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Quiz about Century Series Fighters
Quiz about Century Series Fighters

Century Series Fighters Trivia Quiz

Questions on the six production model fighters which formed the backbone of US airpower in the fifties and sixties. My main reference is Joe Baugher's comprehensive website. Good luck!

A multiple-choice quiz by iron2. Estimated time: 8 mins.
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8 mins
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
Dec 03 21
# Qns
Avg Score
14 / 25
- -
Question 1 of 25
1. The first six questions are in "fill in the blank" format. I'll give the model number, you provide the name.

F-100 aircraft?

Answer: (Two words)
Question 2 of 25
2. F-101?

Answer: (One Word)
Question 3 of 25
3. F-102?

Answer: (Two Words)
Question 4 of 25
4. F-104?

Answer: (One Word)
Question 5 of 25
5. F-105?

Answer: (One Word)
Question 6 of 25
6. F-106?

Answer: (Two Words)
Question 7 of 25
7. Post-war development work on the Luftwaffe's late-war Mauser MK 213 revolver cannon gave two of the century series a much needed upgrade in their offensive "punch"; what designation was given to this "new" gun? Hint

Question 8 of 25
8. The machine that was later built as the "F-102" was one of the first American aircraft projects developed from a specification for a complete "weapons system". Which of these project names does not refer to this advanced interceptor concept? Hint

Question 9 of 25
9. Which of these companies won the development contract for the weapons system for the "Ultimate Interceptor"? Hint

Question 10 of 25
10. Persistent delays were caused by (among other things) the "Ultimate Interceptor's" new engine; the "stop-gap" F-102A flew with the less advanced Pratt & Whitney J57. Which of these powered the later F-106? Hint

Question 11 of 25
11. A notable first for the Century Series aircraft saw the adoption a production scheme that went by the name "Cook-Craigie". To what does this refer? Hint

Question 12 of 25
12. Continually evolving priorities and perceived needs greatly affected McDonnell's F-101. When finally selected for limited production in May 1953 what role was it configured to meet? Hint

Question 13 of 25
13. Aerodynamic "issues" caused significant problems for Convair throughout the early development of the "Ultimate Interceptor". Which of these is the well known phrase, attached to the solution? Hint

Question 14 of 25
14. Of the six "Century Series" aircraft, which one was purchased in the largest number by the USAF? Hint

Question 15 of 25
15. The "Century" aircraft produced in the greatest number was, of course, Lockheed's F-104. Which of these users DID NOT produce the 104 under license? Hint

Question 16 of 25
16. Which of the Century Series fighters had the highest accidental attrition rate? Hint

Question 17 of 25
17. 397 of the 753 F-105D and F/(G) models produced were lost in Southeast Asia, a HIGH percentage of these attributable to enemy action. Roughly HOW high was this percentage? Hint

Question 18 of 25
18. The USAF's "Thunderbirds" flew two different "Century Series" aircraft. The F-100 predominated, but a brief flirtation was also made with one other; which of these was the other? Hint

Question 19 of 25
19. Versions of all but one of the "Century Series" saw combat duty in Vietnam. Of THOSE LISTED below, which is the "odd man out"? (i.e. saw no service in Vietnam?) Hint

Question 20 of 25
20. On 31 October, 1959 the 498th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (based at Geiger AFB, WA) was finally declared operational on the F-106A. How many years was the project behind schedule? Hint

Question 21 of 25
21. The "Ultimate Interceptor" as designed was to be armed with "guided" missiles. Which of these period weapons is NOT considered a "missile"? (Hint: it was carried operationally by the F-106) Hint

Question 22 of 25
22. In Vietnam, the USAF got its first opportunity to try out many of their "new toys" in a combat weapon (with a "century series" connection) was spectacularly disappointing...what was it? Hint

Question 23 of 25
23. What was Project "Six Shooter"? Hint

Question 24 of 25
24. Although all of the Century Series aircraft eventually were provided with some form of aerial refueling capability, only one came from the factory with a "slipway" compatible with SAC's "flying boom" system...what was it? Hint

Question 25 of 25
25. A large number of the USAF's "Century Series" ended their lives as "QF" conversions; radio controlled drones, used for target practice. Which of these never existed? Hint

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The first six questions are in "fill in the blank" format. I'll give the model number, you provide the name. F-100 aircraft?

