THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

T PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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The History Of The Convair F-102 Delta Dagger

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BY Joe Baugher

 

Convair "YF-102"

 

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The Convair F-102A Delta Dagger single-seat all-weather interceptor was the first delta-winged combat aircraft in the world to enter operational service. It was also the world's first all-weather interceptor capable of supersonic performance in level flight. It was the first fighter to have an all-missile armament provided as standard from the very start of the initial design stage. It was also the first manned interceptor designed from the outset as the principal component of a weapons system.

Following the end of the war in Europe, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union underwent a rapid deterioration. However, at that time, there seemed to be little direct threat from the Soviet Union against the continental United States itself. In October of 1947, several Tupolev Tu-4 heavy bombers (reverse-engineered B-29s) appeared at a Moscow airshow, and the newly-organized United States Air Force was now faced with a potential strategic bombing threat from the Soviet Union. The new Air Force Secretary, W. Stuart Symington III appointed a board of senior Air Force officers to look into selecting an interceptor fighter to protect United States airspace against Soviet bombers carrying nuclear bombs. At that time, the main contenders were the Curtiss XF-87, the Northrop XF-89, and the Navy's Douglas XF3D Skyknight.

The board of senior officers first met at Muroc AFB on October 7-8, 1948. Because of the urgency of the situation, they authorized the development of an interim night fighter based on the Lockheed TF-80C two-seat jet trainer that would be designated F-94A. The contract for the Curtiss F-87A was cancelled in November of 1948, and the production of 48 Northrop F-89As was authorized on January 10, 1949. The development of an interceptor version of the F-86A Sabre was recommended in January of 1949, and work on the resulting F-95 (later re-designated F-86D) was started in March of 1949.

However, the North American F-86D Sabre, the Northrop F-89 Scorpion, and the Lockheed F-94 were all subsonic aircraft, and were deemed to have insufficient growth potential to be able to meet the threat. At the end of their Muroc meeting, the board of senior officers recommended that the USAF organize a totally new competition to design a really satisfactory all-weather interceptor. This project came to be known as the "1954 interceptor", after the year that new interceptor would supposedly be entering service.

Recognizing that the development of the new interceptor was going to challenge the state of the art, the Air Force took the unusual step of inviting representatives of the aircraft and electronics industry to meet together in May of 1949 and come up with a proposal. However, the traditions of design competitions based on customer specifications written by the Air Force in stone proved difficult to overcome, and the industry was not able to come up with anything useful.

Undaunted, the Air Force still recognized that innovative developmental approaches would be needed if the 1954 timetable was to be met. At that time, the Air Force recognized that the increasing complexity of modern weapons made it no longer practical to attempt to develop equipment, airframes, electronics, engines, and other components in isolation and expect them to work properly when they were put together in the final product. To address this problem, the Air Force decided to use the so-called "weapons system" concept for the new interceptor, in which components would be integrated with each other from the very beginning, making sure that the various systems would be compatible with each other when they were incorporated into the final aircraft. The project was given the designation WS-201A, where WS stood for "Weapons System". As originally conceived, WS-201A was a weapons system consisting of a primary armament of air-to-air guided missiles to be guided and directed by an all-weather search and fire control radar, all housed in an airframe capable of supersonic flight.

The electronics package for the new WS-201A system came first. Project MX-1179 was the designation given to that portion of the project which was dedicated to the armament and electronic fire-control system of the 1954 Interceptor. In January of 1950, no fewer than 50 firms were invited to submit proposals for the fire control system. Six firms made the short list--Bendix, General Electric, Hughes, North American, Sperry Gyroscope, and Westinghouse. In July of 1950, the Hughes Aircraft Company was named the winner of the MX-1179 contract. The Hughes proposal consisted of a MA-1 fire control system acting in conjunction with GAR-1 Falcon air-to-air guided missiles. For a brief time, the Falcon missile was known as the F-98, a fighter designation.

The airframe part of the project was designated MX-1554. Proposals for the airframe were requested by the Air Force on June 18, 1950. When the bidding closed in January of 1951, nine proposals had been submitted by six different manufacturers. Republic submitted three separate proposals, North American two, and single proposals were made by Chance-Vought, Douglas, Lockheed, and Convair.

On July 2, 1951, the Air Force announced that designs by Convair, Lockheed, and Republic had been selected to proceed with preliminary development. All three companies were to proceed with their designs all the way to the mockup stage, with the design being deemed most promising at that time being awarded a production contract. Later, the USAF deemed it too costly to carry through with three concurrent development programs, and it cancelled the Lockheed project in its entirety. The Convair and Republic entries were given the go-ahead to proceed.

The Republic entry bore the company designation of AP-57. It called for an extremely advanced aircraft capable of achieving a Mach 3 performance at altitudes of up to 80,000 feet. This was clearly a quantum leap in the state of the art for the early 1950s.

The Convair entry in the MX-1554 project was closely related to the experimental  XF-92A which Convair had built in 1948 to provide data for the proposed F-92 Mach 1.5 fighter designed in consultation with Dr. Alexander Lippisch. Dr. Lippisch had done pioneering work on delta-winged aircraft in Germany during the war, and Convair had become convinced that the delta configuration provided a viable solution to the problems of supersonic flight. The XF-92A had been the first powered delta-wined aircraft to fly, but the F-92 project had itself been cancelled before any prototype could be built.

On September 11, 1951, Convair received a contract for its delta winged design which was designated F-102. Work on the competing Republic design was also authorized, and that aircraft was assigned the designation XF-103. However, the XF-103 was so far ahead of the state of the art that it was deemed too risky to be a serious contender for the 1954 Interceptor project, which made the F-102 for all practical purposes the winner of the contest.

The Air Force authorized the fitting of a Westinghouse J40 turbojet in the first few examples of the F-102, but later production aircraft were to have the appreciably more-powerful Wright J67 (a license-built version of the Bristol Olympus). The J40-powered F-102 was to be capable of a speed of Mach 1.88 at 56,500 feet, with the J67 production version capable of Mach 1.93 at 62,000 feet.

