Hobby Master HA3601 USAF Convair F-106A Delta Dart Interceptor - 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 102nd Fighter Interceptor Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, April 1982 (1:72 Scale)
"Omnis Vir Tigris (Everyone A Tiger)."
- Motto of the 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron
The Convair F-106 Delta Dart was the primary all-weather interceptor aircraft for the United States Air Force from the 1960s through the 1980s. Designed as the so-called "Ultimate Interceptor", it has proven to be the last dedicated interceptor in USAF service to date. It was gradually retired during the 1980s, with the QF-106 drone conversions of the aircraft being used until 1998.
The F-106 emerged from the USAF's 1954 interceptor program of the early 1950s as an advanced derivative of the F-102 known as the "F-102B", for which the United States Air Force placed an order for in November 1955. The aircraft featured so many modifications and design changes it became a new design in its own right, redesignated F-106 on June 17th, 1956.
The F-102's delta wing had to be redesigned with an area ruled fuselage to achieve supersonic speed in level flight. To exceed Mach 2, the largely new F-106 featured a more powerful Pratt & Whitney J-75-P-17 afterburning turbojet with enlarged intake diameter to compensate for the increased airflow requirements and a variable geometry inlet duct, which allowed the aircraft improved performance particularly at supersonic speeds, as well as permitting a shorter inlet duct. The fuselage was cleaned up and simplified in many ways featuring a modified, slightly enlarged wing area and a redesigned vertical tail surface. The aircraft's exhaust nozzle featured a device known as an idle thrust reducer, which allowed taxiing without the jet blast blowing unsecured objects around, without adversely affecting performance at high thrust levels, including afterburners. The fuselage was also slightly longer than the F-102 Delta Dagger's.
The first prototype F-106, an aerodynamic test bed, flew on December 26th, 1956, from Edwards Air Force Base, with the second, fitted with a fuller set of equipment, following 26 February 1957. Initial flight tests at the end of 1956 and beginning of 1957 were disappointing, with performance less than anticipated, while the engine and avionics proved unreliable. These problems, and the delays associated with them nearly led to the abandoning of the program, but the Air Force decided to order 350 F-106s instead of the planned 1,000. After some minor redesign, the new aircraft, designated F-106A were delivered to 15 fighter interceptor squadrons along with the F-106B two-seat combat-capable trainer variant, starting in October 1959.
The F-106 was envisaged as specialized all-weather missile armed interceptor to shoot down bombers. It was complemented by other Century Series fighters for other roles such as daylight air superiority or fighter-bombing. To support its role, the F-106 was equipped with the Hughes MA-1 integrated fire-control system, which could be linked to the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) network for ground control interception (GCI) missions, allowing the aircraft to be steered by controllers. The MA-1 proved extremely troublesome and was eventually upgraded more than 60 times in service. Similar to the F-102, it was designed without a gun, or provision for carrying bombs, but it carried its missiles in an internal weapons bay for clean supersonic flight. It was armed with four Hughes AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles, along with a single GAR-11/AIM-26A Falcon nuclear-tipped semi-active radar (SAR)-homing missile (which detected reflected radar signals), or a 1.5 kiloton-warhead AIR-2 (MB-2) Genie air-to-air rocket intended to be fired into enemy bomber formations. Like its predecessor, the F-102 Delta Dagger, it could carry a drop tank under each wing. Later fighters such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle carried missiles recessed in the fuselage or externally, but stealth fighters would re-adopt the idea of carrying missiles or bombs internally for reduced radar signature.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a USAF Convair F-106A Delta Dart Interceptor that served with the 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 102nd Fighter Interceptor Wing, Massachusetts ANG, during April 1982.
Wingspan: 6.25 inches
Release Date: November 2011
Historical Account: "After the Hun" - In 1968, the 102nd Tactical Fighter Wing moved to Otis Air Force Base. The next year the squadron was reassigned from Air Defense Command to Tactical Air Command. The wing flew the F-84F Thunderstreak from 1964 until June 1971, when a squadron of F-100D Super Sabres was transferred directly from units fighting the Vietnam War. After making the transition to the "Hun," the Mach 2 F-106 Delta Darts soon arrived to replace them. On June 10th, 1972, after completing the move to the F-106, the unit officially became the 102nd Air Defense Squadron. On December 30th, 1973, Otis AFB was inactivated and transferred to the Massachusetts ANG as Otis Air National Guard Base.
The squadron participated in the interception of Soviet TU-95 Bear bombers on many occasions, the first of which occurred off Long Island in 1975. Many of these occasions included escorting the aircraft to Cuba. Other escort missions involved the escorting of drug smuggling planes and the identifying of one mysterious ghost plane, which turned out later to be a weather balloon.
In 1976, the 102nd Fighter Interceptor Group was deactivated and re-formed as the 102nd Fighter Interceptor Wing, assuming authority for the 177th and 125th Fighter Interceptor Groups in Atlantic City, NJ, and Jacksonville, FL, and for the 107th and 147th Fighter Interceptor Groups, flying F-4C Phantom at Niagara Falls, NY, and Ellington Field, TX. The 102nd FIW deactivated its F-106s on January 5th, 1988.