Created: 7/1/1968

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Clarence L. Vice Preside Advanced Development Projects

HISTORY OF THE OXCART PROGRAM Aa Recorded by the Builder

This report summarizes briefly tbe history of the Oxcart program since Its inception up through its early operation. It is based on information kept by me on the various aspects of design, contracting, testing and operation. Much of the data presented herein is 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 reconnaiaaance missions. Inecall having long discussions wilh 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 reconnals-saiuce obsolete for covert reconnaissance.

Lockheed undertook the first studyachruise speed airplane. mile range at altitude*0 feet on Concurrently with airframe studios, ADP waa engaged In tests 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 as, but early testsodeladar anechoic chamber showed that this was not feasible, in that equipment items and the fuel Itselfigger cross section than an nil metal aircraft.

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

Dr. Ed Purcell and Mr. Eugene P. Klefer at Cambridge, Massachuaetts.


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 wins area of the! concept would have to be greaterf an acre.

I believe at this 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 based on ramjet engines and several having both, ramjets and turbojets. 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 Purcell, Guy Steven, Jim Cross (for Garyick Horner (Uniteden. Swofford, Col. Norman Appold, Col. Seaberg, Cmdr. Dewey Struble, Al Donovan, Frank" Rodgers, Eugene P. Kiefer, Maj. Bob Hlppert, Brady (Convair)(forone hour of meeting only).

By this time the inflatable airplane concept had been dropped. Boeing hadydrogen-powered airplaneross weightounds andlength of over ZOO feet. 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 be launched on They stayed with thisonsiderable period of time.

In the period Trom8 througho studied varioui aircraft from the serieso The CIA funded Convairery high rate compared to what we were given for our studies. Much emphasle was placed on tbe 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, as well as merely reducing the radar cross section.

Inonceptingle base operation withrefueling,ircraft was one

which made no compromises for the anti-radar design, and2 which was finally built made substantial design changes to reduce its cross section. During meetings in this period, the A'lr Force was 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. Bissell 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 toMustier. 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 tbe 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 for thein this competition. He told me that we had won theto our proof of low radar cross section between that1 We were told that the degree of securityof operation used by ADP onere to be followednew project, but for the next three months we could make nocommitmentsull scale model was evaluated1

bad writtenroposed work statement oftems and bado-ahead of illion dollars to cover the periodur basic quotation, not including the service contract or development of the inertial 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,

we convinced

test facilities was



The development oi the Oxcart airplane,efer to asaa faced with many substantial problems not solved previously in the Industry. We learned rapidly thhe technology which we expected to be developed fori) andas non-existent, and we shortly passed0 inhases of the 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 ofecuase of the 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 steel honeycomb aircraft with the Incredible amount of precise tooling required; nororesee, either, the incredible amount of tooling that it would take to make It outitanium. This material was not ir. use by any other project. It was as strong as stainless steel, 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 weere scrapped because of extreme brittleneea.

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

structures we built for practice in constructionart of the mnekup for testing airplane systems In our researchhich we fondly

called "The Fort". Becauae of security, we could not make ass of the ampls Lockheed facilities existing at Burbank and Rye Canyon, so we made do with an8 revetment that hadeet thick andast 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 exploalons or failure of mass systems.

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


Richard Coar

Oeane McCarthy C. T. Roelke







Boone Edward Green


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


Scott AFB, Col. Adolph Caertner

Maj. Jamea R. Smith

ovember, our full eeala radarodal waa complete. It was shipped by special truck and Installed on the new post byovember. We were able to prove0 that our concept of shape, additive, and loaded plastic parts had enough promise to warrant going forward with the project.

Onhe secondeeting was held In the PfcW offices atalm Beach. Florida. At that time, we reviewed the status ofngine, the use of fuel additive, the requirements that we hadery low vapor pressure fuel, andood deal of discussion on th* use of the Hamilton Standard inlet control. We did contract with themydraulic pneumatic control based on their experience (we thought) In working onnd facllitlas provided under0 program and their reputation for having made excellent propeller consols for many years.

Onick Bissell informed me that we had the full go-ahead on eitherirplanestatic test unit orirplanestatic test unit, but that we should now go all out and place materialtc.

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

The actual airplane part* began to come out They were extremely coatly 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 the part in the airplane. We made test coupons at the rate of tens of thousands per month, and in the end it was possible for us to trace the material and processing of any part of any airplane all the way back to tbe 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, ond later we had to do at least that many . in flight.

By thatas'clock meetings every day with our shop people, to' solve the problems of the day. ad setpecial machining

group under Mr. Bob Vaughn, with an aim to double within three months


the rate of metal removal current in the industry for titanium, and toate of ten times the industry average withinonths.

Weifficult weight problem on the airplane. Onade Independent contracts with each of the engineers, as shown in attachment 1,

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

At the time bf our suppliers' meeting at Burbank onur cost situation was very bad. In that wever ourf this being due to added material costs.ew Russian radar, known as "Tallhowed 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 in getting the wing built. This was due to lack ofigh scrap rate, and tbe necessity of training personnel.

At that time we were In the midst of testing systems. Each one had to be invented, including euch things as new hydraulic oils, plumbing fittings, control cables, windshields, ejection-seats and pyrotechnics, as weU as ground starters and similar items.

