Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
F-106 Delta Dart
|F-106A Delta Dart|
|Length||70.7 ft||21.55 m|
|Wingspan||38.25 ft||11.67 m|
|Height||20.28 ft||6.18 m|
|Wing area||661.5 ft²||61.52 m²|
|Empty||24,420 lb||11,077 kg|
|Loaded||34,510 lb||15,668 kg|
|Engines||One Pratt & Whitney J75-17 afterburning turbojet|
|Power||24,500 lbf||109 kN|
|Maximum speed||1,525 mph (Mach 2.3)||2,455 km/h|
|Combat range||1,800 mi||2,897 km|
|Ferry range||2,700 mi||4,345 km|
|Service ceiling||57,000 ft||17,374 m|
|Rate of climb||29,000 ft/min||8,839 m/min|
|Guns||One 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon|
|Missiles||four AIM-4 Falcon, usually two AIM-4F and two AIM-4G, plus one AIR-2A Genie nuclear rocket|
The Convair F-106A Delta Dart was the primary all-weather interceptor aircraft for the US Air Force from the 1960s through the late 1970s. Designed as the so-called "Ultimate Interceptor," it has proved to be the last dedicated interceptor in U.S. service to date.
The F-106 emerged from the USAF's "Ultimate Interceptor" program of the early 1950s. The F-102 Delta Dagger, originally planned for that role, had a troubled development history, and the initial F-102A was to serve as an interim aircraft pending the design of the definitive F-102B. The Air Force placed an order for the F-102B in November 1955. The new aircraft proved to be an almost totally new design, and was redesignated F-106 on June 17, 1956.
Initial flight tests at the end of 1956 and beginning of 1957 were disappointing, with performance much less than anticipated, but after nearly abandoning the program, the Air Force decided to order 350 F-106s instead of the planned 1,000. After some minor redesign, the F-106A and F-106B (a two-seat trainer version) were delivered to 15 fighter interceptor squadrons starting in October 1959.
In December 1959, Major Joseph W. Rogers set a world speed record of 1,525.96 mph (2455.79 km/h) while flying a Delta Dart at 40,500 feet (12,300 m).
The F-106 was equipped with the MA-1 integrated fire-control system, which could be linked to the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment network for ground control interception missions (letting the aircraft be steered by ground controllers). It was armed with four Hughes AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles in its internal weapons bay along with a single AIR-2 Genie air-to-air nuclear rocket intended to be fired into enemy bomber formations. The MA-1 proved extremely troublesome, and was eventually upgraded more than 60 times in service.
The F-106 served in the continental USA, Alaska, Iceland, and Canada, as well as for brief periods in Germany and South Korea. Although contemplated for use in Vietnam, it never saw combat, nor was it exported to foreign users. It was very popular with its pilots after its initial teething problems were resolved, with exceptional performance. Air-to-air combat testing suggested that the "Six" was a reasonable match for the F-4 Phantom in a dogfight, with similar high-altitude turn performance (aided by the lower wing loading) and superior acceleration, although pilots conceded that the Phantom had better radar and missiles.
The F-106 was progressively updated in service, with improved avionics, an infrared search-and-track system, better instrumentation, and features like an inflight refuelling receptacle and an arresting hook for landing emergencies.
Some F-106As were upgraded in Project Sharpshooter in 1972, fitted with a new canopy without the vertical metal strip in the center of the windscreen (which greatly improved pilot visibility), an optical gunsight, and provision for a single M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon with 650 rounds of ammunition in the weapons bay, replacing the AIR-2 Genie nuclear rocket.
Starting in 1986, many of the surviving planes were converted to drones, designated QF-106A, and used for target practice. The last was destroyed in January 1998. A handful were retained by NASA for test purposes through 1998.
In service, the F-106's official popular name, "Delta Dart," was rarely used, and the aircraft was universally known simply as the "Six."
- www.f-106deltadart.com is a truly comprehensive site, with many firsthand accounts by both pilots and ground crew, many many pictures, and a detailed accounting of the fate of nearly every Delta Dart made.
- USAF Museum: Convair F-106A "Delta Dart" (and second UASF Museum link)
|Related development||Convair F-102 Delta Dagger|
|Similar aircraft||Dassault Mirage IIIC - Sukhoi Su-11 - Sukhoi Su-15|
|Related lists||List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft|
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