SR-71 Blackbird’s Sisters: The OXCART Family Tree

SR-71 Blackbird’s Sisters: The OXCART Family Tree


The well-known SR-71 is actually the fourth airplane the Blackbird family. Fourth. The original plane designed by lockheed
skunkworks was the A-12 spy plane for the CIA, built under
the codename OXCART, which flew with a single pilot
and advanced photography equipment. 18 were ordered, but only thirteen were built: for budgetary reasons all A-12s
were retired after only twenty nine total missions Eight of them never flew, which makes me really sad. The US Air Force 3 the first eighteen
production slots and produced the YF-12A A two seater, weapon equipped prototype,
designed to be a high-speed fighter interceptor. The YF-12 is easily distinguished
from other Blackbirds Because it’s round chineless nose, designed
to house existing fighter jet radar and it’s lowered fins for added
stability and handling. Although production was planned for the
service version, to be called the F-12, After three years budgetary delays, the
government decided that there was no need for the plane. The last through the first eighteen
aircraft were built as a two-seater experimental drone launching platform,
and designated the M-21, But this program was scrapped after one of
the drones’ engines failed to start and collided with the mothership
airplane, killing the Launch Control Officer. The now well-known SR-71 was
ordered as a top secret successor by the United States Air Force to the YF-12, to act as a high-speed surveillance
and reconnaissance platform. 32 aircraft were built, flying over 3500 missions and over
17,000 flights from 1966 to 1998 Visually, the only major difference between
the A-12 and the SR-71 is a second set of windows for the
Reconnaissance Systems Officer found just behind main cockpit. While there are slight differences the
body length and shape for the front chines, without a direct side by side comparison
the two planes are nearly identical. For Tech Laboratories I’m Tech Adams, saying Keep Thinking, and thanks for watching.

56 thoughts on “SR-71 Blackbird’s Sisters: The OXCART Family Tree

  • I just watched three of your blackbirds videos.Wow man great job on your videos, pinpointing all the info you collected and having nice illustrations making us understand it more easy. Big plus for me that you mention the visual differences between planes because i'm a scale modeler. 😀 Thanxx Shared and subscribed

  • Wasn't the D-21 also powered by the same J-58 engine? Although pilotless, Its general shape and development schedule closely match those of the A-12/SR series, so shouldn't it at least be counted as a little sister? Or a niece? Anyway, I think she should be part of the family, even if she was a bit temperamental!

  • Been having a lively discussion with another fan. My camp considers the A-12 to be the Oxcart, his camp its and A-12 Blackbird. Any opinion? Great video's by the way.

  • The A-12 had the triangles built into it's chines to diffuse radar and the camera was behind the pilot. The YF-12 and SR 71 had basically hollow chines that carried their surveillance gear/payloads.  This can be seen in photographs/video of complete aircraft if you look close enough and obvious in the assembly photographs. The SR71 had a longer tail as well.

  • The wider chines and the corrugated wing panels on the SR-71 mainly serve to prevent warping from the air friction heating at speeds faster than the A-12 was capable of. I read an interview with the man who came up with the corrugation idea, he said his colleagues accused him of trying to make a Ford Trimotor go Mach 3. 🙂

  • Great video. You just gotta love this plane!  By the way, what are the models behind you? I can see that they are F-16, F/A-18, A-10 etc. But I mean is who are they from? Thanks and keep em commin'.

  • Please don't say "drone". In my opinion, UAV, UAS, or RPV are much more professional, especially for a nice video such as yours. Keep up the great work. I subscribed 🙂

  • Hey I was wondering will you do a documentary on the GT 40 Ford made into the Ford GT and now the new 2016 just introduced. The Ford GT series is the sr-71 of our time.

  • With the need to hit or observe the enemy in a far safer way came the aircraft, with the need to detect the aircraft came the radar systems, with the introduction of the radar systems came stealth. The inability to detect stealthy aircraft will bring forth more advanced radar or detection systems. I've heard of a new system that can detect anything passing through airspace, it uses ground stations that don't emit radar waves, but collects all natural and man made radio waves already in the air. It builds up an electromagnetic sky map and detects distortions as an aircraft passes through it. They utilise numerous undetectable ground stations, because they themselves don't give away their position by transmitting, and then triangulate of the target.  Some similar portable systems are being developed for police and emergency services so they can use the EM waves created by electric wires, phones etc inside buildings to locate victims or potential targets. In other words, this system can see through walls.

  • There is an easily identifiable difference between the SR-71 and the A12. The fuse on the A12 ends at the trailing edge, the SR-71 fuse extends well beyond the trailing edge. Also the chines are wider at the nose on the Sr-71.

  • simply LOve your videos about the J 58 engine. very illuminating. Now, i´m pretty sure someone asked you already… what´s the history of that bomb shaped enema bottle in the background! 😉

  • awesome video. nice to see people out there who can think for themselves and ask questions about how things work then do the research to get the answers. bravo!!!!

  • It was originally designated the SR-17 but President Johnson unveiled it as the 71 and so they changed the designation to avoid causing him any humiliation.

  • The SR-71 was a successor to the A-12 only in that it was built later. The A-12 was CIA ans the SR-71 was Air Force Recon

  • The SR-71 was originally the RS-71. The general population didn't know it existed until Lyndon Johnson told the press about it and got the letters wrong. The DOD must have decided that it was easier to change RS to SR than correct LBJ.

  • So there's eight airframes with ZERO hours? Or were they repurposed? Heartbreaking either way. Kelly Johnson was an amazing engineer wasn't he…

  • Sr-71B being referred to as "two seater" doesn't really make sense due to the standard SR-71 being a two seater… Pilot trainer is more appropriate.

  • Question… what’s faster? A-12 or SR-71. I say SR-71 because officially it has the record and was recorded at higher speeds but the A-12 was smaller and lighter (a bit less streamlined though) but I heard the A12 was capable of doing a bit higher speeds

  • After a little bit of time, one can see that the A-12 is smaller overall and the chines aren't as wide. And yes, A-12 doesn't have the second canopy for the RSO. The A-12 topped out at 68,000 lbs of JP-7 fuel, while the SR could carry up to 80,000lbs. Interestingly, the A-12 could top out at 90,000 feet due to the smaller and lighter size. The SR topped out at around 85,000 feet.The A-12 could not go faster, though, because speed is dictated by the maximum temperature at the compressor of the J58 engine, and both planes had that same engine. Look up the talks of Frank Murray, A-12 pilot. He's absolutely hilarious, he calls the the A-12 the "hot-rod" and the SR-71 the "Family Model."

  • Book recommendation: Sled Driver by Brian Shul
    The best pictures of the SR-71 ever made plus cool stories. But quite expensive. Just search for Brian Shul here on YouTube

  • Any of these versions would not make a good fighter. At speed it takes 4 states to turn around. It flew fast in a straight line but turning not so much. At the time the available air to air weapons were not fast enough to be useful. When you are traveling at mach 3.5 you need a mach 12 or faster missile to be effective.

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