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Spy plane U-2

The start of the "Cold War" has found Western intelligence agents in an extremely difficult situation. The work of the agents behind the "iron curtain" was virtually impossible because of the extremely strong and versatile security appliance. During the war against Germany, where the conditions of intelligence work were equally difficult, Allied intelligenceists relied heavily on footage from the survey aircraft. But in the post-war years, airborne exploration has become a very dangerous task.

In the early postwar years, Americans used that Soviets not radically covered all the approaches to their great state. Initially, Soviet hunters just fired the hate warnings and pushed Americans across the border, but they were from 1950. started and ran. It has become apparent that for a peacetime survey, a specialized aircraft will need to be developed which will attain the height or speed of flight far beyond the enemy hunters. The first one wrote about it Richard S. Leghorn who proposed a British bomber shipbuilding Canberra (Lighter construction, thinner wings, more powerful engine) to reach the height of over 20000 m. She even organized a visit of representatives of companies English Electric which produced that plane (Americans produced them under licenses like B-57).

Based on his idea, a contest was made on the addresses of three companies for the conceptual design of the offshore aircraft. All three companies responded positively to the competition: Fairchild the single-engine M-195, Bell s Modelom 67 (Later renamed X-16) of the Martin the version of the bombers B-57 Model 294. company Lockheed he was not officially notified of the competition and found out about him through his links to the Pentagon. The management of the company decided to participate outside the official competition and ordered it to its best constructor Clarence Kelly L. Johnson drawing up an idea and budget. Johnson's plane, named CL-282, warranted higher altitudes and speeds than competitors, even anticipated the use of special tools and parts made for hunting aircraft F-104 to shorten the time of development and construction of aircraft. Time was an important factor because it was thought that by the beginning of the sixties Soviets already developed countermeasures. Lockheed sketch was sent to the CIA and the Pentagon, where he delighted the civil servants, but are active officers refused to think about the fragile plane that looked like a motor glider, and he had only one engine. At the end of the USAF officially refused CL-282.

In the early fifties of the last century there have been many important things in the world political scene on which the American intelligence officers had little information and influence. In 1953. crushed the rebellion in East Berlin in which CIA operatives have failed, the Soviets tested the first thermonuclear bomb in which he burned lithium deuteride, which was technologically more advanced than American bombs with heavy water, but there is also the new jet bomber Mjasiščev 4. One strategic study from that time claimed that the Soviets could suddenly destroy a 85 percent of US strategic bombers in one stroke and prevent the counterbalance.

That year, the White House has come energetic president Eisenhower who was disappointed with a lack of information about the USSR. He encouraged the creation of a scientific advisory committee at the highest level, which would suggest possible ways of fixing the current situation. In the summer of the same year the British on their own initiative fly over the territory of the USSR and recorded rocket runway Kapustin Jar with a height of 20000 meters, but is Canberru PR7 the Soviet hunter was almost overthrown. In this experience it became clear how high to 20000 m are unsafe. Then one of the CIA's representatives remembered the CL-282 that should fly at the height of 21300 m.

The committee on its findings informed the President of the United States approved the project, but has set several conditions: it must lead the CIA, a civilian agency, the pilots are not allowed to be soldiers and aircraft shall not carry any label. He thought to overthrow a military aircraft could cause the Soviets in the war. The CIA initially opposed the conduct of the project because she did not want a conflict of interest with the army, but had to give in. The project was a secret name AQUATONAnd the main coordinator is determined Richard bissell, the Special Assistant to the CIA Director Allan Dulles.

