Convair F-102 Delta Dagger

Country of originUnited States
First flight24 October 1953
IntroducedApril 1956
Producedcirca 1954
Numbers built1,000
Unit costsUS$1.2 million
Max speedMach 1.25 (825 mph, 1,304 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Max rangeRange: 1,350 mi (1,170 nmo, 2,175 km)
Service ceiling: 53,400 ft (16,300 m)
DimensionsLength: 68 ft 4 in (20.83 m)
Wingspan: 38 ft 1 in (11.61 m)
Height: 21 ft 2 in (6.45 m)
Wing area: 661.5ft²/61.52m² (Original Wing) or 695 ft²/64.57m² (Conically-Cambered Wing)
WeightEmpty weight: 19,350 lb (8,777 kg)
Loaded weight: 24,500 lb (11,100 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 31,500 lb (14,300 kg)
Powerplant1 x Pratt & Whitney J57-P-25 afterburning turbojet
Dry thrust: 11,700 lbf (52.0 kN)
Thrust with afterburner: 17,200 lbf (76.5 kN)
ArmamentRockets: 24 x 2.75 in (70 mm) FFAR (Folding Fin Aerial Rocket) unguided rockets in missile bay doors

6 x AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles or
3 x AIM-4 Falcon
1 x AIM-26 Falcon with conventional or nuclear warhead
OperatorsFormer Operators:
Greece, Turkey, United States

The Convair F-102 Delta Dagger was a US interceptor aircraft developed included in the United States Air Force’s (USAF) air defenses in the late 1950s. The Delta dagger entered service in 1956; its main functionality was to head off at pass any infringing Soviet bomber fleets. The Delta Dagger was designed and developed by Convair and there were 1, 000 F-102s were produced.

The F-102 Delta Dagger was the initial operational supersonic interceptor and delta-wing fighter of the USAF. It employed an internal weapons bay to bring both guided missiles and rockets. As initially designed, it could not reach Mach 1 supersonic flight until finally refurbished with area ruling. The F-102 swapped out subsonic fighter types such as the Northrop F-89 Scorpion, and by the 1960s, it saw limited service in the Vietnam War in bomber escort and ground-attack roles. It was augmented by McDonnell F-101 Voodoos and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs.

Most of the F-102s were shifted to United States Air National Guard duty by the mid-to-late 1960s, and the type was retired from operational service in 1976. The follow-on substitution was the Mach-2 Convair F-106 Delta Dart, which was a massive renovation of the F-102.

The Design and Development of F-102 Delta Dagger

In October 1948, the United States SAir Force launched a competition to have a new interceptor which expected to be in service in 1954. In January 1950, the USAF Air Materiel Command published request for proposals (RFPs) to 50 companies, of which 18 responded. By May, the list was revised downward to 10. Proposals for the airframe were issued on 18 June 1950. In July 1954, three companies, Convair, Republic and Lockheed won the right build a mock-up. Until then, Convair had completed research into delta-winged aircraft, taking several experiments with different designs. Finally, Convair shown up as the winner with its design, designated “XF-102”, after Lockheed quited and Republic only constructed a mock-up.

The prototypes and pre-production aircraft were powered with the less-powerful Westinghouse J40 turbojet. The poor performance of the J40 resulted in the use of Pratt & Whitney J57 for the prototypes and F-102.

The prototype YF-102 made its maiden flight on 24 October 1953, but the plance was lost to an accident nine days later. The second aircraft took flight on 11 January 1954, confirming a dismal performance. Transonic drag was much higher than expected, and the aircraft was limited to Mach 0. 98, with a ceiling of 48, 000 ft (14, 630 m), far below the requirements.

The F-102 attained several major modifications throughout its operational time, with nearly all airframes being retrofitted with infrared search/tracking systems, radar warning receivers, transponders, backup artificial horizons, and improvements to the fire-control system.

The TF-102A trainer was developed, with 111 finally produced. The aircraft was equipped with a side-by-side cockpit to assist in ease of pilot training. This demanded a redesign of the cockpit and nose integrating a set of vortex generators on top of the cockpit to avoid flow separation under particular circumstances, and replacing of the intake ducts. Regardless of the numerous changes, the aircraft was combat-capable, despite the fact that this variant was naturally slower, only achieving subsonic speeds in level flight.

The F-102’s designed successor was the advanced F-102B “Ultimate Interceptor”. The design, which had the initially planned J67 engine substituted by a Pratt & Whitney J75 experienced a lot of aerodynamic adjustments such as a variable-geometry inlet design that it fundamentally became an completely new aircraft and therefore was redesignated as the F-106. Convair would also make use of a delta wing in the Mach 2 class B-58 Hustler bomber.

The Variants of F-102 Delta Dagger

Following are the variants and converted versions of Delta Dagger:

  • F-102 – Prototypes. Non area-ruled fuselage. Powered by 14,500 lbf (64.5 kN) J57-P-11, two built.
  • YF-102A – Area-ruled prototypes. Powered by 16,000 lbf (71.2 kN) J57-P-23. Four converted from pre-production aircraft.
  • F-102A – Production Model. Initial eight pre-production aircraft built with non-area ruled fuselage. Remainder built (879) with area ruled fuselage.
  • TF-102A – Two-seat training version, 111 built.
  • F-102B – The original designation of the F-106A.
  • F-102C – Proposed tactical attack version with J57-P-47 engine. Two converted As as YF-102C engineering test beds.
  • QF-102A – Target drones converted from the F-102A. Six built.
  • PQM-102A – Unpiloted target drones. 65 converted.
  • PQM-102B – Revised target drone conversion, capable of being flown remotely or by pilot in cockpit. 146 converted.

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