Convair 8 / F-102 Delta Dagger
The Convair F-102 Delta Dagger resulted from a 1950 USAF design competition for an integral all-weather interceptor weapon system. Combining the Hughes Falcon air-to-air missile, the delta wing platform first flown on the XF-92A, and the 4944kg thrust Pratt & Whitney J57-P-11 turbojet, the first of 10 YF-102s (52-7994/7995 and 53-1779/1786) flew at Edwards AFB, California, on 24 October 1953, piloted by Dick Johnson. The prototype was lost in a mishap nine days later.
The YF-102 was not a success, proving unable to maintan supersonic speeds in level flight. The fuselage was completely redesigned into a ‘coke bottle’ shape using the area rule concept, and a more powerful engine installed. The indented fuselage or 'area rule' configuration was developed by NACA's Richard Whitcomb was introduced in the much-altered YF-102A, which was assembled in 117 days.
The first of four YF-102As (53-1787/1790) flew at Edwards AFB on 20 December 1954, again piloted by Dick Johnson, not merely with 'area rule' but with cambered wing, new canopy (except on 53-1788) and 5443kg thrust Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23. The new design was supersonic and met USAF expectations.
Development included the introduction pf a larger fin from the 23rd production aircraft.
The primary weapon was the Hughes AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missle, coupled with the Hughes MG-10 fire control system. Introduced later was the AIM-26, some nuclear tipped.
The production F-102A began to reach Air Defense Command squadrons in June 1955. The first two-seat TF-102A combat proficiency trainer (54-1351) flew at Edwards AFB 8 November 1955 and operated alongside F-102As in ADC service.
Service entry began with the first examples delivered in April 1956 to the 327th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) at George, California.
The F-102B designation was briefly assigned to a new aircraft completed as the F-106. The little-known YF-102C (53-1806), a converted F-102A model, tested change in the internal fire control system, but these were not adopted.
The F-102A eventually served with 32 ADC and 21 States ANG squadrons. Air Defense Command machines went through several modernisation programmes before being relegated to the ANG, the internal provision for rockets being eventually omitted. A few F-102As went to Greece (20 F-102A and 4 TF-102A) and Turkey (40 F-102A and 9 TF-102A). A few camouflaged F-102As were deployed to South East Asia in 1964-6, and to Korea in 1968 but, while they flew a few missions over North Vietnam, they are not thought to have actually been in combat. No air-to-air kills were achieved but one F-102A was shot down by a MiG-21 on 5 February 1968.
Most F-102A squadrons had converted to other types by the end of 1971. The last US operational user was the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th FIS which received its first F-4C Phantom replacement in October 1975.
Greece retired their F-102As in 1979, with Turkey withdrawing its last 13 fighters and five trainers on 5 June 1979.
In March 1973, the USAF awarded Sperry a contract to convert an initial 6 F-102As as a fully manoeuvrable manned or unmanned target drones under the Pave Deuce programme as PQM-102As. Over 200 were eventually converted, operating until 1986.
Numerous F-102A airframes have been saved, the 199th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Hawaii Air National Guard having retained no fewer than four non-flyable F-102As for display purposes after transitioning to the F-4C Phantom.
Total Delta Dagger production was exactly 1000 airplanes built at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field, comprising 10 YF-102, 4 YF-102A, 875 F-102A and 111 TF-102A trainers.
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger
Engines: 1 x Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23 turbojet, 17,200 lb (5307/7802kp) thrust.
Length: 68 ft 4.5 in (20.84m)
Wingspan: 38 ft 1.5 in (11.62m)
Wing area: 695.031 sqft / 64.57 sq.m
Wing loading: 45.31 lb/sq.ft / 221.0 kg/sq.m
Height: 21 ft 2.5 in (6.46m)
Empty Weight: 19,026lbs (8,630kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 31,500lbs (14,288kg)
Maximum Speed: 825mph (1,328kmh; 717kts) at 36,000 ft
Cruising speed: 469 kts / 869 km/h
Cruising altitude: 34449 ft / 10500 m
Maximum Range: 1,350miles (2,173km)
Rate-of-Climb: 17,400ft/min (5,304m/min)
Service Ceiling: 54,003ft (16,460m)
6 x AIM-4A / AIM-4C Falcon Air-to-Air Missiles
2 x 2.75" Rocket Pods (24-shot, unguided rockets)
Nuclear Capable munitions as needed.