All Images Copyrighted 2012.   All Unauthorized Use Prohibited.
All Images Copyrighted 2012.   All Unauthorized Use Prohibited.
Aircraft Models
Aircraft Models
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WMF - Aircraft Models
M-21 / D-21

One notable variant of the basic A-12 design was the M-21, used to carry and launch the Lockheed D-21, an unmanned, faster and higher-flying reconnaissance drone. The M-21 was a modified version of the A-12 with a second cockpit for a Launch Control Operator/Officer (LCO) in the place of the A-12's Q bay; the M-21 also included a pylon on its back for mounting the drone. The D-21 was completely autonomous; after being launched it would overfly the target, travel to a predetermined rendezvous point and eject its data package. The package would be recovered in midair by a C-130 Hercules and the drone would self-destruct.

The program to develop this system was canceled in 1966 after a drone collided with the mother ship at launch, destroying the M-21. The crew survived the midair collision but the LCO drowned when he landed in the ocean and his flight suit filled with water. The modified D-21B drone was carried on a pylon under the wing of the B-52 bomber. The drone performed operational missions over China from 1969 to 1971.