Created: 7/1/1968

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L. Vice Pre.ld. Advanced Development Projecta



HIS TORY OF THE OXCART PROGRAM Aa Recorded by the Builder

This report lummarizcs briefly the history of the Oxcart program since Its ineeption up through its early operation. It ia based on information kept by me on the various aspects of design, contracting, testing and operation. Much of the data presented herein le excerpted from presentations made to CIA Headquarters personnel during numerous briefings as the program progressed.


Afteraa in ser-iee for eeveral yean, it waa evident that continued development sh>uld be done on the uae of aircraft forpeclal raconnaiaaance missions. Inecall having long discussions with Mr. Richard Bissell on the subject of whether or not there shouldollow-on toircraft. We ended our discussions ln mutual agreement that there would be at least one more round before the satellites would make aircraft raconnals-saiuce obsolete for covert reconnaissance.

Lockheed undertook the first studyachruise speed airplane. mile range at altitude*0 feet on Concurrently with airframe studies, ADP waa engaged In testa to reduce the aircraft radar cross section not only of, but in all other types of aircraft suitable for the reconnaissance mission. We made an effort to design an all plastic subsonic airplane known asA, but early testsodeladar anecholc chamber showed that this was not feasible, in that equipment items and tha fuel Itselfigger cross section than an nil metal aircraft.

Onockheed made its firBt presentation to Mr. Richard Bissell, H. M. (Dick) Horner (United1 Donovan,

Dr. Ed Purcell and Mr. Eugene P. Kiefer at Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Commander Struble of the Navy was present, and heavy

conceptubber Inflatable airplane which waa to be ramjet-powered and carried to altitudealloon. ade some rapid notes, and

found the balloon would have to be over one mile in diameter and the wing area of the! concept would have to ba greaterf an acre.

Ihis time the CIA also invited General Dynamics to make certain proposals, which they did. Inery lively competition was held, carrying on overmonth period (estimated). ByDP was well into studies of various configurations, some baaed on ramjet engines and several having both, ramjeta and rurbojets. At this time, we were giving our studies the name of "Archangel",hich gave the Oxcartesignation The aircraft was named "Archangel" in that the original'name ofere in the Skunk Works was theue to its high altitude operation.

Ineeting was held with the following:

Dick Bissell, Dr, Edwin Land, Dr. Ed Purceil, Guy Steven, Jim Cross (for Garyick Horner (Uniteden. Swofford, Col. Norman Appold, Col. Seabarg, Cmdr. Dewey Struble, Al Donovan, Frank" Rodgera, Eugene P. Kiefer, Maj. Bob Hlppert, Brady (Convair)(forone hour of meeting only).

By thia time the inflatable airplane concept had bean dropped. Boeing hadydrogen-powered airplaneross weightoundsength of over ZOO feat. At this time, Lockheed had just concluded workydrogen-powered aircraft and concluded that the range obtainable was quite insufficient. So ouras dropped.

Convalr's proposal at this timeamjet-powerediloted aircraft to ba launched on They stayed with thisonsiderable period of time.

In the period from8 througho studied varioui aircraft from the serieso the A- ll. The CIA funded Convairery high rate compared to what we were given for our atudiee. Much emphasis was placed on the radar cross section of the aircraft to be chosen. Dr. Frank Rogers worked with both Convair and us on the problem of reducing the radar cross section. undamentalnew It toequirementachircraft had to make many concessions to the aerodynamic and structural problems, ae well as merely reducing the radar cross section.

