Question: Who Built the Stealth F-22, F-35, F-117 the U-2 and More?

Sebastien Roblin
DVIDS

Sebastien Roblin

Security, Americas

Time to meet Skunk Works.

Question: Who Built the Stealth F-22, F-35, F-117 the U-2 and More?

The Blackbird was certainly fast, able to blaze past missiles while cruising at Mach 3.2, but even its angular profile failed to evade radar detection. In the mid-1970, the Skunk Works made a second go at developing a stealth jet. Johnson, who was then retiring, originally proposed curved surfaces for the new stealth plane. However, his friend Ben Rich convinced him that stealth could be achieved with faceted surfaces that the design computers of the time were more capable of handling.

In June 1943, aeronautical engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson received a momentous request. The Nazis were only a year away from deploying the first operational jet fighter into service in World War II, which would have a tremendous speed advantage over Allied piston-engine fighters. The Pentagon wanted Johnson to develop an operational jet fighter, using then-new turbojet engines as quickly as possible—and it didn’t want Johnson to wait for the fine print to be signed in the contract.

(This first appeared several weeks ago.)

Kelly was told he had just five months (150 days) to produce a flying next-generation jet prototype.

The Michiganian of Swedish descent had originally joined Lockheed as a tool designer with an $83 monthly salary. However, after devising an innovative fix for the Model 10 airliner, he rose through the ranks to become the company’s chief designer in 1938.

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