Blackbird Mach 3 Duet − M-21 “Blackbird” + D-12B Tagboard rare pair, 2 of 2
Blackbird Mach 3 Duet − M-21 “Blackbird” + D-12B Tagboard rare pair 2 of 2
The D-21 was a high performance vehicle, built to live but once at Mach 3 while at extremely high altitude. It’s mission solely to overfly foreign territory for photo reconnaissance and return to a safe area where the camera-film pack would drop away and descend under parachute for a mid-air retrieval — the drone itself would self-destruct over deep ocean waters. Flying as far as 3400 miles/5440km, and as high as 95,000 feet/~2900m, on their own, D-21 Tagboards could overfly almost any point on Earth in combination with their motherships. The Museum of Flight has a rare treat to experience having a D-21 Tagboard mounted atop an M-21 looking as if a Cold War high value item is soon about to be photographed.
John L. Little (Asst. Curator and Research Team Leader/Museum of Flight) provided a wonderful set of references to more deeply investigate the Lockheed D-21 Tagboard, to quote him, as well as to thank him:
“I would suggest the article by James C. and Nora D. Goodall, “Senior Bowl: From the Shadow of Black,” International Air Power Review 3 (Winter 2001/2002): 106-119. Jim Goodall, who is now retired, used to work for our museum, and knew Ben Rich personally. Among other information, Jim acquired from Ben a copy of Kelly Johnson’s personal logbook, in which Kelly recorded his thoughts and actions on the various aircraft that he designed, including the D-21. Another good source of information is Jay Miller, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, rev. ed. (North Branch, MN: Specialty Press & Wholesalers, 1995), pp. 134-41. Jay also had access to Kelly’s log.”