Combat Aircraft 80: Lockheed SR-71 Operations In Europe And The Middle East by Paul F. Crickmore (book review).
The use of the SR-71 Blackbird or Habu in Europe and the Middle East meant that it would have to work out from a base on this side of the Atlantic. It wasn’t a surprise that because of our ‘special relationship’ to the USA that Great Britain got opted with its main base in Norfolk’s RAF Mildenhall. It was hardly the best kept secret on their arrival as plane-watchers watched the first Blackbird land. After the Far East operations, as reviewed in Paul F. Crickmore’s book last month, the reputation of the Blackbird was already known. Indeed, the flights from New York and Los Angeles to the UK still hold the world record for the fastest flights.
Most of the operations over here was looking over the edge of Russian air space and invariably testing their radar. It’s also interesting seeing an interview with a Russian pilot who was the only one to get a glimpse of an SR-71 as a sped off from an intercept.
The most significant mission was the unit’s task in the American assault on Libya where the Habu was used to survey the damage caused. Interestingly, the photographs taken had to be downgraded in quality rather than reveal how good they really were to the general public and the Russians.
Crickmore also points out where all the Blackbirds are now and we have one in the UK at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.
If you picked up Combat Aircraft 76, then you will certainly want this companion book to complete your collection. The insight from Habu crew on their missions makes for a compelling read so make sure you can sit back for an hour each when you read them. The amount or preparation involved, especially with the placement of fuel tankers and the problems of keeping the sun’s reflective light off the dashboard. When you consider these fuel stops took anything up to an hour, you have to admire the pilot control of their aircraft. Speedy flight.
(pub: Osprey Publishing. 96 page illustrated small softcover. Price: £12.99 (UK), $22.95 (US), $25.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84603-418-3)
check out website: www.ospreypublishing.com