August 07, 2019

Too cool to live, too young to die

I got this book from Loussac Library, and you bet I read it cover to cover.  As far as it was concerned, the B-70 Valkyrie was the baddest thing that every flew, and no two ways about it.  It could fly up to space at Mach 3 and blow up whatever needed blowing up, fly away before enemy radar could vector in interceptors.

Eisenhower didn't want it because missiles were cheaper, probably more effective.  Kennedy campaigned for it, saying Eisenhower was soft on defense.  But,
On 28 March 1961, after $800 million (equivalent to $6.7 billion today) had been spent on the B-70 program, Kennedy canceled the project as "unnecessary and economically unjustifiable" because it "stood little chance of penetrating enemy defenses successfully."  Instead, Kennedy recommended "the B-70 program be carried forward essentially to explore the problem of flying at three times the speed of sound with an airframe potentially useful as a bomber."

They built a couple, undoubtedly the most epic anything that ever stood on a runway.  It was at Mach 3 before they pulled the chocks away.

It did fly, riding its own shockwave:

Landing was basically controlled crashing:

Actual emergencies were even better:

Stop.  My penis can only get so erect.

One eventually did crash, the other's in a museum now.

The contrast with the B-17 strikes me as significant.  Where the B-17 was mass-produced, these were a special edition, two copies only.  Where the B-17 attacked in a huge interdependent cloud, these were the aviation equivalent of special forces - hit-and-run specialists with maybe a couple of escorts.  The B-17 was beautiful "in its way," the B-70 was a show piece with a spiffy pointy nose and cool black windshield.  Obsolete when designed, they built it anyway - possibly for political benefit, possibly as a bargaining chip, possibly in the hopes that some of the technology developed would be useful for something else.

But in my world of car radios with cheap plastic buttons, ugly household appliances, and wood-grain vinyl shelf liners, this thing was The Truth, a pure white instrument for going 2,200 miles per hour for no good reason.  There was never anything better.
  • Wikipedia: North American XB-70 Valkyrie / The "missile problem" - (link)


Blogger VMM said...

I built a 1/72 scale model of it in my youth. It's pretty cool, but not as cool as the SR-71.
It's a bit boxy in the rear. Also: I thought the B-1 was underrated as far as being cool.

August 9, 2019 at 6:30 PM  

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