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U-2

The U-2 was born out of an early Cold War need for better reconnaissance. As NATO was coming into its own in the late '40's and early '50s, the world was changing radically. Europe was recovering from World War 11; East and West Germany were formed; the Berlin blockade and air bridge began and ended; the Communists gained control of Czechoslovakia; and the Soviets had "the bomb". Reliable intelligence was needed on the build-up of bombers and missiles inside the USSR and various aircraft had been sent along the perimeter of the country to determine activity. A significant number of those planes, along with lives of crewmembers, were lost. Solid details of Soviet military capabilities were difficult to come by. International tensions increased.

In March 1953, the USAF released high-flyer aircraft specifications requiring an altitude of 70,000 feet and a radius of 1,500 nautical miles carrying a camera payload of up to 700 lbs. These requirements were based on speculation that, with evolving turbojet technology, an aircraft operating at high altitudes could safely penetrate the Iron Curtain and return with useful information. The heights proposed would make detection extremely difficult and interception virtually impossible. Three smaller manufacturers ‑ Bell Aircraft, Martin Aircraft and Fairchild Aircraft were solicited. Larger companies were not involved because the AF anticipated a small fleet and did not think the big companies would be interested.

Lockheed Aircraft, in Burbank, Ca, was busy producing Super‑Constellations, T-33s and F 104s. But, in December 1953, Kelly Johnson, the Skunk Works founder and premier engineer, began working with a Preliminary Design Team on a study of wing area modifications and procedures to modify the F-1 04 to obtain maximum possible altitude for reconnaissance purposes. This study produced a design for the CL-282.

In March 1954, a report describing the high altitude characteristics of the F‑1 04‑based CL-282, was submitted to the US Air Force who were interested enough to request a specific proposal. This proposal covered construction of 30 aircraft as well as servicing the fleet once it was fielded. Lockheed's program received mixed reactions and was ultimately turned down. The CL‑282 was too unusual and it had a single engine, the Pratt & Whitney J‑57. Many were skeptical of the turbojet's ability to perform at extremely high altitudes. The AF was committed to the Martin RB-57.

Meanwhile, reports of massive build‑ups inside the USSR continued. President Dwight Eisenhower formed the Killian Commission to investigate and evaluate potential solutions to the shortage of firm intelligence. Despite the Air Force's rejection of the Lockheed proposal, the Killian Commission asked Kelly Johnson to brief them on the CL 282 design. Many believed the aircraft was a viable option given the high altitude performance and the relatively small radar cross‑section projected. The Secretary of the Air Force and members of the CIA met with Kelly Johnson while Killian Commission members convinced President Eisenhower that, due to the extra sensitivity of the international situation, the CIA should lead a program to conduct Soviet overflights. Both the Killian Commission and the CIA agreed that a version of the CL 282 was best suited for overflight tasking and initiated "Project Angel". Kelly's journal input for Nov 19, 1954 after those meetings was as follows:

"I was impressed with the secrecy aspect and was told by Gardner that I was essentially being drafted for the project. I returned to Burbank in the evening with instructions to talk only to Robert Gross and Hal Hibbard. They agreed that we must do the project."

    Kelly and twenty‑five engineers began redesign of the airplane to provide for a new landing gear; different engine, different camera bay and a means for further improving performance. A total of eighty-one people, including shop personnel, began to work what would become known as the U‑2. In December 1954, the CIA ordered twenty aircraft. Kelly had promised delivery of the first one in eight months - design was frozen on 10 December. The first status of the aircraft along with a cost letter for approximately $20M was presented to the folks in Washington by mid December. Initial wind tunnel tests were completed before Christmas. Tooling began on 27 December. (By the way, the first check from the government was made out to Kelly, personally, and sent to his home to maintain secrecy on the program.)

The production aircraft differed considerably from the original CL‑282. Pratt and Whitney was called on to produce an engine that would better perform at the 70,000+ altitude. The T‑tail configuration was changed to a low‑mounted horizontal stabilizer and a bicycle landing gear arrangement was incorporated instead of the original takeoff dolly/landing skid concept. The cockpit was pressurized, to some extent, to enable pilots to operate for periods of up to 10 hours without full pressure suits. (As it was, partial pressure suits were provided to pilots to protect them in the event of aircraft pressure loss.)

