It all began as a photoshoot for General Electric on June 8th 1966.
The F-104, flown by NASA Chief Test Pilot Joe Walker, who, previously had flown the X-15 twice to the edge of space, made contact with the Valkyrie’s left wing and after taking out a part of it plus the two vertical stabilizers it exploded leaving a uncontrollable Valkyrie to its destiny.
Both Joe Walker and the Vakyrie co-pilot, Carl Cross, died. Al White, the bomber’s pilot managed to eject to safety but not without sustaining serious injuries.
The only TSR-2 to ever fly, XR219, at Boscombe Down between September 1964 and
March 1965. Designed to conduct low level, high speed flights into Eastern Europe, penetrating air defences to deliver a nuclear strike, the aircraft was the last all-British wonder-child of aviation. With the V-Force ever increasingly the vulnerable force, in the face of new Soviet missiles, this was a necessary evolutionary step.
It must be said that this aircraft was one of the most advanced designs of it’s time; genuinely comparable to the SR-71 and XB-70 as regards
innovation. Capable of Mach 2+ at medium-high altitudes, the design’s focus was on low level performance. At sub-200 feet, the aircraft would penetrate into the Eastern Block at around Mach 1.1. To achieve such performance at tree-top level, a completely new fully automatic radar system was required, far in advance of anything previously concocted. It would use terrain following and sideways looking systems which automatically maintained a prescribed altitude. Much speculation stands around it’s illogical cancellation.
This is the Valkyrie, one of the greatest flying machines humans have ever built.
Developed in the late 50s as a high speed, high altitude, nuclear armed, strategic bomber, it could fly at speeds of over Mach 3 and at altitudes of 70,000 feet, which theoretically would’ve allowed it to avoid enemy interceptors, the only effective anti bomber weapon at the time.
A few factors led to the cancellation of the program, but even so two prototypes were built for use in supersonic test flights.
Mach 3 brothers: Valkyrie and a YF-12 Interceptor Blackbird.
“The data from the XB-70 test flights and aerospace materials development were used in the later B-1 bomber program, the American supersonic transport (SST) program, and via espionage, the Soviet Union’s Tupolev Tu-144 SST program.” (Source)