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Lockheed M-21 Blackbird  with D-21 drone by John Gaffen

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Lockheed M-21 Blackbird with D-21 drone by 


Front view of a Lockheed M-21 Blackbird The Lockheed D-21B Drone is mounted on the rear upper surface of the aircraft. The Blackbird family of aircraft cruise at speeds of more than Mach 3 and fly over 85,000 feet (25,500 m) in altitude. Conceived nearly 50 years ago, Blackbirds remain the fastest and highest flying air-breathing production aircraft ever built. This M-21 is a unique variant of the A-12, the earliest Blackbird type. Built for a CIA program code-named “Tagboard,” the M-21 carried unpiloted vehicles for intelligence gathering. These drones were intended for launch from the M-21 “mother ship” for flights over hostile territories. Design features of the M-21 include the second seat for the Launch Control Officer and the launch pylon on which the drone is mounted. The Museum’s M-21 was built in 1963, and is the sole surviving example of its type. The Lockheed SR-71 is an advanced, long range, Mach 3 strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft by the Lockheed Skunk Works as a Black project. The SR-71 was unofficially named the Blackbird, and called the Habu by its crews, referring to an Okinawan species of pit viper. Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was responsible for many of the design’s innovative concepts. A defensive feature of the aircraft was its high speed and operating altitude, whereby, if a surface-to-air missile launch were detected, standard evasive action was simply to accelerate. The D-21 drone was an unpiloted aircraft originally designed for CIA and Air Force surveillance missions over particularly hostile territories. Launched from airborne carrier aircraft, the D-21’s Marquardt RJ43-MA-11 ramjet engine propelled it at speeds over 2,000 mph. (3,200 km/h). Sometimes, machines/buildings are designed in such a way, that when seen, they produce a reaction in the viewer which is very like that produced by an artwork. This work was made by cutting out the image of the plane and moving it to a new layer. It was ‘cleaned up’, and then a Photoshop filter was applied (glowing fluorescent edges). This work forms part of a series I am doing on Planes, Trains and Automobiles and features Classic American designs

I was a scientist for many years, working in the field of medical research, both in academia and in industry. In late 2004, I left science to pursue my creative interests in photography and the visual arts.

I am now a professional photographer living in South East London. You can view my professional photography website at:- www.whitewindmillphotography.co.uk

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