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Tragedy struck during a test flight in June 1966. A Lockheed 1-104 Starfighter in formation with the XI5-70 for a photo shoot accidentally crashed into the Valkyrie, and both aircraft were destroyed. Only one of the Valkyrie crew ejected.

There was a political storm about the incident and the Valkyrie was cancelled, partly because new Soviet air defense missiles had, by the mid-1960s, made high-level bombers a thing of the past.

The Valkyrie was a stunning piece of engineering, but the cost of the Vietnam War made it hard to justify spending more money on it.

XB-70 Valkyrie

Two prototype XB-70 Valkyrie bombers were produced, flying between September 1964 and February 1969. Number 62-207 was destroyed, and 62-001 is now an exhibit at the USAF museum.

SPECIFICATIONS XB-70A Valkyrie

Type: Prototype supersonic strategic bomber.

Powerplant: Six 31,000-lb.-thrust General Electric YN93-GE-3 afterburning turbojets.

Maximum speed: 2,000 m.p.h. or Mach 3; test aircraft reached 2,019 m.p.h. or Mach 3.08.

Range: 7,600 mi. unrefueled.

Service ceiling: Test aircraft reached 73,980 ft.; planned operational ceiling 82,000 ft.

Weapons: No defensive armament; planned bomb load 50,000 lbs. of free-fall nuclear bombs or of conventional weapons.

Weight: 551,150 lbs. max takeoff.

Dimensions:

Span 105 ft.

Length 196 ft.

Height 30 ft.

Wing area 6,297 sq. ft.

Last ride of the Valkyrie: June 8, 1966

PUBLICITY SHOT:

Five aircraft powered by General Electric engines were flying in formation for a publicity shot when a NASA F-104, piloted by Joe Walker, strayed too close to the massive vortex generated by the Valkyrie's downtumed wingtip, sucking it in.




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