Inonceptingle base operation withrefueling,ircraft was one

which made no compromise* for the anti-radar design, and2 which was finally built made substantial design changes to reduc* ita cross section. During meetings in this period, th* Air Force waa represented by Gen. Marvin Dernier, Gen. J. R. Holsapple, Col. Norman Appold and sometimes CoL Leo P. Geary,

Byonvair had come to the conclusion that theyacceleratearrying the'ramjet-poweredthrough. It was also evidentinglea manned aircraft over Russia for coverteliability point of view. From this period,regarding radar cross section showed that any flyablebe operational in the period3 could not avoid This did not mean that we had not gone all out onof radar cross section, as we made many veryincluding thoBe of basic shape, to the At this time, Mr. Blssell and Gene Kiefer statedalso had not made any Important breakthroughs in thefield which would guarantee an invisible aircraft. Inof the work we did on1 was transferred directly toHustler. Toward the end ofonvair wascontract to design an air-breathing twin-engineas the Kingfisher. This airplane had two side-by-sidein the fuselage and actually used rectangular plasticwhich could not conceivably work. Its radar crossnot better than By this time we werengine. To overcome the afterburner problem ofradar cross section return from the aft quadrant, weuse of cesium additive to the fuel. This was first brought upEd Lovick of ADP, and its final development wis passed over It wasasic part of our cross section

We had been working with titanium alloys for several yearstructural material for the aircraft because of the high temperatures involved, and felt weood research background to use the most advanced alloys which could be obtained from our titanium industry. There were numerous meetings between the contractors and the CIA, with Air Force participation and strong support. The Air Force representatives solidly supported our design concepts throughout this period over those of Convair.

Onr. Bissell told me to come east forh time in this competition. He told me that we had won the competition, subject to our proof of low radar cross section between that period We were told that the degree of security and method of operation used by ADP onere to be followed on the new project, but for the next three months we could make no large


material commitmentsull scale model was evaluatedew



had writtenroposed work statement oftems and bado-ahead of illion dollars to cover the periodur basic quotation, not including tho service contract or development of the Inertlal guidance system,6 million dollars forircraft.

On9 wc started toull scale mockup and elevation device to raise the mockupeet in the air for radar tests,tarted to gather personnel to implement the project. his point,

ind not to continue testingery poor facility they had at Indian Springs. By9 wo were well on our way toward Implementing our contract, particularly in the anti-radar field. We had located the project inf the Lockheed facility at Burbank.


The development of the Oxcart airplane,efer to asas faced with many substantial problems not solved previously in the industry. We learned rapidly tiihe technology whichexpected to be developed fori> andas non-existent, and we shortly passed0 in all phases of tbe hardware At the peak of the basic design effort onngineers on the project, Including myself. We decided to go the routeitanium aircraft rather than the stainless steel honeycomb concept ofecuaae of tha better strength/weight ratio possible and the more straightforward type of construction that couid be used.

I did not feel that the Skunk Works had the capability totainless atael honeycomb aircraft with the incredible amount of precise tooling required; nororesee, either, the incredible smount of tooling that it would take to make It outitanium. This material was not ln use by any other project. It was as strong as stainless ateel, but weighed only slightly more than halfuch. We knew it would require very precise control of forming and heat treating toecent structure. In fact, of the firstheet metal parts weecause of extreme brittlenees.


We chose to build the nose section of the airplane, which involved the most complex structure, using the thinnest materialut this included the cockpit and canopy, so that we could use tho first titanium

we built for practice in constructionart of the mockup for testing airplane system* in our researchhich we fondly

called "The Fort". Because of security, we could not make use of the ample Lockheed facilities existing at Burbank and Rye Canyon, so we made do with an8 revetment that hadeet thick andeet high, where we could test our hot systems and structures,ull-size mockup of the fuel system, without subjecting the local populace to danger from explosions or failure of mass systems.

e had our first suppliers' meeting, similar to those Mr. Biasell had held on. Those present were:


Richard Coar

Oeane McCarthy C. T. Roelke







Boone Edward Green



James Cunningham Br. Gen. Don Flickinger Col. Leo Geary ene Kiefer John Parangosky



AFB, Illinois

Col. Adolph Caertner Maj. James R. Smith

Geo. Howell Estes asked me Io come In onnd0 to talk about2 aa an air defense fighter. Mr. Bissell gladly nave his conaont and this was actually the start of the. By this time we were well into the design and fighting such problems as hydraulic fluids, lubricants, control cablea. Inlet controls, andabout the airplane. eward to anyone who could find anything easy that we do on tha airplane. To this data, no one haa.

