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The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird—the boss book on the Blackbird family

9 November 2015

The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird: the Illustrated Profile of Every Aircraft, Crew and Breakthrough of the World’s Fastest Stealth Jet, Richard Graham, 2015, ISBN 9780760348499, 288 pp., 320 color and 116 b/w photos

blog Book SR-71

Graham, former SR-71 pilot, has written the boss book on the mystical and hyper-tech SR-71. Writing on the SR-71 has been a career for Graham and each of his titles bring insight as well as unique information. The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird will become THE reference book on this fantastic aircraft. Included, as well is the history of the A-12, the SR-71’s ancestor which was flown by the CIA. The D-21 drone and its program are contained, as well.

Graham answers the questions authoritatively of why the USAF designed the SR-71 to replace the successful A-12 (evolution or turf war?) and how the SR-71’s original designation (RS-71) was altered (not what is popularly written). It is welcome that these curiosities have finally been put to bed.

The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird lives up to its name by:

  • Detailing the design and construction history of the A-12, SR-71 and D-51—highlights and lowlights included
  • Mission profiles are described comprehensively as are each mission phase including, refueling, maintenance, engine changes, engine startup and much more
  • Each retired SR-71 and A-12 have a dedicated bio, location and photo
  • Each SR-71 crew is named and photographed
  • A wonderful cutaway drawing of an SR-71A by Mike Badrocke
  • Line drawings of the forward and rear cockpits of each SR-71 model

The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird is impressive with its illustrations and imagery beginning with the cover and end pages—it fits into the coffee table size category though it is far from unwieldy. Thankfully, many illustrations are larger than previously published for better understanding (such as how the by-pass air from the enormous engines provided much more thrust than the jet exhaust). Graham’s writing and intimacy with the SR-71 complement the images, many unseen in previous publications (a favorite is small icicles dangling from the chines of a Blackbird), wit h his experience and authorship.

The book serves as well as the only book of the Blackbird family (A-12/SR-71/D-21) in a library as well as to significantly complete that section of any library.


In keeping with the publishing custom, a copy of The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird was provided by Zenith Press for an objective review.

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