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And here's some trivia; what V-8 automobile engine was used to start them?

They left the ground leaking fuel 'cause they were designed to allow for thermal expansion. How did they prevent fire? Anybody know? I sure don't.

What prevented flame out at such high altitudes? Any engineers out there? I think I only know the answer to the first question.
 

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My 2nd uncle was the AF commander over the development and testing of the SR-71 Blackbird in the 60s.
 

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Love to know more about the SR-71. I remain amazed that 50 were built!! I bet each one was different enough so almost nothing interchanged. Oh, the starter for the engines on ground was run by either one or two nailhead Buick V-8's. There is a display of the SR-71, a decomisshoned SR-71 in a Park near Palmdale, California. Next to it is the "starting cart" that holds a Buick nailhead V-8. At least that's how it was when I visited about 5 years ago.

I doubt of the engines were Tommy Ivo prepared...
 

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The SR71 used JP7 instead of the much more common JP4 or JP8. JP7 had such low volatility that you could drop a match in a bucket of it and the match would just go out. It's low volatility meant there was not much in the way of flammable vapor given off. This required the use of TEB (triethylborane) to be injected into it to be burned in the engine. TEB ignites when exposed to air, so this is how the SR71 got a restart - it carried the TEB in tanks onboard. The fuel acted like a heatsink with the aircraft skin to absorb heat.

It's really neat stuff - esp. considering it was designed in the 60's.

Best book I've ever read was "Skunk Works" by Ben Rich. Ben was Kelly J.'s hand picked successor at the skunkworks and his book is amazing. Starting just after WW2, it talks about the U-2, SR71, F117 and various other things you've never heard of.

In a bit of irony, did you know the F117 would not have been possible without the work of a Russian mathematician who's work was mistakenly released to the world press by the Kremlin?

Read the book - if you can find it.
 

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"Yea, tho I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no evil - for I am at 81,000 feet and climbing".

Dennis
 

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Saw one of these at the "Pima Air Museum" in Tuscon. If you like airplanes, that's a good place to look. They have quite a collection!
 

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When I was stationed on Okinawa we got to see these amazing planes take off and land on Kadena AFB often. The Okinawans called them "Habu", the Japanese word for a venomous snake.


I also had an AF buddy who was aircrew and he arranged a tour for a couple of us.


The pilots wore full-fledged space suits and required a crew of personnel to get them suited up and ready to go. They gassed them up in the hanger, and yes they leaked like a sieve! The entire belly surface of the plane literally rained JP creating a puddle as large as the aircraft almost.


I remember the big block Buick "starters" and will admit that I wondered why the whole thing didn't light up in a ball of flame when they fired them up.


Before launch they would scramble several F15s to patrol the area to maintain security while the Habu was most vulnerable at low altitude and airspeed on assent/landing.


We'd often park our cars along the flight line to watch them take off. The sheet metal of the car would visibly shake violently when they hit the throttles creating shock waves throughout your body like nothing I've ever experienced. It was much more intense than the full afterburners of a F14 Tomcat locked-in for a cat launch from just 20 feet away on the carrier.


Once off the ground it was full-tilt boogie on a steep climb into the oblivion of low space where they thrived.


I will never forget the Habu. Thanks for the memories the video provided.


Guy Babin
 

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I was fortunate enough to tour the Pima Air Museum the weeek end that the Black Bird was put on public display for the first time. They had pilots, engineers from Lockheed, maintenance personel and a host of others who gave about a two hour presentation. They talked about ejecting from a crippled plane, flying over the Russian sub bases around Finland, and other missions they were on. What a stroke of luck to hear them! Actually, I was amazed at the older age of the pilots. What a life they had!

I also have the Skunk Works Book. A great book. I had it with me they day I toured Pima and got several autographs. What a day it was!
 

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Guy,

You are one of the few I have ever heard call the SR-71 a HABU outside of Okinawa. I was assigned to 3rd FSSG/3rd MARDIV in 83-84. Bama (god rest his sole) and I have mutual friends. She is a great plane with even better pilots and ground crews. They all did a super job when needed. Drop me a email.

Bill Myers
 

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Ol' Rusty says a Ford 302 in the back room was used to crank and start the GM Buicks. Buick was the low bid. So the power plant and air frame guys raided the hanger's coffee fund money to buy used 302 Fords. For a time there was a shortage of them.

Ol' Rusty said the ground crew refused to turn the Buick off once started. Might not re-light again out in public. Afraid the Ruskees would find out. Was top secret up to now.

He said a lot of 302s were burnt-up having to start the Buick POC.
 

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I believe they were twin Buick Nailhead V-8's driving through a single shaft.

In 1953, in the beautiful Harley Early-designed Skylark, Buick engineers introduced a unique V8 featuring a vertical Over Head Valve (OHV) head that featured a "pent-roof" shaped combustion chamber. This head design permits excellent low-end torque and fuel economy characteristics with a free-flowing (45-degree) intake tracks, but the design does compromise the exhaust ports' ability to breath at higher RPM's with restrictive 135-degree bends. It earned the nick-name "Nailhead" from the unique, vertical orientation of the valve covers, making it easy to identify Buick 264, 322, 364, 401, 425 CID OHV V8's prior to 1970. See Buick Engine specifications.
 
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