Machine Design

GALLERY: Seven Aircraft from the Skunkworks

Under the leadership of aeronautical genius Clarence “Kelly” Johnson from 1938 to 1975, the Skunkworks at Lockheed Martin turned out some of the most advanced and innovative aircraft ever to grace the skies. Johnson also deserves most of the credit for setting up the Skunkworks, the official nickname for Lockheed’s Advanced Development Program. The term came from the Li’l Abner comic strip by Al Capp where the “Skonk Works” was a moonshine factory. Today, a skunkworks is a management tactic in which a largely autonomous group of high-performing engineers and designers work on advanced or secret projects free from the bureaucracy found in the rest of the company.

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