Even before the first operational flight of the legendary Lockheed U-2 spy plane, aircraft design genius Kelly Johnson began work with his team at the company's "Skunk Works" plant on the type's replacement. The result was the SR-71. First deployed on March 9, 1968, this tri-sonic 'hotrod' flew its first operational sortie over North Vietnam just 12 days later. On that debut mission, the Blackbird overflew surface-to-air missile sites with complete impunity, collecting the detailed intelligence that led directly to the end of the siege of Khe Sanh in the process.
Thereafter, the SR-71 roamed freely over areas previously denied to the vulnerable U-2, capturing photographic, radar and electronic intelligence. This book examines the immense impact this revolutionary aircraft had, not only on North Vietnam (Vietnam War, 1955-1975) but during the Cold War (1946-1991) as a whole, gathering information about the Soviet nuclear submarine fleet based in Vladivostok as well as the port's defenses, monitoring the actions of North Korea and flying four 11-hour, non-stop sorties into the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War in the late 1980s.
About the Author
During his time as an air traffic controller at the London Air Traffic Control Center, Paul Crickmore gained a unique introduction into SR-71 operations from RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk. Teaming up with Osprey produced the first detailed book ever to be published on the subject. When additional information became available to him in 1990 following the initial shut down of SR-71 operations, Crickmore produced an even more detailed book, Lockheed SR-71 The Secret Missions Exposed - the standard reference work on the subject. The work was acclaimed by both the aviation press, Ben Rich (late president of the Skunk Works) and the crews that flew the SR-71. He is also the author of the first detailed book about the 117. The author lives in Suffolk, UK.
"What makes this particular book such a great read is the depth of information provided on operations of the time. The accounts of the pilots and others involved adds much to making this such a fascinating book. Add to that the great choice of photos and several pages of well drawn profiles and you have a book that I know you will enjoy." -Scott Van Aken, modelingmadness.com (December 2008)