Convair F-106 Delta Dart

The Delta Dart F-106 interceptor out lived any of the other ‘century series’ of fighter aircraft yet never fired a shot in anger and was never exported. With such a record it could be thought that this was a second rate aircraft but that would be far from the truth.  The F-106 knocked up nearly two decades of service for the USAF, defending the USA against any potential Soviet bomber threat.

With the Cold War starting a proposal in 1951 was to create the ultimate interceptor, to enter service in 1954 replacing such fighters as the F-86 sabre. Convair won the contract but is was soon clear that the time scale involved was unrealistic. The Air force response was a two-stage interceptor program, which lead to the development of the F-102B from the F-102A design. This approach proved flawed as the F-102B developed major problems and the production of the F-102A was increased to off set the shortfall. Convair surprisingly won air force approval when they suggested going back to the drawing board to get it right. Finally a new proposal was for an interceptor to enter service in 1958, which had to be able to intercept targets at 70,000ft, in all weathers and have a combat radius of 692km (430miles).

The redesignated F-106 Delta Dart flew for the first time on 26th December 1956 powered by a single Pratt & Whitney J75, it bore some resemblance to the Delta Dart but was a far different beast. Lessons learned led to a coke bottle fuselage, a swept top fin with flattop making a very sleek machine. Inside it carried the Hughes MA-1 AWCS radar, which incorporated the first digital computer to go into service, this system gained information from the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) defence system and automatically calculated the best intercept course for the fighter. With data link technology this was a very complex system for the time and not without its problems.  The final production amounted to 277 F-106A’s and 63 F-106B’s 2 seat trainers although due to constant improvements the differences between production batches of aircraft could be considerable. The fleet has also undergone several refits such as adding new fuel tanks and in-flight refuelling equipment and for some the addition of a 20mm Vulcan M61A1 six-barrel cannon in the internal weapons bay known as project ‘Six –Shooter’. The F-106 is one of the few aircraft to have never carried weapons on wing pylons. Active service began in 1959 with National Guard receiving units in 1972, it was replaced in service by F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

Performance


Max Speed

1,500mph (2413km/h or Mach 2)

Combat Radius

490miles (790km)

Weapons

4xAIM-4 Super Falcon missiles, x1 AIR-2A Genie nuclear tipped (1.5 kiloton) unguided rocket, or 1x20mm Vulcan cannon, 4xAIM-4 Missiles.

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T, (13 March 2007), Convair F-106 Delta Dart, 27 April 1296, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_convair_f106.html

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