In order to expedite the development of its 1954 Interceptor program, the Air Force adopted the so-called "Cook-Craigie" program, named for its originators, Generals Laurence C. Craigie and Orval R. Cook. During the late 1940s, these two officers had developed a concept of an aircraft development program in which the usual prototype stage would be skipped. Instead of waiting to start full-scale production until the prototypes had passed flight testing and the bugs had been ironed out, the Cook-Craigie plan called for the delivery of a small number of production aircraft during the flight testing phase. Any major changes deemed to be necessary could be incorporated into permanent factory tooling in order for combat-ready aircraft to be delivered when mass production started. This program is inherently risky-- it can produce a new combat aircraft in a hurry if everything goes according to plan during flight testing, but can result in a lot of costly and time-consuming fixes in the field if unexpected problems turn up.

The Cook-Cragie plan is really viable only if there is a high degree of confidence that the aircraft is really going to go into production. Since the F-102 was basically a scaled-up XF-92A, the risk was deemed work taking.

By December of 1951, it was apparent that the J67 engine and the MA-1 fire-control system would not be ready in time. This forced the USAF to change its plans. At that time, the Air Force decided to proceed with an interim version of its 1954 Interceptor, one which could be introduced into service at an early date, pending the availability of the fully-developed version at a later time. The interim version was to be designated F-102A, with the fully-developed advanced version being designated F-102B.

The F-102A was to be equipped with an interim fire-control system, the Hughes E-9, which was a modified E-4. The E-9 was later renamed MG-3 after a number of changes had substantially improved its capability. The MG-3 was in turn supplanted by the MG-10 which incorporated the AN/ARR-44 data link, the MG-1 automatic flight control system, and the AN/ARC-34 miniaturized communication set.

The F-102B ultimately turned out to be so different from the F-102A that it was assigned the new designation of F-106 in 1956.

The mockup of the F-102A was inspected in November of 1952. At that time, the Air Force decided that the F-102A should be capable of carrying external stores, and they recommended some rearrangement of the cockpit components.

All throughout the development cycle, the weight of the F-102A had been spiraling ever upwards, an all-too-familiar pattern. In 1951, the Westinghouse J40 engine was the most powerful turbojet in production, but it now lacked the thrust to give the F-102A its required performance. Consequently, the Air Force decided to switch to the Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet, which was in the 10,000 lbs. thrust class and was scheduled to enter production in early 1953. In retrospect, this change in power-plants was extremely fortuitous, since the J40 engine was to prove so troublesome and unreliable that it had to be cancelled.

Manufacture of a preliminary order for ten YF-102s (two Model 8-80s, 52-7994/7995) and eight Model 8-82s (53-1779/1786) began in April of 1952.

The first 32 F-102A production aircraft were ordered on December 17, 1952, under a contract approved on June 12, 1953. First service was planned for December of 1955, almost two years later than originally planned.

The YF-102 was basically a scaled-up XF-92A with a slim nose and lateral air intakes replacing the nose intake. A strong skeleton of milled aluminum spars and longerons covered with aluminum skins carried the fuel in wing spaces. The electronics was carried in the fuselage. The armament was to consist of six Hughes GAR-1 Falcon air-to-air missiles carried internally in a ventral bay. In addition, twenty-four 2-inch FFAR rockets were to be carried in channels contained inside the missile-bay doors. A maximum speed of 870 mph at 35,000 feet was promised.

A severe problem cropped up early in 1953, one which was potentially fatal for the entire program. At that time, wind tunnel testing discovered that the initial drag estimates of the YF-102 had been way off, and that the F-102 would be unable to exceed Mach 1. In addition, the maximum altitude would be only 52,400 feet, versus the predicted 57,600 feet, while the combat radius would be reduce from 350 to 200 nautical miles.

Even though early wind tunnel tests had indicated that there would be a problem with excessive drag, it took a long time to convince the Convair engineering staff that there was a problem with their basic design. It was not until August of 1953, that Convair engineers reluctantly agreed to redesign their aircraft. By that time, it was too late to incorporate the required changes in the first ten aircraft.

In the meantime, work on the first YF-102s was proceeding at a rapid pace. The first YF-102 was finally completed in the autumn of 1953. It was powered by a J57-P-11, rated at 10,900 lbs. thrust dry and 14,500 lbs. thrust with afterburning. It was trucked from San Diego out to Edwards AFB. It took off at Edwards on its maiden flight on October 24, 1953, with Richard L. Johnson at the controls. In initial tests, severe buffeting was encountered at Mach 0.9. Even more serious, the aircraft proved to be incapable of exceeding the speed of sound in level flight, fully confirming the results of the wind tunnel testing. Additional problems were encountered with the main landing gear, and the fuel system operated erratically. To make matters even worse, the J57-P-11 engine did not develop its full rated power. The first YF-102 was written off on November 2 in a forced landing following an engine failure. Test pilot Johnson was seriously injured. The cause of the accident was traced to a failure in the Bendix fuel control system. The second YF-102 flew on January 11, 1954. This aircraft was limited to Mach 0.99 in level flight. Dives at higher speeds resulted in severe yaw oscillations. Even in a 30-degree dive, the YF-102 was only able to reach Mach 1.24. Even though an altitude of 47,000 feet could be reached, handling difficulties limited the practical ceiling to only 40,000 feet.

The F-102 program was in BIG trouble. In fact, the performance of the YF-102 was not all that much better than the F-86D Sabre, which was already in production. If no cure could be found, the whole program would undoubtedly be cancelled.

 

The FY-102A

 

 

Convair F-102A Delta Dagger

 

The F-102 project was in serious trouble, and if a fix for the performance problems could not be found, the entire project was in danger of cancellation.

While eight more YF-102s (Model 8-82, serials 53-1779/1786) were being built to the same standards as the first two aircraft, Convair embarked on a major investigation and redesign program in an attempt to save the F-102. The salvation of the project turned out to be in the "area rule" devised by NACA scientist Richard Whitcomb.  According to the area rule, the total cross sectional area along the direction of flight should be a constant in order to achieve minimum transonic drag.