Weight saving measures included un‑boosted flight controls, no ejection seat (this was changed after the loss of several pilots) and a bicycle gear system with outriggers, or pogos as they were called, that held the wings level for taxi and takeoff. The aircraft was a masterful blend of innovative technologies: the successful marriage of a multitude of components ‑ airframe, sensors adapted for optimum use at high altitudes, unprecedented pilot physiological support equipment, a finely tuned engine and special fuel that would not freeze at high altitude. (JP‑TS)

Additional weight savings came in the form of a newly developed camera and film. The Killian panel, when looking into state‑of-the‑art reconnaissance photography, had identified potential candidates for use however, they were too heavy ‑ Q‑bay capacity of the aircraft was approximately 750 pounds. The CIA financed a new development effort that yielded a camera that weighed approximately 400 pounds empty ‑ 500 pounds fully loaded for an 8‑hour mission. Best of all, picture resolution was down to items as small as 2 1/2 feet (75cm) across. The new camera reached the test site for installation into the U-2 before the aircraft was very far into flight test.

Production progressed rapidly. The first fuselage came out of the tooling on 21 May. (One week after the Soviet Union had completed the Warsaw Pact.) Problems with the wings had just about everyone working frantically. Kelly's journal entry one month later read:

"A very busy time, in that we have only 650 odd hours to the airplane completion point. Having terrific struggle with the wing ... "

However, by 15 July, Kelly's journal entry read:

"Airplane is essentially completed. Terrifically long hours. Everybody almost dead. "

Final inspection, flutter and vibration tests and control proof tests were completed the following week. The aircraft was, then, disassembled and transported to a remote test facility for taxi and first flight. The first U‑2 was delivered on 25 July 1955 ‑ eight months after the start of tooling development!

The first time that first U‑2 left the ground was an accident! The remote test facility was located on a large dry lake bed that served as a runway. Normal visual runway cues were non‑existent so imagine Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier's surprise when he found himself 35 feet in the air during a 70‑knot taxi test!! Upon landing, both tires blew and the brakes caught fire. Fortunately, the crew following on the ground in radio trucks had extinguishers and no major damage was done to the airframe. First flight to 8,000 feet occurred in a rainstorm on 4 August 1955. She flew beautifully. It was determined after several landing attempts that the best way to land her was tail wheel simultaneous to or slightly ahead of the main gear touch down. (Ten minutes after a successful landing, the "dry" lake bed had two inches of water in it!)

Shortly after delivery of the third aircraft in Oct 1955, pilots from Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters reported to the test site. It had been decided that they would perform the training of the first CIA pilots. Lockheed folks put the SAC pilots through "several days of school" on the aircraft. Nearly all the pilots utilized by the CIA came from SAC bases at Turner AFB, in Georgia and Bergstrom AFB, in Texas. They were the "cream of the crop"  the best the Country had to offer. They had to be  but I'll let Marty Knutson tell you more about their experiences. (An order for an additional 39 aircraft came in Oct 55. The government was pleased with the early Angel and how she was flying.)

While that first A/C was in test, the production crew continued to move additional U‑2s off the line. In December 1955, Kelly Johnson wrote:

"Our anniversary. We have built four flying airplanes, have the ninth airplane in the jig and have flown over our design altitude any number of times. We have trained crews and are developing the Bakersfield factory. It's been quite a year."

The first six aircraft were produced in Burbank, CA but, in 1956, the line was relocated to just outside of Bakersfield, CA, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, where they were assembled, functionally checked, disassembled and trucked to Bakersfield airport. From there, they were loaded into a C‑124 and flown to a remote test site.

