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F-106 Delta Dart Convair
F-106 Delta Dart

During the 1950s, the US Air Force wished to procure an advanced supersonic, all-weather "ultimate interceptor" to defend the US against Soviet bombers. Once it became apparent that this new aircraft would not be available by its 1954 deadline, the Air Force purchased the less capable Convair F-102A to fill the gap until the more sophisticated F-102B was ready. Luckily, this delay allowed great improvements to be made in aerodynamics, propulsion, and electronics making the "ultimate interceptor" that much more effective. Because so many changes were made both to the basic F-102 design and the Air Force requirements, the resulting interceptor was redesignated F-106. The new specifications called for the aircraft to intercept enemy bombers in all weather conditions at up to 70,000 ft and at speeds up to Mach 2. In addition, the aircraft was to be armed with guided missiles (still under development at the time) or rockets with atomic warheads. The F-106 was also to be equipped with an automatic guidance system that could be operated by ground controllers.

The first prototypes suffered many performance problems, and difficulties with the advanced electronics were so severe that the project was almost cancelled. Luckily, modifications to the airframe and improvements in the electronics ultimately allowed the F-106 to meet all its design requirements. The F-106 remained in frontline service until the Aerospace Defense Command was disbanded in 1980, and the last of the 340 aircraft built were finally retired in 1988.

Last modified 27 September 2009

First Flight (F-106A) 26 December 1956
(F-106B) 9 April 1958
Service Entry June 1959

CREW: one: pilot

ESTIMATED COST: $4.7 to $4.9 million

Wing Root NACA 0004-65 mod
Wing Tip NACA 0004-65 mod

Length 70.73 ft (21.56 m)
Wingspan 38.29 ft (11.67 m)
Height 20.27 ft (6.46 m)
Wing Area 631.3 ft (58.65 m)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 23,650 lb (10,730 kg)
Normal Takeoff 34,510 lb (15,670 kg)
Max Takeoff 41,830 lb (18,975 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: unknown
external: unknown
Max Payload


Powerplant one Pratt & Whitney J75-17 afterburning turbojet
Thrust 17,200 lb (76.5 kN)
24,500 lb (109 kN) with afterburner

Max Level Speed at altitude: 1,525 mph (2,455 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m), Mach 2.31
at sea level: unknown
Initial Climb Rate 29,000 ft (8,840 m) / min
Service Ceiling 57,000 ft (17,375 m)
Range typical: 1,320 nm (2,440 km)
ferry: 1,565 nm (2,900 km)
g-Limits unknown

Gun one 20-mm M61 Vulcan cannon (in place of Genie rocket)
Stations one internal weapons bay and two (?) external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile up to one AIR-2A Genie or AIR-2B Super Genie nuclear rocket and up to four AIM-4 Falcon
Air-to-Surface Missile none
Bomb none
Other none

YF-106A Prototype
F-106A Production single-seat fighter-interceptor; 277 built
F-106B Two-seat combat-capable trainer; 63 built
F-106C Proposed improved variant, not built
F-106D Proposed improved variant, not built
F-106X Proposed improved variant, not built


KNOWN OPERATORS: United States (US Air Force)
United States (NASA)


F-106 Delta Dart

  • Bonds, Ray, ed. The Modern US War Machine: An Encyclopedia of American Military Equipment and Strategy. NY: Military Press, 1987, p. 180, General Dynamics F-106 Delta Dart.
  • Donald, David, ed. Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War. Norwalk, CT: AIRtime Publishing, 2004, p. 226-285, Convair F-106 Delta Dart.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 275-276, Convair (Model 8-24) F-106 Delta Dart.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995, p. 89, Convair QF-106 Delta Dart.
  • Jackson, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft. London: Paragon Books, 2002, p. 93-94, Convair F-102/F-106.
  • Winchester, Jim. Military Aircraft of the Cold War. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2006, p. 54-55, Convair F-106 Delta Dart.

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