Thursday, 31 December 2015


Page 51 of the GAO Report on the ANP project shows that they were planning to do flight testing on an island in December of 1957. Johnston Island was expanded in 1958. The last 1964 expansion of Johnston Island occurred in step with when the SR-71 had become completely operational.


Wednesday, 30 December 2015



This technology was put to work in the Cold War. The American Ruling Class used this technology to put an air cap over the Soviet Union. It was a psychological warfare campaign that put the Soviets in the position of having to guess whether or not they were about to be attacked.

Interesting Timeline Result

February 1951 
GE takes over the NEPA project. 
21 February 1951 
A British Canberra B.2 flown by Roland Beamont became the first jet to make a nonstop unrefueled flight across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in the United States for USAF evaluation. 
22 February 1951
New York Times (1923-Current file); Feb 23, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 1
March 1951
GE awarded contract. 

Blackbird Flight Profile

Tuesday, 29 December 2015


"...the proof of our success was that the airplanes we built operated under tight secrecy for eight to ten years before the government even acknowledged their existence." 
-BEN RICH (Rich & Janos 7)

The Canberra had the horsepower to fly above MACH-2+ speeds. America maintained a fleet of Canberra bombers in the 1950's that could bomb the Soviet Union with impunity. The Canberra's nuclear variant, assuming the same thrust to megawatt ratio of the direct cycle program, had 14 times the power needed to propel a 25 ton plane to Mach 2.27/1500 mph. This is the power to fly 21,000 mph. This is orbital velocity. After the close of World War II the Americans had a mad rush to locate the inventor of the spaceplane Eugene Sanger. The Office of Naval Intelligence translated his paper on the subject. The modified Canberra was a Sanger Spaceplane. 

Martin RB-57D Canberra
First flight    3 November 1955
General characteristics
·         Crew: 1 or 2
·         Length: 66 ft depending on variant (20.1 m)
·         Wingspan: 106 ft. 0 in. (32.3 m)
·         Height: 15 ft. 7 in. (4.7 m)
·         Max. takeoff weight: Approx. 59,000 lbs. (26,760 kg)
·         Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J57-P-9 turbojets, 10,000 lbs (44.5 kN) each
·         Maximum speed: 520 knots (600 mph) at 45,000 ft (966 km/h at 13700 m)
·         Cruise speed: 420 knots (480 mph) at 65,000 ft (780 km/h at 20,000 m)
·         Combat radius: Approx. 2,000 miles (3,200 km)
·         Service ceiling: Approx. 70,000 ft. (21,300 m)

Weight 29.5 tons
89 Kilonewtons
The power is 39,786.5600 watts. It is equivalent to:
53.3546 mechanical horsepowers.
54.0946 metric horsepowers.
53.3332 electrical horsepowers.
4.0559 boiler horsepowers.

“45,000 horsepower is required to drive a 25 ton plane 1500 miles an hour (MACH 2.27) at 70,000 feet. … The power requirement would jump to 200,000 horsepower at sea level because of greater air resistance.”
U.S. May Push Efforts to Make Atomic Engine
Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Sep 28, 1949;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times
pg. 12

Martin/General Dynamics RB-57F Canberra
First flight    23 June 1963
General characteristics
Crew: 2
Length: 68 ft. 10 in. (20.98 m)
Wingspan: 122 ft 5 in (37.5 m)
Height: 14 ft 10 in (4.52 m)
Wing area: 1884 ft² (175 m²)
Useful load: 4,000 lbs (1,800 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 65,000 lbs (29,500 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-11A turbofans, 16,000 lbf (71 kN) each
Maximum speed: Mach 0.79 (546 mph / 475 knots) 878 km/h
Combat radius: 4,000 miles / 3475 nautical miles (6,400 km)
Service ceiling: 82,000 ft (25,000 m)

Weight 32.5 tons 
142 Kilonewtons
The power is 63,479.6800 watts. It is equivalent to:
85.1276 mechanical horsepowers.
86.3083 metric horsepowers.
85.0934 electrical horsepowers.
6.4712 boiler horsepowers.

