The B-71 designation was used briefly during the development of proposed fighter and (reconnaissance) bomber versions of the Lockheed A-12. The fighter version became the YF-12A, but the bomber version never materialized. A strategic reconnaissance version was built, which kept the bomber sequence number but dropped the bomber designation in favor of the one-of-a-kind SR designation (strategic reconnaissance). The museum has an SR-71A on display in the Cold War Gallery and a YF-12A on display in the Research and Development/Flight Test Gallery.
The SR-71, unofficially known as the Blackbird, is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of an SR-71 took place on Dec. 22, 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in January 1966. The USAF retired its fleet of SR-71s on Jan. 26, 1990, because of a decreasing defense budget and high costs of operation. The USAF returned the SR-71 to the active Air Force inventory in 1995 and began flying operational missions in January 1997. The aircraft was retired again in 1998.
Throughout its nearly 24-year career, the SR-71 remained the world's fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. From 80,000 feet, it could survey 100,000 square miles of Earth's surface per hour. On July 28, 1976, an SR-71 set two world records for its class: an absolute speed record of 2,193.167 miles per hour and an absolute altitude record of 85,068.997 feet.
Strategic reconnaissance aircraft
Hybrid aircraft (YF-12 and SR-71)
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: None Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney J58s of 32,500 lbs. thrust each with afterburner Maximum speed: Plus 2,000 mph Range: Plus 2,900 miles Service ceiling: Plus 85,000 ft. Span: 55 ft. 7 in. Length: 107 ft. 5 in. Height: 18 ft. 6 in. Weight: 170,000 lbs. loaded Crew: Two Serial number: SR-71A: 61-7950 to 61-7955; 61-7958 to 61-7980; SR-71B: 61-7956 and 61-7957; SR-71C: 61-7981