In order to achieve this, it was required that the fuselage be narrowed down in the region where the wing roots were attached, then broadened back out again when the wing trailing edge was reached. This gave the aircraft fuselage a characteristic "wasp-waist" or "Coke-bottle" shape. In order to achieve this, the length of the fuselage was increased by 11 feet, and a pair of aerodynamic tail fairings were added aft of the trailing edge, these fairings extending beyond the end of the afterburner tailpipe in a pair of characteristic protrusions. These tail fairings were for purely aerodynamic purposes and had no other function. A new cockpit canopy with a sharper leading edge was fitted, although it had an adverse effect on overall visibility. Cambered leading edges were fitted to the thin delta wings to improve the behavior of the thin airfoil at high angles of attack, and the wingtips were given wash-in.

A J57-P-23 engine was fitted, which was considerably lighter and more powerful than the previous J57-P-11. The J57-P-23 engine was rated at 11,700 lbs. thrust dry and 17,200 lbs. thrust with afterburning. The aircraft was lightened by reducing excess structures no longer required by the lighter engine. The new aircraft was given the designation YF-102A.

Designated Model 8-90, the first of four YF-102As (53-1787/1790) was rolled out at San Diego just 117 days after redesign had started. It was trucked out to Edwards AFB and took off on its maiden flight on December 20, 1954. On the next day, Mach 1 was easily exceeded, fully confirming the predictions of the area rule. It soon reached a top speed of Mach 1.2 in level flight. In addition, the aircraft could still keep on climbing after reaching 51,600 feet.

A milestone was reached on July 8, 1955, when a YF-102A fired six Falcon missiles and 24 unguided rockets in less than 10 seconds.

The retooling required by the changes in the YF-102A played havoc with the Cook-Craigie plan for early production. Fully two-thirds of the 30,000 tools that had been purchased had to be thrown out and new ones acquired. Following the costly re-tooling procedure, full production of the F-102A began at the Convair plant in San Diego. The first production Model 8-10 or F-102A (53-1791) flew on June 24, 1955 and was delivered to the Air Force five days later. It had a J57-P-23 engine.

In the full production F-102A, the wings were moved aft, and fuselage length was increased by more than 16 feet over the original YF-102. The wingspan was increased from 37 feet to 38 feet 1 1/2 inches, the wing area increased from 661 square feet to 695 square feet, and the gross weight increased from 26,404 pounds to 28,150 pounds.

The initial production run of 40 aircraft (production blocks -5 through -25) were all employed in research and development work, and none entered operational service with the USAF. As a result of the tests, some significant airframe changes were made, including a three-foot addition to the height of the tail fin. This new tail fin was devised as a cure for some high-speed instability problems that had turned up during flight testing and was first tested in December of 1955. It was introduced as standard on all F-102As built after the 25th example, and earlier F-102As were retrofitted with this new taller fin.

The first delivery to an operational Air Defense Command unit (the 327th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at George AFB in California) took place on May 1, 1956, three years later than originally expected. The 327th FIS was activated on August 18, 1955, initially equipped with F-86Ds.

In mid-1956, it was decided that only the 2.75-inch FFARs would be used as backups to the Falcon missiles. Earlier F-102s were retrofitted in the field and exchanged their T-214 2-inch FFARs for the 2.75-inch FFARS. Some 170 F-102s were modified according to this standard.

In May of 1956, a Douglas MB-1 Genie nuclear-capable unguided rocket was fired from a YF-102A. For a while, the Air Force considered equipping the F-102A with the Genie rockets, but this project was abandoned in early 1957.

Early F-102As had been plagued by landing gear failures. By November of 1957, all F-102As had been fitted with serviceable struts and a new oleo strut metering pin and the side brace boss bearing of the landing gear was modified. In addition, a fix had been found for the in-flight failures of the speed brakes mounted behind the vertical fin.

The popular name "Delta Dagger" for the F-102A was chosen in 1957. Between 1952 and 1957, five production contracts were awarded for a total of 875 F-102As.

The MG-3 fire-control system was replaced in the field by the improved MG-10 in most F-102As. More sophisticated and less troublesome versions of the Falcon air-to-air missile were fitted as they became available. Conversions were later performed which made the F-102A capable of launching the GAR-11 (later re-designated AIM-26A) nuclear-tipped Falcon. Ensuing modifications eventually made it possible to interchangeably carry AIM-26 and AIM-4 (GAR-1 through GAR-4 in pre-1962 designation schemes) Falcons in the central weapons bay.

In October of 1957, a new wing was introduced on the production line beginning with approximately the 550th F-102A. This innovation raised combat ceiling to 55,000 feet (a 5000-foot increase) and raised maximum speed at 50,000 feet to Mach 1. In addition, maneuverability was substantially improved and low-speed stability was markedly enhanced.

In 1957, Convair began a modernization program for early F-102As to bring them up to the latest standards. These changes included a larger tail, an MG-10 fire control system in place of the MG-3, attachment points for a pair of 230 US gallon under-wing drop tanks, and provision for 2.75-inch unguided rockets in place of the 2-inch rockets originally carried. When the under-wing tanks were carried, however, the F-102A was limited to subsonic performance.

By the end of 1958, 26 ADC squadrons were flying F-102As, and the F-102A had replaced the North American F-86D Sabre as the most numerous interceptor with the ADC. F-102As in service numbered 627, or about half of the total number of interceptors operated by the Air Defense Command. At the height of its service, 32 ADC units flew the F-102A. The last of 873 F-102As produced (serial number 57-909) was delivered in September of 1958.

A subsequent in-service modification program added an infrared sighting system for target acquisition, lock-on and completion of run. The infrared scanner was mounted in a transparent dome immediately in front of the pilot's windshield. The internal unguided rocket armament was deleted, and provisions were made for the carrying of later marks of the Falcon AAM such as the AIM-4E radar homer and the AIM-4F infrared homer.

Most of the F-102As were stationed stateside as interceptors for the Air Defense Command. However, a few were sent overseas. The first overseas deployment of the F-102A took place in June of 1958 when the 327th Fighter Interceptor Squadron moved to Thule, Greenland. The first squadron in Europe to receive the F-102 was the 525th FIS based at Bitburg in West Germany, which received 25 aircraft in early 1959. Five other squadrons based in Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands eventually got Delta Daggers.

A few Pacific-based squadrons got F-102s, the first being the 16th FIS based at Naha AFB on Okinawa which re-equipped in March of 1959.  It was in the Pacific theatre that the F-102 was to achieve its only taste of combat. Aircraft from the 590th Fighter Interceptor Squadron were transferred to Tan Son Nhut AFB near Saigon in South Vietnam in March of 1962 to provide air defense against the unlikely event that North Vietnamese aircraft would attack the South. F-102As continued to be based there and in Thailand throughout much of the Vietnam war. F-102As stood alert at Bien Hoa and Da Nang in South Vietnam and at Udorn and Don Muang in Thailand. The F-102A was finally withdrawn from Southeast Asia in December of 1969. The F-102A established an excellent safety record in Vietnam. In almost ten years of flying air defense and a few combat air patrols for SAC B-52s, only 15 F-102As were lost. Although a few missions were flown over North Vietnam, the Southeast Asia-stationed F-102As are not thought to have actually engaged in air-to-air combat. However, one of my references has an F-102A of the 509th FIS being lost to an air-to-air missile fired by a MiG-21 while flying a CAP over Route Package IV on February 3, 1968. Two F-102As were lost to AAA/small arms fire and four were destroyed on the ground by the Viet Cong and eight were lost in operational accidents.

Strange as it may seem, the F-102A actually did fly some close-support missions over the South, even though the aircraft was totally unsuited for this role. These operations started in 1965 at Tan Son Nhut using the 405 FW alert detachment. Operating under the code-name "Project Stovepipe", they used their heat sinking Falcon missiles to lock onto heat sources over the Ho Chi Minh trail at night, often Viet Cong campfires. This was more of a harassment tactic than it was serious assault. They would even fire their radar-guided missiles if their radars managed to lock onto something. The pilots were never sure if they actually hit anything, but they would sometimes observe secondary explosions.

The F-102s soon switched to a day role, firing the 12 unguided FFAR rockets from the missile bays, using the optical sight. 618 day sorties were flown, the last one being flown at the end of 1965. One F-102A was downed by ground-fire during one of these rocket attacks.

There were some later missions flown, especially in Mayday emergencies when the 102's were the fastest response available in the South (2 1/2 minutes over the fence, far faster than the F-4).

During the early 1960s, the F-102A was gradually replaced in the ADC by the McDonnell F-101B Voodoo and the Convair F-106 Delta Dart. By mid-1961, the number of F-102As in service with the ADC was down to 221. However, by the end of 1969, with the exception of a squadron maintained in Iceland, all ADC F-102As had been transferred to the Air National Guard. The F-102As stationed in the Pacific had been withdrawn in December of 1969.

The only F-102As still in service with the USAF at the beginning of 1970 were all stationed overseas. At that time, the USAF still retained a few F-102A squadrons in Germany and the Netherlands. In the early 1970s, European-based F-102As were replaced by F-4 Phantoms. By the end of June 1973, the number of active F-102As had been reduced to ten.

The last ADC unit to operate the F-102A, the 57th FIS based at Keflavik in Iceland finally traded in its F-102As for McDonnell F-4C Phantoms in mid-1973.

As they left USAF service, most F-102As were transferred to the Air National Guard. First to receive the F-102A was the 182nd FIS of the Texas ANG, receiving the plane in mid-1960. By 1966, ANG inventories amounted to 339 F-102As. Twenty-three ANG units ultimately got F-102As, including ANG squadrons of Louisiana, Florida, Texas, North Dakota, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Oregon, Maine Vermont, Tennessee, Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, and California.

A 1967 proposal to modify F-102As into RF-102As as the standard ANG reconnaissance aircraft was deemed infeasible and was not proceeded with.

The F-102A was not equipped at the factory for midair re-fuelling. However, there were some examples of the F-102A that were fitted in the field with probe and drogue in-flight-re-fuelling probes mounted immediately aft of the cockpit on the right-hand side of the fuselage. These were fitted for the purpose of ferrying aircraft from the US to Southeast Asia. The probes were removed upon arrival. Some ANG F-102As were also fitted with these midair re-fuelling probes.

In the late 1960s, Convair proposed a close air support version of the F-102 equipped with an internally-mounted cannon. The USAF was not particularly interested and this idea got no further than the preliminary planning stage.

Large-scale retirement of the F-102A from the ANG began in late 1969 and continued throughout the 1970s. The last F-102A finally left ANG service in October of 1976, when the 199th FIS of the Hawaii ANG traded in their Delta Daggers for F-4C Phantoms. Most of the retired F-102As ended up in the bone-yards at the Davis-Monthan AFB storage facility. Many were subsequently converted into remote-controlled drone aircraft.

 

 

Specification of Convair "F-102A" Delta Dagger:

Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23 turbojet, 10,200 lbs. thrust dry and 16,000 lbs. thrust with afterburning, or a J57-P-25, 11,700 lbs.-thrust dry and 17,200 lbs. thrust with afterburning. Performance: Maximum speed: 825 mph at 35,000 feet (Mach 1.25). Initial climb rate: 13,000 feet per minute. An altitude of 51,800 feet could be attained in 9.9 minutes. Combat ceiling was 51,800 feet and service ceiling was 53,400 feet. Maximum range was 1350 miles. Weights were 19,350 pounds empty, 24,494 pounds combat weight, 28,150 pounds gross, and 31,500 pounds maximum takeoff. Dimensions: wingspan 38 feet 1 1/2 inches, length 68 feet 4 1/2 inches, height 21 feet 2 1/2 inches, wing area 695 square feet. Maximum internal fuel load was 1085 US gallons. In later versions, two 430 US-gallon under-wing tanks could be carried, bringing total fuel capacity to 1945 US gallons. Armament: Armament consisted of six air-to-air guided missiles housed internally in a ventral weapons bay--usually a mixture of three Hughes AIM-4A or -4E Falcon semi-active radar-homing missiles and three Hughes AIM-4C or -4F Falcon infrared homing missiles. Later installations included three Falcons plus one AIM-26A or B In addition, twenty-four 2.75-inch unguided FFARs could be carried in launching tubes mounted inside the weapons bay doors. In later versions, the unguided rockets were often omitted.

F-102A serial numbers:

53-1787/1790	Convair YF-102A Delta Dagger
53-1791/1794	Convair F-102A-5-CO Delta Dagger
53-1795/1797	Convair F-102A-10-CO Delta Dagger
53-1798/1802	Convair F-102A-15-CO Delta Dagger
53-1803/1811	Convair F-102A-20-CO Delta Dagger
53-1812/1818	Convair F-102A-25-CO Delta Dagger
		      	1814,1815 sold to Turkey
54-1371/1383	Convair F-102A-30-CO Delta Dagger
			1377,1379,1380,1382,1383 sold to Turkey.
54-1384/1400	Convair F-102A-35-CO Delta Dagger
			1384,1386 sold to Turkey.
			1385,1393,1399 converted to PQM-102A.
			1395 converted to PQM-102B.
54-1401/1407	Convair F-102A-40-CO Delta Dagger
			1403 sold to Turkey.
			1406,1407 converted to PQM-102A.
55-3357/3379	Convair F-102A-41-CO Delta Dagger
55-3380/3426	Convair F-102A-45-CO Delta Dagger
			3380,3383/3386,3389,3390,3392,3395,3396,3400,
			3401,3403/3405,3408/3410,3412/3414,3416,3421,
			3425,3426 sold to Turkey.
55-3427/3464	Convair F-102A-50-CO Delta Dagger
			3427,3447 converted to PQM-102A.
			3449 converted to PQM-102B.
			3429,3443,3452,2455,3461 sold to Turkey.
56-0957/0972	Convair F-102A-51-CO Delta Dagger
56-0973/1044	Convair F-102A-55-CO Delta Dagger
			0978,0980,0982,0983,0987,0993,0996,1003,
			1006,1013,1014,1023,1028,1032,1042/1044
			converted to PQM-102B.
			0981,0988,1001,1007,1011,1016,1024,1025,
			1031,1034,1039,1040 sold to Greece.
56-1045/1136	Convair F-102A-60-CO Delta Dagger
			1046,1048,1054,1055,1057,1061 converted to
				PQM-102A.
			1081 converted to QF-102A.
			1050,1062,1063,1069,1072,1077,1082,1083,
			1086,1093,1096,1098,1101,1107,1111,1121,
			1122,1127,1130,1135,1136 converted
				to PQM-102B.
			1052,1056,1059,1079,1106,1125 sold to Greece.
56-1137/1233	Convair F-102A-65-CO Delta Dagger
			1208 converted to PQM-102A.
			1163,1170,1175,1184,1188,1193,1196,1202,1205,
			1206,1210,1211,1213,1215,1223,1227 converted
				to PQM-102B.
56-1234/1274	Convair F-102A-70-CO Delta Dagger
			1255,1256 converted to PQM-102A.
			1236,1241,1244,1248/1250,1253,1254,1257,1259,
			1261/1263,1267,1269,1270,1272,1274
				converted to PQM-102B.
56-1275/1281	Convair F-102A-75-CO Delta Dagger
			1277,1278 converted to PQM-102B.
56-1282/1285	Convair F-102A-65-CO Delta Dagger
			1284 converted to PQM-102B.
56-1286/1296	Convair F-102A-70-CO Delta Dagger
			1287,1289/1295 converted to PQM-102B.
56-1297/1429	Convair F-102A-75-CO Delta Dagger
			1323,1325,1329,1330,1331,1336,1340,1349,
			1360,1380,1384,1398,1401,1418,1419,1426
				converted to PQM-102A.
			1347,1400 converted to QF-102A.
			1300,1314,1319,1337,1341,1343,1345,1346,1350,
			1351,1356,1363,1366,1367,1373,1376,1391,1427
				converted to PQM-102A.
56-1430/1518	Convair F-102A-80-CO Delta Dagger
			1434,1460,1466,1474,1480,1487,1489,1496,
			1509,1512 converted to PQM-102A.
			1443,1475 converted to QF-102A.
			1430,1433,1439,1446,1447,1449,1453,1456,1457,
			1464,1471,1472,1476,1478,1488,1490,1494,1495,
			1497 converted to PQM-102B.
57-770/855	Convair F-102A-90-CO Delta Dagger
			0770,0771,0776,0781,0786,0792,0800,0807,0813,
			1823,0825,0829,0830,0832,0847,0849,0854,0855
			converted to PQM-102A.
			0787,0806,0808,0822,0824,0828,0831,0834,
			0839,0841,0852 converted to PQM-102B.
			 57-00775 at CLOVIS PARK, CA     
57-856/909	Convair F-102A-95-CO Delta Dagger
			08565,0869,0870,0883,0894 converted to
				PQM-102A.
			0860,0868,0871,0878,0879,0898,0899,0903,
			0907/0909 converted to PQM-102B.

 

Convair "TF-102A" Delta Dagger

Delta-winged aircraft have particular features which endow them with quite different handling characteristics than more conventional aircraft. Among these are a rather high angle of attack during takeoff and landing, and a high induced drag during turning. In order for pilots used to such aircraft as the Northrop F-89 Scorpion and the North American F-86D Sabre to be able safely to transition to the delta-winged F-102A, the Air Force thought that a two-seat trainer version of the Delta Dagger was necessary. The TF-102A two-seat combat trainer was evolved to meet this need.

Work on the two-seat Delta Dagger was done under the aegis of Weapons System WS-201L. The initial authorization of the TF-102A was on September 16, 1953. At that time, problems were still being experienced with the single seat YF-102, and further procurement of the TF-102A was deferred until these difficulties could be ironed out.

In July of 1954, an initial order for 20 TF-102As was placed, with first delivery to be in July of 1955. The TF-102A had a wider forward fuselage that seated two crew members in a side-by-side configuration. The side-by-side seating arrangement was preferred over the usual tandem seating arrangement, in the belief that it would simply in-flight training, even in spite of the fact that the broader cockpit would probably have an adverse affect on performance. Because of the new wider cockpit, the lateral air intakes had to be reconfigured. They were reshaped and mounted down lower on the fuselage than on the F-102A. The rest of the airframe was otherwise identical to that of the single-seat F-102A, and the same weapons suite could be carried. However, the Hughes MG-10 fire control system was not fitted.

A mockup of the nose section was inspected in September of 1954. In early 1955, following the successful testing of the revised YF-102A, the Air Force ordered 28 more TF-102As.

The first TF-102A (company Model 8-12) flew on October 31, 1955, with Richard L. Johnson at the controls. It was a brief hop that was cut short because of a faulty canopy seal. A month later, the Air Force gave Convair a letter contract for 150 more TF-102As

Initial testing indicated that the TF-102A's bulbous cockpit created a severe buffeting problem at high speed. A new cockpit configuration with a cut-down canopy and revised windshield was tested in April of 1956 but it did not seem to help very much. Buffeting was reduced somewhat, but only at the expense of a much poorer landing visibility. Since the aircraft was basically a trainer rather than a combat aircraft, it was felt that visibility had to be favored over speed and the original cockpit design was restored. The buffeting problem was largely cured by adding a set of vortex generators on the cockpit canopy framing in order to provide smooth airflow over the cockpit. In addition, the vertical tail was increased in area. These changes were introduced with the third TF-102A to be accepted by the USAF and were adopted as standard.

Although 111 TF-102As were ordered, only 63 were actually produced. Each F-102A squadron normally included two TF-102A two-seaters on strength.

Some TF-102A two-seaters were used on occasion in Vietnam as forward air controllers.

The TF-102A was powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23 turbojet, rated at 11,700 lbs. thrust dry and 17,200 lbs. thrust with afterburning. The TF-102A was incapable of supersonic performance in level flight, but could exceed the speed of sound in a shallow dive. Maximum speed was 646 mph at 38,000 feet (Mach 0.97). An altitude of 32,800 feet could be attained in 2 minutes 50 seconds. Ceiling was 50,000 feet. Normal loaded weight was 27,778 pounds. Dimensions were wingspan 38 feet 1 1/2 inches, length 63 feet 4 1/2 inches, height 20 feet 7 inches, wing area 661.5 square feet.

The TF-102A

Serials of the TF-102A:

54-1351/1354	Convair TF-102A-5-CO Delta Dagger
54-1355/1359	Convair TF-102A-10-CO Delta Dagger
			1356,1358,1359 converted to NTF-102A.
54-1360	Convair TF-102A-35-CO Delta Dagger
			to Turkey.
54-1361/1365	Convair TF-102A-15-CO Delta Dagger
54-1366/1368	Convair TF-102A-20-CO Delta Dagger
54-1369/1370	Convair TF-102A-25-CO Delta Dagger
55-4032/4034	Convair TF-102A-26-CO Delta Dagger
			4033 sold to Turkey.	
55-4035/4042	Convair TF-102A-30-CO Delta Dagger
			4035 sold to Greece.
55-4043/4050	Convair TF-102A-35-CO Delta Dagger
55-4051/4056	Convair TF-102A-36-CO Delta Dagger
			4053 sold to Turkey.
55-4057/4059	Convair TF-102A-37-CO Delta Dagger
56-2317/2323	Convair TF-102A-38-CO Delta Dagger
56-2324/2335	Convair TF-102A-40-CO Delta Dagger
			2325 sold to Turkey
			2326,2327,2334,2335 sold to Greece
56-2336/2353	Convair TF-102A-41-CO Delta Dagger
			2342 sold to Turkey
56-2354/2379	Convair TF-102A-45-CO Delta Dagger
			2355,2368 sold to Turkey
56-2380/2466	Cancelled contract for Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger

 

 

Squadron Service of "F-102A"

 

F-102 Operational Assignments:

 

Air Defense Command (ADC):

  • 2nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Suffolk AFB, New York, 1956 to 1959. Transitioned to F-101B 1959.
  •  
  • 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Suffolk AFB, New York, 1956 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 11th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Duluth, MN, 1956 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 18th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Wurtsmith AFB 1957 to 1960. Transitioned to F-101B 1960.
     
  • 27th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Griffiss AFB, New York, 1957 to 1959. Transitioned to F-106A 1959.
     
  • 31st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, 1956 to 1957. Transferred to Alaska Air Command 1957.
     
  • 37th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Ethan Allen, Vermont. 1957 to 1960. Inactivated 1960.
     
  • 47th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Niagra Falls, New York, 1958 to 1960. Inactivated 1960.
     
  • 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Langley AFB, Virginia, 1957 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Keflavik AB, Iceland, 1962 to July 1973. Transitioned to F-4C 1973. Last ADC F-102 squadron.
     
  • 59th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Goose Bay, Labrador, 1960-1966. Inactivated 1966.
     
  • 61st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Truax Field, Wisconsin. 1957-1960. Inactivated 1960
     
  • 64th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, McChord AFB, Washington from 1957 to 1960. At Paine Field, Washington, 1960 to 1966.
     
  • 71st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Selfridge AFB, Michigan, 1958 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 76th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Westover AFB, Massachusetts, 1961 to 1963. Inactivated 1963.
     
  • 82nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Travis AFB, California, 1957 to 1966.
     
  • 86th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Youngstown, Ohio, 1957 to 1960.
     
  • 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, 1958 to 1960. Transitioned to F-101B 1960.
     
  • 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Andrews AFB, Maryland, 1958 to 1959. Fransitioned to F-106A 1959.
     
  • 317th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, McChord AFB, Washington, 1957 to 1958.
     
  • 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, McChord AFB, Washington, 1957 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 323rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Truax Field, Wisconsin, 1956 to 1957, E. Harmon AFB, Newfoundland 1957 to 1960. Inactivated 1960.
     
  • 325th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Truax Field, Wisconsin, 1957 to 1966. Inactivated 1966
     
  • 326th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Richard Gebauer AFB, Missouri, 1957 to 1967. Inactivated 1967.
     
  • 327th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, George AFB, 1956 to 1958. Thule AB, Greenland, 1958 to 1960. Inactivated 1960.
     
  • 329th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, George AFB, California, 1958 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Webb AFB, 1960 to 1963. Transitioned to F-104A 1963.
     
  • 332nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, McGuire AFB, New Jersey, 1957 to 1959; England AFB, Louisiana 1959 to 1960; Thule AB, Greenland 1960 to 1965. Inactivated 1965.
     
  • 438th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Kincheloe AFB, Michigan, 1957 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 456th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Castle AFB, California, 1958 to 1960. Transitioned to F-106A 1960.
     
  • 460th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Portland, Oregon, 1958 to 1966. Inactivated 1966.
     
  • 482nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, 1956 to 1965. Inactivated 1965.
     
  • 498th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Geiger Field, Washington, 1957 to 1959. Transitioned to F-106A 1959.