Johnson had been working on F-104 hunting and traveling hunting Constellation, but devoted himself with the CL-282 project with full anger. According to the contract, 21 aircraft (one-seat) had to be delivered, with the first one being completed for eight months, in July 1955. Johnson's work on CL-282 began in the department "Skunk Works"in Burbank, Calif., had to literally get rid of collaborators from other projects." Skunk Works "came about during the war when Johnson worked on a jet fighter P-80 Shooting Star. And then Lockheed was overwhelmed by orders, and Johnson got the "Chinese factories," next to the company's aerodynamic tunnel, which he had sealed off curious views of empty wooden chests of aircraft engines and covered the old circus tent. No one was allowed inside and soon rumors began to spin out, as Johnson, in fact, was making beer, like popular music characters called "Skunk Works" (the free translation of "stinky jobs"). The humorous name has been accepted and retained to date. Just one week after the project was taken over, Johnson had a thoroughly detailed study of the future planes on the 23 pages only (Johnson did not like to waste time writing). "Kelly's angel"as the aircraft named his co-workers because he would fly high into the sky, was a one-engine slim wing wing and a very lightweight construction that could withstand loads of only 2,5 g. The wings did not pass through the hull but were attached to the rings in the hull construction and the 0,425 meter was made available in three places, so 4750 would have to carry a lot of fuel, so 379 would have to carry a lot of fuel. Instead of the classic tanks, the solution was applied to so-called wet wings, the wings were hermetized and divided into two compartments where the fuel was directly inflated, and an additional tank of XNUMX liters was installed in the hull. evaporate at low pressure Shell especially for the manufacture of thick kerosene exhausted of all stocks of products which was used for the known insecticide "Flit"which caused a month-long shortage of this product!

The budgets guaranteed a flight height of 21500 to 22280 m (depending on the amount of remaining fuel), the speed of 0,8 M and the 21 wing finite (with 21300 m height could have driven 450 km without the engine). Because of its low resistance, it would soon increase its speed and have to fly with a mild positive trim. Solving the "Angel" chassis was also more like a sailboat than a plane. He had two two-wheeled dinghy underneath the hull, and his wings were in keeping with the so-called. they were fastened to their lands that had been abandoned at take-off. The entire structure of the chassis weighed only 100 kg.

Johnson organized the work so that the designers were only 15 m away from the assembly line of the aircraft. Thus, all construction difficulties were solved on the go without unnecessary correspondence.

CIA's construction cameras entrusted James G. Baker, a leading specialist in the field. He first used the computer for modeling optical structures that greatly reduced the time and allowed several types of cameras to be made in a short time. Baker worked on the existing camera K-38, focal length 609,6 mm and out of it two camera systems called A-1 i A-2. Camera B was a completely new construction and made it possible to shoot from horizons to horizons. Baker's dream was a focal length camera of 609,6 mm, but he was never able to accommodate the "Kelly's angel". In the end he personally went to Johnson and asked him for a six-inch extended chamber space (152,4 mm). "Six more thumbs!" Johnson shouted. "If I could, I would sell my grandma for six more palaces!" Baker eventually satisfied the 4572 mm focal distance camera that became camera C. Of all the solutions proved to be the best camera B, which is the enhanced version B-2 is still used today.

In April, Johnson, Brigadier Osmund Ritland (USAF Project Coordinator) i Tony LeVier (Lockheed test pilot) found the place to be secretly examined the plane and conduct training of future pilots. CIA still hiding place, but it can be concluded that it is a dry lake Groom Lake, parcels no. 51 ("Area 51"), a former nuclear warhead, and the fact that they had flown on a light airplane, which was unused for ten years, and on satellite imagery that today offers commercial satellites, there are unusually wide hangars - for long-haul aircraft slender wings This polygon is also known as the "Paradise Ranch"(Johnson's name for impossible living conditions),"Ranch","Watertown","Watertown Strip"(These three are CIA names, not to interfere with the same name training ground CIA Camp Peary in Virginia, Watertown is the birthplace of Allen Dulles),"Test Site","Dreamland"(the call sign of the tower in Groom Lake) and"Box"(in aviation maps this forbidden area under the R-4808E designation looks like a rectangle, the last three names are used by USAF pilots)

At high altitudes, the temperature of the boiling water is reduced, and the blood of the pilot will pass (because it contains mostly water) when the body is not pressurized. The cabin was pressurized at the height of 8500 m, and as soon as the pressure had dropped, the flight suits were automatically inflated MC-2 i MC-3, made for this purpose. They were the first scumbags that were tight, uncomfortable, and the visor sometimes blurred. Special difficulties created the impossibility of urinating and stools. The pilot had to eat a refreshing food that had not filled the intestines a day before, and immediately before the 8 hour flight the doctor would empty his bladder with the catheter! In order to leave the high-powered plane, the pilot had to breathe pure oxygen in order to extract all the nitrogen from the body. The inhalation of oxygen caused the thirst that the pilot fumbled with the drizzled water he was drinking through a self-opening hopper. Later, they also received a tube of food. However, the pilot would lose a kilo of up to two on each flight. The CIA has prepared the so-called pilots for the pilots. L-pill, glass ampoules of sodium cyanide for fast and painless death. The pilots are left willing to take them with them or not. Most did not take them.

