Talk:Skunk Works

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I believe this page should be renamed to Skunk Works (note the capitalization). At least one page has a link to Skunk Works instead of this one; since they changed name, I believe the page should go along too.

However, should this page be instead moved to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects? This seems the correct way to markup that content; but I need more experience before I can be sure. I welcome all feedback, of course!

TIA, -- Luis Bruno

I agree with Luis Bruno. The title page entry should reflect a capital 'W' in the title page, Skunk Works. This is how the current Lockheed Martin building at Site 10 at U. S. Air Force Plant 42 located in Palmdale, California is referred to both within the company itself and in colloquial usage. Site 10 once again is painted with the familiar skunk picture logo, after a brief absence.

The Skunk Works is a current, active part of Lockheed Martin in Palmdale, as well as a storied and historic part of the history of Lockheed in Palmdale and its earlier location in Burbank, California.

I'd say that most wikipedia users will first think of "Skunk Works" before they type in the more cumbersome and formal LADP. I'd therefore recommend this entry stay where it is, but maintain a link to the LADP page. 04:25, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC) avnative

Two pages[edit]

"Skunk Works" is now used to refer to a particular style of working, as well as referring to the lab that named and pioneered it, "Lockheed Advanced Development Projects". It would make sense to have a page for each.

Skunkworks is the name of an album by Bruce Dickinson. "Skunkworks" shouldn't automatically forward to "Skunk Works" in my humble opinion. --Demonslave 17:37, Sep 22, 2004 (UTC)

Agree with need for alternate definition[edit]

I came to Wikipedia for colloquial usage definition. My company has used this term for years to indicate a small scale project without little or no initial visibility but with the potential (if things go well) of significant impact. The clear implication being that visibility, process, management sponsorship, etc. can sometimes be the enemy of innovation. For a usage example: See item 7 here:[/url]. This is a good definition:

the topic sentence[edit]

Skunk works is a term used in engineering and technical applications for secret (black) projects.

This doesn't seem right to me. I've heard the term more used to describe projects with limited oversight and flexible engineering practices. The original developer of AIM called it "skunk works" project because it was completely unsponsored by AOL. A Scaled Composites engineer named their operation a "real skunk works," because of the unconventional lack of structure in their development work. None of these projects were remotely "secret" in the "black" sense.

I agree. This article (and not just the topic sentence) needs work. Willy Logan 21:42, 5 June 2006 (UTC)[]
Apopos of this section and "Agree with need for alternate definition" above, I agree that this definition is too narrow. To qualify as a skunkworks, a project need not be secret and need not be unofficial. I think the key is a loose organizational structure that allows creative minds to work together in creating new technologies and new ways of doing things, with results that would be hard to achieve with rigid, top-down organizational stuctures. Whether or not the terms were actually used at the time, I believe that Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory and Henry Ford's early facilities are classic examples of skunk works or skunkworks. Anomalocaris 20:44, 14 August 2006 (UTC)[]

Origin of name[edit]

Every authoritative source on Lockheed I have seen (including Beyond the Horizons, by Walter J. Boyne) agrees with the L'il Abner explanation. I have removed the following unsourced explanation:

Another theory for the name arises from the parking lot where Skunk Works was originally run. The development of projects was held in a black circus tent that is rumored to have had white lines running through its top. Therefore, when seen from an airplane in the sky, the circus tent had the appearance of a skunk.

Willy Logan 01:32, 15 March 2006 (UTC)[]

The article doesn't make it clear when they 1st started using the name Skunk Works. The XP-80 was mentioned so it probably was in use by 1945 but it might have been sooner. Lenbrazil (talk) 01:26, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[]

correction to small detail[edit]

In this article it states that SR-71 Blackbird was retired in 1989, when it was actually brough back in to service and then re-retired on october 15th 1999, by Former President William Clinton.

planes missing[edit]

Both the F-104 Starfighter and the F-22 Raptor should be added to the list of Skunk Works aircraft; as well as the Sea Shadow.


