Deep penetration nuclear-armed supersonic bomber
The United States bomber described below is one of the most remarkable aircraft ever developed. It could fly very high and very fast. However, the introduction of high-altitude surface to air missiles (SAM’s)made the deployment of such a bomber impractical. The project was cancelled with only two prototype aircraft built. These bombers were the most sleek looking big aircraft ever built.
The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype version of the proposed B-70 nuclear-armed deep penetration bomber for the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. Designed by North American Aviation in the late 1950s, the Valkyrie was a large six-engined aircraft able to fly Mach 3+ at an altitude of 70,000 ft (21,000 m), which would have allowed it to avoid interceptors, the only effective anti-bomber weapon at the time.
The introduction of effective high-altitude surface-to-air missiles, the program’s high development costs, and changes in the technological environment with the introduction of ICBMs led to the cancellation of the B-70 program in 1961. Although the proposed fleet of operational B-70 bombers was cancelled, two prototype aircraft were built as the XB-70A and used in supersonic test flights from 1964 to 1969. One prototype crashed following a midair collision in 1966; the other is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio.
Designed for high-altitude flight, the B-70 lost this edge to improved Soviet high-altitude, anti-aircraft missiles. The aircraft would become increasingly vulnerable at high altitudes as newer missile systems were introduced, and at low altitudes it lost its supersonic performance and range. Using the original Mach 3 high altitude mission profile, the aircraft had a design range of 6,447 nmi (7,419 mi, 11,940 km) without refueling, but flying over the target area “on-the-deck” at Mach 0.95 reduced range to 5,312 nmi (6,113 mi, 9,838 km), even with in-flight refueling. Realizing that the bomber would not be practical combined with high cost overruns President Eisenhower cancelled the project in 1959. Both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson subsequently left the program cancelled.
The experimental XB-70As were used for the advanced study of aerodynamics, propulsion, and other subjects related to large supersonic transports. The production order was reduced to three prototypes in March 1961 with the third aircraft to incorporate improvements from the previous prototype. The crew was reduced to only the pilot and co-pilot for the XB-70; the navigator and bomb-aimer were not needed. The first XB-70 was completed on 7 May 1964 (the second on 15 October 1964), and XB-70A #1 was displayed on 11 May 1964 in Palmdale, California. One report claimed “nothing like it existed anywhere“. The planned third prototype was canceled in July 1964 while being built. The first XB-70 had its maiden flight in September 1964 and flight testing followed.
The XB-70 flight test data and materials development aided the later Rockwell B-1 Lancer supersonic bomber program, the US supersonic transport program and, through intelligence, the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144. The development of the US U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft along with the B-70 bomber led the Soviet Union to design and develop the MiG-25 interceptor.
The Valkyrie was designed to be a high-altitude bomber-sized Mach 3 aircraft with six engines. Harrison Storms (engineer who designed the command module for the Apollo program) shaped the aircraft with a canard surface and a delta wing, which was built largely of stainless steel, sandwiched honeycomb panels, and titanium. The XB-70 was designed to use supersonic technologies developed for the Mach 3 Navaho, as well as a modified form of the SM-64 Navaho’s all-inertial guidance system.
The XB-70 used compression lift, which was generated from a prominent wedge at the center of the engine inlets that created a shock wave below the aircraft. The wing included inboard camber to more effectively use the higher pressure field behind the strong shock wave (the airflow at the XB-70 wing’s leading edge was subsonic). The compression lift increased the lift by five percent. Unique among aircraft of its size, the outer portions of the wings were hinged, and could be pivoted downward by up to 65 degrees. This increased the aircraft’s directional stability at supersonic speeds, shifted the center of lift to a more favorable position at high speeds, and strengthened the compression lift effect. With the wingtips drooped downwards, the compression lift shock wave would be further trapped under the wings.
On 8 June 1966, XB-70A #2 was in close formation with four other aircraft (an F-4, F-5, T-38, and F-104) for a photoshoot at the behest of General Electric, manufacturer of the engines of all five aircraft. With the photoshoot complete, the F-104 drifted into contact with the XB-70’s right wing, flipped over and rolled inverted over the top of the Valkyrie, striking the vertical stabilizers and left wing of the bomber. The F-104 exploded, destroying the Valkyrie’s rudders and damaging its left wing. With the loss of both rudders and damage to the wings, the Valkyrie entered an uncontrollable spin and crashed into the ground north of Barstow, California. NASA Chief Test Pilot Joe Walker (F-104 pilot) and Carl Cross (XB-70 co-pilot) were killed. Al White (XB-70 pilot) ejected, sustaining serious injuries, including one arm being crushed as it was caught in the clamshell-like escape capsule as it closed around him just before ejection from the aircraft.
The formation of aircraft shortly after the collision on 8 June 1966.
- Length: 185 ft 10 in(56.6 m)
- Wingspan:105 ft 0 in (32 m)
- Height:30 ft 9 in (9.4 m)
- Wing area:6,296 ft² (585 m²)
- Airfoil:Hexagonal; 0.30 Hex modified root, 0.70 Hex modified tip
- Empty weight: 210,000 lb(93,000 kg)
- Loaded weight:534,700 lb (242,500 kg)
- Max takeoff weight:550,000 lb (250,000 kg)
- Powerplant:6 × General Electric YJ93-GE-3 afterburning turbojet
- Dry thrust: 19,900 lbf (84 kN) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 28,800 lbf (128 kN) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 3.1 (2,056 mph, 3,309 km/h)
- Cruise speed:Mach 3.0 (2,000 mph, 3,200 km/h)
- Range: 3,725 nmi (4,288 mi, 6,900 km) combat
- Service ceiling:77,350 ft (23,600 m)
- Wing loading:84.93 lb/ft² (414.7 kg/m²)
- lift-to-drag: about 6 at Mach 2
- Thrust/weight: 0.314
India puts Gujarat lions on trial after three people killed
Officials in India have “arrested” 18 lions as they try to find a man eater suspected of killing three people.
