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The crew had to wear pressure suits similar to those worn by astronauts. These suits were required to protect the crew in the event of sudden cabin pressure loss while at operating altitudes. A typical Blackbird reconnaissance flight might require several aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Each time the SR refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker's altitude, usually about 6, m to 9, m 20, to 30, ft , and slow the airplane to subsonic speeds.

As velocity decreased, so did frictional heat. This cooling effect caused the aircraft's skin panels to shrink considerably, and those covering the fuel tanks contracted so much that fuel leaked, forming a distinctive vapor trail as the tanker topped off the Blackbird. As soon as the tanks were filled, the jet's crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and again climbed to high altitude. Cuban missions were flown directly from Beale. The SR did not begin to operate in Europe until , and then only temporarily.

In , when the U. When the SR became operational, orbiting reconnaissance satellites had already replaced manned aircraft to gather intelligence from sites deep within Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover every geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a vital tool for global intelligence gathering. On many occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR provided information that proved vital in formulating successful U.

Blackbird crews provided important intelligence about the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath, and pre- and post-strike imagery of the raid conducted by American air forces on Libya. In , Kadena-based SR crews flew a number of missions over the Persian Gulf, revealing Iranian Silkworm missile batteries that threatened commercial shipping and American escort vessels. As the performance of space-based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-based air defense networks, the Air Force started to lose enthusiasm for the expensive program and the 9th SRW ceased SR operations in January Despite protests by military leaders, Congress revived the program in Continued wrangling over operating budgets, however, soon led to final termination.

This special airplane bore Air Force serial number At the conclusion of the flight, ' landed at Dulles International Airport and taxied into the custody of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. At that time, Lt. Vida had logged 1, The aircraft spent twenty-four years in active Air Force service and accrued a total of 2, So apparently all this crap about eating right and going to the gym is true!

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Sliding my belt in a notch. Seen here.. The Do was one of a small group of aircraft marking the pinnacle of international piston-engined development. It was the fastest production piston-engined fighter ever built, attaining kilometers per hour mph in level flight at a time when the official world speed record was kph mph.

Powered by two hp engines in a unique low-drag configuration and weighing kg 21, lb loaded, it was an exceptional heavy fighter. This very innovative design also featured an ejection seat, for pilot safety, and a jettisoning fin. The unconventional layout of the Do -- one engine "pulling" in the nose and another "pushing" in the tail - was patented by Claudius Dornier in The configuration provided the power of two engines, but with reduced drag and better maneuverability.

By , Dornier was still continuing design work and the war situation was worsening. The Luftwaffe now needed a multi-purpose fighter, and the prototype DoV-1 "V" indicating "versuchs" or "experimental" flew in fighter form in September, - six years after its conception. Orders were immediately placed for 14 prototypes, 10 A-0 preproduction aircraft, 11 production A-1 single-seaters, and 3 A and A two-seat trainers. The aircraft was quite large for a single-seat fighter, with a cruciform tail and a tricycle landing gear.

The two massive liquid-cooled Daimler-Benz DB engines were used in four different versions, each displacing The engine produced hp from 12 cylinders in an inverted V layout using fuel injection and an 8. The rear three-bladed propeller and dorsal fin were jettisoned by explosive bolts in an emergency, to allow the pilot to bail out safely using a pneumatic ejection seat. The seat, inclined 13 degrees to the rear, was ejected with a force of 20 times gravity.

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The ventral fin could be jettisoned for a belly landing. Unlike a normal twin-engined aircraft, with wing-mounted engines, loss of an engine on the Do did not cause a handling problem. Even with one engine out, speed was a respectable kph mph. Because of its appearance, pilots dubbed it the "Ant eater" "Ameisenbar" , although they described its performance as exceptional, particularly in acceleration and turning radius.

The Do was very docile in flight and had no dangerous spin characteristics. Many Do prototypes were built, as the Reich strained desperately to provide day and night fighters and fast reconnaissance aircraft to the failing war effort. One of the many RLM production plans, issued in December , called for the production of Dos by late Initial production was at the Dornier Manuel plant, but this factory was bombed heavily in March-April, , and the Do tooling was destroyed.

Ten DoA-0 preproduction aircraft were then produced at Dornier's Oberpfaffenhofen plant in July-October , by which time the Allied bombing campaign was delaying arrivals of engines, propellers, radios, and structural subcomponents. This had a serious effect, because the Do was not a simple aircraft: Production of Daimler-Benz engines, for example, was switched to factories set up in underground salt mines and gypsum mines, but high humidity caused corrosion problems and production dropped 40 percent.

Although several preproduction aircraft were issued to combat conversion units some 10 months before the war ended, no Dos actually entered combat. The first of the DoA-1 production version left the Dornier line at Friedrichshafen early in , one of only four produced in Even with the fighter situation as desperate as it was, these aircraft were still equipped to carry kg lb of bombs internally.

Further operational testing, including use of air-to-ground guided missiles, began in Spring with Trials Unit Erprobungskommando The DoA-6 was to be a two-seat night fighter version with the advanced FFO FuGJ Neptun radar having triple "trident"-like antennas hence the name "Neptun" on the fuselage and wings, but only a prototype was completed.

A total of 37 prototypes, 10 A-0s, 11 A-1s and 2 A trainers were built, although nearly 85 additional aircraft were in assembly when U.

