THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

T PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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The F-102 in Vietnam

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Vietnam service

 

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F-102As of the 509th FIS over Vietnam, November 1966.

The F-102 served in Vietnam, flying fighter patrols and serving as bomber escorts. A total of 15 aircraft were lost in Vietnam: one to air-to-air combat, several to ground fire and the remainder to accidents.

Initially, F-102 detachments began to be sent to bases in Southeast Asia in 1962, when radar contacts that were detected by ground radars were thought to possibly be North Vietnamese Il-28 "Beagle" bombers, which was considered a very credible threat during that time period. F-102s were sent to Thailand and other nearby countries to intercept these aircraft if they threatened South Vietnam at any time.

 

Later on, B-52 strikes, codenamed ARC LIGHT, were escorted by F-102s based in the theater. It was during one of these missions that an F-102 was shot down by a North Vietnamese MiG-21 using an AA-2 Atoll heat-seeking missile. The MiGs approached undetected, and one of the F-102s was shot down. The other F-102 pilot managed to shoot off some AIM-4s at the fleeing MiG-21s, but no hits were recorded. This was the only air-to-air loss for the F-102 during the Vietnam War.

The F-102 became fairly heavily used in the air-to-ground role. The interceptor was equipped with 24 2.75 in (70 mm) FFARs in the fuselage bay doors, and these weapons were used to good effect against various types of North Vietnamese targets. Additionally, heat-seeking Falcon missiles used in conjunction with the F-102's nose-mounted IRST (Infrared Search & Track) were employed on night time harassment raids along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

Operations with both the F-102A and TF-102A two-seater (which was used in a Forward Air Control role because its two seats and 2.75 in/70 mm rockets offered good versatility for the mission) in Vietnam until 1968 when all F-102 aircraft were sent back to the United States.

 

 

The Convair F-102 "Delta Dagger"

 

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TF-102 trainer

Wreckage of an F-102 destroyed by enemy fire in Vietnam

The first operational service of the F-102A was with the 327th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at George Air Force Base, in April 1956, and eventually a total of 889 were built. The F-102's official name, "Delta Dagger" was never used in common parlance, with the aircraft being universally known as the "Deuce." The TF-102 was known as the "Tub" because of its wide fuselage.

During the time the F-102A was in service, several new wing designs were used to experiment with the application of increased conical camber to the wings. Ultimately, a design was selected that actually increased elevon area, reduced takeoff speed, improved the supersonic L/D ratio and increased the plane's ceiling to 56,000 feet. A modification was required to the gears due to the wing redesign.

The USAF Air Defense Command had F-102 Delta Daggers in service in 1960 and the type continued to serve in large numbers with both Air Force and Air National Guard units well into the 1970s. George W. Bush, later President of the United States, flew the F-102 as part of his Air National Guard service in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

 

Vietnam service

The F-102 served in Vietnam, flying fighter patrols and serving as bomber escorts. A total of 15 aircraft were lost in Vietnam: one to air-to-air combat, several to ground fire and the remainder to accidents.

Initially, F-102 detachments began to be sent to bases in Southeast Asia in 1962, when radar contacts that were detected by ground radars were thought to possibly be North Vietnamese Il-28 "Beagle" bombers, which was considered a very credible threat during that time period. F-102s were sent to Thailand and other nearby countries to intercept these aircraft if they indeed threatened South Vietnam at any time.

Later on, B-52 strikes, codenamed ARC LIGHT, were escorted by F-102s based in the theater. It was during one of these missions that an F-102 was shot down by a North Vietnamese MiG-21 using an AA-2 Atoll heat-seeking missile. The MiGs approached undetected, and one of the F-102s was shot down. The other F-102 pilot managed to shoot off some AIM-4s at the fleeing MiG-21s, but no hits were recorded. This was the only air-to-air loss for the F-102 during the Vietnam War.

Interestingly enough, the F-102 became fairly heavily used in the air-to-ground role. The interceptor was equipped with 24 x 2.75-in FFARs in the fuselage bay doors, and these weapons were used to good effect against various types of North Vietnamese targets. Additionally, heat-seeking Falcon missiles used in conjunction with the F-102s nose-mounted IRST (Infrared Search & Track) were employed on night time harassment raids along the Ho Chi Minh trail. This is likely the only time an air-to-air missile has been used for air-to-ground operations.

Operations with both the F-102A and TF-102A two-seater (which was used in a Forward Air Control role because its two seats and 2.75-in. rockets offered good versatility for the mission) in Vietnam until 1968 when all F-102 aircraft were sent back to the United States.

Later use

In 1973, six aircraft were converted to target drones as QF-102A and later PQM-102 series, simulating MiG-21s. This began a program where hundreds of F-102s were converted for use as target drones for F-4 and F-106 aircraft as well as later F-15 aircraft and testing of the US Army's Patriot missile system.

Some F-102As were configured to accommodate a single AIM-26 Super Falcon in each side bay in lieu of the conventional 2 x AIM-4 Falcons.

The F-102 and TF-102 were exported overseas to both Turkey and Greece, with those aircraft seeing combat missions during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. There have been claims of air combat between Greek F-5s and Turkish F-102s. The Greeks claimed to have shot down two F-102s while the Turks claim to have shot down an F-5; however, both sides deny losses. The F-102 was finally retired from both of those air forces in 1979. The F-102 left US service in 1976, while the last PQM-102 drone was expended in 1986. No F-102s remain in flyable condition today although many can be seen at museums.

 

 

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Last Updated

02/10/2014

 

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