Loaded up, the XB-70 was more than a half-million pounds of pure sex appeal. With a six-pack of afterburning GE YJ-93 engines, wingtips and snout rigged to droop—the former for speed, the latter for slower speeds—the supersonic beauty-70 looked like it was busting Mach with the parking brake set and chocks snugged around the tires.
It was a doomed design before North American even started cutting metal. The design was born from the Curtis LeMay school of logic that preached speed and altitude were a bomber’s best defense. But before it even flew, missiles brought it down, figuratively at least. As evidenced by the Soviets’ shootdown of Francis Gary Powers’ U-2, altitude was no longer a defense, and as technology improved, missiles could track faster and faster targets.