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Secret Superpower Aircraft: Spy Planes

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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(Jan 19, 2010)
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$94.93

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Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A & E Mod
  • DVD Release Date: January 19, 2010
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B002KBCPOG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,471 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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The practice of aerial spying goes a long way back a little over 100 years before fixed wing aircraft were used in World War 1, but the Russo-American Cold War saw the development of reconnaissance planes reach unprecedented heights. The SR-71 and U-2 may have represented the pinnacle of spy plane development during the Cold War, pushing the limits of the performance of air-breathing fixed wing aircraft in speed and altitude, but they were just two of a handful of Cold war photo-reconnaissance aircraft, some which never left the drawing board.

The Bell X-16 and Convair Kingfish were two such projects. The X-16 was supposed to be the first dedicated spy plane for the USAF, but its development was sabotaged by the emergence of the U-2 and Bell was nearing completion of the first X-16 when the project was axed. The Convair Kingfish too was promising in terms of invincibility, but the Air Force wooed the CIA to reject the Kingfish in favor of the Lockheed Archangel-12 (precursor of the Blackbird) because Convair was grappling with technical snags that plagued the B-58 supersonic bomber and it did not wish to see the Kingfish suffer the same technical difficulties and cost overruns as the Hustler. Nevertheless, the Kingfish is the closest we came to designing an NASP-like spyplane during the Cold War, with its triangular shape and engines buried in the rear fuselage.

With respect to the D-21 supersonic UAV, it is interesting to note that the Tupolev Design Bureau worked on a project to reverse-engineer the D-21, relying on a D-21 that crashed in Siberia after veering off course during a spy mission over the Lop Nur nuclear weapon test site in Xinjiang, China.
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