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Skunkworks Books
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last modified January 17, 2017

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cover: Images of America: Lockheed

"Images of America: Lockheed" (compiled by Martin W. Bowman)

A unique look at the history of Lockheed, from the earliest days of Lockheed (when it was the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company, run by the Loughead brothers) to just before the company became Lockheed-Martin.  After a 10-page introduction, the book becomes a photo essay, showcasing historic aircraft and historic names in aviation, including Lindbergh, Earhart, Vultee, and Doolittle.  For those seeking just blackbird photos, only the last 5 pages cover the more exotic Skunkworks creations, but as a historical overview of the entire Lockheed story, this is a great book to have.

ISBN: 0752415360

"Kelly: More Than My Share of It All" (Kelly Johnson with Maggie Smith)

Kelly's story, in his own words (as told to Maggie Smith).  The book was written after he retired from Lockheed, so his entire career is covered.  There is a lot of talk about the people that Kelly knew over the years, and as you can expect it reads like a who's who of aviation pioneers.  This is more of a memoir than an autobiography or a technical manual. Sadly, Kelly's health went into a decline shortly after completing this book in 1985.  He was alive and kicking when it was written, and we get a vivid insight into the psyche of the only man to win 2 Collier's Trophies (the aeronautical equivalent of the Nobel Prize).

ISBN: 0874744911
cover: Lockheed Blackbirds

"Lockheed Blackbirds" (Anthony M. Thornborough & Peter E. Davies)

review pending

ISBN: 0879383402 (out of print)

cover: Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works

"Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works - The Official History" (Jay Miller)

If you want the complete history of the Skunk Works, this is the book to get.  Considered by many insiders to be the definitive history of the Skunkworks, Miller's book covers everything - from the XP-80 up to the F-22 - and doesn't skip over anything to get to the "good stuff."  There is a ton of good information here, and several hundred photos as well.  Written with the cooperation of dozens of Lockheed people, including the late Ben Rich, this book is a fitting tribute to a fine company who continually produce one amazing aircraft after another.

ISBN: 1857800370

cover: Lockheed Skunk Works

"Lockheed Skunk Works" (Steve Pace)

This book is now out of print, and it's not a great loss.  In all fairness, Pace includes photos of many of the test pilots and other people with the Skunkworks programs over the years, but a lot of information is missing and some of it is simply not accurate, including the origin of the name "Skunk Works."  If you can find a copy second-hand, it's not a bad book to have, but it's hard to justify the $24.95 cover price (Miller's book is only $5 more).

ISBN: 0879386320 (out of print)

cover: Lockheed's Blackworld Skunk Works

"Lockheed's Blackworld Skunk Works" (Paul F. Crickmore)

If you've read Crickmore's main work, SR-71: The Secret Missions Exposed, most of what's in this book will look familiar to you.  This time he also covers the U-2 and F-117.  He doesn't go into near as much detail as Jay Miller did in Skunkworks: The Official History, but doesn't try to write this off as the definitive work on the subject (and, to his credit, he lists the works of Miller and Chris Pocock in the introduction to his book as being great sources for further reading).  The work closes with a skeptical epilogue, pondering the questionable future of this aviation legacy known as the Skunkworks.

ISBN: 1841760595

cover: Projects of Skunkworks

"The Projects of Skunkworks: 75 Years of Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs" (Steve Pace)

This latest work from Steve Pace is a beautiful coffee table book.  It's lovely to look at, so long as you don't look too closely.  There is a lot of contradictory information (page 118 shows two photos of 940's first flight, yet the aiframe is black in one photo and two-tone in the other); there is some information that is just inaccurate (the A-12's overland journey from Burbank to Area 51 took 3 days, but this book says they made the journey in one night); and even the index is full of items that are not on the pages listed.  A good many of the projects mentioned in the title are either future projects, or historic ones that never amounted to a prototype.  A nice book to have laying out, but not the best reference volume.

ISBN: 9780760350324

"Skunkworks" (Ben R. Rich and Leo Janos)

Ben tells the story (through Leo Janos) of Lockheed's Advanced Development Projects as only he could.  The focus of the story is stealth; from the F-117A that most people are familiar with, to the older SR-71 and U-2 projects, and to some other "black" projects such as the Sea Shadow.  While Kelly Johnson's book is more about people, Ben also talks about the hardware.  He also likes talking about the Skunkworks philosophy, looking for answers even when no one's asking the questions (the origin of the Sea Shadow being a perfect example).  Well worth reading.

ISBN: 0316743003

"U.S. Sky Spies" (Michael O'Leary)

review pending

ISBN: 0713716924 (out of print)

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