Tha actual airplane parts began to come out They were extremely costly and machined or formed with the greatest difficulty. We had to institute the most careful quality control, starting at tbe mill of Titanium Metals Corporation and carrying right through to installation of tha part in the airplane. We made tost coupons at the rate of tana of thousands per month, and in the endas possible for us to trace the material and processing of any part of any airplane all the way back to the sheet from which It had-been cut, and then back to the mill from there. We ran wind tunnel teats on all facets of the design. Before wesable Inlet, we had to collect two million data points in the wind tunnel, and later we had to do at least that many in flight.

' people, to'solve the problems of the day. ad setpecial machlnl

By thatas'clock meetings every day with our shop


group under Mr. Bob Vaughn, with an aim to double within three months the rate of metal removal current lo the industry for titanium, and toate of tan times tha industry average withinonths.

Page- U

Weifficult weight problem on the airplane. Onade Independent contracts with each of the engineers, as shown in attachment i.

Onockheed sold Headquarters the9 transporto put It in condition to usehuttle transport

At the time Of our suppliers' meeting at Burbank onur cost situation was very bad. In that wever ourf this being due to added material costs.ewadar, known as "Talihowed up, which greatly affected the range at which an aircraft could be detected. This put greater pressure than ever on our anti-radar work.

In1 we were having terrific problems tn getting the wing built. This was due to lack ofigh scrap rate, and the necessity of training personnel.

At that time we were In the midst of testing systems. Each one had to be Invented, Including such things as new hydraulic oils, plumbing fittings, control cables, windshields, ejection-seats and pyrotechnics,

as well as ground starters and similar items.


daie.1 it was perfectly evident thatnglne'Would not be available for the initial flights of the aircraft.hen proposed that we try to installngine, having much less power. But it was finally agreed that we would do this, and that was how we first flew.

Onick Bissell resigned from ehe project. Dr. Herbert (Pete) Scovllle, Jr. took over in his place.

Early in2 we placed the2pecially designed truck, enclosed ltemovable housing and drove it to When we first poured fuel ln the aircraft, it developedeaks. Thisad blow, after all the research we had done with thia Viton sealant, which waa the only thing we knew which would take the temperature. We had to strip the sealant from the aircraft and reseal it with another, which we knew was not as good at high temperature.

We worked around the clock to get the bird ready for flight, and onou Schalk first got the aircraft into the air. He Hew Itilealf at altitudes of abouteet. The aircraft got off the ground with almost full right rudder on, and then required an immediate correction in the other direction. This set up lateral oscillations which wera horrible to see. The trouble was determined to be an improper hookup between the rudder pedals and nose wheel steering, as the rudder and nose wheel turned In opposite directions from those desired.

One made the official first flight. Lou made a

beautiful takeoff, but, by the time he got toeet, we started

approved for release i'

date: tDLShed lower fillets. Bill Park was chasing him in. A

beautiful landing was made and we had ac opportunity to investigate all the usual first flight incidents. In four days we fixed the fillet problem

by proper venting and attachment, although these fillets had been designed very light toounds of weight. We flew again onpril forinutes, with no difficulty.

Throughout the summere continued our flying, completed the static teste on the static test article in .Burbank, and concentrated on redesigns of tbe plastic fin, which gavereat deal of trouble.

By the end of2 wo had madelights, and aircraftas being mounted on the pole for AR tests. It was quite an experience to see such an expensive piece of machinery that far up in tbe air. But it worked very well.

At that time, we were faced with increasing vendor overruns on cost, and our own experience with hot forming titanium was requiring us to rework the hot sizing blocks as many ae three times to get the parts required for the airplane. This is the area in which ADP overran its coats.

Hamilton Standard had overrun by much more% at that time, and we had great difficulty with the air inlet control.

In2 thengine was delivered to us. Very

approved for'.

ubstantial rework was required in removingngines. The thrust was down0 pounds per engine and the specific fuel consumption was up, but our main problem was trying to get the Inlet control to work properly.

