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Book Review
XB-70 Valkyrie
North American XB-70 Valkyrie X-Planes 7
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

One of the most extraordinary aeronautical technology developments of the Twentieth Century is North American Aviation's XB-70 Valkyrie Mach 3 intercontinental bomber. Valkyrie was built with stainless steel and was three times as big as the Mach 3 SR-71, an aircraft built with titanium. Modelers and historians of experimental aircraft should enjoy this book that presents and explores the XB-70 in all categories.

North American XB-70 Valkyrie is the seventh title of the Osprey Publishing LTD series X-Planes. Authored by Peter E. Davies and illustrated by artists Wiek Luijken and Adam Tooby, this 80-page paperback book is catalogued with Osprey's Short Code XPL 7 and ISBN 9781472825032. The book is also available in ePub and PDF formats.

Osprey describes this book thus:
    Of the many futuristic military aircraft concepts created in the 1950s the North American XB-70 still stands out as the most awe-inspiring. With its huge, white partially-folding delta wing, its fuselage resembling a striking cobra and its extraordinary performance, it was one of the foremost technological achievements of the 20th Century.

    A strategic bomber built to outrun any Soviet fighter jet, it could reach Mach 3 with a full nuclear payload - as fast as the legendary SR-71 Blackbird but more than three times the size. However, its role as a nuclear bomber was limited after the introduction of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, and defence cuts eventually led to the project being scrapped in the mid-1960s.

    The Valkyrie had a brief, costly decade of life but it proved the continuing value of developing manned bombers. However, almost half a century after the XB-70 its predecessor, the B-52, continues in service. Using full colour artwork and rigorous analysis, this is the complete story of the ultimate US Cold War military X-plane.

This book also contemplates the Valkyrie "what if" had it entered operational service.

North American XB-70 Valkyrie tells the story of this X-Plane through five (5) chapters in 80 pages:
    Bombs Away LeMay
    Serpents and Spaceships
    Design and Build
    The Valkyrie's First Ride
    NASA and Beyond
As is often the case, those chapter titles are not the same as listed on the Osprey site. Those Chapters are shown as:
    Bomber Battles: The White House and SAC
    Building a Legend
    Triple Mach
    Under Threat
    Achievements and Potential Developments
    Further Reading

Author Davies covers amazing "gee-whiz" technical topics such as the development of new structural materials, powerplants, and fuels. He guides us through Conceptual Design, Preliminary Design, and Detail Design phases of the aircraft. Bombs Away LeMay covers in 10 pages the career of General LeMay and his doctrine of strategic bombing, the formation of Strategic Air Command (SAC), the perfecting of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the numbers crunching buffoonery of Secretary of Defense McNamara, as well as other cutting-edge aircraft designs complimenting the B-70.

Serpents and Spaceships presents the many bizarre or glorious proposals for an unstoppable jet bomber envisioned by LeMay. It discusses many design elements and ideas, and even schemes to integrate air-launched missiles into the concept. Subsection Valkyrie Versus the Accountants gets into the politics of the idiotic McNamara regime and the watershed event of the Gary Powers U-2 shoot-down. It also discusses the idea to rechristen the B-70 as post-nuclear exchange RSB (Reconnaissance-Strike Bomber).

Design and Build presents the challenges facing the aircraft engineers - including gold-plated bulkheads! - in these subjects:
    Airframe Structure
    Encapsule, Encapsulate!
    The Office (cockpit)
    Flying Surfaces
    Rear and Lower Fuselage

The Valkyrie's First Ride starts with the challenge of taxiing the huge XB-70. It recounts flight testing the XB-70 to, and beyond, the 1966 mid-air collision that destroyed a XB-70 and its future.

NASA and Beyond describes the aftermath of the crash when the XB-70 became a NASA research platform, a role that ended in 1969.

North American XB-70 Valkyrie is a fascinating book for enthusiasts and modellers of extreme test aircraft.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
The supporting gallery of art, photos, and technical graphics is exceptional. Color photography was common in that era of flight testing and many photos are full-color. Modelers, aerospace-oriented enthusiasts, and historians will marvel at some of the photos, e.g., cockpit interiors and the YJ93-GE-3 turbojet.

A picture beats a thousand words and this book features a zillion words worth of photos, company diagrams, and artwork. Color dominates the gallery and all artwork is in color.

I did not count the number of photographs that support the text and yet there is hardly a page without a splash of vivid Valkyrie color, or at least clear black-and-white evidence of the incredible aircraft.

Along with informational call-outs, more than a dozen original illustrations were created by artists Wiek Luijken and Adam Tooby to enhance the book.
    1. Profile: NAA XB-70A 62-0207 with its windshield in the raised position.

    2. Call-out box: NEPA, explaining Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA), with an artist's concept of the test NB-36H aircraft, and a F-108.

    3. Call-out box: NAA XF-108 Rapier, presenting the Mach 3 interceptor that was very much part of the Valkyrie story. A color photo of the mock-up is included.

    4. Call-out box: Chemical Valkyrie Power explaining the experiments to fuel those jets with non-petroleum fuels.

    5. XB-70 Cockpit: keyed with 55 items.

    6. Centerfold: Skybolt In Combat depicts a 22nd Bombardment Wing "Red Raiders" B-70A firing a nuclear GAM-87 Skybolt air-to-ground missile at a commie airfield during a 1965 nuclear war.

    7. Cutaway profile: NAA XB-70A 62-0001, keyed to 32 components.

    8. Escape capsule drawings by NAA.

    9. 3-quarter illustration Ground Support Equipment for XB-70A 62-0207 (typical): keyed to 11 vehicles and equipment.

    10. Call-out box Serpentine Six Pack: six YJ93-GE-3 turbojets and unique segmented elevons.

    11. Call-out box: Alvin Swauger White, test pilot.

    12. Call-out box Mach 3 Milestone

    13. Centerfold The Tip-Toe Landing: XB-70 62-0001 lands with landing gear not fully extended.

    14. 3-views of NAA XB-70A 62-0001, Edwards AFB, California, late 1968.

The surviving XB-70 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force is an awesome presence. You can't miss it! I never had much interest in the XB-70 until trying to take it all in during a museum visit and since then, I have wanted to read a detailed account about it. This book satisfies! The book contains a great deal of technical and other data and information. The text is supported by an amazing gallery of photographs and color artwork. Like I think about other titles in the X-Planes series, North American XB-70 Valkyrie is another remarkable book from Osprey and should be popular with modelers and enthusiasts of America's Cold War aerospace research.

I have nothing meaningful to criticize about this book, and recommend it.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: This book contains a great deal of technical and other data and information. The text is supported by an amazing gallery of photographs and color artwork.
Lows: Nothing objective.
Verdict: A riveting concise history of the awesome Valkyrie. Modelers and historians of experimental aircraft should enjoy this book that presents and explores the XB-70 in detail.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: XPL-7, 9781472825032
  PUBLISHED: Jul 11, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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