The early U-2s used this seat developed by Lockheed internally. The seat is a limited capability seat and was eventually replaced in the U-2R aircraft with the RQ-201 seat, a variant of the SR-1 seat. The roll-bar style canopy breaker was added to this seat after a couple of failures to penetrate the canopy occurred. The failure was attributed to the plexiglass hardening in the extreme cold temperatures at the altitudes that the U-2 flew at. The seat was rather small as was the cockpit of the early U-2 aircraft. The U-2R was significantly larger inside, yet it was still a tight cockpit for a pilot in a pressure suit.
The seat was not adjustable in height in the cockpit. For the pilot to reach the design eye height, he was measured and a wood spacer was inserted under the survival kit in the seat pan to raise him to the correct height. (This information comes from a former pilot who used a 3/4" spacer.)
These photos show one example of the seat in a storage facility. It is not clear that the materials in the seat pan are related to the seat itself. It is possible they are, but it is equally possible that they are parts of other seats or aircraft and were merely stored with this seat. Of particular interest on this seat are the three sets of rollers for the seat to connect to the aircraft. It is not clear if this was standard on the single or front seats based on the few photographs I have seen of the seat in the cockpit. Also of note are the unusual foot rests.
A side note is that some early (CIA mission) U-2 aircraft were not equipped with ejection seats. The seats for some missions were replaced with a tube frame and wicker seat. This was done to lower weight for greater altitude. Each pound saved would add a foot in altitude.
These photos were sent to me anonymously for identification, so I don't know who took them. If the person would like credit, please email me and I will be glad to update this page.
|The Ejection Site Home|
|Send email to Kevin|