As the flight envelope was expanded, flameouts were a frequent occurrence. Lockheed test pilot Bob Matye experienced the first flameout on his third high altitude flight. (That experience did prove that the pressure suit, regulator and emergency oxygen systems worked!) Fuel control was a problem as was the propensity of the ‑37 version of the engine to dump engine oil into the cockpit via the ventilation system. In order to re‑start, the aircraft had to descend to 35,000 feet or lower which would make it vulnerable to Soviet interception. That was unsatisfactory! Pratt & Whitney began working on a ‑31 high altitude version of the J‑57 that also provided added payload and altitude capability.

A reliable autopilot was essential for smooth high altitude flight and to reduce pilot workload. At altitude, the aircraft could be driven into the "coffin corner" where maximum speed and stall speed converged, resulting in loss of control. The Lear Company produced a system that, after numerous test hours, was installed in production aircraft.

By early April 1956, the U‑2 and Detachment A, the first CIA crew, were ready for deployment to England. Glimpses of Soviet armament were obtained each year at the May Day celebrations and the annual air displays but detailed data was required to accurately assess strength. Lockheed was confident in the ability of the U‑2 to fly, obtain information and avoid interception. That confidence was proven in May when the British scrambled all interceptors to get two "Angels" – They didn't!

In June, CIA representatives met with President Eisenhower to discuss overflight options. With Soviet movement into Hungary to quell a "people's rebellion", overflights were authorized. The first operational mission occurred just 18 months after program go‑ahead and was conducted over Soviet‑occupied Eastern Europe on June 20, 1956. The first flight over the USSR occurred on July 4 with, to quote Kelly, "Dandy results".

Diplomatic protests after the first few flights suspended missions for a short period but, as intelligence was so critical, U‑2s went back into the air. Many flights were conducted over the Eastern block and USSR during the years between 1956 and 1960. Data provided by those missions was invaluable to the Intelligence community in determining that the suspected missile and bomber buildup in the USSR was not of major proportion. U‑2 overflights of the USSR ceased permanently in May 1960 when Francis Gary Powers was shot down.

A total of 55 U‑2s were manufactured from 1956 through 1959. There were 7 models of the original aircraft ‑ 'A' through G. 'A' models were powered by the Pratt & Whitney J-57 engine. The 'B' model replaced the J‑57 with a P&W J-75 engine while the 'C' models had enlarged inlets that improved engine performance. Five A/C ('D' models) were modified with optical spectrometers used to scan IR wavelengths for missile plumes as part of the advanced warning system for Soviet ICBM launches. (These A/C included a place for a second crewmember.) 'E' model A/C had increased sensor capacity and, a year or so after the Gary Powers incident, 4 A/C ('F' models) were upgraded for in‑flight refueling. (They were later restored to 'C' models.) And, in 1963, 2 'C' model A/C were modified for carrier operations ('G's).

Restart of the production line in 1967 yielded a 40% larger 'R' model with double the range, 4 times the payload capability and much improved subsystems. The line was restarted again in 1981 for the USAF/NATO and NASA with new sensors and added mission capabilities. The Air Force version was called the TR-1 from 1981 through 1 992. They were re‑named U‑2R's in 1992. From 1994 ‑ 1998 all of the A/C received a new engine and were re‑named the U‑2S. The original 55 planes were smaller than today's 'S' model and crude in many respects as the expected lifetime was very short. They were not easy to fly, particularly at low altitude and during landing, but were flown in many parts of the world for many different types of missions. In 1979, the last few original aircraft were retired - 10 went to museums (including the one here in Bodø) while the remaining A/C were placed in storage. Today's U‑2S is a re-engined, larger, more modern aircraft that will be in use for a long time to come. The remaining structural life of the fleet is well over 50 years. These aircraft are being upgraded with new wiring, a glass cockpit and the best available sensors for air‑breathing platform deployment

The U-2 not only provides military information but earth resource monitoring, drug trafficking surveillance and national disaster monitoring. The ER‑2 model, owned by the National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA), routinely performs atmospheric moisture mapping to help with modeling of the earth's weather systems. Missions are flown from Sweden and New Zealand to measure ozone depletion at both poles. Various universities use this platform for atmospheric experiments to gather important information about the earth. In short, U-2s are flying every day, at any time, year-in and year‑out somewhere in the world.

