Published October 09, 2015
DAYTON, Ohio -- Lockheed D-21B at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Restoration staff move the Lockheed D-21B 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 D-21B in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The D-21 was originally designed to be launched at supersonic speed from the back of an M-21 carrier aircraft (the M-21 was a modification of the A-12 design). In July 1966, a D-21 collided with its M-21 after release, destroying both and resulting in the death of one of the M-21’s two crew members. No further "piggyback" launches were attempted. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The operational launch system used modified B-52H carrier aircraft. The D-21B had a solid rocket booster to provide the initial acceleration required to start the ramjet engine. The first launch from a B-52 took place in 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The Lockheed D-21 was a highly-advanced, remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) designed to carry out high-speed, high-altitude strategic reconnaissance missions over hostile territory. Developed by the famed Lockheed "Skunk Works” in the 1960s, the D-21 used technology from the A-12/YF-12/SR-71 “Blackbird” family of high-speed manned aircraft. Unlike the turbojet engines in the Blackbird, however, the D-21 was powered by a ramjet.
D-21Bs were used on four flights over communist China under the code name Senior Bowl, but none of these missions fully succeeded. The U.S. Air Force canceled the program in 1971 and put the remaining D-21s in storage. The D-21B on display came to the museum in 1993.
Engine: One Marquardt RJ43 ramjet of 12,000 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: 2,000+ mph (Mach 3+)
Range: 3,000 miles
Ceiling: Approx. 95,000 feet
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Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.
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The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)