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Blog Comments posted by bob7947

  1. On 7/7/2020 at 4:11 PM, bob7947 said:


    I listened to that one.  I have much more to add in my paper.


    I know where each A-12 is.  Alabama has another at Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham.  The one there is CIA article 131, serial number 60-6937.  It flew in Operation Black Shield (probably from Kadena) although I have not verified that.  The tail number on it is wrong. It is an A-12 though.

    This is a special A-12.  Notice the tail number "77835."  This is Article 131 with the real CIA tail number 60-6937 which made the final A-12 flight from Groom Lake, Nevada to Palmdale, California.  The tail number that the A-12 is currently wearing was from Operation Black Shield which flew missions over Vietnam in 1967 - 1968.  After each mission the tail numbers were changed to hide their identity from the spy boats that were outside of Kadena AFB in Okinawa.  This A-12 is now at the Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham, Alabama.  Since this airplane was the last to leave Kadena for its retirement flight in the U. S., they probably didn't have time to change the tail number or they decided it no longer mattered.  Also notice the aluminum painted rear wheels.

  2. H-2-H:

    I learn something new every time I look at the A-12.  I've read about the spikes in the engine nacelles many times but it wasn't until last night that it registered in my head that they were 6 feet long.  This morning I looked at that video a couple more times and I remembered to look at the spikes.  They're huge.

  3. Joel:


    The answer to hypersonic flight might be technically available to us based upon the 60 year old capabilities of those planes.  They depend upon large quantities of titanium due to the expansion, contraction and heat  capabilities needed for high speed flight. The leading producer countries  of titanium are -  China and Russia, followed by Japan..  Bob, you may have written about how the US obtained enough titanium to build the planes by deception and by using cloak and dagger means... 

    I know.  I'm writing about the A-12.  Anyone that sees something that looks like the SR-71, is really looking at a derivative of the A-12.  The A-12 was an impossibility that Kelly Johnson and his Skunk Works created anyway.  I'm trying to keep it to 20-pages so it will be read but still tell a complete story about the airplane.  That also may be an impossibility for me.

    The best I can hope for is that someone

    • reads my humble article,
    • is as fascinated as I am about the A-12, 
    • visits an A-12, the YF-12A in Dayton, or even an SR-71 in a museum, 
    • stares at the titanium beast in front of them and understands what it is, and
    • holds the airplane and the people who built them in awe.
  4. H-2-H:


    But I have to take issue with your assertion that it was one man (Kelly Johnson) who made it all happen. Truly, he was a great designer and leader, but there were other factors that permitted the Skunk Works to work so efficiently. First and foremost, it was an isolated team, protected from bureaucratic interference. It was a lean team as well. Everybody knew each other and they operated as one team.

    I read portions of Ben Rich's book too.  In it, he mentions members of the elite team in Kelly's skunk works in the early 1960s.  So, I should have said something about Kelly's Team.  My article took me all day Sunday and a couple of proofs Monday morning and I was hurrying to get it done because I am determined to get my 20-page article on the A-12 done this month.  I realized what Dr. Lewis's article was really about and wanted to diplomatically counter it, so I cut some corners.

    If Dr. Lewis wanted to return to the 1960s, he didn't really explian about the 1960s in his article.  Yes, Kelly was very angry when the CIA forced one bureaucrat to monitor his team's work on the A-12.  Apparently, that guy ended up fitting in with the team too.

  5. Joel:

    With the success of the prototype YF-12As (I know I referred to them as operational), the Air Force ordered 93 F-12Bs which would have been the production run of the YF-12A.  As I wrote, Robert Strange McNamara failed to release funding for the production run although it was appropriated.  Here is a quote from the Kelly book.


    We retained [Lockheed] the tooling for three years, but then were ordered to scrap it--which we did at 7 1/2 cents per pound.

    Do me a favor.  If anyone you know refers to McNamara in a conversation, make sure that you use his full name.  

  6. NoDegree:

    That was Rule probably in the 1960s.  Years ago, I added Rule's The Art of Negotiation to Wifcon.com.  In a meeting with Rule, I described him in my Introduction to his work as


    He was dressed in a dark, vested suit, with his watch chain strung perfectly from one side of the vest, around a button, to the other side of the vest.

    Years after I wrote that, I was fortunate enough to speak with his son who was also an attorney.  His son told me that he keeps his Father's watch chain and watch, which I describe above, on his desk where he works. Needless to say, that phone conversation with his son was a high point for me.

  7. About 8 years ago, I wrote this entry.  I was reading through some of my old entries this morning and this one stood out.  Truthfully, I liked several others too.  However, this one provides a lesson in life.  At least 2 people thought it was of value and left a response.

    It is a universal lesson of life.  At some point, a position you take will leave you feeling like you are standing alone in gail-force winds.  Do you get blown over and fall in with the crowd?  Or do you forge ahead alone because your position is correct?  If you forge ahead, it may cost you your job or more.

