In our popular article Top Secret Aircraft That Officially Do Not Exist, we featured the retro-futuristic looking A-12 Avenger II, designed as a stealth attack aircraft for the U.S. Navy. The programme was scrapped before the first prototype had been developed, although two full scale mock-ups were built. But what became of them? One of the triangular craft had been displayed publicly, but clearly hadn’t found its way to a museum… Those discerning online urban explorers over at Virtual Globetrotting located one of the mock-ups in a junk-filled corner of a Fort Worth air base. (Meanwhile, a real A-12 canopy later appeared on eBay.)
Satellite imagery shows the A-12 Avenger II full scale mock-up (FSM) lying on its belly with its folding wing tips removed. Nearby is a powered model (technology demonstrator) used as part of DARPA’s CALF programme, seemingly left to rot in this remote corner of Carswell Air Force Base (aka NAS Station Joint Reserve Base Forth Worth), where F-35 Lightning II final assembly is located. In the more recent 2009 photograph, two F-16s have joined the condemned line-up, although the A-12 now appears to be wrapped in a protective cover. According to one commentator on this forum, the mock-up was destined for a Texas museum but ended up outside when the deal fell through, as Lockheed couldn’t justify the hangar space to keep it under cover.
The A-12 Avenger II was designed by McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics as an all-weather, carrier-based stealth bomber for the U.S. Navy and Marines. Though it never progressed to a prototype, the A-12 mock-up shows the flying wing design with a cockpit near the apex. Development of the A-12 was cancelled in January 1991 by then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney due to severe cost overruns. The whole saga is detailed in James P. Stevenson’s book: The $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy’s A-12 Stealth Bomber Program. The A-12 Avenger II remains shadowy to this day, although intriguingly a canopy from an apparent real version of the jet appeared on eBay in 2011.