Answer: Super Saber

The Super Sabre started as a unsolicited manufacturer's proposal to marry the F-86 airframe to the latest generation of afterburning engines (which were now nearing operational availability). By the time the work was accepted by the USAF, an entirely different aircraft had evolved!
2. F-101?

Answer: Voodoo

The Voodoo started as a proposal for an aircraft to meet the need for a jet powered, long range bomber escort immediately following WWII. Upon the reorganization of American airpower in 1947 (which gave us the USAF) specifications were issued by the "Strategic Air Command" and the project moved forward under their purview.

In 1950, it was determined that bomber escort would likely not be required and the project was shelved; subsequent experience in Korean skies amply demonstrated the folly of this assertion; work was restarted in 1951, now to meet a revamped specification.
3. F-102?

Answer: Delta Dagger

The F-102A carried forward the work which had begun with the XF-92A proposal in the late 1940s. Designed to meet the USAF's specification for a bomber interceptor, it was ordered into production as a "stop gap" measure when it became obvious that the F-102B "Ultimate Interceptor" was facing considerable developmental "challenges" and would be significantly delayed.
4. F-104?

Answer: Starfighter

The "Starfighter" arose as a concept in the fertile mind of renowned aircraft designer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, following a visit with frontline pilots flying the F-86 in Korea in late 1951. Johnson pointedly asked these men what they felt would be the qualities of a more effective counter to the MiG-15 which they were facing.

The response was for a simply designed fighter, equipped with guns and having an overwhelming speed advantage. They felt this would allow a return to "boom and zoom" tactics, with which many of these men had found success over Germany while flying the fabled P-51 Mustang. Johnson's answer was radical, to say the least, and gave us one of the most enduring aircraft of the period.
5. F-105?

Answer: Thunderchief

The "Thud" was originally designed as a high speed, low-level penetration aircraft, capable of carrying a nuclear weapon internally. It was the largest single engined jet fighter ever conceived up to that point and the second most costly and complicated of the "Century Series" aircraft.
6. F-106?

Answer: Delta Dart

The Delta Dart was the final fruition of the XF-92A research aircraft, this a continuation of the work of German designer Dipl-Ing. Alexander Lippisch. The project was initially given the designation F-102B, to reflect its roots, yet by the time it was finally accepted by the Air Force it was in effect a different aircraft and was redesignated F-106.
7. Post-war development work on the Luftwaffe's late-war Mauser MK 213 revolver cannon gave two of the century series a much needed upgrade in their offensive "punch"; what designation was given to this "new" gun?

Answer: M39

The M39 was fitted to both the F-100 and F-101A/C models (as well as other period aircraft like the F-5); the M61 "Vulcan" is a "Gatling" gun. The M39 used five rotating chambers firing through a single barrel as opposed to the M61's six individual rotating cannons. Its chief advantage over the M61 was it's much higher initial rate of fire, as the chamber could be "spun up" much faster than an entire six barreled gun. Its disadvantages were a lower "sustained" rate of fire and a much higher rate of degradation to the single barrel from heat and wear. While the USAF has since adopted the "gatling gun" universally, Europeans continue to adhere to the original "revolver" concept (Aden, DEFA, MK27). As most air-to-air close combat engagements offer only fleeting chances for a valid "firing solution", the higher initial rate of fire in the first half second of the burst puts more rounds on the target, increasing the odds of a vital hit being scored. As well, the modern European revolver cannon are all chambered for larger rounds (27-30mm) with a larger bursting force than the 20mm used in the Vulcan, increasing their utility in the ground attack role. The USAF have since designed and deployed the infamous GAU-8 system (seven barreled 30mm gatling gun). Fitted to the A-10 "Thunderbolt II", this more than meets their needs in the close air support role.

