The well-known Darkstar of “Prime Gun: Maverick” may be seen on Google Earth at Lockheed’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale.
Roughly one yr in the past as we speak, the fictional Lockheed Skunk Works Darkstar hypersonic test aircraft prop used within the manufacturing of “Prime Gun: Maverick” broke cover at Edwards Air Power Base, California, the place it was ready to be placed on static show subsequent to an actual Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird in the course of the 2022 Aerospace Valley Open House, Air Show and STEM Expo.
Again then, we had the prospect to have a detailed have a look at the plane prop and we couldn’t however discover that not solely was the Darkstar strikingly just like the SR-72 hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft idea, but in addition that it regarded convincingly actual.
Actually, the complete scale film prop’s modern aerodynamic shapes, with small wings and canted vertical twin tails, together with a turbine-based combined cycle propulsion system, with two turbojet/low-bypass turbofan afterburning engines and two scramjets, weren’t designed by Hollywood, however by Lockheed’s conceptual designers, engineers and plane mannequin builders who introduced collectively their experience to rapidly have a practical plane forebody mannequin with a working cockpit, whereas additionally retaining it structurally sound all through filming. Furthermore, they used some actual options coming from actual plane. For example, the cockpit, with no ahead visibility that forces Maverick to depend on an artificial imaginative and prescient system to see what’s in entrance of the plane, comes straight out of the X-59 QueSST at present being developed by the Skunk Works.
Noteworthy, after its look among the many highlights of the airshow at Edwards AFB in 2022, the prop disappeared. A minimum of, till earlier this yr: a satellite tv for pc picture yow will discover on Google Earth Professional, dated Apr. 17, 2023, depicts the mysterious plane outdoors of a hangar at Lockheed’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California.
We don’t know the explanation why it was there and the place it ended up instantly thereafter, nonetheless, it’s no less than attention-grabbing to realize it was there a number of months after the airshow and a few 5 years after the filming of the film, particularly since we all know that in the course of the manufacturing of “Prime Gun: Maverick”, China was reportedly fooled in believing that it was an actual experimental plane and even reoriented a spy satellite tv for pc to take pictures of it…
Somebody nonetheless believes Darkstar isn’t just a film prop however one thing a lot just like an present, secret plane and what occurred final month fuelled such theories: an plane resembling the Darkstar made a cameo in a promotional video printed by LM on social media final month; a clip that featured a few of Skunk Works’ present and future packages.
Anyway, I wish to thank our very long time reader Matt W, who despatched me an e-mail concerning the prop in Palmdale that made me understand that the presence of the Darkstar within the satellite tv for pc photos publicly obtainable, which I had been conscious of for a couple of months, had not acquired a lot consideration on-line, regardless of the hype for the primary public look of the hypersonic prototype plane featured in Prime Gun sequel at Edwards AFB final yr.