Chapter 1-4 not done yet.

 

The Skunk Works was in Building 82, an aircraft assembly facility next to Burbank's airport. (The building's location, along with everything going on there was secret.) Pg. 101

 

Rich earned a patent for a design for a urine-elimination device that included a Nichrome wire-wrapped tube for Navy planes. The design and the patent were classified "Secret"  . Pg. 102

 

Kelly Johnson's first planes were the Electra (the trademark triple-tail was his innovation to solve stability problems in earlier versions of the design) and Constellation - the most famous airliners in the world (until they were overtaken by surplus WWII C-47's ("DC-3s") Pg. 102, 115.

 

The Skunk Works were founded in 1943 (Johnson got the job by designing the P-38). The initial staff was 23 design engineers ("borrowed" from the Lockheed staff) and about 30 shop mechanics. The first 'building' - before the move to Building 82 - was a circus tent set up next to a smelly plastics factory (the smell helped keep the curious away.) Around this time, Al Capp introduced "Injun Joe" in his "L'il Abner" cartoon strip. Joe brewed "Kickapoo Joy Juice" from shoes, skunks, and whatnot. The still was called "the skonk works". One day, one of the engineers showed up for work sporting a gas-mask (as a joke, on the stench); a designer named Irv Culver answered a phone with "Skonk Works." Although J  ohnson didn't initially like the name, behind his back the workers (both within Johnson's organization and at the main Lockheed plant) started referring to their work place as "The Skonk Works". The name stuck, though in 1960, Al Capp's publisher objected to the use of "Skonk Works", the name was changed to "Skunk Works" (and the name and logo registered as trademarks.) The term "skunk works" appeared in the Random House Dictionary to describe a secret, innovative project in the computer or aerospace fields.. Pg. 110-112

 

Rich's introduction to the world of the black project from Kelly Johnson: "Rich, this project is so secret that you may have a six-month to one-year hole in your resume that can never be filled in. Whatever you learn, see, and hear for as long as you work inside this building stays forever inside this building. Is that clear? You'll tell n o one about what we do or what you do -- not your wife, your mother, your brother, your girlfriend, your priest, or your CPA. You got that straigh  t?" Pg. 117

 

Pilots for the U-2 were CIA hires (from out of the USAF) , but put on the books as Lockheed employees; money to pay them came from a special account Lockheed maintained funed with laundered CIA money. Their cover was that they were employees of Lockheed under a government high-altitude weather and aircraft-performance study. The money arrived as *personal checks* to Kelly Johnson, mailed to his *house* in Encino. Johnson set up a fake company ("C & J Engineering " C = Clarence (Kelly's first name) and J=Johnson) to further mask the funds. Design drawings bore the "C & J" logo; "Lockheed" did not even appear on them. The local postmaster, who got curious about where all these deliveries (crates of parts were also delivered to "C & J") for "C & J" were going, couldn't find it in the phone book; he had one of his inspectors follow the unmarked van that always came to pick up the deliveries. He followed the van back to Burbank, where he was swooped upon by security, and forced to sign na  tional security secrecy forms not to reveal what little he now knew. When Skunk Works employees travelled on project business, they were provided with false names to cover their movements. Pg. 120-1

 

In the early 1950's, converted bombers (B-29's, eventually "Canberras") were being used for high-altitude (up to 55,000 feet) aerial reconnaissance flights near and into (up to 200 miles into) the Soviet Union. Eisenhower, after a number of planes were shot down (over 100 servicemen disappeared during these flights), ordered fighter escorts for planes that were not actually to cross into Soviet territory "resulting in several fierce dogfights with Soviet MiGs over the Sea of Japan." (!) After it became clear in 1955 that the Soviets were able to shoot down even these very high altitude missions, the military started floating balloons over the Soviet Union -- "only about thrity made it back to our side, and we actually learned a lot of useful information about Russian weather, especially wind patterns and  barometric pressures." Pg. 123-124

 

When problems with fuel arose for the U-2 (most common jet fuels would boil away at 70,000 feet), Johnson to General Jimmy Doolittle, Eisenhower advisor and board member at Shell Oil. The fuel, called LF-1A was a low-vapor kerosene that was very similar chemically to a popular insecticide known as "Flit". As the U-2 became operational, Shell diverted tens of thousands of "Flit" production to be used in making LF-1A. In the summer of 1955, there was a nationwide shortage of bug spray because of the sudden, secret-caused shortage of bug spray. Pg. 127

 

In April, 1955, Johnson sent his chief engineering test pilot, Tony LeVier out into the desert to find a place where the U-2 could be tested without prying eyes. Telling co-workers he was taking the day to count whales for the Navy ("a project Lockheed had actually done from time to time"). Two days later, he found a "dry lake bed about three and a half miles around". A few days later, he flew Johnson and "Mr. B" (R  ichard Bissel of the CIA -- his identy was kept secret even from Skunk Works employees). The site (which Rich never does actually name, but is clearly Groom Lake) was remote, and off-limits to air traffic due to its proximity to nuclear testing sites. The name that was given to the place (which Kelly came up with, and "Mr. B" liked, was "Paradise Ranch". Pg. 131-2

 

When contractors were sent out (by "C & J Engineering") to build the airstrip, two hangars, a mess hall and sink two wells, one subcontractor commented to the contractor, "Look out for this C & J outfit. We looked them up in Dun & Bradstreet, and they don't even have a credit rating." (Of course, C & J didn't need credit; they had all the CIA money they needed.) The base was built for $800,000. Pg. 133

