75 years of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works

75 Years Skunk Works


James C. Goodall


The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works was founded in the summer of 1943 to develop a jet-powered high-altitude interceptor for the USAAF, and ever since it has been at the forefront of technological development in the world of aviation. From the XP-80 to the U-2, SR-71, F-117, F-22 and now the F-35, the Skunk Works team has designed aircraft that are the pinnacle of innovation and performance.

75 years of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works takes us through the history of this legendary facility from its foundation at the height of World War II under the talented engineer, Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, through to the present day. Illustrated with over a thousand photographs and drawings, it details the 46 unclassified programmed developed by the Skunk Works, following them through prototype build-up, first flight and, if they reached the frontline, operational service.


The contents of this book are:

Dedication Foreword
Introduction XP-80 – Shooting Star – 1944
XF-90 – Penetration Fighter – 1949 X-7, X-17 – 1951, 1955
YC-130 – Hercules – 1954 XVF – Salmon – 1954
XF-104 Starfighter – 1954 U-2A-G – Dragon Lady – 1955
Jet Star L-329 – 1957 SST L-2000 – 1958
XV-4 – Hummingbird – 1962 CL-400 Suntan – 1962
A-12 – Oxcart – 1962 YF-12A – Kindle – 1963
D-21 – Tagboard Senior Bowl – 1964
M-21 Tagboard – 1964 SR-71A – Senior Crown – 1964
X-26 – Frigate – 1967 AH-56A Cheyenne – 1967
U-2R Dragon Lady – 1967 X-27 – Lancer – 1970
YO-3A – Quiet Star – 1971 X-24C – L-301 – 1977
XST – Have Blue – 1977 Senior Peg – 1978
Senior Prom ATCM -1980 YF-117A – Senior Trend – 1981
YF-22 – ATF – 1990 Sea Shadow – IX-529 – 1985
X-35 JST – 1989 X-33 – Venturestar – 1990
RQ-3 – Dark Star – 1996 X-44A – MANTA – 2001
Desert Hawk – 2003 P-175 Pole Cat – 2005
Cormorant – 2006 P-791 – 2006
RQ-170 – Sentinel – 2007 X-55A – ACCA – 2009
HTV-2 – 2010 RATTLRS – 2010
X-56A – 2013 Sea Ghost – 2013
X-59 QUESST – 2016 Compact Fusion – 2019
SR-72 – 2030 Future Thoughts and Paper Airplanes
Skunk Works Leadership Biographies Acknowledgments


As you can see from above, in this book there are a number of planes, some of which were developed into planes with new, cutting edge technologies.



Let’s take a look at the XF-104 Starfighter which is one of the century planes and one of my favorite jet fighters. I remember seeing the 104 Starfighter at beach air shows when I was a child growing up in Florida. I think that this Starfighter plane was one of the reasons why I enlisted in the Air Force in 1969.

This chapter in the book is 13 pages long and begins with the planes specifications on the first page. The next page provides you with some of the history of the plane as well as some details of this aircraft. While the written description of the aircraft is only a single page in length, it is jammed full of information about the F-104. The remaining pages are dedicated to pictures of the aircraft. The picture shown below provides the reader with some idea of the tremendous photographs that can be found of the F-104

Cockpit of 104

Because of all the Color and B&W photographs in this book, it uses a heavier paper which really makes the photographs pop. I can’t say enough about this book and all of the photographs of aircraft. The last photograph I will show, illustrates just how the use of photographs enhances the aircraft that is being discussed.

104 and B-52

This excellent book will be a great addition to anyone’s library. The Historian, Aircraft Historian, and aircraft modeler will find this book of particular interest. The Historian and Aircraft Historian will enjoy reading about all the aircraft and looking at the photos. The modeler will also gain invaluable insight into aircraft as they build their models. Modelers can really get their creative juices flowing because of the detailed photographs. The pictures will give them ideas to create realistic dioramas or to modify their models to other versions of the aircraft being built. With the plethora of information provided, no matter what your interest in aviation, you will enjoy this book.


This hardback book is 384 pages in length and is a joy to read and skim through.

This book is available from Osprey Publishing.

Hardback $70.00

(The pictures used in this review are taken directly from the Skunk Works book and are used with permission of the publisher.)