The Mach 3 Bomber That Would Have Alarmed Russia Is the XB-70A

   

It was a mammoth and speedy nuclear bomber. The XB-70A Valkyrie was the biggest airplane to fly MACH 3. The concept for the deep-penetration bomber emerged at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s as an option to replace the B-52. Developers wanted a delta-wing jet plane to outrun and outfox Soviet air defenses while flying at 70,000 feet. While not an overall success, this thing was robust with an intriguing story, including a fatal crash that I’ll recount below. So, let’s take a closer look at the XB-70A.

Crowd-Pleasing Size and Power

The Valkyrie wasn’t cheap at $700 million per prototype, and it never made it to full production. But this gargantuan airplane excited the 5,000 person crowd assembled to watch it take off for the first time in 1964. The overall size was particularly impressive at 196 feet long. The tail itself was 31 feet high. The airplane weighed 521,000 pounds. The XB-70A took six General Electric YJ93s with 30,000 pounds of thrust to achieve that high speed and ceiling.

There Were Downsides

The XB-70 program had problems though. It was determined that the airplane would have flown too straight and level to fool any surface-to-air missile. The XB-70A was going to be a fat target. The Soviets had also improved their air defenses during the airplane’s development. Even the John F. Kennedy administration knew that Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were going to be cheaper and more effective than the XB-70A. Kennedy relegated the airplane to experimental status in 1961 due to budget cuts and shifting priorities.

Fatal Accident Seals Its Fate

Tragedy struck the program in 1966. A second Valkyrie, known as the XB-70A2 was flying 11 miles north of Barstow, California before it crashed into a NASA F-104N Starfighter and two people died. Bob Alvis of Aerotech News recounted the horrifying incident.

“MID-AIR MID-AIR MID-AIR!” The radio came alive with the frantic and dreaded call of planes and pilots in distress. The first to suffer was NASA chief test pilot Joe Walker in his F-104N, as it rolled inverted across the back of the XB-70. The F-104’s T-tail ripped at the Valkyrie’s drooped right wingtip and his errant craft rolled sharply left, out of control. It then flipped upside down and passed over the XB-70’s back, shearing off part of the right and most of its left vertical fins.”

The F-104 exploded in three seconds. Its pilot Joe Walker was killed. But the pilot and co-pilot of the Valkyrie kept flying the mammoth bomber and they didn’t know what hit them – they only heard a loud thump. They were not sure who made the distress call. They didn’t think it had anything to do with their airplane.

Alvis Continued the Story

“That all changed when the XB-70 shuddered and rolled over on its back, nose down, and went into a violent yaw, due to the fact that it no longer had sufficient vertical stabilizer area to hold it straight and level. It was at this point that both pilots knew their ship was doomed.”

XB-70A

The futuristic XB-70A was originally conceived in the 1950s as a high-altitude, nuclear strike bomber that could fly at Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) — any potential enemy would have been unable to defend against such a bomber.

XB-70A Valkyrie

In this view the #1 XB-70A (62-0001) is in a level cruise flight mode at a relative high altitude judging from the darkness of the sky. The XB-70A, capable of flying three times the speed of sound, was the world’s largest experimental aircraft in the 1960s. Two XB-70A aircraft were built. Ship #1 was flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now NASA Dryden), Edwards, California, in a high speed research program.

After 60 seconds, XB-70 pilot Al White was able to punch out and later survive but co-pilot Carl Cross didn’t make it. The tragedy had Al White recalling that those seconds felt like forever. White recounted the whole story in detail and told it to radio stations and podcasters over the years.

Paved the Way for Supersonic Civilian Flight

The XB-70A program was cancelled in 1969. But it gave the Air Force and NASA significant data on flying such a huge airplane at high speeds and altitude. The XB-70A was thus a partial success in that it provided the precursor to the Concorde SST that made its first flight in 1969. That airplane could cross the Atlantic in 3.5 hours. Meanwhile, the XB-70A was sent to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

XB-70 Valkyrie

XB-70

XB-70

Related Posts

Preparing You for ⱱісtoгу in Tomorrow’s Battlefield: Unveiling the гeⱱoɩᴜtіoпагу StrykerX.alva01

General Dynamics Land Systems Reveals Hybrid Electric StrykerX Prototype. General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) is using the Association of the US агmу (AUSA) 2022 conference to formally…

From Blueprint to Ьаttɩeѕһір: Inside the Construction of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers.alva01

Where are U.S. Navy aircraft carriers bυilt? The Uпited States Navy has a loпg history of bυildiпg aircraft carriers, aпd there are cυrreпtly two shipyards iп the…

$87 million US Army Contract for M109A7 and M992A3 Production Awarded to BAE Systems

BAE Systems Land & Armaments L.P., York, Pennsylvania, was awarded an $87,963,612 modification (P00137) to contract W56HZV-17-C-0001 for the production and delivery of M109A7 Self-ргoрeɩɩed Howitzers (SPH)…

An Overview of M1A2 Abrams

The M1A2 Abrams stands as a testament to the pinnacle of armored warfare, embodying cutting-edge technology and formidable firepower. Developed by the United States, this third-generation main…

Lethal military equipment from Rheinmetall and Uvision is acquired by Hungary.

Hero Loiteriпg Mυпitioпs represeпt a family of cυttiпg-edge, aυtoпomoυs, aпd highly effective precisioп weapoпs υtilized by armed forces across the globe. Notably, these mυпitioпs have beeп employed…

The US Air Force’s 144th Fighter Squadron Gets Lockheed F-117 Nighthawks for Training

A Historic Reυпioп: F-117 Nighthawks Joiп Forces with F-15 Eagles for Traiпiпg Video: Iп aп υпprecedeпted aпd historic collaboratioп, the U.S. Air Force’s 144th Fighter Wiпg (FW)…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *