THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

THE PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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President George W. Bush and The F-102

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George W. Bush's military service began in 1968 when he enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard after graduating with a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University. The aircraft that he was ultimately trained to fly was the F-102 Delta Dagger. The F-102 may have been old but was far from useless, and it continued to serve proudly with both Air Force and Air National Guard units well into the 1970s. Furthermore, the F-102 was deployed to Vietnam throughout most of the conflict, and the aircraft proved its value early by deterring North Vietnamese pilots from straying across the border. Perhaps more importantly, the F-102 and its Air National Guard pilots performed a vital role in defending the continental United States from nuclear attack.

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F-102 Delta Dagger

Internal weapons bays on the F-102 Delta Dagger

F-102 of the 111th FIS of the Texas ANG

Rows of F-102 fighters stationed at Tan Son Nhut in Vietnam in 1969

Camouflaged F-102 interceptors on patrol over South Vietnam

The F-102 was a supersonic second generation fighter designed in the early 1950s for the US Air Force. The primary mission of the aircraft was to intercept columns of Soviet nuclear bombers attempting to reach targets in the US and destroy them with air-to-air missiles. The technologies incorporated into the aircraft were state-of-the-art for the day. The F-102 set many firsts, including the first all-weather delta-winged combat aircraft, the first fighter capable of maintaining supersonic speed in level flight, and the first interceptor to have an armament entirely of missiles. Among the many innovations incorporated into the design were the use of the area rule to reduce aerodynamic drag and an advanced electronic fire control system capable of guiding the aircraft to a target and automatically launching its missiles.

The F-102 made its first flight in 1953 and entered service with the Air Defense Command (ADC) in 1956. About 1,000 Delta Daggers were built, and although eventually superseded by the related F-106 Delta Dart, the F-102 remained one of the most important aircraft in the ADC through the mid-1960s. At its peak, the aircraft made up over half of the interceptors operated by the ADC and equipped 32 squadrons across the continental US. Additional squadrons were based in western Europe, the Pacific, and Alaska.

As the 1960s continued, many of these aircraft were transferred from the US Air Force to Air National Guard (ANG) units. More than 500 Delta Daggers would eventually serve with 23 ANG units across the US, including squadrons in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Because of thier important role in defending North America, these ANG units came under direct authority of the ADC itself and were considered a vital component of the Air Force's strategy to defend the US.

One of the primary ANG units to receive the F-102 was the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) at Ellington Air National Guard Station, which operated the aircraft from 1960 through 1974. These planes were given responsibility for patrolling the Gulf Coast and intercepting Soviet aircraft based in Cuba that regularly flew off the US shore to test American defenses. The 111th was and still is part of the 147th Fighter Wing in Houston, Texas. It was here that George W. Bush was stationed following his enlistment in May 1968.

The Air National Guard has often been ridiculed as a safe place for military duty during the Vietnam War. However, pilots from the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, as it was called at the time, were actually conducting combat missions in Vietnam when Bush enlisted. Air Force F-102 squadrons had been stationed in Thailand since 1961 and South Vietnam since March 1962. It was during this time that the Kennedy administration began building up a large US military presence in the region as a deterrent against North Vietnamese invasion.

USAF F-102 squadrons continued to be stationed in both nations throughout most of the Vietnam War. The planes were typically used for fighter defense patrols and as escorts for B-52 bomber raids. The F-102 was considered one of the most useful air defense aircraft in theater because it had the fastest response time of any fighter stationed in South Vietnam.

While the F-102 had few opportunities to engage in its primary role of air combat, the aircraft was used in the close air support role starting in 1965. Armed with unguided rockets, Delta Daggers would make attacks on Viet Cong encampments in an attempt to harass enemy soldiers. Amazingly, some missions were even conducted using the aircraft's heat-seeking air-to-air missiles to lock onto enemy campfires at night. Though the F-102 had not been designed for this type of combat, pilots did often report secondary explosions coming from their targets. An Aviation Week article of the period credited the 509th FIS, an F-102 squadron stationed in Vietnam, with destroying 106 buildings, damaging 59 more, sinking 16 sampans, and destroying one bridge during 199 sorties over the course of 45 days.

These missions were also dangerous, given the risks inherent to low-level attacks against armed ground troops. A total of 15 F-102 fighters were lost in Vietnam. Three were shot down by anti-aircraft or small arms fire, one was lost in air-to-air combat with a MiG-21, four were destroyed on the ground during Viet Cong mortar attacks, and the remainder succumbed to accidents.

Such accidents were quite common even in peacetime conditions, which is not unusual for military aircraft whose pilots risk their lives on every flight. ANG members of the period who we've been able to locate indicate that only highly qualified pilot candidates were accepted for Delta Dagger training because it was such a challenging aircraft to fly and left little room for mistakes. According to the Air Force Safety Center, the lifetime Class A accident rate for the F-102 was 13.69 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours, and the rate was especially high during the early years of the plane's service.

