North American XB-70 Valkyrie amongst the clouds

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There are some problems with that, chiefly with the SR-71 being too damn fast to be a bomber. At operational speed, to hit a target at Washington in the days before GPS guided munitions required one to begin the drop at San Francisco and hope it lands in the same zip code.

The other issue is the SR-71 being unable to carry a particularly large payload, and the payload would have to be carried internally. Tactical nukes are a possibility, but those are fleabites compared to what the XB-70 is able to carry (which is less than a B-52, but not by as much as you’d think).

There is a reason why the SR-71 never did anything other than recon; guns would jam because the aircraft would fly faster than the round so it never left the barrel; missiles would (in theory) lock on to the parent aircraft (having fallen behind due to air resistance and the shear speed of the SR), then proceed to fruitlessly chase it down.

The XB-70 Valkyrie was doomed to fail thanks to ICBMs being able to do it’s job without risking human life, a fact that rang too true during a publicity stunt that downed two aircraft (one being an XB-70) and killed people. Compounding this was at roughly the same time a U-2 was shot down.

The Valkyrie was still a good aircraft, and met many of its performance requirements as a high speed, long range, high altitude nuclear bomber. If it had the same sort of turbo-ramjet hybrid engines that the SR-71 had, the XB-70 could have exceeded its Mach 3 limit, which is a limit not imposed the the aircraft’s frame but by the turbine in the engines themselves, and it is a materials limit.

At the end of the day, the Valkyrie was quickly finished, and the remaining one now rests its restless wings at Daytona, only to take to the skies to impress onlookers.

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