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Posted on Wednesday 11th November

During the 1950s, when the USA was aiming to become the world's only superpower, plans were being drawn at North American Aviation in Southern California for an incredible Mach-3 strategic bomber. The concept was born as a result of General Curtis LeMay's desire for a heavy bomber with the weapon load and range of the subsonic B-52 and a top speed in excess of the supersonic medium bomber, the B-58 Hustler. If LeMay's plans came to fruition there would be 250 Valkyries in the air; it would be the pinnacle of his quest for the ultimate strategic bomber operated by America's Strategic Air Command. The design was a leap into the future that pushed the envelope in terms of exotic materials, avionics and power plants.

However, in April 1961, Defense Secretary McNamara stopped the production go-ahead for the B-70 on grounds of rapid cost escalation and the USSR's new-found ability of destroying aircraft at extremely high altitude by either missiles or the new Mig-25 fighter. Nevertheless, in1963 plans for the production of three high-speed research aircraft were approved and construction proceeded. In September 1964 the first Valkyrie, now re-coded A/V-1 took to the air for the first time and in October went supersonic. Although never put into full production, this giant six-engined aircraft became famous for its breakthrough technology

North American Aviation built two examples of the triple-sonic XB-70 Valkyrie bomber. One machine, known as Air Vehicle 2, suffered a mid-air collision and crashed on 8 June 1966 to the north of the small town of Barstow, California.

David Budd, an American XB-70 enthusiast contacted aviation author Graham Simons for help, resulting in David making a pilgrimage to visit the remote Californian high desert crash site with a new set of location details and a copy of Graham Simons' Pen & Sword book, Valkyrie – The North American XB-70. The result: not only did David find the memorial site, he also located some tiny pieces of aircraft wreckage.

Photograph shows a memorial plaque at the crash site, with a copy of the hardback edition of Valkyrie laid in tribute.

Further Reading

Valkyrie: The North American XB-70

Only £12.99

Valkyrie: The North American XB-70

(Paperback - 256 pages)
by Graham Simons

During the 1950s, at the time Elvis Presley was rocking the world with Hound Dog and the USA was aiming to become the world's only superpower, plans were being drawn at North American Aviation in Southern California for an incredible Mach-3 strategic bomber. The concept was born as a result of General Curtis LeMay's desire for a heavy bomber with the weapon load and range of the subsonic B-52 and a top speed in excess… Read more...


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