YF-12A 60-6936

In the aviation world there are those that prefer to do artwork. Doing side views like this is called a ‘profile’. This is my first attempt at doing such artwork. Every one knows I have a passion for Blackbirds.



YF-12A (60-6936/Article 1003)  4786th Test Squadron

YF-12A (60-6936/Article 1003) made its first flight at Area 51 on 13 March 1964, piloted by Robert Gilliland.The airplane was initially flown at the Area 51 test site at Groom Lake, Nevada, in 1963. They were transferred to Edwards AFB, California, in June 1964.

YF-12A 936 set nine world absolute speed and altitude records on 1 May 1965. Col. Robert “Fox” Stephens and Maj. Daniel Andre flew 936 to a straight-course flight at 2,070.101 mph and 80,257.65 feet. Lt. Col Walter Daniel and Maj. James Cooney set a closed course record in 936 at 1,688.891 mph. Daniel and Maj. Noel Warner set another record at a speed of 1,643.041 mph over a closed course.

YF-12s were armed with AIM-47 air-to-air missiles, and incorporated the Hughes AN/ASG-18 fire control system.The airplane participated in AIM-47 missile firing tests at Eglin AFB, Florida in 1966. On 22 March, the crew of 936 successfully fired a missile from 74,500 feet while cruising at Mach 3.15. The target was a Ryan Q-2C flying at 1,500 feet. Another Q-2C, which was cruising at 20,000 feet, was downed on 13 May. On 21 September, the crew of 936 fired a missile from 74,000 feet and Mach 3.2 at a remotely piloted Boeing QB-47 flying near sea level. Shortly after these tests, the YF-12As were placed in storage for three years.

Six successful firings of the AIM-47 missiles were completed. The last one was launched from the YF-12 at Mach 3.2 at an altitude of 74,000 ft

The program was abandoned following the cancellation of the production F-12B, but the YF-12s continued flying for many years with the USAF and with NASA as research aircraft.

24 July 1971 YF-12A 60-6936 (Article 1003) was lost in an accident near Edwards Air Force Base, California, United States.

The aircraft crashed 24 June 1971 at Edwards AFB near the north end of Rogers Dry Lake due to an inflight-fire.

The airplane had logged a total of 439.8 flight hours.

Crew: 2
Length: 101 ft 8 in (30.97 m)
Wingspan: 55 ft 7 in (16.95 m)
Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.64 m)
Wing area: 1,795 ft² (167 m²)
Empty weight: 60,730 lb (27,604 kg)
Loaded weight: 124,000 lb (56,200 kg[6])
Max. takeoff weight: 140,000 lb (63,504 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J58/JTD11D-20A afterburning turbojet with compressor bleed bypass


In September of 1959, the USAF had cancelled its contracts for the North American F-108 Rapier, a Mach 3-capable aircraft that had been proposed as the USAF’s next-generation interceptor to replace the F-106. The reason given for the cancellation was that the F-108 was simply too expensive for the USAF, now that the primary Soviet threat to the US mainland was its battery of intercontinental range ballistic missiles rather than its fleet of long-range bombers. Nevertheless, Lockheed thought that the Air Force might still be interested in a less-costly F-106 replacement should the Soviet bomber fleet ever again be perceived as a significant threat. Lockheed suggested to the Air Force that the A-12 design would make a good platform for a Mach 3+ interceptor, and might make a good replacement for the F-106 at a more reasonable cost than the abortive F-108 Rapier. Sufficient interest was expressed by the Air Force that in October of 1960 they gave Lockheed permission to modify three A-12 Airframes (the 7th, 8th, and 9th) to interceptor configuration. The designation AF-12 was initially assigned to this project. Serial numbers were 60-6934/6936. One of the unsaid reasons for the Defense Department approval of the interceptor project was perhaps that it might make a good cover for the real CIA-supported intelligence-gathering nature of the project. In September of 1962, these three aircraft were secretly assigned the designation YF-12A in the new Defense Department tri-service scheme.

The YF-12A was quite similar in overall configuration to the A-12 from which it was derived. It differed from the A-12 primarily in having a second crewman in a position immediately behind the pilot This second crewman was added to operate the extremely powerful and capable Hughes AN/ASG-18 pulse Doppler fire control radar, which had originally been developed for the F-108 Rapier. The AN/ASG-18 was installed in the extreme nose of the aircraft, with the forward chines being cut back to accommodate the 40-inch radome. The ASG-18 radar supposedly had a search range as great as 500 miles. Infrared sensors were installed in the forward edges of the cut-back chines.

The YF-12A also differed from the A-12 in having armament. This armament consisted of four Hughes AIM-47A Falcon air-to-air missiles housed internally in chine bays that had previously been used to carry the reconnaissance equipment. The AIM-47A had originally been known as the GAR-9 and (like the ASG-18 radar) had originally been intended for the F-108 Rapier. When fired, the Falcon missiles were explosively ejected from their bays, and their rocket motors were fired. Powered by a storable-propellant liquid-fuelled rocket, the AIM-47A had a maximum speed of Mach 6 and an interception range of 115 miles. It had a launch weight of about 800 pounds. The missile relied on semiactive radar homing for midcourse guidance to the immediate vicinity of the target, homing in on reflections off the target resulting from transmissions from the huge ASG-18 radar. However, it used terminal infrared homing for the final run in to the target. The AIM-47 could carry a 250-kiloton nuclear warhead.


Dave Budd

Hi..I'm Dave. Webmaster here at Photorecon. The boss also laughs and says I'm the Chief Photographer. I live in Las Vegas and I cover most of the West Coast events with Joe. I do most of the upkeep of the site.

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