“45,000 horsepower is required to drive a 25 ton plane 1500 miles an hour (MACH 1.97) at 70,000 feet. … The power requirement would jump to 200,000 horsepower at sea level because of greater air resistance.”
U.S. May Push Efforts to Make Atomic Engine
Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Sep 28, 1949;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times
pg. 12

Two years after this article is published, the WADC begins research at Wright Paterson AFB to modify the Canberra to fly at high altitudes over 70,000 feet. The article itself was published a month after the first Soviet nuclear test. The USAF was clearly researching ways to sneak attack the USSR using high altitude bombers that could not be intercepted by the Soviets. 


A Nuclear-Powered Plane?

A Nuclear-Powered Plane? 
Monday, Jan. 13, 1958
In Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Quarles's office in the Pentagon last week a group of high-level Navy and Air Force officers got together to ponder a serious decision: whether the U.S. ought, in the age of the missile, to speed up a nuclear-powered airplane project, and, if so, what kind of plane, to perform what kind of mission, at what cost, and when. The Navy argued hard for a subsonic nuclear turboprop seaplane for antisubmarine warfare and long-range radar-warning patrol. The Air Force argued not quite so hard for a more advanced supersonic nuclear jet bomber. All believed that the Russians might soon have an atomic plane ready for testing.
The U.S.'s atomic-plane project has been slowed down three times since 1946 because critics argued that it was too complex, too costly (one flash estimate: $1 billion minimum), that new missiles would make the new atomic plane obsolete before it could fly. In 1953 Defense Secretary Wilson called the atomic plane "a shitepoke*—a great big bird that flies over the marshes—you know—that doesn't have much body or speed to it, or anything, but can fly."
Last week the argument revolved around whether the U.S. ought to design and build an entirely new aircraft for nuclear power (time estimate: four to six years) or install a reactor to power an existing-type plane (time estimate: three years). The Navy said that it could adapt several of its seaplanes, including the experimental Martin P-6M multijet Sea-master or the old Mars, now up for sale, added that it would be safer to test a nuclear plane over sea than over land areas, where a crash might expose civilians to explosion and radiation. The Air Force said it could adapt its operational B-52 intercontinental jet bomber or its KC-135 jet tanker, but added that it was much more interested in getting a supersonic nuclear jet that would provide a new operational weapons system than it was in winning a round in psychological warfare. In the end the meeting agreed only that 1) the atomic-plane project needed more study, and that 2) the group would get together again to consider the results of that study soonest—"but not next week."

* Webster: Any of various herons..."


"The Lockheed SST proposal basically was a three times scale of the SR-71, already proven in flight." 
-Kelly Johnson

Specifications (L-2000-7A)[edit]
Data from[citation needed]
General characteristics
·         Capacity: 273 passengers
·         Length: 273 ft 2 in (83.26 m)
·         Wingspan: 116 ft (35.36 m)
·         Height: ()
·         Wing area: 9,424 ft² (875 m²)
·         Empty weight: 238,000 lb (107,900 kg)
·         Max. takeoff weight: 590,000 lb (267,600 kg)
·         Powerplant: 4 × GE4/J5M or Pratt & Whitney JTF17A-21L
·         Cruise speed: Mach 3.0
·         Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km)
·         Service ceiling: 76,500 ft (23,317 m)
·         Wing loading: 62.61 lbs/ft2 ()

Specifications (SR-71A)[edit]

Data from Pace[121]

General characteristics
·         Crew: 2: Pilot and Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO)
·         Payload: 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) of sensors
·         Length: 107 ft 5 in (32.74 m)
·         Wingspan: 55 ft 7 in (16.94 m)
·         Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.64 m)
·         Wing area: 1,800 ft2 (170 m2)
·         Empty weight: 67,500 lb (30,600 kg)
·         Loaded weight: 152,000 lb (69,000 kg)
·         Max. takeoff weight: 172,000 lb (78,000 kg)
·         Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J58-1 continuous-bleed afterburning turbojets, 34,000 lbf (151 kN) each
·         Wheel track: 16 ft 8 in (5.08 m)
·         Wheelbase: 37 ft 10 in (11.53 m)
·         Aspect ratio: 1.7
·         Maximum speed: Mach 3.3[121][122][N 5] (2,200+ mph, 3,540+ km/h, 1,910+ knots) at 80,000 ft (24,000 m)
·         Range: 2,900 nmi (5,400 km)
·         Ferry range: 3,200 nmi (5,925 km)
·         Service ceiling: 85,000 ft (25,900 m)
·         Rate of climb: 11820 ft/m (60 m/s)
·         Wing loading: 84 lb/ft² (410 kg/m²)
·         Thrust/weight: 0.44

The NEPA/ANP program was working on some incredibly large engines. A 40 foot long J-58 engine is not out of the realm of possibility. 

