XB-70 Valkyrie

xb-70 valkyire bomber

Photo taken in 1960. Click for closer look.

I’ve always been a bit intrigued by the XB-70. I can’t explain why, but I suspect that the raw speed of the thing is a prime attraction. Externally, the XB-70 looks like a bare-bones design that stresses simplicity and function over aesthetics and flair. It doesn’t bother with looking cool. It doesn’t have to bother with looks at all. Mach 3 has a coolness all its own.

Discussion of the Air Force’s next bomber in a recent post prompted me to put these up.

There’s another picture below, and I posted a B&W of a the Valkyrie beside the X-15A-2 at Dryden in 1967.

It takes a lot of things to make a successful aircraft, but you can rarely have too much speed.

xb-70 valkyire bomber

Comments

  1. I didn’t say it didn’t look cool. I said it didn’t bother with trying to look cool. Sort of a ‘This plane doesn’t look cool, it is cool.’ Actually, it’s not even really ‘cool’. More like ‘badass.’

  2. It was a different United States of American that built the XB-70. Even given its flaws, it is an airplane that makes a statement about the attitude we had back then. You look at that airplane as an American and your heart swells with pride. You look at it as an enemy and it’s saying, ‘you wanna piece of this?’ ‘Yeah, you!’ ‘You wanna a piece of me?’ ‘I’ll kick your ass you look at me like that again.’ This is how you win ‘hearts and minds.’ You let a country sit in the dark hearing sonic booms echo around the place for a solid week, and each one carries the unstated message that this may very well be the last thing you hear this side of hell. That’s how you win hearts and minds. That’s what’s meant by shock and awe. Not a B-2 dropping a dozen precision guided bombs over a city where the lights never go out and war correspondents stand on roof tops confident their GPS coordinates are safe. I’m talking hell, fire, and brimstone complete with the smell of sulphur and the angry scream of the Angel of Death.

  3. The XB-70 freaked out the Russians so much they built the MiG-25. The MiG-25 freaked out the West so much we built the F-15. When I was a kid, the XB-70 story seemed like such a waste. To a middle schooler, that plane was the baddest, coolest thing ever. I wanted hundreds of those things sitting on the tarmac putting the fear of God into Mother Russia.

  4. If that is an actual photo of an XB-70 in flight, then it could not have been taken in 1960. The contract to build three prototypes was signed on 4 October, 1961. The first flight took place on 21 September, 1964. The first Mach 3 flight took place on 14 October, 1965. One prototype was lost in a collision with an F-104 on 8 June, 1966. The final flight was on 4 February, 1969. The amazing thing to me, was the fact that it went from contract signed to flying prototype in less than 3 years. Imagine getting that kind of development speed today in a fighter, bomber or tilt-rotor aircraft!

  5. Dfens posted: This is how you win ‘hearts and minds.’ You let a country sit in the dark hearing sonic booms echo around the place for a solid week, and each one carries the unstated message that this may very well be the last thing you hear this side of hell. That’s how you win hearts and minds. You’ve got to be kidding me, Dfens. Do you seriously believe flying around a capital/countryside and making sonic booms is the method for ‘winning hearts and minds’? You might want to read up on SF and counterinsurgency tactics that have been developed over the ensuing decades. They’re always evolving, but they never include fast jets breaking the sound barrier. For the record, The Valkyrie is one of the coolest planes ever built. It’s landing gear alone was a technological marve. Wings, on the Discovery channel, did a great hour long look at the aircraft back when Discovery could have been called the ‘Wings Channel’.

  6. Jerry, you must have me confused with someone who gives a damn what the state-of-the-art in being a pussy is. Though I’m glad to see you like the XB-70. That’s a good sign.

