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F-102 Delta Dagger Convair
F-102 Delta Dagger

During World War II, German research into delta-winged aircraft had shown that such configurations produced less drag at high speeds. After capturing this data, the US Air Force contracted Convair to develop a delta-wing research aircraft called the XF-92. Experience with this aircraft allowed Convair to win an Air Force contract to develop a delta-wing interceptor to defend the United States against Soviet bombers. The resulting F-102 was seen as a temporary project eventually to be succeeded by an "ultimate interceptor," which became the F-106.

Unfortunately, the first YF-102 prototype was a dismal failure whose performance did not come close to meeting design requirements. Convair engineers then made use of the area rule concept to reduce the wave drag that occurs in transonic and supersonic flight. In combination with a more powerful engine, this change allowed the production F-102 to easily reach supersonic speeds. The initial prototype so modified reached Mach 1.22 during its first flight.

A total of 1,000 F-102A interceptors and two-seat trainers were built for the US Air Force, and these were stationed throughout air defense bases in the US, Europe, the Pacific, and Alaska. Most of those located at Pacific bases in the Philippines and Okinawa were also regularly rotated to forward bases in Thailand and South Vietnam where they provided the fastest reaction time of any air defense fighter used during the Vietnam War. Still more were stationed in South Korea to defend against frequent incursions by Soviet and North Korean aircraft.

Much of the USAF F-102 fleet was also transferred to Air National Guard units that became increasingly responsible for defending the continental US from nuclear bombers during the 1960s and 1970s. The last of these aircraft were not withdrawn from service until 1976. Many were disposed of as target drones while some were sold to Greece and Turkey where the F-102 fought for both sides during the 1974 invasion of Cyprus.

Last modified 27 September 2009

First Flight (YF-102A 8-80) 24 October 1953
(YF-102A 8-90) 19 December 1954
Service Entry April 1956
Retirement 1976 (US)

CREW: one: pilot


$1.2 to $1.5 million

Wing Root NACA 0004-65 mod
Wing Tip

NACA 0004-65 mod

Length 68.38 ft (20.84 m)
Wingspan 38.13 ft (11.62 m)
Height 21.21 ft (6.46 m)
Wing Area 661.5 ft² (61.45 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 19,050 lb (8,640 kg)
Normal Takeoff 28,150 lb (12,770 kg)
Max Takeoff 31,500 lb (14,290 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 7,000 lb (3,175 kg)
external: 2,140 lb (970 kg) in two 160 gal (605 L) tanks
Max Payload


Powerplant one Pratt & Whitney J57-23/-25 afterburning turbojet
Thrust 11,700 lb (52.0 kN)
17,200 lb (76.5 kN) with afterburner

Max Level Speed at altitude: Mach 1.535
at sea level: 685 mph (1,105 km/h), Mach 0.9
cruise speed: 825 mph (1,330 km/h) at 36,000 ft (10,970 m), Mach 1.25
Initial Climb Rate 17,400 ft (5,305 m) / min
Service Ceiling 54,000 ft (16,475 m)
Range typical: 700 nm (1,295 km)
ferry: 1,175 nm (2,175 km)
Endurance unknown
g-Limits unknown

Gun none
Stations three internal weapons bays and two external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile up to two GAR-11/AIM-26 Falcon or up to six GAR-1/2/3/4/AIM-4 Falcon
GAR-1 and GAR-3 Falcon were radar-guided, GAR-2 and GAR-4 were infrared guided, all were redesignated as variants of the AIM-4
the F-102 usually carried three of each, two IR and one radar forward and two radar and one IR aft
GAR-11 was radar-guided with a nuclear warhead and redesignated as the AIM-26
Air-to-Surface Missile none
Bomb none
Other up to 24 2.75-in Mighty Mouse FFAR rockets, rocket pods

YF-102A (8-80) First prototype that was found to be far too underpowered to meet the supersonic maximum speed requirement, first example crashed; 2 built
YF-102A (8-90) Second prototype after a major redesign including an area-ruled fuselage and fitting of a new engine
F-102A (8-10) Production single-seat fighter-interceptor; 889 built
TF-102A (8-12) Two-seat combat-capable trainer with a completely redesigned forward fuselage for side-by-side seating; 111 built
QF-102A F-102A airframes converted into piloted drones to represent MiG-21 aircraft in aerial combat training; 2 converted
PQM-102A F-102A airframes converted into unpiloted target drones for weapons training and trials purposes; several hundred converted
F-102B Improved F-102A intended to be the "ultimate interceptor" to defend the US, project eventually became the F-106 Delta Dart


Vietnam War (USAF, 1965-1971)
Cyprus (Greece, Turkey, 1974)


Greece, Elliniki Polimiki Aeroporia (Hellenic Air Force)
Turkey, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force)
United States (US Air Force)
United States (US Air National Guard)


F-102 Delta Dagger

  • Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Weapons: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Weapon Systems from 1945 to the Present Day. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1999, p. 260-261, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.
  • Donald, David, ed. Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War. Norwalk, CT: AIRtime Publishing, 2004, p. 66-131, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 275, Convair (Model 8) F-102 Delta Dagger.
  • Jackson, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft. London: Paragon Books, 2002, p. 93-94, Convair F-102/F-106.
  • Joe Baugher's F-102 site
  • Winchester, Jim. Military Aircraft of the Cold War. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2006, p. 50-51, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.

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