On2 we delivered the fifth airplane

meeting our schedule requirements for the year. However, it was

delivered minus engines, as they ware not available,

In3 we were directed to rebuild the aircraft chinas to change the optimum radar cross sectionand to favor better performance against tho "Tall King". This was an expensive and (as it finally turned out to be) undesirable change.

We had Increasing difficulty in this period with engine damage due to foreign objects. Most of these were built into the nacelles in Burbank and were sucked through the engine in early runup-, We instituted an extremely difficult FOD program, including xrays, ahaklng of the nacelles, putting screens on the various air entrances, and finally getting the problem in hand.

On3 we lost airplane number 3. The pilot was Ken Colllne, The airplane landed south of Wendover, Utah. The cause of tbe accident waa probably the freealng up of water in the pitot tube. When the pltot heat was turned on, however, the air speed read correctly, but the pilot didn't believe it. The airplane stallednots, as It should have, and spun in. Ken ejected successfully, and our escape mechanism

worked well.


Onr. McCone became considerably agitated by lack of progress In getting to our design goals. He Instituted an "In-houae" study comparing our development rate with that ofhe result of that report showed that we had developed four times

fatter thanad come cloier to our objectivesiven time, and had done it at substantially less cost. It was,ery

difficult and trying period.

Shortly after that time, five2 airplanes were added to therig. Gen. Leo Geary was very instrumental in having this done. Hie contributions to the Oxcart program were very large. Throughout his whole tenure In the Pentagon, we had the most excellent support from the Air Force in providing whatever they had which we needed.

By the end of3 we hadevel flight speed of, but we were having substantial difficulties with the inlet control, as well as the engine control. Our transonic thrust and/or dragreat deal to be desired. We finally overcame this problem by improving the engine, increasing the penetration speed forynots, andhole host of structural beefups in the nacelle tall flaps, which we had to do over three times to take th* terrific loads and temperatures.

In4 Dr. Albert IBud) D. Wheelon took over Pete Scovllle's job. He visited tbe Area for Indoctrination.ew days later, our pilot Jim Eastham took the test1ach number of,

resident Lyndon Johnson announced the.

Twenty minutes after he did this, we flew the two bird)

to Edwards AFB. They were fast flights, and the aircraft were ao hot that when they were moved into the new hangar the fire extinguishing nozzles came on and gaveree wash job.

4 we were visited by Roger Lewis, Bob Wldmer, and other General Dynamics' people, who came to learn of our experience with ejectors, power plants, and high speed flights. Wereat deal of trouble, but not nearly as much as they seemed to be heading for.

4 we lost airplane ADP pilot BUI Park was flying it. He ejected laterallyeet altitude on approach. The cause of accident was temperature gradients in the outboard elevon serve valve. It seemed that, while we tested for high temperatures and low temperatures and normal temperatures, we didn't test for cold hydraulic oilot servo valve, or vice versa. We did from then on.

In4 wcreat many important visitors,hink, mainly from the President's announcement of the type. We were called upon to help0umber of ita problems, which wo did willingly.

On4 we flew. milea with two refuelings, at Machnd altitudes as higheet.

4 we were visitedarge number of airplane manufacturers and directed to discuss what was known as UNLOCK data, the purpose of which was to pass on information which would be of value to the supersonic transport.

In5 we were still having nothing but trouble with theinlet control. Wc had run well0 wind tunnelhad takenata points, but we couldn't make thework. rogram with Hamiltonwont forward to design our own inlet control. ALResearch builtcomponents and we daeigned and built the hydraulic.

In5 we had been having consistent electrical problems.

due to high tempcraturea in the nacelle and our inability to get high

temperature wiring and pluga. pent six weeks

rewired much of the aircraft, and designed some fundamentalin terminal plugs, etc. ,In an effort to prepare for Project Blackahleld.