In spring 1955. The USAF once again tried to take over the project's responsibility (they carried it under its own secret name oilstone) What is the Dulles objected and began several months of unnecessary strain that broke Eisenhower: "I want the whole thing to be a civilian, if the person in the uniform of the armed forces of the United States flying over Russia, it is an act of war - legally - and I in fact do not want participate!". This conflict ended and finally agreed exact division of responsibilities. The CIA is responsible for the camera, film processing, security project, contracts with civilian companies, arranging foreign airfields, and it had an impact on the selection of the pilot. USAF are fit for selection and training of pilots, weather data, tracking tasks and operational support. Lockheed is suited for the construction and testing of aircraft.

At the end of July 1955. the prototype of the plane was transported to Groom Lake, and the USAF administration solved the problem of its official mark. The relevant mark (RF) was not considered because it would detect its reporting purpose and opted for the U (from utility, service) marking the aircraft for atmospheric research. Since there were already U-1 and U-3 planes the choice was logical CL-282 "Angel" got the tag U-2. U-2 did not have any external markings. There was only pilot and equipment for soil photography. The U-2 is not a big aircraft, barely 15 m long, but well-extending wings, long almost 25 m, give it enough buoy for high-altitude flights. From the basic model over time, several versions of improved features were created. The plane could fly so high that it was considered safe from ground-to-air missiles.

Eisenhower was at a meeting in Geneva 21. July 1955. proposed the program "Open sky" (engl. Open Skies) That would allow countries mutually controlled recording of the entire territory. The program was to increase the level of mutual trust and security, but it is Khrushchev flatly refused. "Well, I gave them a chance. They did not accept me and then we'll take off with the U-2!", Commented the President.

Driving tests on the ground began with 27. July on the newly built trail. The pilot was LeVier. Already on the second run, the 70 stroke (130 km / h) U-2 was unplanned into the air. LeVier barely dropped it and burned the brakes on the wheels when braking. The U-2 is easily pushed into the air and is very difficult to land. This was LeVier experienced on the first scheduled flight of 4. August. The U-2 climbed up to the 2400 m height without difficulty and behaved in the air as expected by the constructor. But when LeVier tried to lower him to the main wheel, he would refuse the air and continue to slide under the effect of ground effect. After five unsuccessful attempts the darkness began to descend, and storm clouds drifted rapidly from the west. This time, LeVier landed on an auxiliary, tug wheel and made a perfect landing. Just ten minutes later, the Groom Lake descended into a lush rainfall that flooded and made the airstrip temporarily unobtrusive.

Levier is yet 20 flown to U-2 and gradually testing let other test pilots. The plane 8. September reached the height 20000 m, or at altitudes over 17300 m had difficulty with engines that are choking. The cause was that the U-2 got engines Pratt & Whitney J57 / P-37 who were 30 percent weaker and 125 kg heavier than planned versions P-31 (They get "competitive" RB-57D). That's why pilots of that height were called "bad-lands" or "chimney". Motor problems were only solved by replacing the engine in the 1956 spring. years.

Everyday departures of Skunk Works staff from Burbanka spurred the curiosity of other Lockheed employees and a "regular line" of military aircraft was soon introduced C-54 Who led them to Groom Lake on Monday and returned on Friday. On one of these flights, in November, 1955., The C-54 plane collapsed and all 14 passengers and crew members were killed. The first flights lead to an unexpected parallel effect - there was an increase in the number of UFOs reported on unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The reason for this was the glittering, polished U-2 plaster, which in the evening and the morning sky refused the sunlight. The U-2 flew at multiple heights of a passenger plane and was usually sunlit while other, lower planes flew into the darkness. The USAF has even launched a project to collect UFO reports called "Blue Book" (engl. Blue Book). The CIA operatives for the AQUATONE project compared the records from the "Blue Book" with U-2 flights and could in most cases directly link them.