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The Lockheed S-3 Viking is a jet aircraft originally used by the United States Navy to identify, track, and destroy enemy submarines. In the late 1990s, the S-3B's mission focus shifted to surface warfare and aerial refueling.

This poor safety record may have been due in part to a deadly flaw in the aircraft's design that caused an engine stall and loss of control under a certain combination of angle of attack and airspeed frequently encountered during takeoff. According to a former F-102 pilot we've interviewed, this problem caused the plane to roll inverted and resulted in several fatal crashes. Numerous accidents were also encountered during landing because of the plane's high angle of attack and airspeed that reduced the pilot's visibility and reaction time. These factors have traditionally been two of the primary disadvantages of delta wing aircraft and explain why the pure delta wing design was later abandoned. Today's delta wing aircraft are typically equipped with leading edge extensions or canards that improve safety and performance. Luckily, F-102 operators overcame these deficiencies thanks to good pilot training and control lockouts that prevented the plane from reaching extreme conditions, and the F-102 went on to become one of the safer fighters of its day.

Regardless, the F-102 was still far more dangerous to fly than today's combat aircraft. Compared to the F-102's lifetime accident rate of 13.69, today's planes generally average around 4 mishaps per 100,000 hours. For example, compare the F-16 at 4.14, the F-15 at 2.47, the F-117 at 4.07, the S-3 at 2.6, and the F-18 at 4.9. Even the Marine Corps' AV-8B, regarded as the most dangerous aircraft in US service today, has a lifetime accident rate of only 11.44 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. The F-102 claimed the lives of many pilots, including a number stationed at Ellington during Bush's tenure. Of the 875 F-102A production models that entered service, 259 were lost in accidents that killed 70 Air Force and ANG pilots.

Nevertheless, we have established that the F-102 was serving in combat in Vietnam at the time Bush enlisted to become an F-102 pilot. Air National Guard pilots from the 147th FIG, where Bush was stationed, even served combat duty in Vietnam routinely under a volunteer program called "Palace Alert" from 1968 to 1970. Palace Alert was an Air Force program that sent qualified F-102 pilots from the ANG to bases in Europe or southeast Asia for three to six months of frontline service. This program was instituted because the Air Force lacked sufficient pilots of its own for duty in Vietnam but was unable to activate ANG units since Presidents Johnson and Nixon had decided not to do so for political reasons. Thanks to Palace Alert, the Air Force was able to transfer much-needed National Guard pilots to Vietnam on a voluntary basis while not actually activating any ANG squadrons.

Fred Bradley, a friend of Bush's who was also serving in the Texas ANG, reported that he and Bush inquired about participating in the Palace Alert program. However, the two were told by a superior, MAJ Maurice Udell, that they were not yet qualified since they were still in training and did not have the 500 hours of flight experience required. Furthermore, ANG veteran COL William Campenni, who was a fellow pilot in the 111th FIS at the time, told the Washington Times that Palace Alert was winding down and not accepting new applicants.

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TF-102 trainer

F-102 Delta Dagger and F-101 Voodoo interceptors of the Texas ANG

After being accepted into the ANG, Airman Basic Bush was selected to attend pilot training even though his test scores were the lowest acceptable for that position. His six weeks of basic training was completed at Lackland AFB in Texas during July and August of 1968. Upon its completion, Bush was promoted to the officer's rank of second lieutenant required for pilot candidates. He spent the next year in flight school at Moody AFB in Georgia from November 1968 to November 1969. The aircraft Lt. Bush trained aboard were the T-41 Mescelero propeller-driven basic trainer, T-37 Tweet primary jet trainer, and possibly the T-38 Talon advanced jet trainer. Bush ranked 22 out of 53 students in his flight school class with a grade of 88 on total airmanship. His scores included 100 for flying without navigational instruments, 89 in flight planning, and 98 in aviation physiology. Bush also completed two weeks of survival training during this period.

Bush then returned to Ellington in Texas to complete seven months of combat crew training on the F-102 from December 1969 to June 1970. This period included five weeks of training on the T-33 Shooting Star and 16 weeks aboard the TF-102 Delta Dagger two-seat trainer and finally the single-seat F-102A. Bush graduated from the training program in June 1970. The previously mentioned Maurice Udell was a flight instructor for Lt. Bush who was interviewed by the Associated Press in February 2004. MAJ Udell recalled that Bush was one of his best students saying that, "I'd rank him in the top five percent."