On56 crashed on takeoff. It was flown by Mel Vojvodich,ho ejected safely. It was perfectly evident from movies taken of the takeoff, and from the pilot's description, that there were some mis wired gyros in the aircraft. This turned out to be exa'ctly what happened. In spite of color codingery other

normal precaution, tha pitch and yaw gyro connections were Interchanged ia rigging.

Iken. Leo Geary left the Oxcart program.

upon returningacationaa metommittee made up of carl duckett of the cia, mr. flacher of the bureau of the budget, mr. bennington of the office of the secretary of defenae, and john parangoiky. thia group were investigating tha ovar-all program, aa well as tbe interaction of thes completely as they could. it ended up with what was known at tbe flscher-bennlngton report, recommending that tha oxcart airplanes be stored and the area closed. by the end ofhes, under the strategic air command, were to be assigned the basic mission of manned aircraft reconnaissance for th* u. s. thisorrlbl* blow.

7 we lost pilot walter ray5raining mission. this wn the first failure of an ejection eeat or, rather, of the aeat belt, whichtandard air fore* type, and which did not release aa required. the aircraft ran out of fuel, du*ombina tion of circumstances.

during the month ofesperate effort to save the oxcartroposed that half thebe converted to bombers. this would then result ln our noturplus of reconnaissance aircraft, aa claimed by fischer and bennington.

across the pacific. they refueled twice and got tn their destination ln slightly under six hours. ken collins, however, landed

at Midway with some radio difficulties. The result* of toe Biackahield deployment appear to have been very successful. Flying over North Viet Nam, thoy took excellent pictures and contributed significantly to our knowledge of the enemy deployment.

Onuccessful mission was launched over North Korea, after the seizure of the Pueblo. It was an extremely important mission. The aircraft is working very well to date. The same goes for the complete complement of crews, made up of both Agency and contractor personnel.

Ashe future dlapo*itlon of the Oxcart aircraft ha* not been decided. We have made studies of converting them to airighters, banding them over to tbe Strategic Air Command, and even stacking them three-deepangar at Palmdal* and letting them befor parts! In looking back at the ten years of effort in thiselieve that Mr. Bissellera right in our early discussions. Therelace for the Oxcart program, along with satellites. In the foreseeable future. While the aircraft Is not invisible to radar, the combination of tactics and ECM gear can liveostile environment, and the flexibility of operation due to long range is certainly of great importance to our country.

approved for release

date: 'JnVtlie; appendicesill comment on some over-all cost factor and present several significant charts on tha program which were used in suppliers' meetings and which are useful to an understanding of tbe Oxcart history.







9 i







ilret etudiee of Machruise airplane. mile range at altitudeseet.

Made first presentation of study to Dick Bissell.

Started to build full scale mockup for radar testing.

Informed by Dick Bissell that we had wonto proof of low radar cross sectionJanuary

First suppliers' meeting.

Full scale radar test model completed.

Received full go-ahead on eitherrirplanestatic test article.

First parts beginning to come out.

Official first flightngines).

First flight for VIP's.

First supersonic flight.

Flew first time withngine.

Flew first time with)

Flew first time to)

First airplane delivered at Burbank

Last airplane delivered at Burbank

Airplanes declared operational for Project Blackehleld.

First flight across

First Operational Mission.

Close out ceremonies for the Oxcart Program

Storage of Oxcart aircraft at Palmdate, essentially completed.


Probability of Radar Detection of Airborne09

odel Specification (ISenetration Study (revisedrogreaa Report3 fcW/LAC Progressharts Used in Suppliers' Meeting

Blackshield Charts Used in Meeting at Blackshield Charts Used in Meeting at Blackshield Chart's Used In Meeting at Blackshield Charts Used in Meeting at Blackshield Charts Used in Meeting at Blackshield Charts Used in Meeting at Charts Used in Meeting at Burbank,5 Engine Air Inlet2 Current Status2 le Ready

approved for release

The threerovided basic

transportation between Bur In the time period betweej

1 andummary of their performance Is Indicated below;

light consists of ono landing aad ono takeoff.)


(Takeoff to touchdown)

































Original document.

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