Monday, August 19, 2013

Of Dragon Ladies and Oxcarts

From the Usual USAF Source...
Declassified CIA Document Released on U-2, Oxcart
George Washington University's National Security Archive last week released a redacted, declassified 1992 CIA document on the history of the U-2 and Oxcart reconnaissance aircraft programs that includes "a significant amount" of never-before-publicized details on them, according to the archive. Among them are: "numerous references" to the Air Force's classified test site at Groom Lake, Nev., with a map of the area; and discussion of British participation in the U-2 program, U-2 operations from India between 1962 and 1967, and US-sponsored Chinese Nationalist U-2 operations. The CIA's release of the redacted version of this document, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974, came in response to the archive's 2005 Freedom of Information Act request. Some press reports last week made it seem like this document represented the first time that the US government publicly acknowledged the existence of the Groom Lake facility. That is incorrect, as US government recognition goes back at least to the mid-1990s by our count. (National Security Archive webpage on document) (See also Flying High and The Oxcart Story from Air Force Magazine's archives.)
I'm working my way through the document at the web page link (above), beginning with the Oxcart section.  It's fascinating reading, especially about Convair's proposed alternative to the Lockheed design.  I never knew...

Here's the table of contents:
Chapter 1 : Searching for a System
Chapter 2 : Developing the U-2
Chapter 3 : U-2 Operations in the Soviet Bloc and Middle East, 1958-1968
Chapter 4 : The Final Overflights of the Soviet Union, 1959-1960
Chapter 5 : U-2 Operations after May 1960
Chapter 6 : The U-2's Intended Successor: Project OXCART, 1956-1968
Chapter 7 : Conclusion 
Appendices, Bibliography
Those links work.


  1. Haven't read the PDF yet, but fyi U-2s were based at Laughlin AFB Del Rio, Tx for some years in the 50's/early 60s. They were long gone by the time I arrived for UPT in '66 but the extra-wide hangers were still there..

  2. PS: To show you how delicately balanced the ac (really a powered glider) was, the two cameras were mounted side-by-side (so as to provide two identical film strips to achieve the stereoscope effect when viewed) with a film take up motor for one on the nose-end of the ac and its mate on the tail end so that the energy motion of the motor drives would off-set each other so as not to disturb the delicate balance of the trim at altitude.

    1. I've never seen a U-2 in flight. But I DID witness an SR-71 blast off from Mildenhall once upon a time, and I DO mean "blast off." Those guys didn't waste ANY time gettin' off the runway... and you talk about LOUD! Aiiieee, that thing was the loudest jet I EVER heard.


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