By1 It was perfectly evident thatnglnewould not be available for the initial flights of the aircraft.hen proposed that we try to Installngine, having much leee power. But It was finally agreed that we would do this, and that was how we first flew.

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

Early In2 wa 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 this Viton sealant, which was the only thing we knew which would take the temperature. We had lo strip the sealant from the aircraft and ressal 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 new-Itilealf at altitudes of abouteet. The aircraft got off the ground with almost full right rudder on, and than required an Immediate correction in the other direction. This set up lateral oscillations which were 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 firat flight. Loueautiful takeoff, but, by the time he got toeet, we started to shed lower fillets. BUI Park was chasing him in. eautiful landing was made and we had an opportunity to Investigate aU 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 tests 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 costs.

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 substantial rework was required liTremoving tbengines. 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 tbe fifth

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 chines to change the optimum radar cross sectionand to favor better performance against the "Tall King". This waa 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 nacallss Ln Burbank and were sucked through tbe engine in early runupa. We Instituted an extremely difficult FOD program. Including xrays, shaking of the nacelles, putting screens on the various air entrances, and finally getting the problem ia band.

On3 we lost airplane number 3. The pilot was Ken Collins, The airplane landed south of Wendover, Utah. The cause of the accident was probably the freezing up of water in the pltot 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-house" study comparing our development rate with that ofhe result of that report showed that we had developed four times

fatter thanad come closer to our objective!iven 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. His contributions to the Oxcart program were very large. Throughout bis whole tenure In the Pentagon, we bad the most excellent support from the Air Force in providing whatever they had which wa 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 the terrific loads and temperatures.

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

resident Lyndon Johnson announced the. Twenty minutes after he did this, we flew tbe two birds

to Edwards AFB. Tbey 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 Bill 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 its problems, which we did willingly.

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

On4 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 bo 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 wo daalgned and built tbe hydraulic.


In5 we had been having consistent electrical problems, due to high temperatures in the nacelle and our inability to get high temperature wiring and plugs. pant six weeks


rewtred much of tbe aircraft, and designed some fundamentalin terminal plugs, etc.n on effort to prepare for Project Blackahield.

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 coding andother normal precaution, the pitch and yaw gyro connections were Interchanged la rigging.

In6 Gen. Leo Geary left the Oxcart program.

Upon returningacationaa metommittee mad* up of Carl Duckett of tbe CIA, Mr. Flicher of the Bureau of the Budget, Mr. Bennington of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and John Parangotky. This group ware Investigating th* ovar-all program, a* well as tbe interaction of thas completely as they could. It ended up with what was known as the Flscher-Bannlngton report, recommending that tha Oxcart alrplanea be atored and tbe Area closed. By the end ofhe SR-7l'e, under tbe Strategic Air Command, were to be assigned the basic mission of manned aircraft reconnaiasanca for tbe U. S. Thisorrible blow.

7 we lost pilot Walter Ray5raining mission. This waa tbe first failure of an ejection aeat or, rather, of tbe seat bait, whichtandard Air Force type, and which did not release a* required. The aircraft ran out of fuel, du* to aof circumstancaa.

During tbe month ofesperate effort to save the Oxcartroposed that half tbee converted to bombers. This would then reault In our noturplus of reconnaissance aircraft, aa claimed by Fischer and Bennington.

Onhree Oxcart aircraft were deployed to Kadena, flying nonstop across the Pacific. Thay refueled twice and got to their destination In slightly under six hours. Ken Collins, however, landed

at Midway with some radio difficulties. The results of toe Blackahield deployment appear to have been very successful. Flying over North Viet Nam, they 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 disposition of the Oxcart aircraft has not been decided. We have made studies of converting them to airighters, handing them over to the Strategic Air Command, and even stacking them three-deepangar at Palmdal* and letting them be stripped for parts I In looking back at tbe ten years of effort in thiselieve that Mr. Bissellers right In our early discussions. lace 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.

In the appendicesill comment on some over-all cost factor and present several significant charts on the program which were used In suppliers' meetings and which are useful to an understanding of tha Oxcart history.












first studies of Machruiae airplane. mile range at altltudeeeet.

Made flrat presentation of study to Dick Bissell.

Started to build full scale moekup 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 eitherrirplanestattc teat 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 Blackshield.

First flight acroas

First Operational Mission.

Close out ceremonies for the Oxcart Program

Storage of Oxcart aircraft at Palmdale, essentially completed.

list qf reports


probability of radar detection of airborne09

odelenetration study (revisedrogress report3 fcw/lac progressharts used in suppliers' meeting

black-shield charts used in meeting blackshield charts used in meeting blacksbield chart's used in meeting blackshield charts used in meeting blackshield charts used in meeting blacksbield charts used in meeting charts used in meeting at burbank,5 engine air inlet2 current statuse ready


between Burbank

tbe time period between

ndummary of their performance la indicated below;

flight consists of oneone takeoff,)

Flightto touchdown)



Mileage Flown







direct indirect

_ 73


shops, purchasing.

(detachments. 6


indirect ratio


r. fuller


a rich

ild mcdonald






u-2 1





r. de grey

Original document.

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