A-12 OXCART - The World's First Titanium Plane

OXCART - First titanium plane on a tarmac
Image credits : Wikipedia

'A-12 OXCART' which was secretly developed and tested in 'Area 51' is the 'World's first titanium plane'. Majority of the parts of A-12 OXCART were made up of Titanium i.e nearly 90% to provide maximum strength to operate at such high altitudes and speeds.

About the OXCART project

To maintain secrecy, Area 51 was selected to test and develop this new breed of high and fast flying spy planes to strengthen its arsenal. In order to takeoff clearly OXCART needed a new 8500 foot runaway which was eventually constructed at night to avoid media exposure.

After creation of a new runway, officials then withdrew the public access in-order to expand the base to accommodate the basic flight of A-12. A new 38,400 acres of land was occupied and this land was made as Restricted Airspace, thus creating a 440sq.mile box to carry on further tests.

Also read : Largest Hole ever dug in the history

Features of  A-12 OXCART

A-12 OXCART cruised at a steady speed of 2200 miles per hour i.e at mach 3.5 ( 3522 km/h) and it required pilots 186 miles just to make a U turn. Due to its secrecy, this plane was kept out of official record competitions. But similar plane but a slightly modified descendent named 'Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird'- holds the fastest manned airplane record even to this day.

This required these aircraft's to fly at high altitudes for reduced drag and turbulence. Those high altitude planes cropped another technical challenge for the engineers regarding the fuel. At those altitudes and high temperatures, normal fuel would burst into flames inside the tank itself. So, to avoid this the engineers invented special fuel which wouldn't ignite even if someone threw a match into a barrel full of it.

Even the runway required heavy maintenance during take-off and landings, because those massive engines acted as vacuum cleaners sucking debris inside. So, maintenance personnel vacuum cleaned runways during each flight.
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