The U-2 Dragon Lady will forever exist in the highest rungs of aviation lore, both spiritually as well as physically. The brainchild of Skunkworks’ maverick leader Kelly Johnson, the U-2 was built to give the United States the cutting-edge lead on intelligence gathering. Gone were the days of learning about the outbreak of war when enemy tanks rolled over a frontier, the Second World War and its associated carnage made information lags simply untenable. With the Third Reich still smoldering, the Soviet Union took the place of the West’s public enemy #1. Early attempts at keeping tabs with B-47 Stratojet and B-57 Canberra overflights proved too risky, their speed and altitude put them within range of Soviet Migs and unacknowledged air combat took place on several occasions. By the mid-1950s, the U-2 took over high-altitude reconnaissance duty and reigned supreme in that role until the Soviet’s revealed their new surface-to-air missile technology when they shot down CIA U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers in May of 1960.
This incident and the continued development of interceptor and missile technology mandated higher and faster aircraft, culminating in the SR-71 Blackbird. However, the versatility of the Dragon Lady was and is undeniable. Flying from remote locations across the globe and even from the deck of an aircraft carrier, the U-2 continues to fly to this day, long after its replacement, the Blackbird, has been decommissioned. America’s first true spy plane was a landmark in aerospace and is one of the most iconic aircraft to ever go airborne. – A.T. Roberts
The all-new Dragon Lady canopy tags were cut from a gloss white U-2R/TR-1A canopy. Structurally this canopy was quite a bit different than the U-2A canopy. It is thicker and the rail construction is different.
The U-2R was first flown in 1967. It is structurally identical to the TR-1A. In 1992 all TR-1s were redesignated U-2R for uniformity. In the late 90s all U-2Rs were fitted with the new GE F-118 engine. These newly engined U-2s became the U-2S, which is the current flying variant. Two U-2Rs (TR-1As) were converted to ER-2s (Earth Resources 2) and now fly at NAS Moffett Field for NASA. These aircraft are painted gloss white.
Our canopy was purchased at auction in the 90s with a handful of black canopies and was believed to have been removed from one of the ER-2s, which were the only gloss white U-2s flying at the time. Two of the early 2-seat trainers were also painted white for a short time in the early 80s.
These tags are special and the tag shape was styled after the actual canopy shape, which is similar to our dog tag. They are offered in 6 variants: Canopy Rail (with metal card), Clear, White/Clear FG (fiberglass), White/Clear, Solid White FG (fiberglass), and Solid White. All tags come with printed art and some feature additional elements. All of the tags with white paint also feature original interior black paint on the back!
The Canopy Rail tags keep with the JET EYES tradition of thick/heavy and totally radical metal and acrylic rail tags. They feature metal elements of the rail at the bottom with a portion of clear acrylic at the top. They also feature portions of fiberglass where the clear acrylic interfaces with the metal rail. The cards for these were cut from .050 aluminum sheet and come printed with the same art as the standard card. They also come with the standard cardboard card.
The Clear tags are visually the most striking variant. They come with a white printed U-2R on the back with an image of the Earth behind it that also features a white U-2R/ER-2 flying over the Earth (same aircraft that is on the card). It took a lot of experimenting to get these right and the final design is 6 different layers of printed artwork. These tags are fun to look at and come to life when held up to the light.
The White/Clear FG and White/Clear tags both have portions of solid white paint and clear acrylic. The FG tags were cut from the side rails and have portions of white fiberglass at the bottom. The FG tags also get some sweet BVR U-2 pilot art printed on the front to honor the highfliers that fly these aircraft! The standard White/Clear were cut from the curved line between the clear part of the canopy that is located towards the front of the canopy and the rear painted part.
The Solid White FG and Solid White tags both feature the same printed artwork. The FG tags were cut from the portion of the side rail where the canopy was painted white. The standard Solid White tags (the most numerous variant) were cut from the white painted area towards the back of the aircraft.
These tags come with a stunner of a card by BVR that depicts an ER-2 and pilot. This card/tag combo is totally nuts.
We were able to get 250 tags from this canopy. Many variants are very limited in quantity.
top of page
bottom of page