In April of this year, the U-2S was awarded the greatest, most prized of all aeronautical honors in America, ‑ the Collier Trophy, named after Robert J Collier. Mr. Collier was a prominent aviation figure in the United States around the turn of the 20th Century. The trophy is presented for greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, or safety of air or space vehicles.

The U-2 has been a resounding success from the very first deployment in June 1956 and has changed the course of history. Cold War build-up could have been far more costly in dollars and lives. The U‑2 continues to be the premier, air-breathing intelligence collection platform in the world. Unmanned aircraft have become the popular theme for the future but, on behalf of the pilots, I'll leave you with one thought ...

Garfield Thomas

Vice-President ISR Programs

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works

Soviet Overflights 

Credit: spyflight.co.uk/u2


The history of the Lockheed U-2 has been extensively covered on numerous websites, as shown in the Links, therefore it would be pointless to go over at length the history of this remarkable aircraft. Instead, I will simply cover some of the highlights of its history and concentrate on the Russia overflight programme – the time when the U-2 completed the mission it was originally designed to accomplish.

The CIA funded U-2 programme was finally authorized in late 1954 and U-2’s continued operating with the Agency until 1974 when the remaining Agency U-2’s were transferred to USAF. 
On 29 Apr 56 CIA Detachment A deployed 4 aircraft to Lakenheath in England, a move completed by 4 May 56. On the 11th Jun 56, following the refusal of the British government to allow U-2 operations to be mounted from Britain, all the aircraft were moved to Wiesbaden in West Germany. Giebelstadt was there intended base, (in Jan 56 this base was a the launch sites for the Project GENETRIX spy balloons) but was still being prepared. Early U-2 models used P& W J57/P37 engine, although fuel efficient, this engine was difficult to re-light if it flamed out at high altitude.
Detachment A eventually moved to Giebelstadt in Oct 56. A number of operational Missions were flown over Eastern Europe after 10 Jul 56 from Giebelstadt, but none were over Russia. Det A was stood down during Nov 57. In 17 months seven pilots had flown 23 missions 6 over USSR, 5 over Eastern Europe and most of remainder over the Mediterranean.

Mission 2003 Eastern Europe
On Wed 20th Jun 56 from Wiesbaden flow by Carl Overstreet. Flew north and west to gain altitude then looped back over the base and turned east. Entered hostile territory where the borders of West Germany, East Germany and Czechoslovakia met. Flew across northern Czechoslovakia, then turned north passing east of Dresden and into Poland. Flew over every major Polish city, then back to Wiesbaden the way it came via Prague.

Mission 2009 Eastern Europe 
On 2nd Jul 56 from Wiesbaden flown by Jake Kratt. Flew south across Austria then into Hungary. After Budapest, turned south flying along the Yugoslav border, all the way across Bulgaria to the Black Sea then back to Wiesbaden. A 7-hour sortie
Mission 2010 Eastern Europe 
On 2nd Jul 56 from Wiesbaden flown by Glen Dunaway. Headed north over East Germany, southern Poland, eastern Czechoslovakia, Hungary then Romania before turning around at the Black Sea and returning to Wiesbaden. A 7-hour sortie. 

1st Soviet Overflight Mission 2013 
On 4th Jul 56 flown by Hervey Stockman in Article 347 marked as NACA 187. The first flight over the Soviet Union. From Wiesbaden over East Germany and Poland, before crossing the Soviet border near Grodno in Belorus. Over various bomber bases around Minsk, then north to the naval shipyards and bomber bases at Leningrad. Then west over more bomber bases in the Baltic States and finally back to Wiesbaden. An 8hr 45min flight. This mission was tracked by Soviet radar and a number of MiG fighters unsuccessfully attempted to intercept the U-2. This aircraft (Article 347) is now on display at the National Air & Space Museum, Washington DC.