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George W. Bush during his service with the Air National Guard

As Bush was completing his training and being certified as a qualified pilot, there was always the possibility that the ANG might be mobilized in order to send F-102 squadrons to Vietnam. However, the F-102 had originally been stationed in that theater to guard against the possibility of air attack from the North, a danger that never materialized since North Vietnamese pilots refused to stray south of the border and outside their own protective SAM barrier. This lack of a threat prompted the Air Force to gradually withdraw the F-102 from southeast Asia beginning in December 1969 and concluding in May 1971. The F-102 was instead returned to its primary role of providing air defense for the United States. This vital mission had been almost entirely transferred to the ANG by that time since the Air Force had become increasingly tasked with its overseas responsibilities in Europe and Asia.

Ellington, where Bush was stationed, has remained a National Guard air defense base until the present day. In the early 1970s, however, the facility also took on a secondary duty as the only training base for all F-102 pilots in the ANG, including some 15 or so squadrons at the time. Lt. Bush remained in the Texas ANG as a certified F-102 pilot who participated in frequent drills and alerts through April of 1972. It appears that he remained on air defense alert since he did not meet the minimum of 1,000 flying hours needed to become an F-102 pilot instructor. Bush had over 600 flight hours when he left the Guard, but only 278 of these were aboard the F-102 and TF-102.

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Wreckage of an F-102 destroyed by enemy fire in Vietnam

By this time, the 147th Fighter Wing was also beginning to phase out the F-102 in the air defense role in favor of F-101B and F-101F two-seat long-range interceptors. As the Ellington F-102 fleet was transitioned to training ANG pilots from other units or retired from service, the F-101 took its place as the primary air defense fighter for the Texas ANG. The base received its first F-101 in May 1971 and its final F-102 was retired in August 1974. The F-102 remained in use with several other units until 1976 when the 199th FIS of the Hawaii ANG finally concluded the long and proud service of "the Deuce," as it was affectionately known.

Bush was honorably discharged from the Air National Guard in October 1973 at the rank of first lieutenant. An ANG physical dated 15 May 1971 indicates that he had logged 625 flight hours by that time, and he ultimately completed 326 hours as pilot and 10 as co-pilot while serving with the 111th FIS in Texas. In the fall of 1973, Bush began coursework at the Harvard Business School where he received an MBA in 1975.

This article has relied on a number of print sources and first-hand accounts. Particularly informative in describing the history and military service of the F-102 Delta Dagger has been the fantastic book Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War and its 65 page article entitled "Convair F-102 Delta Dagger" by Robert F. Dorr. Other sources that provided background information as well as interesting details include The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft by David Donald, ed., Convair F-102 Delta Dagger by Wayne Mutza, and David Isby's Jane's Fighter Combat in the Jet Age. Another superb resource is Joe Baugher's American Military Aircraft, particularly the F-102A and Squadron Service sections.

We are also indebted to a number of former pilots and ground crew who flew and maintained the F-102 at Air Force and National Guard bases around the world from 1958 to 1973. These retired servicemen have provided extensive details and expertise in documenting the history of the F-102 and providing relevant comparisons to more recent planes that our staff members have experience flying.


 by Greg Alexander
 by Joe Yoon,

 

 

Convair F-102 Delta Dagger : The primary mission of the F-102 was to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft. It was the world's first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor and the USAF's first operational delta-wing aircraft. The F-102 made its initial flight on Oct. 24, 1953 and became operational with the Air Defense Command in 1956. At the peak of deployment in the late 1950's, F-102s equipped more than 25 ADC squadrons. Convair built 1,000 F-102s, 875 of which were F-102As. The USAF also bought 111 TF-102s as combat trainers with side-by-side seating.

In a wartime situation, after electronic equipment on board the F-102 had located the enemy aircraft, the F-102's radar would guide it into position for attack. At the proper moment, the electronic fire control system would automatically fire the F-102's air-to-air rockets and missiles.

 


SPECIFICATIONS
Span:
38 ft. 1 in.
Length: 68 ft. 4 in. (including boom)
Height: 21 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 31,559 lbs. max.
Armament: 24 unguided 2.75 inch rockets and six guided missiles
Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J57 of 16,000 lbs. thrust with afterburner
Cost: $1,184,000

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed: 810 mph.
Cruising speed: 600 mph.
Range: 1,000 miles
Service Ceiling: 55,000 ft.

 


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.

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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 lb.s.t. dry and 17,200 lb.s.t. 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.

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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 redesignated 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.

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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 underwing drop tanks, and provision for 2.75-inch unguided rockets in place of the 2-inch rockets originally carried. When the underwing 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.

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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 Sout 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 F-102A of the 509th FIS was 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.

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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.

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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 groundfire 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, Oregion, 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 refueling. However, there were some examples of the F-102A that were fitted in the field with probe and drogue in-flight refueling 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 refueling probes.

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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:

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Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23 turbojet, 10,200 lb.s.t. dry and 16,000 lb.s.t. with afterburning, or a J57-P-25, 11,700 lb.s.t. dry and 17,200 lb.s.t. 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 underwing 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 semiactive 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.


 

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