Forest officials in Gujarat state will test the lions’ prints and excrement in an attempt to identify the killer.
The “guilty lion” will be kept in a zoo for life while the others will be released back into the Gir sanctuary, the officials told BBC Hindi.
Six attacks on humans have been reported recently near the sanctuary, the only habitat of the Asiatic lion.
Gujarat’s top forest official, JA Khan, said that the lions had been “arrested” over the past two months and were now being held in separate cages while tests were carried out.
“We think we have pinpointed the guilty lion, but we are still awaiting the results of nine more animals,” he said.
Innocent lions will be released back into the Gir forest
Wildlife expert Ruchi Dave told the BBC that the “tests” involved studying the pug marks and faecal matter of the lions.
“The officials are also studying the animals’ behaviour. Man eating lions usually get aggressive at the sight of a human being,” she said.
Another wildlife expert Revtubha Raizada said the man-eating lion would be caged for the rest of its life, as it was too unsafe to release it back into the wild.
Some experts feel that the thriving lion population in Gir forest is to blame for the “unusual” behaviour by the lions.
Govind Patel, the former chief wildlife warden of Gujarat, told the Indian Express newspaper that Gir could accommodate only 270 lions, forcing some prides to settle outside the boundaries of the sanctuary.
India’s Supreme Court has ruled that Gujarat needed to relocate some of its lions to other states to avoid the possibility of disease or other disaster wiping out the entire population.
However the state has expressed reluctance and has not yet complied with the order.
Six cases of lions attacking humans have been recently reported near the Gir forest
The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), also known as the Indian lion or Persian lion, is a lion subspecies that exists as a single population in India’s Gujarat state. It is listed as Endangered by IUCN due to its small population size. Since 2010, the lion population in the Gir Forest National Park has steadily increased.
In May 2021, the 14th Asiatic Lion Census was conducted over an area of about 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi); the lion population was estimated at 523 individuals, comprising 109 adult males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs.
Asiatic lion at Gir Forest National Park.
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The Art of the Temple
The 1,444 Carved Pillars of Ranakpur Jain Temple No Two of Which Are Alike
Ranakpur is a village located in the lush green valley of Aravalli mountain ranges in Pali district of Rajasthan, in western India. It is home to one of the biggest and most important Jain temple complexes of India, covering an area of nearly 48,000 square feet area, and has 29 halls, 80 domes and supported by 1444 marble pillars, each of them intricately and artistically carved, yet no two of them are alike.
The Ranakpur Jain Temple was built by a wealthy Jain businessman named Dharma Shah under the patronage of the liberal and gifted Rajput monarch Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. According to local legend Dharma Shah had a celestial vision that left in his heart a burning determination to build a temple in honor of Adinath, the founder of the Jain religion. When…
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‘Grim Reaper’ spotted in footage of King Charles’ coronation
Who is the mystery figure in the doorway ? Image Credit: Westminster Abbey
A clip showing a dark hooded figure in Westminster Abbey has been generating some lively debate on social media.As millions of people from all around the world tuned in to view the historic crowning of King Charles III yesterday, some spotted someone altogether unexpected skulking in the background during one particular shot of the interior of Westminster Abbey.
The figure, who could be seen hurrying across a doorway from right to left, was wearing what looked like all-black garments and was carrying something reminiscent of a scythe.
Before long, ‘Grim Reaper at Westminster Abbey’ was trending on social media.
Of course, in all likelihood, the figure in question was probably just a robed participant of the proceedings who happened to be hidden in shadow as they walked across the doorway.
Even so, their unexpected appearance, accompanied by a particularly coincidental piece of music courtesy of the orchestra, made the sighting somewhat amusing to say the least.
Atomic Bomb Tourism
Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at Nevada Test Site. Of those, 828 were underground. (Sixty-two of the underground tests included multiple, simultaneous nuclear detonations, adding 93 detonations and bringing the total number of NTS nuclear detonations to 1,021, of which 921 were underground.) The site is covered with subsidence craters from the testing. The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices; 126 tests were conducted elsewhere (many at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands).
During the 1950s, the mushroom clouds from these tests could be seen for almost 100 mi (160 km) in either direction, including the city of Las Vegas, where the tests became tourist attractions. Americans headed for Las Vegas to witness the distant mushroom clouds that could be seen from the downtown hotels.
Nuclear Bomb Craters in Nevada
The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), previously the Nevada Test Site (NTS), is a United States Department of Energy reservation located in southeastern Nye County, Nevada, about 65 miles (105 km) northwest of the city of Las Vegas. Formerly known as the Nevada Proving Grounds, the site was established on 11 January 1951 for the testing of nuclear devices.
During the 1950s, the mushroom clouds from the 100 atmospheric tests could be seen for almost 100 mi (160 km). The city of Las Vegas experienced noticeable seismic effects, and the distant mushroom clouds, which could be seen from the downtown hotels, became tourist attractions. The vast majority—828 of the 928 total nuclear tests—were underground.