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Lockheed YF-12A

DAYTON, Ohio -- Lockheed YF-12A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Lockheed YF-12A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Lockheed YF-12A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Lockheed YF-12A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Size contrast between the Lockheed F-80C (front) and the Lockheed YF-12A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Size contrast between the Lockheed F-80C (front) and the Lockheed YF-12A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Lockheed YF-12A into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Lockheed YF-12A in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lockheed YF-12A in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

General view of the North American XB-70 Valkyrie and the Lockheed YF-12A in the Research and Development Gallery in the museum's fourth building. Also pictured are the North American X-15A-2 and the Space Shuttle Exhibit on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

General view of the North American XB-70 Valkyrie and the Lockheed YF-12A in the Research and Development Gallery in the museum's fourth building. Also pictured are the North American X-15A-2 and the Space Shuttle Exhibit on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Lockheed YF-12 (S/N 60-6934) in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Because air friction heated the skin to more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit, titanium alloys make up 93 percent of the YF-12’s structural weight. The YF-12 is also coated with a special black paint that helps radiate heat from its skin. (U.S. Air Force photo)

For their YF-12 speed record flight, Col. Robert L. "Fox" Stephens (pilot, left) and Lt. Col. Daniel Andre (fire control officer, right) received the 1965 Thompson Trophy. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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For their YF-12 speed record flight, Col. Robert L. "Fox" Stephens (pilot, left) and Lt. Col. Daniel Andre (fire control officer, right) received the 1965 Thompson Trophy. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The YF-12 was developed in the 1960s as a high-altitude, Mach 3 interceptor to defend against supersonic bombers. Based on the A-12 reconnaissance aircraft, the YF-12A became the forerunner of the highly-sophisticated SR-71 strategic reconnaissance aircraft.

The first of three YF-12s flew in August 1963. In May 1965, the first and third YF-12s set several records, including a speed record of 2,070.101 mph and an altitude record of 80,257.65 feet. For their speed record flight, Col. Robert L. "Fox" Stephens (pilot) and Lt. Col. Daniel Andre (fire control officer) received the 1965 Thompson Trophy.

Though the aircraft performed well, the F-12 interceptor program ended in early 1968. High costs, the ongoing war in Southeast Asia, and a lower priority on air defense of the US all contributed to the cancellation.

The aircraft on display -- the second one built -- was recalled from storage in 1969 for a joint USAF/NASA investigation of supersonic cruise technology. It was flown to the museum in 1979, and it is the only remaining YF-12A in existence (the first YF-12A was damaged beyond repair after a landing mishap, and the third YF-12A was destroyed after the crew ejected to escape an inflight fire).

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Armament:
Three Hughes AIM-47A missiles
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney J58s of 32,000 lbs. thrust each (with afterburner)
Crew: Two
Maximum speed: Mach 3+
Range: 2,000+ miles
Service ceiling: Above 80,000 feet
Weight: 127,000 lbs. loaded

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1965 Thompson Trophy
Pratt & Whitney J58 Turbojet Engine
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