Some additional "interesting" information:
When I was much younger I was an Air Cadet (664 RCAC) and lived at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta (Now: "4 Wing"; then: "The Home of Canadian Fighter Weapons"). We were given the opportunity to see live firing passes on the hulk of a "Centurion" tank at the Primrose Lake air weapons range during one of the (then) Bi-annual "Maple Flag" exercises. The first pass was a CF-5A (434 Sqd. machine [116727], certainly an operational pilot; 2 x M39, CRV7 rockets); impressive, gunfire on target, rockets were cool; the second pass was a CF-104D (417 OTU, a dual, likely a trainee pilot, 1 x M61, practice bombs); a little bit of a letdown, the pilot totally missed :(. The last was (of course) the A-10A; it basically SAWED the poor old Centurion IN HALF with it's GAU-8. There was the front of the hull and the engine compartment at the rear, no turret, no running wheels or tracks; nothing else left! Using the spotting scope in the observation bunker allowed for a close inspection of the remains; all I can say is that I definitely would not want to drive an armored vehicle in this day and age!
8. The machine that was later built as the "F-102" was one of the first American aircraft projects developed from a specification for a complete "weapons system". Which of these project names does not refer to this advanced interceptor concept?

Answer: 1964 Interceptor

WS-201A was known by the euphemisms "1954 Interceptor" and "Ultimate Interceptor"; this first name coming from it's planned date of full service introduction. Given what actually occurred, "1964 Interceptor" got it just about right! MX-1179 was the designation for the development contract for the fire control, avionics and weapons suite; MX-1554 was the corresponding contract for the airframe and powerplant. Rapid advances in the "state of the art" during the period following the Second World War brought on the realization that complex aircraft, designed to fill a specific role, could no longer be cobbled together from a variety of components which had been developed independently of each other, as had been done to this point.

The parts of the system would still be ordered under separate development contracts (MX-1179, MX-1554 in this case) but the entire project would be developed under an all encompassing specification (here, WS-201A) for the completed machine.

This project has come to be viewed by some as one of the cornerstones in the growing public acknowledgment of a phenomena which President Dwight D. Eisenhower later called (in 1960, during his last speech as President, given on the occasion of his "stepping down" from office) the "Military-Industrial Complex" (hereafter referred to by the acronym "MIC").

This weapons system (and many others like it) consumed vast amounts of American wealth in the period, largely due to the amount of redundant design effort put into these increasingly complex "weapons systems".
9. Which of these companies won the development contract for the weapons system for the "Ultimate Interceptor"?

Answer: Hughes Electronics

When issued, the MX-1179 specification was among the most advanced and demanding ever; meeting it would be the largest reason for the delays to the F-102 project. It called for a fully integrated weapons suite (missiles and radar) and avionics package (radar controlled/integrated autopilot) all designed to operate under the control of the "SAGE" (Semi-Automated Ground Environment) system; the one which was to control North America's SAM's (Surface-to-Air Missiles) and which was planned to later be integrated with the ABM's (Anti-Ballistic Missiles), which were then under development. As conceived, the pilot was only required for the purpose of taking-off and landing the aircraft and for providing visual confirmation of hostile intent, when "bogey's" were detected. In the day of vacuum tubes and mechanical computing circuitry this was, to say the least, asking for a lot.

The well known Canadian CF-105 "Arrow" interceptor of the period was also initially designed to use this same system. When persistent delays at Hughes held up the MA-1 (as it was now designated), Canada funded RCA-Victor (to the tune of $260 Million), who redesigned a Hughes system they had been manufacturing (under license) to meet the even more advanced Canadian "Astra" specification. This called for "fire and forget" missiles and "look-down, shoot-down" on-board radar capability! RCA-Victor's work had produced a functioning system by 1959 when the CF-105 project was terminated. It is doubtful that it would ever have been put into production for Canada however; Hughes Electronics was in the process of putting a lawsuit together against RCA, (claiming numerous patent infringements) when the functioning "Astra" sets (along with the entire Arrow project) went to the scrap yard! The matter was somehow later "resolved" and a refinement of RCA's work on "Astra" appeared (much later, mind you) as the Hughes AWG-9, which was fitted to the USN's F-14A Tomcat!
Copy and paste the following link to read what is likely the best article I've yet to find on-line, when it comes to discussing the "cooperation" between the US and Canada (as with regards to continental air defense) during this volatile period. It fully explores the widespread "transfer of technology" to... (read; "Brutal Rape of the Canadian Aircraft Industry by...") the American "MIC"...a sobering read for a Canuck like myself!
10. Persistent delays were caused by (among other things) the "Ultimate Interceptor's" new engine; the "stop-gap" F-102A flew with the less advanced Pratt & Whitney J57. Which of these powered the later F-106?

