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The Century Series Aircraft


The Century Series Of Aircraft

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The Century Series

The most beautiful era in the history of American military aircraft design and production was the nineteen fifties and sixties when those beautiful jet fighters known as the "Century Series" ruled the skies of the world.

I personally do not feel that the F-111 or the F-117 belong in the category of "Century Series Aircraft".  However, they are included here simply for the sake of completeness. 

        The Webmaster


When the Korean War began, the Air Force could only field fighters that had entered design and development prior to 1947. For the 1954-1957 period, however, new fighters were at various points in the research and development cycle. They were popularly called the Century Series due to their numerical designations. Three of these aircraft were descended from existing fighter designs. The remaining were entirely new concept approaches that entered their initial design stages in or after 1952. None of the Century Series fighters would reach production during the Korean War, but their development was of the highest priority during the early 1950s. Because of Korean air combat needs, the Air Force chose to accelerate development of the first three Century fighters in 1952.



The North American F-100 "Super Sabre"

 The F-100 was the USAF's first operational aircraft capable of flying faster than the speed of sound (760 mph) in level flight. It made its initial flight on May 25, 1953 and the first production aircraft was completed in October 1953. North American built 2,294 F-100s before production ended in 1959.



The McDonnell F-101 "Voo Doo" 

Developed from the XF-88 penetration fighter, the F-101 originally was designed as a long-range bomber escort for the Strategic Air Command. However, when high-speed, high-altitude jet bombers such as the B-52 entered active service, escort fighters were not needed. Therefore, before production began, the F-101's design was changed to fill both tactical and air defense roles.

The F-101 made its first flight on Sep. 29, 1954. The first production F-101A became operational in May 1957, followed by the F-101C in Sep. 1957 and the F-101B in Jan. 1959. By the time F-101 production ended in March 1961, McDonnell had built 785 Voodoos including 480 F-101Bs, the two-seat, all-weather interceptor used by the Air Defense Command. In the reconnaissance versions, the Voodoo was the world's first supersonic photo-recon aircraft. These RF-101s were used widely for low-altitude photo coverage of missile sites during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and during the late 1960s in Southeast Asia.



The  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.

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.



The Republic F-103 "Thunder Warrior"

The XF-103 was developed as a high-speed high-altitude aircraft specifically designed to intercept incoming enemy bombers. The XF-103 was proposed in the same contract competition that resulted in the Convair F-102--Project MX-1554 Interceptor Fighter Airplane. The Republic design, Model AP-57, underwent a design performance evaluation conducted by the Air Material Command (AMC). The results showed an estimated top speed of 1438 knots. A limiting Mach number of 3.0 was quoted due to excessive (estimated) turbine inlet air temperature. The Republic AP-57 design was ranked 8th out of 9 entries for design.

The USAF canceled the XF-103 development contract on 21 August, 1957 when the aircraft was in the mock-up phase.



The  Lockheed  F-104 "Delta Dagger"

Ambitious was the design and sales skill of F-104. sharp blade like wing attached body, bribes for politician. Beautiful shape of F-104 was reminded high potential jet fighter. Shock corn was a symbol of over Mach 2 speed. The couple of no extra flesh body and excellent engine marks many records that still remarkable level in today. F-104 is mainly used for outside of U.S. NATO and Japan, India, etc. The reason why U.S.A.F. mentioned was poor radar ( under 50 km ), poor arms ( two AAM when sub tank attached ), short operation range. These weak points maybe not so problem for closed erea when grand radar system connected. In Germany, F104 used Lo altitude attacker, so many accident occurred. Then F-104 called "Widow maker". In Japan, F-104 used as interceptor, it was best way to use F-104, I think.


The Republic  F-105 "Thunder Chief"



The F-105 (affectionately nicknamed "Thud") evolved from a project begun in 1951 by Republic Aviation to develop a supersonic tactical fighter-bomber to replace the F-84F. The prototype first flew on October 22, 1955, but the first production aircraft, an F-105B, was not delivered to the USAF until 1958. The F-105D all-weather strike fighter and the two-place F-105F dual-purpose trainer-fighter also were built before F-105 production (833 aircraft) ended in 1964.



The Convair F-106 "Delta Dart"





The F-106 all-weather interceptor was developed from the Convair F-102 "Delta Dagger." Originally designated the F-102B, it was re-designated F-106 because it had extensive structural changes and a more powerful engine. The first F-106A flew on Dec. 26, 1956, and deliveries to the Air Force began in July 1959. Production ended in late 1960 after 277 F-106As and 63 F-106Bs had been built.

