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US planned to turn nuclear ‘Valkyrie’ bomber into $24.5m supersonic rival to Concorde at the height of the Cold War

THE US military planned on turning a 2,000mph nuclear bomber into a supersonic rival for Concorde, newly-released documents reveal.

At the height of the Cold War, the US Air Force developed the XB-70 to be the largest and fastest jet ever to take to the skies.

The XB-70 was meant to be the largest and fastest bomber ever made


The XB-70 was meant to be the largest and fastest bomber ever madeCredit: U.S AIR FORCE

The superfast war machine – known as the Valkyrie – was aimed at striking fear into the hearts of Soviet leaders.

However, its rocketing budget also terrified those controlling the purse strings within the Pentagon.

The state-of-the-art bomber was eventually shot down in the 1960s – not by missiles, but by its soaring development costs.

Each production bomber was projected to cost an estimated $24.5 million, or $237 million today.

Desperate to save face, the Air Force and contractor North American Aviation came up with multiple alternate uses for the XB-70.

They included everything from launching intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to NASA space capsules.

However, one eye-catching proposal for the Valkyrie – which could fly at 72,000ft – would have changed air travel forever.

The superfast war machine was known as the Valkyrie


The superfast war machine was known as the ValkyrieCredit: Getty
If it had become a passenger plane it could have rivalled Concorde


If it had become a passenger plane it could have rivalled ConcordeCredit: Alamu

Because of its huge size it was speculated the bomber could be transformed into a mega-fast passenger plane carrying up to 80 passengers.

The jet airliner would even offer lucky flyers a “hot liquid buffet”.

The bizarre plan appears in a 20-page document released by the US Air Force Material Command History Office.

It outlines the many ideas engineers had to recycle the highly-expensive XB-70.

Engineers claimed: “Standard seating arrangements in the new transport could accommodate 80 passengers seated in an offset arrangement.”

They added more passengers could be squeezed in if needed “in somewhat cramped quarters.”

Newly released documents reveal the passenger plane plan


Newly released documents reveal the passenger plane planCredit: U.S AIR FORCE

The documents reveal: “Modifications to create the transport aircraft included a modified upper aft fuselage, the widening of the main cargo area, a lower cargo door and the addition of seats.”

Another suggestion was to fit out the military plane with “a nurses station
along with patient litters for forty eight wounded personnel.”

Needless to say, none of these ideas got off the ground as they were all deemed far too pricey.

However, if the passenger plane plan had taken off it would have beaten supersonic Concorde into the air.

Concorde made its first transatlantic crossing on September 26, 1973, and it inaugurated the world’s first scheduled supersonic passenger service on January 21, 1976.

Its operations were finally ceased by Air France in May 2003 and by British Airways in October 2003.

Only 14 of the supersonic aircraft actually went into service so there was plenty of room in the skies for some supersonic rivals.

NASA and defence giant Lockheed Martin building X-59 plane that could see the return of supersonic passenger travel

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