I just found the most delightful page about the XF-70 Valkyrie, the most extreme aircraft ever built during the cold war, at least according to non-classified sources… Back in its day it was the fastest aircraft built, meant to take over from the B-52 which was just an interim solution, which is still in service.
I'm endlessly fascinated by the military programs of the fifties and sixties, when it was still slightly realistic to continue civilization after a nuclear conflict between the two superpowers, before the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine made it's debut. All aircraft was meant to assist in bringing the bombs to the target, because back then InterContinental Ballistic Missiles would've been lucky if they could hit a target smaller than 5 km in radius, so the planes and pilots were clearly necessary.
After ICBMs proved to be precise enough the only superplane surviving that era and making it into active service was the SR-71 Blackbird, the coolest looking plane ever.
I remember reading the autobiography of Chuck Yeager and how he used to sit in an F86 Sabre at Ramstein AFB in West Germany with a nuclear bomb under the belly, strapped in and on 2 minute alert. It must have been the weirdest feeling sitting like that, ready to go and assist ending the world as we know it. The mission was essentially a suicide mission, the plane did not have enough fuel to get home after dropping the bomb.
I've been morbidly attracted to that era the last 20 years, since I decided to face my childhood fear of a nuclear war and started reading about the technology and history from the late forties and forward. I remember being about 10 years old, waking up in the middle of the night, just looking out the window to check for a mushroom cloud, and then not being able to sleep again.
I wish I had been more ignorant as a child.
Author M. G. Liebach
LastMod 2016-05-01 (9fc4632)