RECONNAISSANCE

Aircraft

R - S

 

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]

Surveillant 3.6 notes that Rich was Clarence "Kelly" Johnson's right-hand man and successor at Lockheed's Advanced Development Project in Burbank, California. His stories cover the U-2, SR-71, F-117, and other revolutionary breakthroughs. According to Peake, AIJ 15.2, "Rich tells how each platform was developed, with fascinating asides about the principal players.... This is a genuine memoir and Rich hasn't included any endnotes or source[s]." Derrick, CIRA Newsletter 20.1, enthuses that this is "a great and authentic account." Derrick comments from the perspective of the Office of Special Activities (OSA), rather than Rich's Lockheed perspective.

For Francillon, WIR 14.6, Skunk Works "lives up to" the claims on its dust jacket by making "revelations [that] are often candid." However, "[f]ading memories have inserted historical errors into some of the stories." Nevertheless, this book "provides much room for thought, especially about the workings of the U.S. government." NameBase finds that Skunk Works "is not for those who are interested in the dirty laundry of the Cold War. Rich is an engineer and manager, and doesn't pretend to be a geopolitical strategist. His book is useful primarily as aviation history, and as a window on the defense industry, with its problems of procurement and over-classification."

Richelson, Jeffrey T. "When Secrets Crash." Air Force Magazine, 84, no. 7 (Jul. 2001). [http://www.afa.org]

"Over the years, a variety of secret intelligence and military aircraft have crashed, and the specifics of US government responses have varied -- sometimes as the result of the different circumstances of the crashes, other times as the result of different rules for dealing with the press queries concerning classified programs. However, preserving secrecy has been a constant objective."

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]

Sweetman, Bill. Lockheed Stealth. St. Paul, MN: MBI, 2001.

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