  8. According to the facts in my entry:


    August 19, 1976:  The Deputy Chief of Naval Material (Procurement and Production) issued Rule an appointment as Contracting Officer with "unlimited authority with respect to negotiations with Newport News."

    After Rule signed the mod at 10 a. m. on October 8, 1976, was the following


    Shortly afterward at 11:50 a. m., Rule was notified that his appointment as contracting officer was rescinded.  

    Before he signed the contract on October 8, 1976


    The Vice Chief, NAVMAT called Rule into his office at 8:22 a. m.  He gave Rule a letter dated October 7, 1976 that explained that he did not have authority to sign the modification.  

    Rule was a distinguished attorney and he knew that he was negotiating to satisfy a court order.  He knew that meant his negotiation had to be approved by the U. S. Department of Justice.  Why did he sign that modification is known only by him but he explains it in his sworn deposition, an excerpt of which explains his thinking, and which I have included above.  

    Going back to the original signing of the contract on June 25, 1970 for the Virginia class DLGN's which became CGNs, I remember reading a memo from Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to the Navy that they could only buy 3 ships--not 5.  To get around that, the Navy had the first 3 ships as a base and options to buy two more ships, one of which was the CGN 41.  I have always been suspicious about the pricing of the ships but I did not have the time nor the authorization  to resolve my suspicions.

    I cannot let Rule off the hook for that contract awarded in 1970 because he was in NAVMAT's Procurement Control and Clearance Division at that time.  I assume he was its Director and his office had to approve the original award which it must have done.

    On December 21, 1971, mod. 7 was added which authorized construction of the first 3 ships and set the FPIF pricing arrangement for the CGN 41 option.  It had an 80/20 share ratio.

    On February 1, 1973, mod 18 was awarded to extend the date to exercise the option for the CGN-41 by 2 years.  That mod. increased the pricing structure to the one that Rule agreed to in his 1976 negotiation.  Additionally, the share ratio was now 95/5 and 90/10.  That gives you an idea of expected final pricing for the CGN-41 even though it was stated that final pricing somewhere in the future was subject to downward revision.  It was a bogus structure in 1973, if not 1970.  Mod 18 also left the final resolution for escalation and several other things somewhere down the road.  By the time Rule was handed the negotiation of mod 31 by Clements in 1976, the Navy and Rule were negotiating, not at target cost, but at ceiling price.  Remember, that at the same time there were claims on the CGN-38, 39, and 40 which were eventually negotiated for roughly 20 cents on the claimed dollar.  The escaIation provision left open by mod. 18 was finally agreed upon--3 years later.  I would not have approved Rule's negotiation myself because of the bogus pricing structure but that was the state of Navy shipbuilding back then.  You can get a flavor of the times by carefully reading the original entry.

    Rickover was forced to retire in January 1982.  Rule lived a building or two away from NAVMAT in the Crystal Plaza complex and died in August 1982.  Proxmire had hair plants placed in his head (was still bald) and continued to run down Mass. Ave to work.  Once in a while, I acknowledged him.  Shipbuilding claims continued.

  9. Leo:

    Thank you.

    There was a modification 18 to that contract that set a new pricing arrangement for the CGN-41 part of the FPIF contract.  The amounts theoretically could have been negotiated lower in Rule's modification 31 but that was not realistic.  Rule accepted the amounts in modification 18 because the Navy expected Newport News to hit the ceiling price.  So, the Navy didn't expect to reach target cost, it expected to hit ceiling price.

    Rule negotiated increases in escalation, energy growth, and fringe benefits.  If the amounts were reached, it would have increased those costs by about $40 million.

    The CGN-41 was one of the Virginia class of nuclear cruisers--it was preceded by CGNs 38, 39, and 40.  The CGN-42, to be built after the CGN-41 was never built.  The overall contract was awarded in 1970 for the 38, 39, and 40.  The 41 and 42 were options.  This was the energy crisis era and I seem to remember a period of increasing inflation.

    There was about $800 million in claims against the 38, 39, and 40 in addition to some nuclear carriers and subs.  The Navy and Newport News settled for about $200 million.

    FBI investigations continued into the 1980s on claims submitted by Newport News.  In 1984, a congressional hearing was held, and by that time, Justice had not taken Newport News to court.  The Justice Department did not think they had a winnable case and part of its concern was that Newport News would use Rickover as part of their defense.  Another concern was the statute of limitations.

    Sadly, the CGN 41, the USS Arkansas, was scrapped after 18 years because the refueling of the nuclear reactors was deemed to be too expensive.  The entire Virginia class suffered the same fate.  In addition to the refueling costs, they became victims of the peace dividend.  There was other armament concerns also.

    Several years after sitting with Rule in that conference room, I met a fellow that had worked for Newport News but at that time he was working with us.  He gave me a plastic mug with a picture of the CGN-41 on it.  I still have it.


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