Talk:Kelly Johnson (engineer)

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The anecdote about the origin of the Skunk Works' name -- did the nameless engineer answer the phone "skonk works" (as the article says) or "skunk works"? Normally I'd figure this for a typo, but knowing Al Capp's passion for dialect in Lil Abner, I wanted to check that the original may not have spelled it with an "O". -- Paul Drye

It is Skonk Works. Source: Rich, Ben R. Skunk Works p.111.

It would be nice to get the list of aircraft that Johnson designed into chronological order. -- Rcingham

Design contributions[edit]

I'm dubious about the aircraft included on the list. This seems like a laundry list of famous Lockheed aircraft. I know for certain that Mr. Johnson was not involved in the original design of the C-130 Hercules, because he did not approve of the design by Willis Hawkins' team. I suggest paring down the list to only the more famous aircraft or those in which he had a clear leading role. Skunk Works aircraft are in. Every single other Lockheed aircraft built during his career need not be included. Any thoughts? Logawi 04:18, 13 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rule 15[edit]

Management Rule 15 doesn't show up in the referenced source. Does anyone have a reference for this? Otherwise it should be removed

>> (Unspoken rule) Never, ever, make a contract with the Navy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:27, 6 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

>>> The text says: According to the book "Skunk Works" the 15th rule is: (...) So the reference basically is already there (the exact page still should be added) --2A00:EA8:99A:120:C8F9:B2F7:70F6:7208 (talk) 17:33, 26 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It seems unlikely to me that his actual wages were $83 a month, considering that the average retail worker in 1930 was making $109/month. I know the great depression was in full swing, but it still seems quite low.

The $83/month figure comes straight out of his auto-biography, so I doubt it's false. Also, Lockheed was in serious trouble at the time, and at one point had to fire all personnel, except for the engineers (Kelly included) until they could fix a landing gear flaw in the Electra. However, he does stay he used to make much more money working with the University of Michigan's wind-tunnel, and he states that it was 10 years before he ever made as much money as he made at the university at the time. So, in my guess, it is probably true. mjuarez 05:23, 13 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Design Contributions - II[edit]

Kelly Johnson made design contributions to many of the Lockheed airplanes produced during his career timespan of 1933 through 1980, but he is mainly remembered and associated with the following:

  • Hudson maritime patrol bomber of WW II (developed from Model 14 Super Electra airliner)
  • P-38 Lightning twin-engine, twin-boom fighter (almost 10,000 delivered in WW II)
  • P-80 (later F-80) Shooting Star, the United States' first operational jet fighter (world speed record of 623.7 mph set in 1947)
  • F-104 Starfighter, Mach 2 capability, (world closed-course speed record of 1,404.2 mph in 1958)
  • U-2 ultrahigh altitude, long-range,subsonic reconnaissance
  • YF-12/SR-71 Blackbird family, Mach 3, stealthy, ultrahigh altitude,long range reconnaissance (current holder of world speed and altitude records of 2,193 mph and 85,069 ft., set in 1976)

Elywill 21:09, 25 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


An amusing page, it lacks 1) Kelly's use of the KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid, as a design principles, and 2) Kelly's real distain for other parts of the Lockheed bureaucracy. The latter is almost too kind on this page. (talk) 21:47, 1 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

KISS inserted (thanks!) It's unlikely you'll see this ~7-year-late response, but might anyone be able to expand upon what sorts of issues specifically he had with the "Lockheed bureaucracy"? Sounds interesting. AdventurousSquirrel (talk) 09:10, 23 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Requested move[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move to Kelly Johnson (engineer). --rgpk (comment) 21:56, 15 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clarence Leonard JohnsonClarence "Kelly" Johnson — The article name should include his most common moniker, "Kelly". Kelly Johnson requires disambiguation with other biographies, and Kelly Johnson (engineer) is not quite right because Kelly was a nickname. Binksternet (talk) 15:29, 6 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • It doesn't matter if it was just a nickname; if it was the name by which he was most commonly known, it should be the article's title. Quoted nicknames in titles are awkward and make linking difficult. Powers T 15:50, 6 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • It should include Kelly one way or another. I think "Kelly Johnson (engineer)" is better than "Clarence "Kelly" Johnson", since it avoid the quotes. -fnlayson (talk) 16:49, 11 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I find myself split on this one... I generally dislike pagenames with full names unless that was the name commonly used (Jonathon "Two 'L'" O'Neill, frex ;p). I'm also often opposed to pages using nicknames as pagenames, on the belief the page should be named for the person's actual name, with the nickname prominent in the lead. That leaves me with the suggestion the page be moved to Clarence L. Johnson, which I imagine pleases nobody. :/ TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 15:06, 12 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It looks like a couple of !votes for Kelly Johnson (engineer), a surprise to me, though I can see the validity of the argument, that 'Kelly' must be in the article name. Binksternet (talk) 06:35, 13 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I see nothing wrong with that title, if that's how he was known (in fairly but not excessively formal contexts) in engineering circles.--Kotniski (talk) 10:53, 14 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Have Blue[edit]

Why does the first sentence say Johnson was renowned for directing Have Blue? As far as I can tell, Have Blue was run by Ben Rich, and Johnson had an almost-peripheral role in it. Johnson had already retired as Skunk Works director when Have Blue got started, and was of course already extremely famous for many illustrious achievements that had nothing to do with Have Blue. I'm going to rewrite the sentence if I can figure out what to put there instead; suggestions are welcome. (talk) 05:22, 6 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I changed it to list a few planes mentioned on the back cover blurb of his autobiography "Kelly". (talk) 05:36, 6 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I took Have Blue out of the infobox and added a couple of significant works. Binksternet (talk) 05:38, 6 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. (talk) 02:24, 7 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Systems engineer[edit]

The description in the lede of Johnson as a "systems engineer" rather than aeronautical engineer seems odd to me. I wonder if anyone else has any thoughts. (talk) 02:23, 7 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Kelly with the green neck-tie[edit]

I went looking for this song and it seems to be "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?", which may include the line "Kelly with the green neck tie" in some recordings. Rob Russell (talk) 02:31, 3 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Broken links[edit]

I'm moving this "comment" to the talk page. Viriditas (talk) 09:04, 24 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The following links are all broken:

I found some of these updated and/or combined on Lockheed's website. I put a few of them into the article as inline refs. Binksternet (talk) 16:04, 24 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Popular Mechanics article is showing up as 404.[1] Viriditas (talk) 19:55, 24 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I fixed it. I added the original published version with the archiveurl. Viriditas (talk) 20:38, 24 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Significant design: Why the U2?[edit]

So for some reason the U2 is listed as the only significant design that Johnson produced. The U2 is most widely known for being shot down, and set no absolute records or many records at all. His other designs broke hundreds of records. The SR-71 is possibly the most popular aircraft in history.

If any aircraft would be considered his most significant design, the U2 would be the last one. Almost every other design set a significant record for its day, while the U2 did nothing that other aircraft werent already doing.

DbivansMCMLXXXVI (talk) 05:32, 21 December 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All I can say is, "Too many cooks spoil the Wiki." Given it's already listed under Projects, I've removed it. I've also removed the error that Johnson was employed by Lockheed Martin, as he died 5 years before the merger. Sigh. - BilCat (talk) 10:12, 21 December 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]