2nd Soviet Overflight - Mission 2014
On 5th Jul 56 flown by Carmine Vito in Article 347 marked as NACA 187. Flew a similar route to Mission 2013 but further south. Over Kracow in Poland, then into the Ukraine over Brest and Baranovici. Then towards Moscow virtually following the railway from Minsk to the Soviet capital. Over the Fili airframe plant in Moscow, then northwest to Kaliningrad and the main Soviet flight test and research centre at Ramenskoye. Then back to Wiesbaden via the Baltic States. This overflight was again tracked by Soviet radars and MiG-17s. 

3rd Soviet Overflight - Mission 2020
On 9th Jul 56 flown by Marty Knutson from Wiesbaden. North over Berlin, East Germany and the Baltic States to Riga. Then east and south covering targets around Kaunas, Vilnius and Minsk before returning via Warsaw to Wiesbaden.

4th Soviet Overflight - Mission 2021
On 9th Jul 56 flown by Carl Overstreet from Wiesbaden. South into Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. Then northeast into the Ukraine as far as Kiev and over various bomber bases. Back to Wiesbaden via Poland.

5th Soviet Overflight - Mission 2024
On 10th Jul 56 flown by Glen Dunaway from Wiesbaden. Over East Germany, Poland, Ukraine to Kerch on the eastern tip of the Crimean Peninsula. Back via Sevastopol, Simferopol, Odessa, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary to Wiesbaden. Tracked by radar and fighter aircraft near Odessa.

10th Jul 56 protest note delivered by USSR over Missions 2020/2021. All overflights of Russia suspended by President Eisenhower. 

Suez Crises - Missions 1104 and 1105
On 29th Aug 56 two U-2s flew from Wiesbaden to the Suez area where they photographed preparations for the Suez landings. This mission then landed at Incirlik in Turkey. On 30th Aug 56 the two U-2s at Incirlik retraced the previous days sortie, flying over the Suez area than landing back at Wiesbaden.

Detachment B began moving to Incerlik near Adana in Turkey in late August early September 56.

Nine sorties were flown over various Middle Eastern countries involved in Suez crisis. Build-up to the 10 day Suez conflict began 29 Oct 56. Det B flew daily sorties over the Suez area during the build-up to the conflict. Troops landed at Suez on 6 Nov 56. A total of 14 sorties were flown over Syria between 7 Nov and 18 Dec 56.

6th Soviet Overflight - Mission 4016 
On 20th Nov 56 flown by Frank Powers from Incirlik. Flew north over Syria and Iraq. Over Bagdhad then into Iran before turning north towards the Caspian Sea. Crossing the Soviet border flew over Baku before turning west to overfly Yerevan. From here the flight was supposed to head for Tbilisi, but electrical problems forced an early return to Incirlik. This was the first flight to use the B-Camera. Tracked by radar and fighters.

Mission 4018 Eastern Europe
On 10th Dec 56 from Incirlik over Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia and back to Incirlik.

Mission 2029 Eastern Europe
On 10th Dec 56 from Wiesbaden over Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia and back to Wiesbaden. On this sortie the pilot, Carmen Vito, known as the Lemon Drop Kid, nearly bit on the suicide L-pill, mistaking it for one of his favourite sweets. The L-pill was available until Jan 60 when it was replaced by a poisoned needle.

Det C moved to Eielson AFB in Alaska during the summer of 1957. First mission over Russia planned for 7/8 Jun 57 flown by Jim Barnes out of Atsugi in Japan, but spoilt by bad weather over the ICBM impact area near Klyuchi on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Aircraft stayed offshore and landed at Eielson.

7th Soviet Overflight
On 18th Jun 57 flown by Al Rand from Eielson over the Kamchatka Peninsula and back to Eielson.

Operation Soft Touch missions during 4-27 Aug 57 over Russia and China.

8th Soviet Overflight Mission 4035
On 5 Aug 57 flown by Eugene ‘Buster’ Edens from Det B deployment at Lahore in Patistan and returning. The Soviet missile test facility at Tyuratam first found and photographed at a distance on this mission.

9th Soviet Overflight
On 12th Aug 57 from Lahore and returning no details

10th & 11th Soviet Overflights
On 21st Aug 57 from Lahore over Semipalatinsk Novokuznetsk Tomsk Berezovskiy and back to Lahore.