 

The first U-2 was completed July 15, 1955 Pg. 133

 

A solution to leaking oil from the engine (it sprayed onto the windshield) was solved by wrapping Kotex sanitary napkins around the oil filter to absorb the leaking oil. Pg 137-  138

 

Pilots for the U-2 program came out of SAC's pool of fighter pilots (SAC had fighter wings for bomber escort back then) -- the first SAC pilots showed up in the fall of 1956. They had to resign their commisions, and come to work for Lockheed under assumed names. The CIA called this procedure "sheep dipping" -- it was used to break the link from the USAF to the U-2 (and so enhance 'plausible denial' if things went awry.) Rather than use military ground crews, the CIA insisted on Lockheed ground crews (which were scattered all over the world.) PIlot salaries were $40,000 per year (in 1956!) plus an extra $1,000 per month for overseas operation time. (The U-2 always flew over the Soviet Union from overseas bases.) They flew from Burbank to "the secret base" (Groom Lake) in a C-47 with blacked-out windows. Pg. 143-144

 

When the first U-2s became operational (flying out of Weisbaden, West Germany), NACA (the National Advisory Committe for Aeronautics; which evolved into NASA) issued a cover st  atement that a Lockheed aircraft -- the U2 -- would be conducting high-altitude weather research. The altitude listed, 10 mile up, was nowhere near the U-2's actual ceiling. Eventually there would be three U-2 groups -- "Detachment A" in Germany, "Detachment B" in Turkey, and "Detachment C" in Japan. Pg. 144-145

 

The first U-2 flight over Soviet territory, on July 4, 1956, went over northern Poland into Belurussia, and over Minsk, then north to Leningrad. The nine-hour flight was watched on radar by the Soviets, and "dozens" of interceptors were sent to shoot it down, but couldn't reach its altitude. The pilot was Harry Stockman. Pg. 145

 

The third flight was on July 8, 1956 by a 26-year-old pilot named Marty Knutson (this entry is included because some people have claimed that only older men would be picked for things so secret.) Pg. 146

 

Pilots had to breath pure oxygen for two hours before the flight, to try and purge as much nitrogen out of their bodies. This would avoid the 'bends' if the  pilot had to dive from a great height -- to restart the engine, for instance. Pg. 147

 

The CIA had spies within the Soviet missile program who would get word out to the Agency when a missile test was imminent. (This is in the late 1950's). One day's notice was about all the U-2 section would get. Pg. 149

 

In 1958, Marty Knutsen (a U-2 pilot) took off from a small field in Peshawar Pakinstan for a long flight over Kazakhstan and Semipalatinsk and an ICBM test facility. The flight was beyond the actual range of the U-2, the pilot was required to glide part of the way, and land at an old WWII-vintage airstrip near Zahedan Iran. The plane was to be met by agency personell flown in by a C-130 with grenades and tommyguns to secure the field -- it being then controlled by bandits. They secured the field, but their radio was messed up; the pilot (sipping a beer) had to tap out the morse code that the mission was a success. Pg. 149-151

 

The Soviet Air Force tried to bring down U-2's by sending up str  ipped-down MiG-21's to try and *ram* U-2's. Pg. 151

 

A CIA project ("Project Rainbow") in early 1956 to lower the radar signature. Various things were tried, a radar-absorbing iron ferrite paint being the most successful. U-2's painted with this stuff were known as "dirty birds." (First going up for testing in April, 1957.) The pilot was killed when his oxygen mask blew off when his suit inflated during a flame-out, btw. Pg. 153

 

To try and throw the Soviets off the track in their attempts to neutralize the U-2 (when technical solutions didn't seem to help - see above) the CIA had four Skunk Works flight engineers write a bogus flight manual for the U-2 (twice a thick as the real one; much lower maximum altitude, slower speed, and structural values; phony photos of phony instrument panels; then artificially aged, along with extra coffee stains and cigarette burns), then Bissell somehow placed the four copies produced into the Soviet hands. The intended result was to convince the Soviets that the y were very close to having a weapon to take on the U-2, when in reality, they needed to develop a more effective one. Pg. 153

 

On July 7, 1956, James Cherbonneaux flew a "dirty bird" mission to Omsk, when he accidently flew over an until-then unknown atomic testing site, with a bomb in the tower ready to go. Two hours after he passed over it (undetected by the Soviets), the Soviets detonated the bomb. (CIA analysts were uninterested in his observations until they discovered the bomb detonation.) On the way home to Pakistan, the pilot used the mountain K-2. (Must be quite a view from 58,000 feet -- the maximum height of a "dirty bird" -- seing K-2!) Pg. 155-156

 

The last U-2 overflight, May 1, 1960 -- from Pakistan to Bodo, Norway. General Nat 9han Twining (USAF Chief of Staff) tried to get Allen Dulles to change the route -- it was exactly the same as a month earlier by Marty Knutson. Dulles made no changes, and Francis Gary Powers (aged 34; 27 U-2 missions) was off. The Soviets launched 14 SA-2's in a "shotgun", and they homed in on the ECM box in the tail of the U-2 (which, due to misconfiguration, was acting as a homing device, rather than a jammer) and knocked his plane down (along with at least one pursuing Soviet fighter.) Powers was eventually exchanged in 1962 for Rudolph Abel, worked as a U-2 flight-test engineer for the next 8 years, and then finally as a helicopter traffic reporter for a TV station. He was killed in a helicopter crash on August 1, 1977. Ten years after that, the Air Force awareded him a DFC, postumously. Pg. 158-162