Close-up Rustbird Made of titanium, the Blackbird doesn't rust, by the way, though the ferrous metal in the radar-absorbing paint and rivets does. So we're talking a fresh coat of paint needed to remedy the superficial problem. Photo by Keith Thomson
This M-21 is a unique variant of the A-12, the earliest Blackbird type. Built for a CIA program code-named "Tagboard," the M-21 carried unpiloted vehicles for intelligence gathering. These drones were intended for launch from the M-21 "mother ship" for flights over hostile territories. Design features of the M-21 include the second seat for the Launch Control Officer and the launch pylon on which the drone is mounted.