Designed and built in the 1960s, the SR-71 Blackbird still holds the official Air Speed Record for a manned airbreathing jet aircraft with a speed of 3,530 km/h (2,193 mph).

Cutaway illustrations of the twin cockpit variant of the SR-71. Notice the inlet funnels thatincreased the air speed in front of the J58 engines.

These once classified photos reveal how Lockheed built the SR-71 Blackbird in secret, in California.

Lockheed’s Skunk Works’s manufacturing plant in Burbank, California before the coating with an special black paint that had temperature reducing and radar absorbing capabilities.

Notice the titanium panels forming the skin of these birds.

The dies or molds were destroyed as directed by then Secretary of Defence McNamara to prevent any other nation from building the aircraft.


  1. Several typos and mis-spellings, like Secretary of Defence. Plus, those “funnels” actually slowed the air down so it wouldn’t be supersonic and cause compressor stalls, not speed it up. Remember, these are still air breathing turbine engines, not rockets.

  2. There’s one correction I’d like to point out. The main function of the funnel, as it was called in the caption, is actually to slow the flow down not speed it up.
    There’s a whole science behind how it works and all I can say without going into technical jargon is that it involves the concepts of shockwave placement and convergent/divergent nozzle behaviour beyond mach 1. A lot of non-intutive things happen past the sonic state that require mathematical derivation to prove. But I obviously wouldn’t be able to do this in a comment. Just know that the J-58 engine required subsonic flow at the inlet.

  3. Dies and molds were destroyed to keep the possibility of the F-12 from being built. That was the Blackbird intercepter version and he wanted finding for the F-111 that was going to be built in Texas a state that he was from.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here