The F-106 uses a Hughes MA-1 electronic guidance and fire control system. After takeoff, the MA-1 can be given control of the aircraft to fly it to the proper altitude and attack position. Then it can fire the Genie and Falcon missiles, break off the attack run, and return the aircraft to the vicinity of its base. The pilot takes control again for the landing.  

It is still the fastest single engine aircraft in the world!



The North American F-107

The F-107A was originally designed as a tactical fighter-bomber version of the F-100, with a recessed weapon bay under the fuselage. However, extensive design changes resulted in its re-designation from F-100B to F-107A before the first prototype flew. Special features included an all-moving vertical fin; a control system which permitted the plane to roll at supersonic speeds; and a system (Variable Area Inlet Duct) which automatically controlled the amount of air fed to the jet engine.

On Sept. 10, 1956, the No. 1 F-107A made its initial flight, attaining Mach 1.03 (The speed of sound, Mach 1, is about 760 mph at sea level). The aircraft first achieved Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound) in tests on Nov. 3, 1956. Three F-107As were built as prototypes and were test flown extensively, but the aircraft did not go into production, the Republic F-105 having been selected as the standard fighter-bomber for the Tactical Air Command. In late 1957, Nos. 1 and 3 were leased to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) for high-speed flight research.



The North American F-108 "Rapier"


The North American F-108 was designed as a very high speed (mach 3) interceptor and escort fighter for the B-70 "Valkyrie" bomber under development at the same time. The delta wing Rapier, in its pre-mockup phase, was to have a canard (forward-mounted pitch-control surface), and three vertical stabilizers: one on the fuselage centerline a a pair at the halfway point on the wing trailing edge for high speed stabilization at speeds above mach 2.

The aircraft design was changed during the mockup phase. The canard was removed and the upper portions of the wing-mounted vertical stabilizers were removed. The wing was changed from a standard delta to a double-delta; the winglet incorporated a droop and 45 degree sweep (the main wing had about a 65 degree sweep).

The F-108 program was canceled on 23 September, 1959 never getting past the mockup phase.



The Bell F-109





Although the aircraft never got beyond the mock-up stage, it had some unusual design features. The aircraft was to have eight J85 turbojet engines; a pair of engines was mounted on each wingtip in a rotating nacelle, the other four engines were mounted in the fuselage, two horizontal in the aft section and two vertically in the forward fuselage to provide downward thrust for hover and low speed flight. The wingtip nacelles were designed to rotate through a 100 degree arc; horizontal to 10 degrees past vertical, allowing the aircraft to fly a backwards hover.



The McDonnell F-110

McDonnell YF4H 



The F-110A was the USAF designation for what was to become the F-4C. On 18 September 1962, the USAF and US Navy aircraft designation systems were combined into a single scheme resulting in the F-1 to F-11. The USAF F-110A and US Navy F4H-1 became F-4C and F-4B respectively.

Operation High-speed, a fly-off competition between the USAF F-106A and the US Navy F4H-1 (F-4B) resulted in a convincing win for the F4H-1. The USAF was loaned two US Navy aircraft (BuNo 149405/406) for a 120-day extended evaluation on 24 January 1962. Twenty-seven more F-4Bs were eventually loaned to the USAF for service evaluation, most of which were returned to the US Navy after the F-4C entered production.



The General Dynamics FB-111 Aardvark





The FB-111A was the result of a requirement, announced in December 1965, to replace aging Boeing B-52C and -F models and the Convair B-58A. General Dynamics proposed modifying its F-111A fighter as the interim strategic bomber needed by the US Air Force. The Air Force accepted the proposal and designated the aircraft FB-111A. The FB designation was nonstandard. If the USAF assigned a new designation, the aircraft would have been assigned B-1. If the USAF followed the secondary role naming convention, the aircraft would have been assigned BF-111A (for example, the reconnaissance version of the F-4 is RF-4 not FR-4)



The Lockheed F-117 Night Hawk

Aurora / Senior Trend






The Lockheed F-117A was developed in response to an Air Force request for an aircraft capable of attacking high value targets without being detected by hostile radar systems. By the 1970s, special materials and techniques had become available to aircraft designers that would allow them to design an aircraft with radar-evading or "stealth" qualities. The result was the F-117A, the world's first operational aircraft that fully incorporated radar-evading techniques.


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