Norweigan Aviation Museum

Lockheed U-2

Lockheed U-2 is a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft from the United States.

In the early 1950’s, the Americans were extremely interested in military and industrial developments in the Soviet Union. The US Defense Department made demands for a reconnaissance plane that was able to fly so high above the Soviet Union that is was impossible to shoot it down. Lockheed was given the contract, and a top secret project was launched through which the U2 was developed under the leadership of Kelly Johnson, chief engineer and founder of Lockheed’s “Skunk Works”. After the test programme had been completed towards the end of 1955, the CIA decided that production of the aircraft was to begin. In the summer of 1956, a U2 was stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany. Gradually, many areas of the Soviet Union were overflown by the U2 without the Soviet Russians being able to do anything about it, until 1 May 1960.

From the end of 1958, the U2 was stationed in Bodø. A new phase had been planned and was to continue until the end of April 1960. The plan was withdrawn when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Sverdlovsk on May 1, 1960 on his way back from Pakistan to Bodø. The U2 affair was to colour the political debate in Norway for a long time. In the arena of foreign politics, prime minister Krustchov used the incident to wreck the summit between the USA and the Soviet Union in Paris in May 1960.