CONVAIR F-106 Delta Dart Interceptor Aircraft
The CONVAIR F-106 Delta Dart jet-powered interceptor began life as the CONVAIR F-102 Delta Dagger.
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The F-106 "Delta Dart" holds origins in the original United States Air Force requirement that produced the capable F-102 "Delta Dagger" of 1956. The F-102 was developed in the early 1950s through a USAF initiative to field a capable interceptor to counter the threat posed by long-range, high-flying Soviet bombers armed with a nuclear payload. The F-102 utilized an advanced delta-wing configuration with specialized area rule specifications brought to light from German wartime testing on the subject. The Delta Dagger first flew in October of 1953 and was formally introduced in April of 1956, going on to stock dozens of US interceptor squadrons in Europe and the Pacific. 1,000 of these were produced including a two-seat trainer variant to which the only export customers became Turkey and Greece. All versions were armed with air-to-air missiles and optional rockets across three internal weapons bays while sporting a Hughes-designed fire control system (FCS).
However, the F-102 was ever only truly an "interim" interceptor package for the envisioned engine and FCS development were delayed. As such, the series was fielded with the lower-performance Wright J57 turbojet engine and was only capable of Mach 1 speed flight. It was seen that the initial F-102A production model would serve to "bridge the gap" to the upcoming - and finalized F-102 form - this to become the "F-102B" production mark with its true engine and weapons package in place. The F-102B portion was evolved with the introduction of the Pratt & Whitney J-75-P-17 turbojet engine by way of larger air intakes and a variable geometry inlet duct (required of high-speed, high-altitude flight) within a lengthened fuselage assembly. The wings and vertical tailplane were revised to include additional surface area while improving stability. At the rear of the fuselage, an idle thrust reducer was added to the engine exhaust ring. Such were the myriad of major changes that the aircraft was ordered as a pair of "YF-106A" prototype models by the USAF. First flight was on December 26th, 1956 with the USAF envisioning a fleet of 1,000 such aircraft in its inventory.