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The world-famous Blackhawk Jets of the 1950s were built by Lockheed.

History

The Lockheed XF-90 was designed to meet a U.S. Air Force requirement for a long-range bomber escort. Two prototype aircraft were built under a contract from the Air Force. The XF-90 made its maiden flight on June 6, 1949. The XF-90 was a large and heavy aircraft and the engines with which it was fitted were inadequate. Because Lockheed's design proved underpowered, McDonnell's XF-88 won the production contract in September 1950.

The Blackhawks had the XF-90's notoriously weak engines replaced with a single, much more powerful engine of their own design, thus turning the aircraft into the fastest and longest ranged ship of its time. Some sources refer to this single engine version as the F-90B model of the aircraft [1].

Capabilities

  • Maximum speed: 1,496 mph (2,407 km/h)
  • Range: 4,000 mi (6,437 km)
  • Service ceiling: 39,000 ft (11,890 m)
  • Rate of climb: 9,955 ft/min (50.57 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 79 lb/ft² (386 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.10
  • automatic robot controls
    • capable of safely landing the planes at any pre-programmed location.
    • capable of safely landing on an aircraft carrier.[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
    • Cabin space for three
  • Length: 56 ft 2 in (17.12 m)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft 0 in (12.20 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 9 in (4.80 m)
  • Wing area: 345 ft² (32 m²)
  • Empty weight: 18,050 lb (8,204 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 27,200 lb (12,363 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 31,060 lb (14,118 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× secret Blackhawk designed turbojet, 34,166 lbf (152 kN) each
    • Afterburners were added in 1953.[2]

Weapons

  • 4 × 20 mm (.79 in) cannons
  • 8 × 5 in (127 mm) HVAR rockets
  • Up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs
    • high explosive or napalm.[3]

Equipment

  • The Blackhawk Lockheed F-90Bs were equipped with retractable pontoons, and could land on water when necessary.[4]
  • Later models of these warplanes were capable of operating in tandem, maneuvering in combat, and safely landing, with large nets slung between pairs of planes (F-90C only).[5]
  • Each Blackhawk jet is equipped with a drop-hook on a thick cable.[6]
  • Each Blackhawk Jet is equipped with multiple inflatable fake Blackhawk Jets, with tow-cables.[7]

Notes

  • The Blackhawks flew their Grumman XF5F Skyrockets in Military Comics #2 (Sep 1941), and then from Military Comics #15 (Jan 1943) until Modern Comics #80 (Dec 1948) and Blackhawk #22 (Dec 1948). The North American F-86 Sabre jets were first seen in Modern Comics #81 (Jan 1949), which went on sale before Blackhawk #23 (Feb 1949). The Blackhawks flew their Sabrejets until Modern Comics #97 (May 1950) and Blackhawk #31 (June 1950), then replaced them with Lockheed F-90Bs, which remained their standard aircraft for the remainder of their careers.
  • These planes were distinctly different from the USAF version of the XF-90:
    • This was a mid-wing aircraft instead of low-winged.
    • The fuselage was even more slender and needle-nosed than the F-90.
    • While based on the standard F-90, these planes also incorporate research from the X-7 project.
  • The terms of the agreement between Lockheed and the Blackhawk Squadron are not a matter of public record. It is also not clear how many of these aircraft were built over the following years, but it seems likely that building replacements kept Lockheed busy for a long time. The Blackhawks lost on average about one-half an aircraft per month,[8] and it was not uncommon for all six jets to be destroyed in a single mission![9]
  • By 1950, the squadron's Lockheed F-90Bs were equipped with robot controls, enabling them to fly themselves back to Blackhawk Island and land there.[10]
  • They also were capable of taking off, maneuvering in combat, and landing, in pairs, with large nets slung between them.[5]
  • Some sources refer to the further modified Blackhawk Jet of later years as the F-90C model of the aircraft.

Trivia

  • In the comic book, this plane was always drawn as a single-engine plane, even though the actual plane had two engines.


See Also

Links and References

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