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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.

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The Valkyrie made use of a phenomenon called compression lift to generate more lift. A wedge at the center of the engine inlets created a shock wave below the aircraft which would lift the aircraft.

The wingtips folded downwards and helped the compression lift effect, the aircraft’s directional stability and shifted the center of lift to a more favorable position, at high speeds.

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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.

Yeah, today is Valkyrie day, on this blog.