 

Pacific Air Forces (PACAF):

  • 4th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Misawa AB, Japan, 1957 to 1965. Transitioned to F-4C/D 1965.
     
  • 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Naha AB, Okinawa, 1959 to 1965. Transitioned to F-4D 1965.
     
  • 25th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Naha AB, Okinawa.
     
  • 40th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Yokota AB, Japan, 1957 to 1965. Transitioned to F-106A 1965.
     
  • 64th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Clark AB, Philippines, 1966 to 1969. Inactivated 1969.
     
  • 68th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Itazuke AB, Japan, 1957 to 1965. Transitioned to F-4C 1965.
     
  • 82nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Naha AB, Okinawa, 1966 to May 1971. In 1968, deployed F-102As to Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam. Inactivated at Naha May 1971, last PACAF active-duty PACAF squadron.
  • 509th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Clark AB, Philippines and Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam, 1959 to 1970. In 1968, detachments were sent to Da Nang AB and Tan Son Nhut AB in Vietnam and to Don Muang in Thailand. Inactivated July 1970.



 

Alaska Air Command (AAC):

  • 317th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, 1958 to 1970. Inactivated 1970.
     
  • 31st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, 1957 to 1958. Inactivated 1958.



 

US Air Force Europe (USAFE):

  • 32nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Soesterberg AB, Netherlands, 1960 to 1969. Transitioned to F-4E 1969 and re-designated 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 431st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Zaragosa AB, Spain, 1960 to 1964. Transitioned to F-4C and re-designated 431st Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hahn AB, West Germany, 1960 to 1970. Transitioned to F-4E 1970 and re-designated 496th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 497th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Torrejon AB, Spain, 1960 to 1963. Transitioned to F-4C 197e and re-designated 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron and transferred to George AFB, California.
     
  • 525th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Bitburg AB, West Germany, Jan 1959 to Oct 1969. Transitioned to F-4E in 1969 and redesignated 525th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Ramstein AB, West Germany, 1960 to 1970. Transitioned to F-4E in 1970 and re-designated 526th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Last USAFE active-duty squadron to operate F-102.



 

Air National Guard (ANG):

  • 102nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, New York ANG, Suffolk AP, 1972 to 1975. Transitioned to HC-130H, HH-3E and re-designated 102nd ARRS.
     
  • 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Texas ANG, Ellington ANGS, 1960 to 1975. Transitioned to F-101B 1975.
     
  • 116th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Washington ANG, Geiger Field, 1965 to 1969. Transitioned to F-101B 1969.
     
  • 118th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Connecticut ANG, Bradley ANGS, 1966 to 1971. Transitioned to F-100D in 1971 and re-designated 118th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
  • 122nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Louisiana ANG, NAS New Orleans, 1960 to 1971. Transitioned to F-100D 1971 and re-designated 122nd Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 123rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Oregon ANG, Portland IAP, 1966 to 1971. Transitioned to F-101B 1971.
     
  • 132nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Maine ANG, Bangor, 1969 to 1970. Transitioned to F-101B 1970.
     
  • 134th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Vermont ANG, Burlington IAP, 1965 to 1975. Transitioned to EB-57B/E in 1975 and re-designated 134th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron.
     
  • 146th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Pennsylvania ANG, Pittsburgh AP, 1961 to 1975. Transitioned to A-7D 1975 and re-designated 146th Tactical Fighter Squadron
     
  • 151st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Tennessee ANG, McGhee-Tyson AP, 1963 to 1964. Transitioned to KC-97G 1964 and re-designated 151st Air Refueling Squadron.
     
  • 152nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Arizona ANG, Tucson IAP, 1966 to 1969. Transitioned to F-100C in 1969 and re-designated 152nd Tactical Fighter Training Squadron.
     
  • 157th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, South Carolina ANG, MacEntire ANGB, 1963 to 1975. Transitioned to F-100C 1975 and re-designated 157th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 159th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Florida ANG, Thomas Cole Imeson AP 1960 to 1968, Jacksonville IAP 1968 to 1974. Transitioned to F-106A 1974.
     
  • 175th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, South Dakota ANG, Sioux Falls MAP, 1960 to 1970. Transitioned to F-100D 1970 and re-designated 175th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 176th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Wisconsin ANG, Truax Field 1966 to 1974. Transitioned to O-2A 1974 and re-designated 176th Tactical Air Support Squadron.
     
  • 178th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, North Dakota ANG, Hector Field, 1966 to 1969. Transitioned to F-101B 1969.
     
  • 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Minnesota ANG, Duluth MAP, 1966 to 1971. Transitioned to F-101B 1971.
     
  • 182nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Texas ANG, Kelly AFB, 1960 to 1969. Tranitoned to F-84F 1969, re-designated 182nd Tactical Fighter Squadron.
     
  • 186th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Montana ANG, Great Falls IAP, 1966 to 1972. Transitioned to F-106A 1972.
  •  
  • 190th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Idaho ANG, Boise Air Terminal, 1964 to 1975. Transitioned to RF-4C in 1975 and re-designated 190th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.
     
  • 194th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, California ANG, Fresno Air Terminal, 1964 to 1974. Transitioned to F-106A 1974.
     
  • 196th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, California ANG, Ontario IAP, 1965 to 1975. Transitioned to O-2A 1975 and re-designated 196th Tactical Fighter Squadron
     
  • 199th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hawaii ANG, Hickam AFB, Dec 1960 to Jan 1977. Transitioned to F-4C 1976 and re-designated 199th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Operated F-102 longer than any other unit.

 

 

Convair "F-102B"

The Air Force authorized the fitting of a Westinghouse J40 turbojet in the first few examples of the F-102, but later production aircraft were to have the appreciably more-powerful Wright J67 (a license-built version of the Bristol Olympus). The J40-powered F-102 was to be capable of a speed of Mach 1.88 at 56,500 feet, with the J67 production version capable of Mach 1.93 at 62,000 feet.

By December of 1951, it was apparent that the Wright J67 engine and the MA-1 fire-control system would not be ready in time. This forced the USAF to change its plans. At that time, the Air Force decided to proceed with an interim version of its 1954 Interceptor, one which could be introduced into service at an early date, pending the availability of the fully-developed version at a later time. The interim version was to be designated F-102A, with the fully-developed advanced version being designated F-102B. The F-102A was to be powered by the less-powerful Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet, but the F-102B was to retain the high-thrust J67. The F-102A would be equipped with an interim fire-control system, but the F-102B would be equipped from the outset with the highly-sophisticated fire control system being developed by Hughes under project MX-1179.