The USAF, who was in charge of training the pilot, had to deal with unforeseen difficulties. Eisenhower had suggested some of AQUATONE's flying pilots. It had some justifications, but it seemed inexistent in practice. Data on aliens who have been piloted for AQUATONE are still secret, but it can be assumed that they are pilots Air force who, after the war, passed on their experience and training methods to Americans. In the fall of 1955. dropped out of the aliens and began to think about the pilots of strategic bomber aviation. There was an administrative problem due to the interruption of the military service that did not foresee such crossings in the civilian intelligence service. For this reason, only the pilots from the reserve crew who have been interrupted by the military service (in the jargon of "eating the sheep" sheep dipping) Something simpler. The pilot was offered better salaries and the possibility of reactivating the team to their years of service in the CIA and takes into account the subsequent improvement. The candidates had to pass a very rigorous mental and physical tests, which had such positive results in a relatively small number of accidents CIA pilots in relation to the period after the 1974. when the program and the planes took USAF's pilots. The training was conducted in stages: Lockheed test pilots trained six officers USAF, and they are trained the "soaked sheep" who will fly to the real tasks. Training was difficult because they had a two-seater plane that came only 15 years after the start of the project!

U-2 is extremely demanding for piloting. Due to the low permissible load, nothing must be done fast, especially at high speeds. At low altitudes, the maximum allowed speed is 190 stroke (352 km / h) in a quiet atmosphere and 150 strokes (278 km / h) in turbulence. At high altitudes it flies at the 0,8 M speeds which, due to the rare and cold air, corresponds to the 730 km / h speed. At the highest altitudes, in the rare stratospheric air, the difference between the maximum and the least permissible speed is only the 6 stroke (11 km / h). Pilots have called this speed range "coffin corner"The coffin coffin and the corner, which in the pilot jargon denotes the speed range, is why the throttle handle was specially designed and provided very fine adjustments, so that such conditions require full attention, because at such high altitudes the landscape is low and the landmarks they seem to move so slowly that there is no clear idea of ​​the flight speed, a sextant was planned for which the U-2 pilots, as former bombers, knew and were skilled in working with U-2 had a down-stream who assisted in orientation when there was no cloud and for routing exactly to the target during shooting.

All aircraft systems were tested during the fall and winter 1955./56. In spring 1956. began testing the camera. The final workout of the whole reconnaissance system with U-2 as its central part, was conducted from 10. to 14. in April, after which he was declared operational. On the last day of exercise on one of the aircraft engine failure occurred above the Mississippi River. The pilot managed to restart the engine, but it had to shut down again due to strong vibrations in his work. In-2 managed to crawl to Albuquerque, New Mexico. USAF is for this eventuality had prepared sealed instructions for the serving officers to airfields that sought the urgent removal of aircraft from view. When the U-2 landed from Albuquerque are reported: "He landed, we do not know if this is what you expect - it's a boat, not a plane!". Even more surprising suffered a military policeman who first approached the plane when he saw the pilot in his suit. "Martian!" He yelled surprised policeman.

Year 1956. marked with four accidents, of which three deaths completed pilots. On 15. In May 2-labeled 345A he could not dismiss pogoe. Pilot shook the plane at a low altitude motion and dropped the left, but in the attempt to discard the right drive, he swept the aircraft and fell to the ground. Another accident occurred during the night shift 31. August due to overturning immediately after the rejection of the drive (a small amount of engine power was suppressed at that point). In June, the U-2 was moved to Europe, into the air base Lindsey, in addition to Weisbaden, in West Germany. It's a large and very busy aerial base above which U-2 is labeled 346 lost his right wing in collision with another plane and fell to the ground. The fourth accident occurred with 19. December due to a malfunction of the oxygen device. Pilot has lost consciousness and U-2 number 357 in the mild diving very quickly exceeded the highest speed which led to the firing of the aircraft. Pilot managed to jump at the height of 8500 to land a parachute without injury, but the plane was completely destroyed.

