Why paint aeroplane wings black?

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Ray Spillane

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Why paint aeroplane wings black?
« on: 07/12/2009 09:30:04 »
Ray Spillane asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris.

When at school we all learnt that dark colours absorb heat & that light colours reflect heat.

What has always confused me was if the above was the case, why was the Lockeed SR71 "Blackbird", whose wing surfaces reached very high temperatures at Mach 3, painted black rather than white?


What do you think?


Offline LeeE

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Why paint aeroplane wings black?
« Reply #1 on: 07/12/2009 17:12:15 »
Just to add that although the SR-71 has been described as a 'secret' spy plane, it was a later development of the YF-12 interceptor, which was publicly announced by president Lyndon B. Johnson on 24 February 1964.  Not long after its public announcement, a cutaway drawing of the YF-12 appeared in the Eagle comic.

So while the specific reconnaissance spy-plane version might have been 'secret', the basic airframe and it's approximate performance parameters were already well known.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!