Missile Away! The New Frontier, the 1960’s, and the Century Series F-102

Posted by on March 29, 2008

By the beginning of the 1960’s, America had changed and so did the basic military strategy that had won World War II. The players now had the nuclear option, along with ballistic missiles, high-flying spy aircraft, and advanced electronics.

No where can this be better seen than in the United States Air Force of the time. Electronic warfare was rapidly overtaking the old tools of dogfighting that had been so desperately learned in two world wars. The Century series of fighters reflected this in design and function.  Let’s look at one in the series, the F-102.



Coming to service in the mid to latter part of the 1950’s, the F-102 emphasized speed and interceptions, rather than high speed turns and banks, and it was the offspring of the test development spearheaded by Chuck Yeager and the Air Force test research programs in the American desert of the time.



Nicknamed “the Deuce” by Air Force pilots, the F-102 had Mach + speed and quite a few firsts:

“…The primary mission of the F-102 was to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft. Built by Convair (General Dynamics), it was the world’s first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor and the USAF’s first operational delta-wing aircraft…”

(Source: GlobalSecurity.Org)



The aircraft was used in Vietnam on some operational missions, including “Operation Stovepipe”. Post-war, many were converted into drone targets and/or were mothballed out to the desert boneyards.

I’ve assembled some good links below if you are interested in learning more about this aircraft. There were modifications to the airframe resulting in several variants as well as additional models.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday!



NASA F-102 Links

Wikipedia Entry: F-102

Smithsonian: Century Series

WarBirdForum: Link to F-102




(2)Archive.org Newsreel 1956

(3) National Museum of the USAF

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