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Reconnaissance Aircraft


North American 0-47

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A 3-seater observation plane used in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the 0-47 was designed to provide a wide field of view for aerial observation and photography.
Model by Ronald Lowery.

Lockheed F-5 Lightning

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A reconnaissance version of the P-38, the F-5 received widespread use during World War II in Europe, North Africa, and Japan. Usually flying without back-up fighter escort, the F-5 often carried five cameras in place of weaponry.
Model by Richard Brant.

McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo

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A supersonic reconnaissance aircraft, the RF-101 Voodoo flew unarmed and could carry as many as six cameras. Missions flown have included low altitude reconnaissance of the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba, and photo flights over North Vietnam.
Model by Bruce C. Radebaugh.

Lockheed SR-71

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First flown in the 1960s, the SR-71 has the unofficial nickname, "Blackbird". It has flown high altitude missions over such areas as Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Model by Mark E. Young.

SR-71 with chute deployed (158k GIF)
SR-71 landing at Dulles International Airport (141k GIF)
 

Lockheed U-2

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Developed in the mid-1950s by Clarence "Kelly" Johnson and his team, the U-2 was designed for high altitude photoreconnaissance. Equipped with an 80-foot wingspan to aid in achieving maximum altitude, the U-2 at first could fly over the Soviet Union unharassed by Russian jets and antiaircraft missiles which were unable to match its performance. In 1960, however, the U-2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers was brought down during a reconnaissance mission in Soviet air space. Since that time, U-2s have played a vital role in reconnaissance of the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba in 1962, verification of nuclear testing in China, reconnaissance in Vietnam and the Middle East, and civil disaster assessment and environmental monitoring.
The Air and Space Museum's aircraft is a U-2C painted in camouflage colors for a special Air Force project.
Photo by Eric Long


U-2 Camera

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The U-2 B camera has a 36-inch focal length and can resolve features as small as .75 meters (2.5 feet) from an altitude of 19.5 kilometers (65,000 feet).
Photo by Eric Long
 


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