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[Have Blue Prototype in hanger (Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)]

Have Blue Prototypes

"I don't care what in hell it looks like, I'll get that ugly son-of-a-bitch to fly!" Chief Skunk Works aerodynamisist Dick Cantrell.

Development began in April 1976 with the USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory contract to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects (Skunk Works) for two 60-percent scale flyable test aircraft. The two XST (Experimental Survivable Testbed) prototypes were produced under the name of Have Blue.

Before the government signed the contract to build the Have Blue aircraft Skunk Works had to have a security plan approved by the USAF. Although Skunk Works had never had security problems in the past, the USAF had dubbed this project "Special Access", and with that came the USAF's way of doing business. The airplane itself had to be stamped SECRET on the inside cockpit door.

Another example is mentioned in Ben Rich's "Skunk Works":

"Keith Beswick, head of the flight test operations, designed a coffee mug for his crew with a clever logo showing the nose of Have Blue peeking from one end of a big cloud with a skunk's tail sticking out the back end. Because of the picture of the airplane's nose, security classified the mugs themselves as top secret. Beswick and his people had to lock them away in a safe between coffee breaks."

The two Have Blue aircraft were built at Lockheed in only a few months. The first example was intended to evaluate the type's flying characteristics, whereas the second was to evaluate the radar signature. In order to save some time and some money, existing off-the-shelf components were used where feasible. The engines were a pair of standard production non-afterburning General Electric J85s, mounted in enclosures sitting atop the wings. The main landing gear was taken from a Fairchild Republic A-10, and fly-by-wire components were scavenged from an F-16. The instrumentation and the ejector seat were taken from a Northrop F-5.

The Have Blue aircraft had the same general shape as that which would later become familiar with the F-117A, except that the twin rudders were located forward of the exhaust ejectors and were angled inward rather than outward. The inward cant was about 30 degrees.

[Three view drawing of Have Blue. (Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)] The leading edge of the semi-delta wing was swept back at 72.5 degrees. The wing featured two inboard trailing edge elevons for pitch and roll control. Four spoilers (two on top of the wing and two on the bottom) were mounted just forward of the elevons. There were no flaps or speed brakes. The wing trailing edge was less deeply notched than that of the F-117A. A single cockpit with an ejector seat was provided. The Have Blue aircraft employed V-type windshields (similar to those of the F-102/F-106). No weapons bay nor any sort of tactical equipment at all was fitted.

The Have Blue aircraft were equipped with fly-by-wire (FBW) flight controls which were adapted from the F-16 system. However, the system had to be modified to handle an aircraft that was unstable about all three axis (the F-16 is unstable only about the pitch axis). The problem of designing a stealthy system for airspeed measurement had not yet been solved, and XST-1 was equipped with a conventional pitot boom until March 1978. The boom was removed after it's 32nd flight. XST-2 never had the conventional pitot boom.

[Aerial photo of Burbank airport and the Skunk Works. (Webmaster's private collection)] Two prototypes were built at a cost of $37 million for both aircraft. Lockheed workers assembled the two Have Blue aircraft in Burbank in Building 82, one of their big assembly hangers that was the size of three football fields. Reports that state the Have Blue were built in Lockheed's Plant 10 facility housed at the USAF Plant 42 in Palmdale, California are false. According the book "Skunk Works": "The Skunk Works workers were all specialist in specific sections of the airplane: fuselage, tail, wings, control surfaces, and power plant. Each section was built separately then brought together. About 80 people were on this project, and because the Skunk Works was in a rush the airplane was stood on it's tail and assembled vertically. That way, the assemblers could work on the flat, plated structural frame, front and back, asses to elbows."

Neither aircraft ever received an official DOD designation, or did they get a USAF serial number. However, Lockheed did give the aircraft its own manufacturer's serial numbers-1001 and 1002. These numbers are commonly used (Lockheed had a YF-12 that was #1001 as did Northrop have a B-2). These numbers did not mean Plant 10, aircraft numbers 1 and 2.

[Two photos of Have Blue. (Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)] The first example (1001) was finished in November of 1977. Engine run tests were done on November 4, 1977. To hide the plane, 1001 was parked between two semitrailers and a camouflage net was draped over them. The tests were done at night, after Burbank airport had closed. The only attention the test attracted was a complaint from a local resident about noise. In order to keep the project away from prying eyes, the Have Blue prototype was shipped out to the Groom Lake Test Facility in Nevada in high secrecy on the morning of November 16, 1977 for the test flights. Groom Lake is located in a particularly remote area of the Nellis test range complex, and is a good location for the testing of secret aircraft. A camouflage paint scheme was applied to make it hard for unwanted observers at Groom Lake to determine the aircraft's shape.

Seventy-two hours before the first test flight, the airplane began to seriously overheat near the tail during engine test runs. The engine was removed, and Bob Murphy and a helper decided to improvise by building a heat shield. They noticed a six-foot steel shop cabinet. "Steel is steel," Murphy said to his assistant. "We'll send Ben Rich the bill for a new cabinet." They began cutting up the cabinet to make the heat shield panels between Have Blue's surface and its engine. It worked perfectly.

