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Photo Funday — D-21, a drone too exciting

26 February 2010

Photo Funday — a photo and informative caption for the weekend

Lockheed D-21 drone — photo by Joe May

Lockheed D-21 drone — photo by Joe May

Neccesity being the mother of invention brought the D-21 drone into being. This Mach 3+ ramjet powered aircraft of titanium construction was part of the “Blackbird” family of aircraft designed by Lockheed Aircraft. The tantalizing potential of the D-21 was for unmanned missions over foreign territory as well as into dangerous conditions like atmospheric nuclear tests. The value of this type of information can be gauged by the expense of modifying an A-12 into an M-21 which would carry and launch the drone, as well as the disposable nature of the drone  — each drone would drop the data package, then self-destruct!  Testing of the D-21 did not fare well and an M-21 was lost along with one of the crew. Several of the remaining D-21s ultimately landed in various museums with the one pictured (above) in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. The curious can read more about this museum in my post, Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and the Tillamook Air Museum.

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