Molten Salt Reactors Were Flight Tested

Monday, 28 December 2015


R&D: Ill-Starred Nuclear Plane Project Is Subject of Hard Look by General Accounting Office
A post mortem on the nuclear-powered aircraft program, which was canceled by Presidential order in 1961 after 15 years and $1 billion had gone into the work, has opportunely appeared at a time when the TFX affair has centered public attention on federal procurement policies and management of research.
The review of the so-called ANP (Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion) project was carried out by the General Accounting Office, the auditing arm of the legislative branch, which was created by Congress to keep tabs on how the money the legislators appropriate is spent. Although much of the material in the GAO's review of the Joint Atomic Energy Commission-Department of Defense project has appeared before in Congressional hearings and committee reports, the new study, with its detailed chronology and allocation of blame in unemotional auditor's terms, makes a useful primer of how hot to conduct an R&D project. (A copy of the report, Review of the Manned Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program, can be obtained for $1 from the Accounting and Auditing Library, General Accounting Office, 441 G St, N.W., Washington 25.)
The GAO review says that the ANP project suffered severely over the years from changes in emphasis and direction in the program. Sternest criticism, perhaps, is directed at the Department of Defense and the Air Force for failing to furnish "sufficient and timely guidance to those responsible for carrying out the ANP program." The record shows, for example, that an AEC request in 1948 to DOD for its views on the military worth of a nuclear-powered plane did not receive a reply until 1951, and then only under pressure.
The report goes on to relate how facilities costing more than $17 million were built but not used, or little used, and how expensive design and related work was wasted. The GAO says also that cost data obtained from prime contractors was unsatisfactory and that unallowable costs were charged to contracts.
The veering course which the project took and its failure to pay off in a prototype plane or engine brought it under constant scrutiny from Congress and the Executive, and it was subjected to a program review no less than 13 times in the last 6 years of its life. People familiar with the program in this period say these studies tended to turn into reviews of earlier reviews and to produce recommendations which were not put into effect.
Gao's major recommendation for future projects like ANP is for one agency to obtain congressional authorization for the cost of the project, since this would eliminate the problems inherent in dual control and "facilitate Congressional review and strengthen Congressional control."
Though many persons in Congress and the agencies remained convinced of the feasibility and value of the anp? Congressman Mel Price (Democrat of Illinois) is perhaps the best known of its advocates? The absence of visible results lost the project many supporters in Congress, and in March 1961, shortly after President Kennedy took office, he asked Congress to terminate the anp program because he said "the possibility of achieving a militarily useful aircraft in the foreseeable future is still very remote."
Congress complied with the President's request, the project disappeared from the budget, and the work was transferred to the aec budget as a non-defense research item.
Aec officials say that many of the lessons learned in the work on anp, particularly in reactor development and materials research, have proved valuable in the joint aec-nasa work on the nuclear space program, which has a budget of about $400 million for fiscal year 1963. No agency now is working on a nuclear-powered aircraft project.
The gao study centers on the administrative aspects of the anp program and does not delve deeply into matters of policy, which is quite natural in an organization concerned with Executive agency fiscal operations and scrupulous never to intrude in areas where its employers, Congress, may be directly involved.
The review does, however, make the essential point that the anp project was in competition with other defense systems, including missiles, and that over the past 15 years the project had suffered the common fate of manned aircraft? The shift in emphasis to missiles.
The project's ultimately fatal flaw was the failure to solve the central problem of developing a small, light, high-powered, adequated shielded reactor, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara last week underlined the point when he told the defense procurement subcommittee of the Joint Economic Committee that too much time and money was spent on an airplane and not enough on a reactor.
In retrospect, the anp decision seems to have been an early example, and perhaps a classic one, of the application of Secretary McNamara's "cost effectiveness" analysis of major research and development programs? That combination of technological, strategic, and budgetary considerations which Congress and the defense contractors are now suspiciously appraising?
-John Walsh

The Development of the B-57, U-2 and SR-71 Fall Into The ANP Timeline

Sunday, 27 December 2015

What was the maximum speed of the U-2A?