The first flight of the Have Blue took place shortly before 7am on December 1, 1977, with veteran Lockheed test pilot William M. "Bill" Park being at the controls. (Park was so highly regarded at Skunk Works that Ben Rich obtained a special exemption from the air force so he could be chief test pilot. As a note: Park was not a test pilot school graduate, nor did he have an advanced engineering degree.) As the plane took to the sky, Kelly Johnson slapped Ben rich on the back and said, "Well, Ben, you got your first airplane." At an early stage, Bill Park was assisted in the flight test program by Lt. Col. Norman Kenneth "Ken" Dyson of the USAF.

Flight test of the Have Blue initially went fairly smoothly, and the fly-by-wire system functioned well. The landing speed was quite high (160 knots), as expected because of the lack of flaps or speed brakes. Have Blue 1001 made 36 sorties from December 1, 1977 through May 4, 1978, all of them for functional checkout, flying qualities, and performance evaluation.

On May 4, 1978, (the 36th flight) Have Blue prototype number 1001 was landing after a routine test flight when it hit the ground excessively hard. Rather than risk skidding off the runway, Park pulled the aircraft back into the air, and went around. As he did, he retracted the landing gear. Park did not know that the right landing gear had been bent by the impact. When he lowered the gear, the T-38 chase pilot, Col. Larry McCain (the base commander) radioed that the right gear was jammed. Park made several attempts (including hard landings) to shake the gear back down again. The fuel supply was running low and there was no time for additional attempts. As Park climbed to 10,000 feet, one of the engines flamed out from fuel starvation. Once the other engine quit Park knew he would only have 2 seconds before the aircraft went out of control. Park radioed "I'm gonna bail out of here unless anyone has any better ideas." Although Park departed the aircraft successfully, he hit his head on the headrest and was knocked unconscious. Unable to control his parachute during descent or landing, he was still unconscious when his limp body hit the desert floor. Park's leg was broken, he suffered a concussion, and his mouth was filled with dirt as the parachute dragged him across the desert in a strong wind. By the time paramedics reached him, his heart had stopped. The paramedics were able to revive him, and he survived, but was forced to retire from flying. The aircraft reportedly came down like a falling leaf, wobbled around, lost control, went inverted, and went straight in. The Have Blue aircraft was destroyed in the crash. The wreckage was secretly buried somewhere on the Nellis test range complex.

[Have Blue in hanger. (Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)]

Have Blue 1002 arrived at Groom Lake shortly after the loss of number 1001. It took to the air for the first time July 20 1978, with Lt. Col. Ken Dyson being at the controls.

Col. John "Jack" Twigg, former HAVE BLUE program manager, wrote that HB1002 completed 52 sorties. There were 10 for functional checkout and performance evaluation, and 42 for low observables testing.

The Have Blue prototype 1002 proved to be essentially undetectable by all airborne radars except the Boeing E-3 AWACS, which could only acquire the aircraft at short ranges. Most ground-based missile tracking radars could detect the Have Blue only after it was well inside the minimum range for the surface-to-air missiles with which they were associated. Neither ground-based radars nor air-to-air missile guidance radars could lock onto the aircraft. It was found that the best tactic to avoid radar detection was to approach the radar site head on, presenting the Have Blue's small nose-on signature.

[Have Blue in flight from below. (Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)]

It was found that the application of the RAM was rather tricky, and that ground crews had to be careful to seal all joints thoroughly before each flight. RAM came in linoleum-like sheets which was cut to shape and bonded to the skin to cover large areas. Doors and access panels had to be carefully checked and adjusted for a tight fit between flights and all gaps had to be filled in with conductive tape and then covered over with RAM. Paint-type RAM was available, but it had to be built up by hand, coat by coat. Even the gaps around the canopy and the fuel-filler door had to be filled with paint-type RAM before each flight. Ground crews had to even make sure that all surface screws were completely tight, since even one loose screw for an access panel could make the aircraft show up like a "barn door coming over the horizon" during radar signature tests. Reports say that there were problems inherent with a prototype aircraft-such as a section of RAM lining the inside of an air intake being sucked into an engine, causing it to immediately loose power.

Have Blue number 1002 was lost in July 11, 1979. During its 52nd flight, with Lt. Col. Dyson at the controls, a weld in a hydraulic line cracked, spraying fluid onto the hot section of one of its J85 engines. The fluid ignited and the blaze became uncontrollable. Dyson tried to get back to Groom Lake, but lost hydraulic power and was given permission to bail out. Lt.Col. Dyson ejected, and 1002 plummeted to the ground 35 miles NW of Groom Lake-a total loss. It too was secretly buried somewhere on the Nellis test range complex. According to P. G. Kaminsky (former undersecretary of Defense, acquisition and technology), the program was within "two or three sorties of planned completion" when HB1002 crashed. No further Have Blue aircraft were built, since the general concept had been proven.

[Blueprint of both Have Blue Aircraft. (Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)]
Have Blue Specifications
Wing Span22 ft 6 in
Length overall47 ft 3 in
Height overall7 ft 6.25 in
Wing Area386 sq ft
Wing Sweep72.50 degrees
Tail Cant30 degrees
Tail Sweep35 degrees
Weight (Empty)8,950 lbs
Max T-O weight12,500 lbs
Max Fuel Load3,500 lbs
Max PayloadNone
Power Plant (#)GE J85-GE-4A (2)
Power Plant SourceT-2B Buckeye (no modifications made)
ThrustAbout 2,950 lbs
Specific Fuel ConsumptionAbout 0.98
Max speed.8 Mach (600 mph) @ sea level
Landing Speed160 knots (296 km/h; 184 mph)
Max Range/Endurance1 hour

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