The Lockheed U-2R serial 68-10336, with extended nose to accommodate a very large side-looking radar equipment.
The sole ER-2 is seen during its delivery flight to NASA Ames from Palmdale bearing attractive new NASA grey, blue and white scheme. It was unpainted for its earlier test flights.
The long nose of this U-2R, 68-10336. distinguishes it from all others: it is reported to house the Hughes ASARS developed for the TR-1A. Note the external ribbing on the leading-edge of the tailplane, required to counter a buffet-induced fatigue problem.
A view of the first TR-1A, 80-1066, taken with a super-wide-angle lens, illustrating well the type's 103-ft (31,4-m) span wing.
It is extremely difficult to differentiate between the U-2R and TR-1A when the latter is devoid of its superpods. The second TR-1A, 80-1067, is seen during a test flight over southern California. Discernible is single ECM antenna on the starboard wing trailing edge.
The TR-1A, 80-1069, taxies out on a mission from Beale AFB. Pogo gear, also referred to as outriggers and balancers, are jettisoned by the pilot as the wings attain lift.
The first batch of six U-2Rs was assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency. N-810X is seen at Edwards North Base during preliminary flight testing. The white anti-glare hood on canopy is noteworthy as this was eventually repainted black on all U-2s.
The first of two TR-1B trainers, 80-1064, is seen during acceptance trials near Palmdale, California. The elevated rear cockpit replaces the sensor system Q-bay.
Second TR-1B, 80-1065, taxies out from Beale AFB on a training mission.
The S-1010B suit is of the full-pressure type, designed for sustained high-altitude operation. It is quite similar to suits worn by US astronaut corps. Suit is shown with portable oxygen and air conditioning pack.
U-2R 68-10337 is seen during a temporary stop-over at the 55th SRW’s facilities in Omaha, Nebraska.
TR-1 80-1070 on finals to Alconbury earlier this year. The white underwing patches are ice, which forms as the aircraft descends through the atmosphere from the cold upper reaches. This TR-1 is unusual in that the ELINT/ COMINT antennae are supplemented by a photo-reconnaissance camera system housed in the Q-bay.
Departing Offutt AFB, Nebraska, U-2R 68-10338 heads skywards for a return mission to Beale AFB. California. The U-2R's initial rate of ascent is comparable to that of the majority of the operational fighters in the present Air Force inventory.
U-2Rs have a superpod capability and in recent years have been seen mounting SLRs therein. U-2R 68-10339 is here seen taxying at Mildenhall with full fuel load, ready to depart on a 10-hour surveillance mission.
U-2R 68-10337 on finals to Beale AFB, accommodating what must be the most extensive antenna "farm" and sensor pod complement ever seen on a single-engined aircraft. SIGINT, COMINT and ELINT missions are the U-2R’s forte, and optical sensors are now the exception rather than the rule.
The distinctive high-aspect-ratio wing of the U-2R is obvious in this view. The trailing edge flaps are seen in the gust mode - which permits safer operation at higher Mach numbers and in gusty wind conditions and basically prevents overstressing of the wing.
The prototype U-2R, N-803X (one of a block of 10 civil registrations assigned Lockheed and the CIA for U-2 identification and arbitrarily assigned to aircraft as needed) was not painted during early days of flight testing at Palmdale, Groom Lake and Edwards AFB.
U-2R 68-10339 is seen departing Mildenhall while transporting an extensive ELINT equipment collection.
Unquestionably the most unusual U-2R nose modification seen to date is that for the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System (ASARS) test-bed aircraft, 68-10336. The ASARS unit, the product of Hughes Aircraft Company, has suffered teething problems but is now in production
Cockpit of the ER-2 is very similar to that found in operational TR-1As. Most dominant feature is the centrally-mounted drift sight, which is basically a sophisticated periscope for viewing target areas underneath aircraft.