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- Type: SPH
- Class: aircraft
- Part Count: 127
- Pure Stock
Before the U-2, there was this.
The General Dynamics-modified WB-57F is a high altitude atmospheric research aircraft, which collected everything from particles in the air surrounding a nuclear blast to weather samples for the Air Weather Service. This aircraft is the final evolution of the B-57 lineage, it’s direct predecessor being the RB-57D. Both the RB-57D and R/WB-57-F were used for the same reconnaissance role that the U-2 took over.
A stock aircraft called Martin-General Dynamics WB-57F. Built with 127 of the finest parts, its root part is Mark2Cockpit.
Aging, Fatigue, and Re-Designation
As of the mid 1960’s, the fleet of modified RB-57D’s and R/WB-57F’s had experienced some issues; fuel control lead to flameouts on occasion, and cracking from wing stress was appearing on the outboard sections of wing in many examples. In 1969, all remaining RB-57F’s were renamed WB-57F’s to distinguish that their main purpose had moved from recon to atmospheric research. The aircraft would continue on in service until 1972 with the USAF. Of the four NASA aircraft, N925NA was retired in 1982, N926NA and N928NA have been in continuous service, and N927 Joined the remaining two in 2014.
As of 2017, NASA Johnson Uses 3 WB-57F’s in their Airborne Science Program, which consists of using the WB-57F’s for both first-party and third-party atmospheric experiments—this means you could buy space in a wing-mounted pod to host your experiment.
https://jsc-aircraft-ops.jsc.nasa.gov/wb57/ has more info regarding this.
In 2014, Sierra Nevada Corp. practically re-manufactured a WB-57F through their “Aircraft Regeneration Program. There were many new parts created for the plane, and it now flies with NASA with two other aircraft, tail number N927NA. It sat in the Davis-Monthan boneyard for 42 years.
Video Courtesy of NASA Johnson (Copyright Disclaimer: I’m not endorsed by anybody)
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