What was the maximum speed of the U-2A?
The U-2A weighed 11,700lbs empty. It had a maximum takeoff weight of 16,000 pounds. The P&W J57 produced more than 25,000 horsepower. If the facts below are true, then the nuclear propelled U-2A had a maximum speed of MACH-2 plus at altitudes above 70,000 feet. A chemically powered version would be able to hit Mach speeds for short bursts. In 1949 it was calculated that it would take 45,000 horsepower to push a 50,000lbs plane to Mach 2 at 70,000 feet. The 16,000lbs U-2A powered by a 25,000 horsepower engine would have more than the 16,666 horsepower needed to push it to MACH-2. Moreover a nuclear powered U-2A would essentially become a rocket plane at high altitude because there is no atmospheric oxygen to burn the fuel. The fuel would expand when coming in contact with the reactor core producing thrust out the back.

Notes with sources:
The Pratt & Whitney J58 engine was a nine-stage, axial-flow, bypass turbojet originally developed in the late 1950s to meet U.S. Navy requirements. It was the first jet engine designed to operate for extended periods using its afterburner. The J58 generated a maximum thrust of 32,500 pounds -- more than 160,000 shaft horsepower -- and was the most powerful air-breathing aircraft engine yet devised. The J58 was specifically tailored for operation at extreme speeds, altitudes, and temperatures, and was the first aircraft engine to be flight qualified for the Air Force at Mach 3. At maximum output the fuel flow rate in the J58 is about 8,000 gallons per hour and the exhaust-gas temperature is around 3,400 degrees. The J58 was only used on the Lockheed YF-12 interceptor and its descendants, the A-12 and SR-71.

JP-5 is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, containing alkanes, naphthenes, and aromatic hydrocarbons that weighs 6.8 pounds per U.S. gallon (0.81 kg/L) and has a high flash point (min. 60 °C or 140 °F).

“45,000 horsepower is required to drive a 25 ton plane 1500 miles an hour (MACH 2.27) at 70,000 feet. … The power requirement would jump to 200,000 horsepower at sea level because of greater air resistance.”
U.S. May Push Efforts to Make Atomic Engine
Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Sep 28, 1949;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times
pg. 12

After its relatively short lifetime in the aircraft role, the JT4A found more enduring use in the naval role, where the FT4 was produced in a variety of models between 18,000 and 22,000 hp.

The J-57 produced >25,000 horsepower in 1954.
Popular Mechanics August 1954

The U-2A engines produced 11,200 pounds of thrust. If the thrust to megawatt ratio of the Pluto engine 70 pounds of thrust to megawatt holds for this engine. Then it has a 160 megawatt rating or 214,564 horsepower. The TORY II-A reactor had a power rating of 155 Megawatts or 208,000 horsepower. This is the same amount of horsepower the 1949 Los Angeles Times article said that a plane needed to travel at 1500 miles per hour at sea level. This is nearly 10 times the horsepower of the J-57 stated in the August 1954 Popular Mechanics article. The article was off by an order of magnitude. 

The J57 was the first 10,000lbf (45 kN) thrust class engine in the United States. This engine produces 191,575 horse power or 142 megawatts of power. 


Friday, 25 December 2015


The U-2 flew above 100,000 ft according to the May 31, 1960 issue of "Aviation Week." How could this be the case? How could a plane cruise at that altitude just using chemical means? Unless the plane is carrying oxygen on board it would not be able to fly at that height and would have a limited range. A nuclear powered plane would not have this problem. The plane outlined in the
REPORT ON REVIEW OF MANNED AIRCRAFT NUCLEAR PROPULSION PROGRAM ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION AND DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE would be able to fly at that height because there is no need for oxygen. A nuclear powered plane could take off using only nuclear power carrying chemical fuel / reaction mass that would only be used when the atmosphere was too thin. The chemical fuel would be forced through the reactor propelling the plane forward.