Preparing for operational work, Bissell has set up Ad Hoc Committee (ARC) led by representatives of the intelligence community and the army to determine the list of priority objectives. The CIA was interested in military, aviation and missile industries, power plants, nuclear facilities, roads, bridges, and waterways and canals. The Army was particularly interested in organizing the units and the polygons, the airstrips, the radars and the locations of the PZO of the territory. Expecting the multi-faceted volume of image intelligence, the CIA has expanded the photo-survey department (Photo Intelligence Division, PID) that had only 13 staff at the time. The department moved to a larger area Que Building. During the cameras' survey, U-2 aircraft captured objects on the US soil identical to those to be filmed over the USSR, Eastern Europe and China. Photographs were processed in PID, and the experts gained experience for future operative work.

During that time USAF launched the project GENETRIX. It was about shooting from the stratospheric balloons sent from Western Europe that had strong high winds to the east. But GENETRIX has done more harm than good. Of the total 516 balloons, only 46 cameras were filmed, four in which the camera did not work, and in eight cases the balloon did not pass any more important goal (one camera was found only one year after the flight!). Balloons reached the height of the 14000 m, where Soviet hunters easily navigated. The Soviets protested harshly and parts of balloons were exhibited in Moscow in front of representatives of domestic and foreign press. The Aviation once again, in March, 1956, tried to convince Eisenhower of the benefits of balloon scouting by offering improved models that could reach higher heights, which the President declined. Eisenhower banned any breakthroughs that had interrupted the CIA's launching project of leaflets from the balloons, and threatened U-2.

Regardless of the low intelligence of the footage, GENETRIX provided a good insight into the Soviet PZO's performance. The random metal ring on which the cameras were tied was 91 cm in diameter and resonated at Soviet radar frequencies. Thus, the radar suits were strong and could be traced even to US receivers that the NSA set up around the USSR. By ceasing the radio traffic that follows the discovery and interception of the balloons, Americans discovered the possibilities of the Soviet PZO; radar coverage, response speed, and interception efficiency. This puts them in the wrong idea that flights at altitudes greater than 20 km will not be detected.

The project AQUATON entered the final phase of preparation which was supposed to connect the aircraft to a tentative organizational unit and prepare a cover in case of an emergency that could compromise the project. It was decided to establish 1. temporarily flock of meteorological observations (1st Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Provisional). By implementing a temporary flock, the obligation of the unit for reporting multiple units was avoided. There was a name inside the CIA Detachment A (group A). In support of this story, NASA's National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA) announced to the public that the USAF Meteorological Service received new Lockheed aircraft flying to the height of 16760 m, investigating the stratosphere and space aerosol.

Before the first flights, Detachment A was decided to approach the "iron curtain". The United Kingdom was the first destination, but it did not seem to have approved the U-2 deployment (the CIA texts published in the published CSS text). Americans are then 11. June 1956. switched Detachment A to Wiesbaden in the then West Germany, without seeking permission from the German government. Lindsey AFB in Weisbaden there is a large base where it was not possible to guarantee the safety of the project so that the aircraft were moved to a new base (not published where, probably Wueschheim) closer to the border with East Germany. In Wueschheim U-2 got new engines J57 / P-31 and a new tag U-2B.

Dulles is 28. May informs the president about the readiness of U-2 for tasks, but the president has not yet decided on the start of the scouting. Eisenhower was aware of the risk of discovering the true background of the fly, but also of the need for a better understanding of the situation of Soviet bomber forces, intercontinental missiles and the nuclear industry. On one hand, experts assured him that U-2 would not be detected by radars, which was a false assumption. The president was much worried about the danger of aircraft failure and forced landing. Dulles assured him that at the fall of such a height there would not be enough material evidence to link the wreck with a strategic rehearsal program. At that time Eisenhower had to go to Walther Reed's abdominal surgery and postponed his decision to leave the hospital.

In the meantime, the Soviets carried out a successful masking presenting on one aviation event "group of 30 4 Mjasiščeva" - in fact it was a group of 10 bombers that a wide berth three times nadletjela runway! Some members of Congress are on the news requested increase production of strategic bombers. These are precisely the Soviets and the like - drawing attention to the program development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. On the possibility of the late 1955. warning Trevor Gardner, a research and development assistant at the Pentagon. In January 1956. Time Magazine has released a contemplative scenario of the war that the US lost because they did not make Soviet missile technology in time. Only two weeks after that article came the news that the Soviets successfully tested the missiles of the 1450 km range. It's in April Khrushchev said: "I am very confident that we will soon have a ballistic missile with a hydrogen warhead that will be able to reach any point on the earth!".

