Aircraft are moved from the Air Force Museum at Patterson Field to the brand new museum at Wright Field in 1970-71. The new location is now the National Museum of the US Air Force. Click on each photo for a caption. (NMUSAF)
An F-104 Starfighter bursts into flames after colliding with the XB-70 Valkyrie, which is now missing a stabilizer. The co-pilot of the Valkyrie and the pilot of the Starfighter both passed away in the crash. Photo taken on June 8, 1966. (USAF Photo)
Happy 51st Birthday, MiG-25 Foxbat - First Flight March 6th, 1964
Created in response to the ever advancing speed and technology of Strategic Air Command bombers (in particular, the XB-70), the MiG-25 sent shudders of fear through the western aviation community. With Mach 3+ speed and an (inaccurate) perception as a nimble dogfighter, the MiG-25 led to development of F-15 Eagle.
The defection of Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko to Japan with his MiG-25P in 1976 gave western experts a close-up view of the Foxbat, revealing it to be a short-ranged interceptor using reliable, but non-cutting edge technology (for example, much of the airframe was nickel steel, not titanium, as it had been assumed). Despite being something of a brute, the Foxbat served in front line units for decades, with limited numbers still in service today. It remains the second fastest aircraft ever to be in active service, after the SR-71 Blackbird.
The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype version of the proposed B-70 nuclear-armed deep penetration bomber for the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. Designed in the late 1950s, the Valkyrie was a large six-engined aircraft able to fly Mach 3+ at an altitude of 70,000 ft (21,000 m), which would have allowed it to avoid interceptors, the only effective anti-bomber weapon at the time.
With the end of the Second World War in 1945 and the death of fascism, the temporary wartime alliances forged in the darkest days of late 1941 - between the British Empire, the United States and the Soviet Union - quickly began to show deep cracks.
A few weeks after the release of the Long Telegram in February 1946, which would inspire the Truman Doctrine, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in Fulton, Missouri. The speech called for an Anglo-American alliance against the Soviets, whom he accused of establishing an “iron curtain” from “Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic”.
It was clear by 1947 that ideological difference had become intolerable and in September of that year the Soviets created Cominform, uniting the global
communist movement while tightening political control over Soviet satellites.
Over the following decades a policy of containment would be pursued by the Western Bloc, usually led, and on occasion too far, by the United States. This, driven by the Domino Theory, that should one state fall it would collapse an entire region, led to a number of not-so-small proxy wars: the Malayan Emergency, Korea, Vietnam. On 13 August 1961, the Soviets erected a barbed wire Berlin Wall, something which would quickly grow in substance. Europe was divided, quite physically in two. When the Soviet Union went nuclear on 29 August 1949 the stakes of confrontation had risen exponentially, triggering an arms buildup on both sides; which, under Robert McNamara, settled into a state of Mutually Assured Destruction. European maps became the atomic battlefield and as crisis came thick and fast in the early 1960s the fate of life on our pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known, rested upon the cool minds of just a few men. Living at the gates of annihilation, they peered through and stepped back, time and again.