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It was captured by Allied forces at the plant on April 22, After checkout, it was flown from a grass runway at Oberweisenfeld, near Munich, to Cherbourg, France. During this flight, the Do easily outclimbed and outdistanced two escorting Ps, beating them to Cherbourg by 45 minutes. Under the U. This aircraft was assigned to the U.

Its subsequent fate is unknown, and this is the only Do known to exist. It was then returned to Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, where the Dornier company restored it to original condition in The return trip to Germany required an exemption under U. The Dornier craftsmen doing the restoration - many of whom had worked on the original aircraft -- were astonished to find that the explosive charges fitted to blow off the tail fin and rear propeller in an emergency were still in the aircraft and active, 30 years after their original installation!

The Do was put on static display at the May , , Hannover Airshow, and then loaned to the Deutsches Museum in Munich, where it was on prominent display until returned to Silver Hill, MD, for storage in Dartmoor Prison at Princetown had a reputation as being the most inhospitable place in which to serve time. Dartmoor Prison was originally built at Princetown in Devon between and to house French captives during the Napoleonic Wars. During the War of many American prisoners were also confined there.

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French and American officers were eligible for parole under a system which developed at this time. Under the terms of this system, those of higher rank were able to live within the community, in designated 'parole towns'. Between and about 1, American and French prisoners died in Dartmoor prison and were buried in a field beyond the prison walls.

The brutal mistreatment of American prisoners of war was investigated after the war by an Anglo-American commission, which awarded compensation to the families of those who had died there. Conditions were even worse during the blizzard and soon trouble was brewing as inmates were repeatedly fed rations of salted meat. After a week in which no fresh provisions could be delivered by train, resentment and insubordination grew to such a fever pitch that a warder was attacked and stabbed in the neck by a convict.

The governor reported the worrying situation to the Home Secretary who contacted the GWR requesting them to clear the line of snow as a matter of urgency. Fifty workmen were despatched on a train accompanied by a snowplough but the work had to abandoned near Yelverton station when faced with a yard long drift.

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Next day eighty men set out and cut a path through the drift and made it as far as Dousland. Late in the evening of the third day of the operation, a special goods train with provisions from Plymouth finally made it to Princetown to alleviate the mood of the convicts. Two convicts ensured the final leg of the journey was not completed on arrival at Plymouth on 28 January Under escort with a party of prisoners being transferred from the prison hulk Defiance to Dartmoor, they forced off their handcuffs and jumped from the train as it pulled up at the station and were never recaptured.

An amazing getaway from a moving train on the GWR line between Reading and Twyford occurred when a party of thirteen prisoners were being transferred from Dartmoor to Chatham Prison on Saturday 4 February Shortly after 4pm the train pulled away from Reading and was travelling at 30mph when two of the convicts, John Brown and Robert Bevill, slipped free of their shackles and blindly leapt through the window of the door in their compartment.

The Reading police were informed by telegraph from Slough Station and a search made of the woods and thickets between Reading and Maidenhead where the escapees successfully camouflaged themselves for the night by covering themselves with tree branches. The next day they broke into a cottage at Woodley and stole some women's hats, blouses and smock frocks, which they put on over their prison uniforms.

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Wearing this strange garb they strode into Reading town centre on Sunday night and immediately alerted the suspicions of a passer-by who summoned the police. Two inspectors approached the pair and when challenged Bevill immediately gave himself up but Brown swore he would not be taken and put up a violent struggle before being overpowered. Next day in court, Brown laughed heartily when the police officer, sporting a black-eye received in the struggle to arrest him, described the prisoner's bizarre disguise to the magistrates.

The humour of the situation was not shared by the governor of Dartmoor Prison who took disciplinary action against two warders who had allowed the convicts to escape from their charge; an assistant-warder was dismissed from the service and a principal warder reduced in rank for negligence of duty. A prison mutiny occurred at Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday 19 December when thirty inmates made a break during a chapel service.

The ringleader was the only one to elude the warders and managed to cross the prison yard before being apprehended as he attempted to scale the outer wall. After Christmas the disorderly convicts were transferred to other prisons and a number of them bound for Dartmoor again caused trouble.

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They became rebellious in the train on the line between Yelverton and Princetown and details of the perilous situation were telegraphed ahead. Waiting for the insubordinate passengers at Tavistock Station was an escort of warders with loaded revolvers. With the revolt quelled, an inquiry was held and four convicts were sentenced to be flogged with the cat, whilst the chief mutineer was thrashed with the birch. One such tragedy occurred at 11am on Christmas Eve when three men made a run from a work party digging peat near the Blackabrook River. The chief instigator was twenty-two year old William Carter, who had been recently parted from his new bride to serve a twelve-year sentence for robbery with violence.

His co-conspirators were Ralph Goodwin and John Martin, both serving long sentences for burglary. As the mist descended and visibility deteriorated rapidly, work was abandoned and the armed escort ordered the party to march back to the prison. On a signal from Carter, earth was thrown into the faces of the guards and the trio dashed for the cover of some woodland.

Meanwhile, Goodwin vanished into the mist and spent the rest of the day trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and Princetown. As dawn broke the tired and hungry convict was dismayed to discover that he had travelled in a complete circle and arrived back within sight of the prison.

Tempted to give himself up but worried he might meet the same fate as Carter, he set out again and made good progress on Christmas Day. At one point he was spotted by a distant search party and gave them a cheeky wave of his hat before disappearing from view. That night he broke into two houses at Postbridge and obtained a change of clothes.