12th & 13th Soviet Overflights
On 22nd Aug 57 from Lahore and returning. Mission 4050, flown by Jim Cherbonneaux discovered the nuclear weapons testing facility at Semipalatinsk. The photographs showed many of the ground zeros from previous nuclear tests. The other sortie discovered Saryshagan (Used to test radars against missiles fired from Kapustin Yar and later a centre for Soviet ABM development). Another sortie flown by Bill Hall mapped the whole of Tibet.

14th Soviet Overflight Mission 4058
On 28th Aug 57 flown by EK Jones from Lahore - Tyuratam overflown and photographed.

15th Soviet Overflight Mission 4059
On 10th Sep 57 flown by Bill Hall from Incirlik overflew and photographed the Soviet missile test centre at Kapustin Yar. An R-12 missile was photographed on the launch pad. This flight was intended to continue north towards Moscow, but Bill Hall saw so many MiG’s trying to intercept him he turned south to cross the Ukraine. Near Kiev the Soviets fired a barrage of anti-aircraft artillery at the aircraft without success.

16th Soviet Overflight Mission 6008
On 16th Sep 57 flown by Barry Baker from Eielson over Klyuchi on the Kamchatka Peninsula and back to Eielson. This mission was flown using radar-evading ‘Dirty-Bird’ but was detected and trailed by 5 MiG’s. Because of the extra equipment the aircraft carried it was limited to 59,000 ft, looking down through the driftsight Baker could make out the ‘bonedome’ of one Sovier fighter pilot only a few thousand feet below the U-2. 

17th Soviet Overflight Mission 2040
On 13th Oct 57 flown by Hervey Stockman from Giebelstadt. North to the northern tip of Norway, then east parallel to the Soviet coast then south towards the Kola Fjord. Over polyarnyy, Severomorsk and Murmansk. On south as far as Monechegorsk before leaving Soviet territory at northern Norway. Landed back at Giebelstadt after more then 9 hours in the air.

In Nov 57 Det A was disbanded and returned to the USA. From this point on Giebelstadt was only used to refuel U-2’s en-route to and from Det B. 

18th Soviet Overflight Mission 6011
On 2nd Mar 58 flown by Tom Crull from Eielson. Over the Soviet Far East naval aviation bases at Komsomolsk and Khabarovsk. Then south following the Trans-Siberian Railroad to the Chinese border and back to Eielson. Again despite the use of a ‘Dirty Bird’ this flight was tracked by radar and interceptors.

Late ’58 to early ’59 Lockheed began re-engine programme for the remaining 13 CIA U-2’s installing the more powerful P&W J75-P13. These aircraft were known as U-2C’s.

Project Rainbow to reduce radar-cross section by using radar-absorbing materials and techniques. Not really successful, blue-black paint known as ‘Sea Blue’ was eventually adopted.

Op Congo Maiden
Towards the end of March 57 seven were staged from Eielson and returned. Flown by ‘Buzz’ Curry, Rudy Anderson, Bobby Gardiner and ‘Snake’ Bedford. These flight investigated activity along the extreme eastern and northern coastlines of Siberia. 

19th Soviet Overflight
On 15 May 59 flown by Lyle Rudd from NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. Flew north over Mongolia and actually crossed into the USSR, flying as far as Lake Baikal. Then Rudd turned south, crossed over the Chinese steppes, overflew Lhasa and finally landed at Dhaka after 9hr 40min in the air. This was the longest operational U-2 mission to date covering 4,200 miles. 

9 & 18 Jun 59 Operation Hot Shop U-2 and EB-47TT Tell-Two on a border flight obtained the first telemetry ever of a Soviet R-7 ICBM during the first stage burn – 80 seconds after launch.

20th Soviet Overflight Mission 4125 - Operation Touchdown
On 9th Jul 59 flown by Marty Knutson from Peshawar in northern Pakistan. North over Saryshagan test range and the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site followed by the nearby Dolon airfield. Then over the Urals to Sverdlovsk and over Tyuratam before landing at Zahedan in Iran. The sortie lasted 9hrs 10 mins and only 20 gallons of fuel remained when the aircraft landed. 