  7. To what Timmeeee said, can you imagine those rubes, only able to milk this program for 3 years before computers or even hand held calculators. Hell, today we could meet for 5 years just trying to finalize the 8th tier specifications. It would take us at least 4 to decide if it should be a center or side stick pitch/roll control, and I can almost guarantee you there’d be at least 2 bloodless coup-de-tas on that subject alone subsequent to the ‘final decision’. I ran across an article the other day where a think tank dude actually acknowledged we’re taking a bit longer than necessary to build planes these days. No mind you, his solution was to increase defense spending from the Cold War levels (that’s Cold War levels if you don’t count what’s being spent on Iraq) to 4% of GNP. He thinks that’s an ok solution because it sounds so palatable if you say it like that instead of talking in actual trillions of dollars or comparing it to the level of spending that at one time was sufficient to pop out a new airplane once or twice a year pretty consistently.

    Cybercast News Service: The F-22 has taken about 20 [come on, it was closer to 30] years in order to be called ‘combat ready.’ Why did it take so long for that to come to pass, and is there a way that development time could be hastened to bring the next sixth-generation fighter aircraft to the front quicker in the future? [Former Sen. Jim] Talent [R-Mo. now defense shill]: Well, to answer the second question first, we absolutely have to expedite the design-build cycle, and the Air Force has had problems with that [ya’ think]. So have the other services. We just simply must find a way to do that. It was too long even before the Information Age, and now it’s ridiculously too long. Now, there’s a number of things that we can look at doing. I believe that we need to introduce, more effectively, competition within the small business, high-tech community at different phases of the procurement cycle. I don’t want to get too complicated with this, but there’s got to be a way, without disrupting the kind of security that the general contractors need, to bring to bear the expertise and the innovation of the high-tech community on aspects of programs that are problematical and that are causing us to fall behind. There’s got to be a way to do that, and we need to find a way to do it [yeah, because us poor dum aerospace engnirs don’t know notin’ ’bout no ‘puters]. We also need to be intelligent about balancing the need for oversight from within the department – program management – and the need to delegate that out to contractors so they have the flexibility that they need. We tend to go all one way or all the other, where we’re too stifling in terms of oversight, but then on the other hand, we so devolve authority over procurement that we atomize the process, we stove-pipe it, and people act like their piece of the program is the only part of the program, and cost and time don’t matter. [or maybe we could scrap the current procurement methods and go back to something that worked, nah too radical] – CNS News

  8. A couple of late comments: 1) Is the last one still on display at Wright-Patterson, or is it flying at Area 51? 2) DFens (weren’t you commenting on that Caltech guy’s blog a year or so ago), could it be true that the cost over-runs are just covers for black programs?

  9. It is still at the Wright Patterson Air Museum in the Research and Development Gallery in the back on the left. You need to get past the B-52 to see it. That comment regarding how these cost overruns are really all feeding black projects is false and thus probably not made by me. Ok, it is possible they are using cost overruns from some programs to hide money going to others. I’m sure the people who do that sort of thing are smart enough to use a variety of methods of hiding black money, but in general that is not true. The cost overruns go strictly to building profits in defense companies. I have no problem with a company that is doing good work and producing good quality weapons in a timely and cost appropriate manner making a profit. In fact, I’d like to see companies that do that very thing making big profits. Instead what we have in companies that drag their feet and build unreasonably expensive weapons that only work marginally well are the companies that excel. My position is that this is your fault because you and your representatives have put a procurement system in place that rewards poor performing contractors over those who perform well.

  10. No, Dfens, I haven’t got you confused with whoever that individual is. I’ve come to expect the stuff you post. Insurgent busting sonic booms. Good stuff, maybe they’ll insert that into the curriculum down at Ft. Bragg. 😉 How ’bout them Cubbies?

  11. When you look at the context of the following: You look at that airplane as an American and your heart swells with pride. You look at it as an enemy and it’s saying, ‘you wanna piece of this?’ ‘Yeah, you!’ ‘You wanna a piece of me?’ ‘I’ll kick your ass you look at me like that again.’ It’s no wonder the majority of the non-American world looks on with sadness with the belief that America is not the ‘home of the brave’ but more like the home of the cock head.