially with Spaceship 1 technology.

Then again, the B-70 and F12A would have been interesting to see in training ;)

Lysander

Posted by Lysander at December 13, 2004 01:02 PM

Silly me. I had to go and look up "F-12," forgetting about the SR-71 development history. I'll be featuring the Blackbird (with appropriate background on the A-12/F-12 interceptors) in a future cheesecake post.

Posted by JohnL at December 13, 2004 11:29 PM

This plane was a "hot and high nuclear bomber" advocate's dream. Unfortunately, it was only worth the cost as long as we really needed to drop a nuclear bomb on a target with an airplane, and as long as it was less vulnerable than conventional bombers. Both ended up not being true, as the Cold war ended about a decade later, we already had more ICBMs than nuclear-capable bombers, and the Soviets developed high-altitude capable SAMs as the development for this was ending.

It is one heck of an impressive aircraft however. Unfortunate that airframe #2 was lost in that accident.

Posted by NF at December 14, 2004 11:31 AM

Simply the most beautiful airplane ever built.

Posted by Timothy Sandefur at December 16, 2004 10:24 AM

John -

The F-12 to SR-72 conversion was beautiful - makes most forget it's origins. ;)

Given the B-52/B-1/B-2's varied resurgence as a conventional bomber, I wonder if the B-70 could hack being both a spaceplane and a tactical conventional bomber.

Lysander

Posted by Lysander at December 19, 2004 10:50 PM

Lysander,

Good question -- I think stealth technology is more important than speed these days.

Even without stealthing, we send in the electronic warfare and attack planes first to take out air defenses and achieve air supremacy, so even old B-52 Buffs can bomb with relative impunity. Not sure what we would need a Mach 3 bomber for (other than because we can do it -- America, F--k yeah!)

Re spaceplane: the B-70 does look somewhat like the NASP conceptual designs I remember seeing from the eighties.

Posted by JohnL at December 19, 2004 11:08 PM
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