Aug 59 
Det C deployed U-2’s to the new Thai airbase of Takhli and three flights over China and Tibet were mounted in early September. Det B overflights of Israel discover the Dimona nuclear reactor and processing facility under construction.

24 Sep 59
Whilst conducting a test flight in Article 360 from Det C in Atsugi in Japan, Tom Crull encountered problems on a test flight and eventually ran out of fuel. With great skill Tom Crull managed to dead-stick the aircraft onto a small civilian airfield at Fujisawa, where it was promptly surrounded and photographed by curious Japanese civilians.
The damaged U-2C aircraft was shipped back to Lockheed in the USA for repairs. Article 360 was then returned to Detachment B at Adana in Turkey where it gained a reputation as a 'Hanger Queen'. For a variety of reasons
Article 360 ended up being flown by Gary Powers on Mission 4154, Operation Grand Slam, when he was shot down. 


21st Soviet Overflight Mission 8005, the first mission flown by the RAF On 6th Dec 59 flown by Sqn Ldr Robbie Robinson out of Peshawar. North over Tyuratam, Kyshtym, Engels airfield near Saratov, Kapustin Yar and the bomber factory at Kuybyshev. Exited Soviet airspace over the Black Sea and recovered to Incirlik.

22nd Soviet Overflight Mission 8009, the second mission flown by the RAF. On 5th Feb 60 flown by Flt Lt John MacArthur out of Peshawar. Headed northwest over the Aral Sea looking for missile sites, but discovered a new Soviet Bomber at Kazan. Eight Tu-22 BLINDER aircraft captured on film. Then south down the Volga over the missile factory at Dnepropetrovsk. After leaving Soviet airspace at Sevastopol, MacArthur landed at Incirlik. 

23nd Soviet Overflight Mission 4155 peration Square Deal
On 9th Apr 60 flown by Bob Ericson out of Peshawar. North over Saryshagan, the strategic bomber base Dolon, then Semipalatinsk, Saryshagan and Tyuratam before landing at Zahedan in Iran. This flight was tracked virtually the whole time by the Soviet Air Defence organisation and a number of MiG-19’s made unsuccessful attempts to shoot down the aircraft. 

24th Soviet Overflight - Mission 4154 - Operation Grand Slam 
On 1 May 60 flown by Frank Powers from Peshawar. Article 360 used for this ultra long-range sortie, the first ever completely across the USSR, despite previously being involved in the crash landing at Fujisawa on 24 Sep 59 and renown among the pilots as a ‘Hanger Queen’. Planned route was north over Tyuratam, Chelyabinsk just south of Sverdlovsk, Kirov – Plesetsk – Severodvinsk – Kandalksha – Murmansk – then Bodo Shot down near at 70,500ft near Sverdlovsk by a salvo of three SA-2 Guideline missiles which also shot down Soviet fighter.

From 1956-60 U-2 aircraft flew 24 missions over the USSR. 6 by Det A, 4 by Det C and 14 by Det B including Power’s flight.

From Oct 60 onwards SAC U-2 ops over Cuba firstly in build-up to Bay of Pigs then the aftermath. During summer ’61 the six CIA U-2s modified to allow in-flight re-fuelling – these aircraft known as U-2F. During late summer / autumn flights over Cuba discovered SAM sites. In Oct 62 they discovered the IRBM sites. In 1963 ‘several’ aircraft modified for carrier operations – called U-2G. In 1966 order placed for eight new re-designed aircraft known as U-2R. Fitted with P&W J75/P-13B engine. Capable of flying above 75,000ft. Last aircraft delivered on 11 Dec 68. Six more ordered 23 Nov 66. New camera, modified version of that developed for A-12, known as the H-camera.

During Vietnam War U-2’s conducted 2 operations to gather intelligence on North Vietnam – ‘Trojan Horse’ and ‘Olympic Torch’ sorties involved flying along North Vietnams borders mapping military and industrial targets. ‘Senior Book’ sorties involved flying along the Chinese border gathering COMINT.


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