Anigrand #AA2097 1/72 Lockheed Have Blue

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Kit #AA2097. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed resin kit of the experimental stealth aircraft, the Lockheed Have Blue, complete with decals.

As Soviet air defenses improved in Europe – as demonstrated by the increasingly sophisticated radar-guided air defenses mounted over Hanoi and Haiphong, North Vietnam, in the early 70s – it became apparent that NATO aircraft would suffer serious losses in any non-nuclear war over central Europe. In 1974, the USAF and DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which also created the Internet – initiated a study of very low observable military aircraft – a “Stealth” aircraft. DARPA asked Northrop and McDonnell Douglas to develop small proof-of-concept aircraft. Lockheed, not then known for its fighter aircraft, wasn’t even considered. However, with the help of the CIA, and based on Lockheed’s creation of the stealthy A-12 and D-21 CIA spy aircraft, Lockheed was allowed to participate – but as a private venture, with no government money. In early 1977, after McDonnell Douglas bowed out, considering the stealth aircraft concept to be theoretically possible – but practically impossible to build into hardware – Lockheed won the contract for two 60-percent scale flyable test aircraft, code named Have Blue. DARPA asked Northrop to proceed in a different direction, code-named Tacit Blue, which ultimately evolved into the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

The two Have Blue aircraft were built at Lockheed’s Skunk Works – which had created the U2 and SR-72, among many other technology innovators – and began testing at Groom Lake (the notorious “Area 51”) within just a few months. The prototypes were largely built by managers, after machinists went on a four-month strike. To speed production, landing gear was “borrowed” from a Northrop F-5 fighter, the two General Electric J-85 engines were pulled from a North American T-2B Buckeye trainer, and the fly-by-wire flight control system was borrowed from a General Dynamics F-16 Viper.

The first prototype evaluated the type's flying characteristics, while the second evaluated the design’s stealthy radar signature. The first flight of Have Blue 1001 took place in December 1977, less than a year after the contract had been awarded, and it crashed in mid-1978, having been nicknamed “Hopeless Diamond” because of its strange shape and relatively poor aerodynamics. Have Blue 1002 took to the air for the first time in July 1978, this occurring shortly after the loss of Have Blue 1001.

Have Blue 1002 proved undetectable by all airborne radars except those on the Boeing E-3 AWACS. For this reason, the USAF awarded Lockheed a full scale engineering development contact for the Senior Trend aircraft, later designated the F-117A Nighthawk fighter-bombers. Following the production of five prototypes, the F-117 entered production in 1981 and went operational in 1983. It “went public in 1988, and the 59th and final aircraft was produced in 1990. It flew over Panama, the Gulf, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan before being retired in 2008.

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