Pressed developments, Eisenhower 21. June 1956. approved the flights, but only for a period of 10 days, and is still not over the territory of the USSR. It began another period of "cold war" in which the U-2 play a crucial role. Exactly they will solve the dilemma: "The bombers or missiles?".

Before the end of the decade reveal intelligence busy working on an experimental rocket test site Kapustin Jar, on the Volga coast near Volgograd. At the Turkish Black Sea Coast, a tapping station was set up to track trial flights. Rockets and missiles with flying heads flew to the southeast, towards the polygon near the Arctic Lake. Kapustin Jar was not the only rocket base; more important objects were found deep in Kazakhstan.

It was the last of the preparations for missile trials SS-6, Large intercontinental missiles that Khrushchev was so wanted, and the US intelligence service soon got the first voice of the missile base located 350 km southwest of the train station Tjura Tam. Deep in a remote desert of Kazakh SSR were built building, concrete launch bases, hangars and devices for tracking missiles. Everything pointed to significant events. United States had to quickly gather information about the project! Since the place was deep in the Soviet era, is too far away from any friendly airport, U-2B is prepared for a very long flight at a height above 26 km. This model plane had a range greater than 6000 km, more than enough for years of Peshawar in Pakistan to places Bodo in Norway. The pilot will be Gary Powers, a special agent of the United States Central Intelligence Service. All the agents on these tasks, including Powers, knew what awaits them in the event of forced landing. Among other things, there was a 7 cm long needle that would commit suicide, as well as survival equipment when descending to the uninhabited area. The flight is planned for 1. May 1960, as the first of several planned over a new rocket base. Only three years before that, another U-2 filmed the Tjura Tama area, but now it had to collect much more data. The big SS-6 missile has just launched a few heavy satellites in the space of time, and Americans are now afraid that they will, in their ICBM format, represent a serious threat to the United States and their NATO allies. It was of vital importance to find out all the details of what is happening in the missile base because the CIA and military experts believed the Soviet Union had already a hundred SS-6 missiles. Time will show how many of these assumptions were unreal, which in the end resulted in a large number of US intercontinental missiles. In fact, years 1960. The Soviet Union has just a dozen missiles. But in May, 1958. It did not know that Americans are trying to do anything to find Soviet rocket plans as much as possible. But Gary Powers never came to Bodo because he was hit by a Sverdlovska missile near the ground-air missile. The flight could not continue and decided to pounce. He was arrested on the ground and later accused of espionage. The incident breaks up Soviet-American relations and destroys the negotiations in Paris.

A few months later, the Soviets prepare a public hearing for Powers and talk about a camera with a wide-angle lens, enough film for 4 thousands of photos, a special tape recorder for secretive radio stations, and an explosive device for destroying airplanes. The pilot was found guilty and sentenced to long-term imprisonment. (In February 1962 was replaced by a Soviet spy, Colonel Rudolf Abelom). It was the end of US plans for overflights of Soviet territory, but also a milestone in the development of space intelligence system.

To organize the defense of the West countries were required four important types of data, and the burden of the collection will now fall on the backs of military experts who are preparing the next generation of spy satellites, spacecraft created as a replacement for airplanes U-2. It was necessary to collect technical information about the operation and properties of missiles SS-6, and the installation site; Moreover it was necessary to locate a radar station air defense and the location of the launch pedestal surface-to-air. It is very important whether the recording field, because the official maps published in the Soviet Union deliberately inaccurate: the cities are often miles away from the position shown! The latter was important for the most accurate routing of US intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Eventually, the U-2 will celebrate in all world crashes and take on a special place in the history of aviation.


Tony LeVier, Chief test pilot for Lockheed, first flew on a plane U-2. It's also said to have nine lives (lived eight crashes and a crash in the air). During his career, he flew to 260 aircraft types, recording in his flight book over 24000 flights over 10000 hours of flight. In the cockpit the first time he entered with only 15 years, inspired Charles Lindberg, thanks to the 10 dollar wallets found in the cinema the day before and which he paid for the flight course. He died of 1998 cancer. in 84 year of life.