- Historical event:
- 21 September 1964
- The heavy nuclear bomber XB-70 Valkyrie was larger than even the legendary B-52 Stratofortress, and could achieve speeds over 3,250 kilometers per hour (i.e. Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound).
This day marked the maiden flight of the fastest bomber in history, the American XB-70 Valkyrie.
It was truly a massive aircraft, with a maximum weight of 246 tons, comparable to a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. Despite being so heavy, the Valkyrie could achieve 3,250 kilometers per hour (i.e. Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound).
The XB-70 Valkyrie had six jet engines, which gave it total thrust of 768 kilonewtons (kN). It could achieve an altitude of 23,600 meters. An interesting comparison can be made between the Valkyrie and the supersonic Concorde Jet.
Even though the Valkyrie was much heavier, it was also much faster than the Concorde, being capable of achieving speeds over Mach 3, while the Concorde could only reach Mach 2.
During its flights, the Valkyrie managed to achieve a record of speed of Mach 3.08, at which some parts of the airplane get heated to over 300 degrees centigrade.
In regards to its role, the Valkyrie was a strategic nuclear bomber intended for strikes deep behind enemy lines. It represented an unusual combination since it was heavier than even the B-52 Stratofortress, and faster than any fighter available at the time.
The production of the Valkyrie was eventually canceled because a new weapon had appeared – intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). These were capable of performing a nuclear attack on the USSR faster than any aircraft.