British ISP decision supports anarcho-communist hemp domain name versus Lockheed's SW trademark[edit]

Me thinks USA was very wrong to spend many billions to protect britons from the nazis and then the commies, considering you get this kind of response: —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 10:52, 2 May 2007 (UTC).[]

I actually think a sentence or two on the lawsuit would be appropriate to add to the article, since it can be referenced. Any objections? Akradecki 14:00, 2 May 2007 (UTC)[]
I agree that it is quite notable that a company that owns a multi-billion-dollar weapon design facility sued some Brits selling pot seeds and bongs. Perhaps their PR and litigation budget is somewhat too big? -- "the domain name is bound to cause people to be confused into believing the name is connected to the Complainant" -- true, last time I tried to buy stealth fighters, I accidentally ended up buying cannabis seeds. The cops didn't believe me! Muad 01:19, 18 July 2007 (UTC)[]
this paragraph seems irrelevant and petty. i can't help but think this incident would find a better home in an article about cybersquatting, because i think that in the history of lockheed this is not even a blip in a footnote. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:34, 21 April 2008 (UTC)[]

Apple's Graphing Calculator[edit]

FYI -- on Bootlegging (business) it says that Apple's Graphing Calculator isn't accurately a skunk works project. Can the 2 articles be made consistent? Canuckle 23:58, 16 May 2007 (UTC)[]

Just read the Graphing Calculator article and I agree; it's not even a Skunkworks project example, let alone anything tied to this article. Deleting it from the links.Retswerb (talk) 05:25, 30 March 2020 (UTC)[]

Linking Error[edit]

All links to "Kelly Johnson" point to the baseball player. Kelly Johnson of Skunk Works appears to be unrelated, as he headed Skunk Works before the baseball player was even born.

Just checked on this, looks like it's long since fixed. Retswerb (talk) 05:10, 30 March 2020 (UTC)[]

What about the use of the Burbank facility in film?[edit]

Joss Whedon has said in several interviews (his crew has backed this up) that he shot part of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the Burbank Skunkworks facility. Apparently this facility has been used for other films/TV shows as well. I was researching the U-2 when I remembered this from my Buffy days. I'd be interested in seeing a list of movies/shows the Skunk Works has been used for as a set. X-files anyone? Strike71 17:00, 3 July 2007 (UTC)[]

Very Popular Business Term[edit]

I was quite surprised to find this term almost exclusively tied to the original group at Lockhead Martin. I think it should be made clear that Skunk Works also refers to the organizational model that group popularized. Corporations commonly have internal Skunk-Works-like groups--as in 'Let's set up a skunk works to tackle this project'. I've modified the opening to reflect what I think is the common usage while still keeping the Lockheed Martin context. I'll search for references to cite if necessary in support of this change. (talk) 01:21, 10 December 2007 (UTC)Best, GWB[]

Good improvement. I heard the term first in reading about Lockheed but have heard it numerous times in business meetings. Your revision is right on. Binksternet (talk) 05:24, 10 December 2007 (UTC)[]

Warren Bodie's opinion[edit]

I returned my recent rewrite to the History section. It was taken out with the edit summary of "one author's opinion doesn't trump the company's" but I do not see it laid out like that. The version of Lockheed-Martin hasn't been deleted or modified, it's been added to, with a chronological order to the versions. Because the P-38 was developed before the P-80, that version arrives first in the sequence. Note that Warren Bodie is not just an outside observer; his father Lt. Col. Al Bodie served in the Office of War Production and as commander of an Air Service Group supporting P-38s in England during WWII. Warren Bodie himself worked as an engineer at Lockheed and transferred to the Skunk Works group after he organized the Lockheed P-38 Symposium (a reunion of sorts) in 1977. Warren Bodie worked on the U-2 and TR-1 programs and on stealth fighter and stealth bomber concepts. The only difference in credibility and legitimacy between Ben Rich's version of the roots of Skunk Works and Warren Bodie's is that Rich got his into print earlier. Rich reported what he saw; Bodie did some further investigation and reported what he was told. Binksternet (talk) 17:00, 25 March 2009 (UTC)[]