Although the F-102A was considered only as an interim version pending the availability of the F-102B, the F-102A ran into some unexpected developmental difficulties and fell behind schedule. A lot of money that had originally been planned for the F-102B now had to be diverted into fixing the F-102A's problems. Consequently, the F-102B fell even further behind schedule and began to lose some of its original high priority.

By mid-1953, the MX-1179 fire control system (later to be known as the MA-1) was slipping badly, and it took another year before an experimental installation could be installed aboard a T-29B for testing. At the same time, the Wright J67 engine was experiencing difficulties of its own. The Air Force had to consider alternative power-plants, and finally settled on the Pratt & Whitney J75, which was an advanced version of the J57 which was used in the F-102A. The substitution of the J75 engine for the J67 was approved in early 1955.

Seventeen F-102Bs were ordered in November of 1955. Their serials were 56-451/467. The F-102B mockup was ready for inspection in December of 1955. On April 18, 1956, the Air Force finalized the F-102B production contract of the previous November, earmarking all of the 17 aircraft ordered exclusively for testing. One prototype was to be delivered in December of 1956, with the others to follow in January of 1957.

On June 17, 1956, the designation of the F-102B was changed to F-106A. This re-designation was a recognition of the past technical differences that had distorted the original F-102 program and also a recognition that the F-102B was by now a completely different aircraft from the F-102A and was far more advanced.


 

Convair "F-102C"

The F-102C (briefly known as the F-102X) was a proposal for a tactical strike version of the Delta Dagger. It was powered by the J57-P-47 engine and had structural modifications designed to increase its performance in a tactical role. Changes in the internal fire controls system were also made.

Two F-102As (53-1797 and 53-1806) were modified as YF-102C engineering test-beds, but the concept was rejected by the USAF in April of 1957. 53-1797 ended up in a Honolulu technical school.

 

F-102s with Greece and Turkey

The F-102 Delta Dagger was used by only two foreign air forces, those of Greece and Turkey.

Beginning in 1968, approximately fifty F-102As and TF-102As were transferred to Turkey from USAF stocks. Before transfer to Turkey, they were overhauled by CASA in Seville. They were initially assigned to the 191st Filo (Squadron) based at Murted, replacing the F-84F Thunderstreaks previously assigned to this unit. This unit was re-designated 142nd Filo in early 1973. In 1971, F-102s were also assigned to the 182nd Filo based at Diyarbakir, replacing the F-84Fs previously being flown by this unit. F-102s remained in service with these two squadrons until mid-1979, when they were replaced by the F-104G in the 142nd Filo and by the F-100C in the 182nd Filo. A couple of Turkish F-102As are reported to have been shot down by Greek F-5As in mid-1974 when Greece and Turkey clashed over Cyprus. One kill was by a AIM-9B Sidewinder, the other was by cannon fire.

In light of the supply of Delta Daggers to Turkey, it probably comes as no surprise that F-102As and TF-102As were also transferred to Greece. In 1969, Greece acquired 24 of these aircraft for use by the 114 Pterix (Wing) at Tanagra. 19 of them were single-seat F-102As, five were two-seat F-102Bs. They served with the Greek air force until 1978, when the F-102s were replaced by Mirage F1CG fighters.

 

 

F-102 Drones

In 1973, there were nearly four hundred surplus F-102As in storage at the Davis-Monthan facility, most of them having recently been withdrawn from service with the Air National Guard. The Air Force decided to convert these planes into low-cost, supersonic target drones that could simulate the performance of enemy aircraft in aerial combat. In 1973, the Sperry Rand Corporation converted six of these airplanes into QF-102A piloted drones for use as flying targets in support of the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle test program. Even though these aircraft were equipped with remote control electronics for operation from the ground, they retained conventional piloted controls for use in contractor-operated flights. The first flight of the QF-102A was made in March of 1974. QF-102As were assigned numbers beginning from 501.

Subsequently, Sperry converted 65 surplus F-102A aircraft under the *Pave Deuce* program as true remotely-controlled drones under the designation PQM-102A. In these aircraft, the pilot's seat and cockpit instruments were replaced by a set of remote control electronics, so that they could only be flown by remote pilots on the ground. These aircraft were to be used in anti-aircraft missile training. The first PQM-102A flew on August 13, 1974. Later aircraft were delivered in stripped configuration, with all redundant systems being removed in order to save cost. The first of these stripped PQM-102As was flown on February 17, 1977. They were numbered from 601 onwards.

The US Army acquired seven PQM-102As for use in evaluation of the Stinger and SAM-D (later named Patriot) surface-to-air missiles. Most of the remainder were used by the USAF at Tyndall AFB and Holloman AFB.

Sperry was awarded another contract in 1978 for the conversion of 66 more surplus F-102As to PQM-102B configuration. The PQM-102B differed from the A version by having remote control electronics in the nose instead of the cockpit so that piloted flight was possible. A contract for eighty more PQM-102Bs was issued to Goodyear. PQM-102Bs were numbered from 701 on.

The last PQM-102B (56-1072) was expended at Holloman AFB in 1986.

By Joe Baugher

 

Sources:

  1. General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors, John Wegg, Naval Institute Press, 1990.
     
  2. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft Armament, Bill Gunston, Orion, 1988.
     
  3. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.
     
  4. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.
     
  5. Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David Donald, Temple Press Aerospace, 1990.
     
  6. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.
     
  7. Post-World War II Fighters, 1945-1973, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of Air Force History, 1986.
     
  8. The World Guide to Combat Planes, William Green, MacDonald, London, 1966
     
  9. The World's Fighting Planes, William Green, Doubleday, 1964.
     
  10. The Aircraft of the World, William Green and Gerald Pollinger, Doubleday, 1965.
     
  11. F-102 Delta Dagger, Benoit Colin, Combat Aircraft, Vol 1 No 3, September 1997.
     
  12. E-mail from Ben Nystuen and Poss Horton on F-102A midair re-fuelling.

 

 

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