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"Stealth: The Secret Contest to Invent Invisible Aircraft" by Peter Westwick

overscan (PaulMM)

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The story behind the technology that revolutionized both aeronautics, and the course of history

On a moonless night in January 1991, a dozen airplanes appeared in the skies over Baghdad. Or, rather, didn't appear. They arrived in the dark, their black outlines cloaking them from sight. More importantly, their odd, angular shapes, which made them look like flying origami, rendered them undetectable to Iraq's formidable air defenses. Stealth technology, developed during the decades before Desert Storm, had arrived. To American planners and strategists at the outset of the Cold War, this seemingly ultimate way to gain ascendance over the USSR was only a question. What if the United States could defend its airspace while at the same time send a plane through Soviet skies undetected? A craft with such capacity would have to be essentially invisible to radar - an apparently miraculous feat of physics and engineering. In Stealth, Peter Westwick unveils the process by which the impossible was achieved.

At heart, Stealth is a tale of two aerospace companies, Lockheed and Northrop, and their fierce competition - with each other and with themselves - to obtain what was estimated one of the largest procurement contracts in history. Westwick's book fully explores the individual and collective ingenuity and determination required to make these planes and in the process provides a fresh view of the period leading up to the end of the Soviet Union. Taking into account the role of technology, as well as the art and science of physics and engineering, Westwick offers an engaging narrative, one that immerses readers in the race to produce a weapon that some thought might save the world, and which certainly changed it.
 

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Silencer1

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I wonder if the book contains any illustrations...
Is it possible to reproduce invisible aircraft on pictures? :cool:
 

FighterJock

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Looks like it is going to be an interesting book. Going to be a long time to wait however.
 

edwest

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A rather dramatic write-up. A review of early flying wings built by Northrop shows the difficulty of picking them up on radar. I suggest getting a copy of Jack Northrop and the Flying Wing - The Real Story behind the Stealth Bomber by Ted Coleman with Robert Wenkam. Mr. Coleman was a close associate of Northrop's at the company.
 

Vahe Demirjian

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A rather dramatic write-up. A review of early flying wings built by Northrop shows the difficulty of picking them up on radar. I suggest getting a copy of Jack Northrop and the Flying Wing - The Real Story behind the Stealth Bomber by Ted Coleman with Robert Wenkam. Mr. Coleman was a close associate of Northrop's at the company.
I'm not really convinced that the B-35 and B-49 would have invincible on radar had they gone into production. Also bear in mind that the SR-71, with its chines, could easily escape detection by enemy radar at high altitude, something the U-2 couldn't do. We'll see if this book mentions the SR-71, because most popular and semi-technical books consider the F-117 the first stealth aircraft.
 

elmayerle

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Be interesting to see how far they trace the history of each company's interest in low-observables. I've heard, from the then-Northrop Historian (Dr. Ira Chart) that Northrop's first real interest in low-observables came about from the difficulty in tracking Snark missiles in flight.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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He's a historian rather than an aviation author, so might focus more on people and politics rather than technical details. We'll have to see.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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A rather dramatic write-up. A review of early flying wings built by Northrop shows the difficulty of picking them up on radar. I suggest getting a copy of Jack Northrop and the Flying Wing - The Real Story behind the Stealth Bomber by Ted Coleman with Robert Wenkam. Mr. Coleman was a close associate of Northrop's at the company.
I'm not really convinced that the B-35 and B-49 would have invincible on radar had they gone into production. Also bear in mind that the SR-71, with its chines, could easily escape detection by enemy radar at high altitude, something the U-2 couldn't do. We'll see if this book mentions the SR-71, because most popular and semi-technical books consider the F-117 the first stealth aircraft.
No-one has ever suggested the B-35/B-49 were invisible to radar. They were harder to spot than the B-36 / B-47 on radar, with a lower detection range, but not operationally significant enough to make a difference.
 

kmrumble

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Hi, new member here. I came across this thread while searching the web for an advance reading copy of this book. I found one, and just finished reading it. Westwick's book is quite comprehensive and well written. As a historian of the California aviation industry, he mostly approaches the topic from that perspective, and his sources were largely players from Lockheed and Northrop---John Cashen, Irv Waaland, Jim Kinnu, Alan Brown, Sherm Mullin, etc. He's a little weak on government sources although he did an extensive interview with Paul Kaminski. And yes, he does go into the Snark, the relationship between the B-2 and YB-49, the entire history and science of radar reduction, etc., but the focus, as you'd expect, is on Have Blue, Senior Trend, Tacit Blue, and the Senior Ice/Peg competition.

Now that I've read it, I'd be happy to pass it on to anyone willing to pay the shipping. By the way, if you're interested in this topic, Westwick runs the Aerospace Oral History Project at the Huntington Library, and has posted transcripts of many of his interviews there. Well worth a look.
 

AL

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I noticed in a list of illustrations in this book, there is a sketch of the Lockheed BSAX design. I don't know if I've ever seen that one.
 

CJGibson

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Long time since I read anything on LO technology, so might just treat myself to a copy. Does it look at British RAM such as DSX, DSI, RAM-D and RAM-L?

Chris

PS before you ask, RAM-D and -L aren't Soviet aircraft.
 

kmrumble

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Long time since I read anything on LO technology, so might just treat myself to a copy. Does it look at British RAM such as DSX, DSI, RAM-D and RAM-L?

Chris

PS before you ask, RAM-D and -L aren't Soviet aircraft.
No, it doesn't.
 

red admiral

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Long time since I read anything on LO technology, so might just treat myself to a copy. Does it look at British RAM such as DSX, DSI, RAM-D and RAM-L?

Chris
I'm not sure what exists in the public archives but there are definitely some historical reports of UK research and measurements on a number of aircraft that exist. If there's a searchable function you might want to look for "radar echoing area" that was historically used rather radar cross section.
 

sferrin

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Be interesting to see how far they trace the history of each company's interest in low-observables. I've heard, from the then-Northrop Historian (Dr. Ira Chart) that Northrop's first real interest in low-observables came about from the difficulty in tracking Snark missiles in flight.
Everybody always forgets Convair/General Dynamics., :confused:

kingfish4.jpg

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FighterJock

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Be interesting to see how far they trace the history of each company's interest in low-observables. I've heard, from the then-Northrop Historian (Dr. Ira Chart) that Northrop's first real interest in low-observables came about from the difficulty in tracking Snark missiles in flight.
Everybody always forgets Convair/General Dynamics., :confused:

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Not me sferrin, I always liked the Convair/General Dynamics designs especially the Fish/Kingfish design that went up against the Lockheed Skunk Works A-12.
 

500 Fan

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Is there any mention in the book about LRCS helicopter development or testing? Another part of the story that is constantly overlooked.

500 Fan.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Its not a general book on Stealth. It's squarely about Northrop and Lockheed, and their work on Have Blue/ XST, F-117 and Tacit Blue.
 

500 Fan

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Thanks. I think Northrop did some support work on a Government test program for a LRCS experiment on helicopters in the 1970's. Thanks.

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quellish

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Is there any mention in the book about LRCS helicopter development or testing? Another part of the story that is constantly overlooked.

500 Fan.
No, no mention of that.
Some mention of Snark, RVs, some other things before going into XST.

I do not think I have seen much public discussion of the low RCS rotorcraft programs of the 70s and 80s. Ed Lovick mentions some experiments he did (not part of an official program) in his book, that's about it.
 
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