The problem is that the section begins: "The Skunk Works began ...", then states, "Lockheed, however, considers June 1943 the birth month of the Skunk Works as it is known today". That is giving preference to Bodie's version over what the company claims, not "More about why the XP-38 is considered by some to be the beginning", as you claimed in your edit summary. While the details are somewhat interesting, the preveious version that began "The roots for the Skunk Works started in" seems much better to me, which is why I reverted back to that one. But again, if Lockheed itself considers the Skunk Works to have begun in 1943, then that is what we should report, with differing opinions presented, but not preferred. I was actually going to work in some of Bodie's details, but was unable to get back to it lst night because of personal health issues, and I had hoped you'd figure it out on your own. I'm adding a {{disputed}} tag to the section for now, nd I'll try to work on it again later. - BillCJ (talk) 19:36, 25 March 2009 (UTC)[]
I see your point, though the way the article was laid out before I changed it already gave the initial nod to the P-38. Let me rewrite the section if you will, putting the 'official' version first. I'll take out the disputed tag at that time; we don't really disagree. Binksternet (talk) 20:18, 25 March 2009 (UTC)[]
Okay, see how that works for you. Binksternet (talk) 15:45, 26 March 2009 (UTC)[]

Operation Stinky[edit]

Operation Stinky was a science fiction short story by noted author Clifford D. Simak. In it, an alien who looks almost identical to a skunk modifies U.S. Military aircraft in ways that astound the United States military. This premise of this story may have been inspired by the Skunk Works. The story was originally written in 1957.

You would have to find a reliable source, per WP:RS, noting the connection between the alien's actions and Skunk Works project results for this cite to be included here. Was Clifford D. Simak ever associated with Lockheed? Binksternet (talk) 22:30, 25 June 2009 (UTC)[]

Need to include descriptive form “skunk works” and add disambiguation[edit]

In common usage, either “skunk works” or “skunkworks” descriptively refer to a small secret project, while Lockheed uses “Skunk Works” (capitalized) as a trade name. Google's unsourced dictionary entry mentions only “skunkworks”. derived from Random House only mentions “skunk works” (at, and has no entry for “skunkworks”. Wikipedia should recognize both the form with and without the space as having a descriptive meaning, with the form that includes space being perhaps more authoritatively defined. (The descriptive term currently has a Wikipedia page entitled “skunkworks” that omits the space in the name.) For a very recent example of usage by journalists, please see the article at in BusinessWeek online, which states: ‘The person familiar with Apple's thinking says Apple has a “skunk works” looking at a search offering of its own.’

I think we need a disambiguation page for “skunk works” with entries for both “Skunk Works” as a trade name and “skunk works” as a descriptive name. Rahul (talk) 18:43, 20 January 2010 (UTC)[]

SR-71 vs A-12 - improved ?[edit]

The article had a line that mentioned 'the SR-71 Blackbird, an improved two-seater version of the A-12'. I removed the word 'improved' because the A-12 had better performance (higher, faster) but the SR-71 has the advantage of an extra crew member to operate the machinery). The SR-71 and the A-12 were designed for different missions, so to say one was better than the other is a bit misleading. User:BilCat obviously disagrees with me because he restored the word 'improved'. Comments?  Stepho  (talk) 06:59, 12 February 2010 (UTC)[]

Assembly line[edit]

The caption of the third illustration, "Assembly line of the SR-71 Blackbird at Skunk Works," is incorrect. The picture is not of an assembly line, where the product moves to the workers. What is shown is the exact opposite of an assembly line. The product remains stationary right up until it has been completed. Workers and parts move to the unfinished aircraft. Dick Kimball (talk) 14:29, 18 June 2010 (UTC)[]

The main idea of an assembly line is that each section is completed in turn by a specialist using standardised parts. The production of the SR-71 follows this idea - ie machinists make the basic frame, hydraulics specialists install the hydraulics, electronic technicians install the electronics, etc, each in turn.  Stepho  (talk) 22:31, 18 June 2010 (UTC)[]

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