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The Projects of Skunk Works: 75 Years of Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs.

The Projects of Skunk Works: 75 Years of Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs. By Steve Pace. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press, 2016. Tables. Diagrams. Illustrations. Photographs. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 256. $40.00 ISBN: 978-0-7603-5032-4

Steve Pace's coffee-table-size book pays tribute to the aviation creativity of engineers--or more accurately, geniuses--at the Skunk Works. The book's subtitle tells all: 75 Years of Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs (ADP), an organization that focuses primarily on developing military aircraft and associated hardware, such as high-speed strike weapons.

Skunk Works is Pace's thirty-third book about airplanes and, perhaps, his best. His enthusiasm for conceptualizing, building, and flying aircraft is evident on every page. An "insider" at the Skunk Works, he assembled photographs and drawings of the finest quality to complement his history of the ADP. Pace passed away last year several months before the book's release.

"About eighty percent of the group's work is classified," Rob Weiss, Vice President and General Manager of the Skunk Works, said. "The other twenty percent we can talk about." Despite such restrictions, Pace managed to explain each project to its limit, thereby including recently declassified information. In all, he covers over 50 of the myriad projects that have come out of the ADP.

Pace unfolds the history of the ADP, "the most clandestine entity of the Lockheed Martin Corporation," chronologically by individual decades beginning with the 1940s. Each decade's chapter talks about not only well-known aircraft but also those that are less familiar or were barely publicized. The facts of the matter subtly reminded me of ADP's broad involvement in building America's military inventory.

Even the chapter titles captivated me. Examples are "The 1970s: Era of Wizardry," "The 1990s: Manned versus Unmanned," and the future-looking chapter on "The 2010s: The Quantum Leaps." On the other hand, opening the book to any page delighted me. I would have been pleased by just looking at the picture and reading their captions. Accounts of triple-sonic aircraft flights in the SR-71 and stories of other well-known aircraft (e.g., F-104, F-80, U-2, and F-117) and some more obscure projects relate awesome tales without breast beating. Purely and simply, The Projects of Skunk Works provides a wealth of knowledge about American airpower.

Henry Zeybel, Lt Col, USAF (Ret), Austin, Texas

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Author:Zeybel, Henry
Publication:Air Power History
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2017
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