60-6937 accrued 177 flights and 345.8 hours of flying time.
60-6937 was outfitted for operational use.
....It was the first A-12 to be deployed to Kadena AFB in Operation Black Shield. It also flew the first of 29 A-12 operational missions over North Vietnam May 22, 1967, as well as the last operational Black Shield mission, in support of the AGER-2 USS Pueblo May 8, 1968. It made its last flight June 21, 1968, the final [of any] A-12 flight. This aircraft flew just 345.75 hours in 177 flights, while the entire A-12 fleet had flown only 4,804.38 hours in 2,083 flights. -- William J. Simone, Lockheed Skunk Works Star, March 26, 1999
Between 22 and 27 May 1967, Vojvodich flew 60-6937 non-stop from Nevada to Kadena AFB, Okinawa.
The 1129th SAS was ready for operations by the 29 May 1967. The call came the next day to fly the first mission on the 31st over North Vietnam.
Piloted by Vojvodich (Layton was the secondary, and Weeks was the backup), Article 131 took off just before 1100 local time in a torrential downpour. The A-12 had never operated in heavy rain before, but the weather over the target area was forecast to be satisfactory, so the flight went ahead. It lasted three hours and 39 minutes and was flown at Mach 3.1 at 80,000 feet. Vojvodich crossed the coast of North Vietnam at 1014 local time (Vietnam is two hours ahead of Okinawa), flew the planned single-pass route in less than nine minutes, refueled over Thailand, exited near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at 1122, and touched down at Kadena in the rain at 1233 local time.
The mission was a success, photographing 70 of the 190 known SAM sites and nine other priority targets, including an airfield, a military training area, an army barracks, and the port at Haiphong. No SSM facilities were located. Contrary to some published accounts, neither Chinese nor North Vietnamese radar tracked the aircraft nor did North Vietnam fire any missiles at it. Those hostile reactions did not occur until the third and 16th missions, respectively.
In 1971, SR-71 #17951 was loaned to NASA to complete the testing of the YF-12A program (2 of the 3 YF-12s had already been lost in accidents). 951 was temporarily redesignated as a YF-12C (there being no B-model trainer for the YF-12 series) and given NASA#937. This number was chosen for 2 reasons:
- The Air Force didn’t want anyone to know that NASA had an honest-to-goodness SR-71 in their possession, and made up the “YF-12C” designation to hide the fact. Since the other 3 YF-12s bore numbers 934, 935, and 936, it made sense that the next aircraft in the series would be numbered 937.
- The entire A-12 program was classified until 1982, and since no one would have known there was another 937, there would be no confusion.
On October 27, 1978, SR-71 #17951 was returned to the Air Force and given back her old number.
BSX001 Vojvodic 31 May 1967 North Vietnam BSX003 Weeks 10 June 1967 North Vietnam BSX6709 Sullivan 19 July 1967 North Vietnam BSX6716 Vojvodic 31 Aug 1967 North Vietnam BSX6723 Collins 17 Sept 1967 North Vietnam BSX6727 Murray 6 Oct 1967 North Vietnam BSX6726 Collins 15 Oct 1967 North Vietnam BSX6732 Sullivan 28 Oct 1967 North Vietnam BSX6737 Vojvodic 8 Dec 1967 Cambodia and Laos BSX6738 Layton 10 Dec 1967 Cambodia and Laos BSX6740 Layton 16 Dec 1967 North Vietnam BSX6843 Weeks 5 Jan 1968 North Vietnam BSX6847 Weeks 26 Jan 1968 North Korea
21 June 1968
Frank Murray made the final flight of an A-12, in Article 131, on 21 June 1968 from the Nevada test facility to the California storage site. The only major components of the aircraft that could be salvaged for its successor were the J58 engines. The Perkin-Elmer Type Is were too big to fit in the SR-71’s camera bay.
Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham, Alabama