CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

The 1960s

The A-12

The focus here is on the CIA-Lockheed developed A-12, not the Air Force derivative SR-71. Materials specific to the SR-71 are located in the files under Reconnaissance - Aircraft.

Brown, William H. "J58/SR-71 Propulsion Integration." Studies in Intelligence 26, no. 2 (Summer 1982): 15-23.

DeWitt, Robert. "Secret Hero." Tuscaloosa News, 25 May 2008. [http://www.tuscaloosanews.com]

Jack Weeks died in 1968 when his A-12 apparently exploded on a test flight. "A couple of weeks before his death, he became the pilot who located the USS Pueblo,... after it was captured by North Korean patrol boats.... Battleship Park, home of the USS Alabama, will commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death on June 4 with a ceremony that will include an Alabama Air National Guard fly-over."

Goodall, James, and Jay Miller. Lockheed's SR-71 "Blackbird" Family: A-12, F-12, M-21, D-21, SR-71. Hinckley, UK: Midland, 2002. [Robarge]

Johnson, Clarence L. "Development of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird." Studies in Intelligence 26, no. 2 (Summer 1982): 3-14.

Johnson, Clarence L. ("Kelly"), with Maggie Smith. Kelly: More Than My Share of It All. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985. 1989. [pb]

In a 40-plus-year career, Kelly Johnson did much more than engineer the U-2, A-12, and SR-71, and those masterpieces are only a part of Johnson's recounting of his life.

McIninch, Thomas P. "The OXCART Story: Record of a Pioneering Achievement." Studies in Intelligence 15, no. 1 (Winter 1971): 1-34.

This article gives an "account of the inception, development, operation, and untimely demise of this remarkable airplane. The OXCART no longer flies, but it left a legacy of technological achievement which points the way to new projects. And it became the progenitor of a similar but somewhat less sophisticated reconnaissance vehicle called the SR-71."

Merlin, Peter W. Mach 3+: NASA/USAF YF-12 Flight Research, 1969-1979. Monographs on Aerospace History No. 25. Washington, DC: NASA History Division, 2002.

Chilstrom, Air & Space Power Journal 17.4, finds this to be a "well-illustrated and detailed book on NASA's flight testing of the YF-12" varient of the A-12. Merlin "cites recently declassified documents and makes good use of personal interviews with key figures in the program's history."

Miller, Jay. Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works. Leicester, UK: Midland, 1995. Skunk Works: The Official History. North Branch, MN: Specialty Press, 1996.

O'Leary, Michael, and Eric Schulzinger. Black Magic: America's Spyplanes -- SR-71 and U-2. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1989.

Pedlow, Gregory W., and Donald E. Welzenbach. The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954- 1974. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 1992.

This study was written in the 1980s as a CIA internal history. Robarge: "Chapter 6 on OXCART declassified October 2004."

Poteat, S. Eugene.

1. "The OXCART Tale: ELINT and Stealth." American Intelligence Journal 19, nos. 3 & 4 (1999-2000): 77-80. "ELINT and Stealth." Intelligencer 10, no. 3 (Dec. 1999): 10-13.

This article combines the story of the effort to assess the stealth capability of the CIA's OXCART with a fascinating discussion of some ELINT tricks against Soviet radars.

2. "The Use and Abuse of Intelligence: An Intelligence Provider's Perspective." Intelligencer 13, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2002): 50-59.

This article expands on the above, offering additional interesting vignettes from the author's career in scientific intelligence. His comments on the Gulf of Tonkin incident are support for the view that it did not happen.

Remak, Jeannette, and Joe Ventolo, Jr. A-12 Blackbird Declassified. St. Paul, MN: Zenith, 2001.

Rich, Ben R., and Leo Janos. Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1994. Boston: Back Bay Books, 1994. [pb]

Richelson, Jeffrey T. The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002.

Clark comment: This book is enormously informative about a major player in the development of U.S. intelligence from the 1960s into the 1990s. It is packed with details about the DS&T's many technical accomplishments (and some failures and misdirections), and it accurately portrays the long-standing and eventually losing bureaucratic struggle with the Defense Department for primacy in the development and operation of space-based reconnaissance. Although the DS&T was pushed organizationally to the sidelines in the 1990s, the manner in which it responded to President Eisenhower's trust and foresight in placing the development of CORONA (and follow-on systems) with the CIA is marvelously retold by the author. Although he certainly has not played down the bureaucratic and personal animosities involved over the years, Richelson either did not pick up or decided not to focus on the very real antagonisms between senior DS&T and NSA managers, which by the mid-1980s had a distinctly personal flavor. The Wizards of Langley is not light reading, but repays the effort with a wealth of information about and insight into a critical aspect of America's intelligence arsenal.

Although displeased by the author's excessive use of acronyms, Seamon, Proceedings 128.1 (Jan. 2002), still finds this to be "a thoroughly researched tale of political infighting, personal animosities, and interservice and interagency bickering." Still, the DS&T turned out many "impressive successes," and "[t]he variety of its failures also testifies to its unfettered energy."

Mazzafro, I&NS 17.3, also refers to Richelson's "acronym-laden story," but adds that this is "a well-documented though antiseptic narrative of Cold War history." The work provides "a compact history of how technology effected and affected the practice of intelligence in the last 50 years of the twentieth century, that serious students of both technology and intelligence will want to be familiar with." For Bath, NIPQ 18.2/3, this "book is timely, well organized, and shows impeccable scholarship." However, the reviewer found the author's "coverage of the bureaucratic history of CIA's Directorate of Science & Technology" to be somewhat heavy on detail.

Robarge, David.

1. Archangel: CIA's Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2007.

This is an excellent monograph by the CIA's Chief Historian. Robarge has admirably achieved the first part of his two-pronged goal of making "the narrative informative to lay readers..., while retaining enough technical detail to satisfy those most knowledgeable about aeronautics and engineering." The second part is for others than this reader to judge.

2. Archangel: CIA's Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft. 2d ed. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2012. [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/a-12/index.html]

3. "Archangel: CIA's Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft." Journal of Intelligence History 7, no. 2 (Winter 2007-2008). [http://www.intelligence-history.org/jih/7-2.html]

Return to CIA 1960s Table of Contents

Return to Reconnaissance - Aircraft Table of Contents