Answer: Pratt & Whitney J75

The J75 was among the most powerful aircraft engines of it's time and ultimately powered the F-105 Thunderchief as well as the "Six". It was developed from the earlier J57 which powered the "Super Sabre", "Voodoo" and above mentioned F-102. The J79 was another common powerplant development of the period and saw service in the F-104 and the US Navy's F-4 "Phantom II", among others. Curtiss-Wright's J67 was the original powerplant selected for the "Ultimate Interceptor" concept.

It was to be an American produced copy of the English designed Bristol "Olympus", built under license by Curtiss-Wright. Due to complex "issues" between the Curtiss-Wright Corporation and various segments of the "MIC" (which fall outside of the scope of this discussion), the J67 project was terminated and the J75 was selected as it's replacement for the WS-201A.
11. A notable first for the Century Series aircraft saw the adoption a production scheme that went by the name "Cook-Craigie". To what does this refer?

Answer: The elimination of "hand-built" prototypes

Although the Luftwaffe had already tried this idea (and failed), it was thought that all the lessons had been learned, and the scheme found widespread support. The idea was to first produce the tooling and jigs for the aircraft's production, then slowly ramp-up the production rate while early production line models were tested.

It was felt that any defects which were revealed by these first "pre-production" examples could be remedied by "re-jigging" the production line tooling, this concurrent with continued low-scale production. Given that the first production machines selected to test this theory were based around already flying examples (F-86, XF-88, XF-92), it was felt that the potential risks were far outweighed by the potential benefit of earlier mass production and service acceptance; curiously enough, the Technisches Amt of the RLM had expressed this same opinion ten years earlier,...and they were dealing with far simpler designs! The major flaw to this idea is the fact that once a program was selected for production, a huge initial expenditure was required.

In most cases (due to the groundbreaking technological advances involved) costs quickly spiraled out of control, making it a very expensive mistake when a program was subsequently canceled. There are many projects that "fit the bill" in this regard; one notable example stands head and shoulders above all the others: the North American XB-70 Valkyre...the saga of the "TFX" (F-111) is yet another, although it was "pushed through", and eventually produced in limited numbers. "Cook-Cragie" was to cause other "problems" as well; some of these are examined later in the quiz.
12. Continually evolving priorities and perceived needs greatly affected McDonnell's F-101. When finally selected for limited production in May 1953 what role was it configured to meet?

Answer: Tactical Strike Fighter (Nuclear)

Republic's F-105 had been selected to meet the needs of TAC. The F-101A & C models of the "Voodoo" were produced to "fill the void" once it became obvious that the "Thud's" service acceptance was going to be somewhat delayed. Although only limited numbers were produced (77 "A's" and 47 "C's"), they were a vital part of the American nuclear deterrent in Europe and the Far East throughout their service lives in this role. Their primary mission was low level, supersonic delivery of tactical nuclear weapons against airfields and logistical and communications infrastructure. The pilots lived in a world of "gallows humor" as it was assumed that few of them would ever return if the "balloon went up". These two strike fighter versions had no external differences except for their "tails" (serial numbers) although the "C" was 500 lbs heavier as it had been "stressed" for 7.33g while the "A" could only take 6.33g. With the service acceptance of the F-105 into TAC, the single seat Voodoos were withdrawn from service and most were converted to the RF-101A/RF-101C specification.
The far better known version of the F-101 was ADC's (Air Defense Command) highly modified "B/F" model. It was developed by McDonnell when Convair's "stop gap" F-102A ran into serious aerodynamic issues, forcing a major re-engineering of both the airframe and the production line (Ouch!...see "Cook-Craigie" above). This version vastly outperformed the F-102A and became THE "stop gap" for the F-106. The last of the 480 F-101B's produced was rolled out in March of 1961; by this point only 220 of the 873 F-102A's produced were still in frontline service with ADC, these from the last of the production run. The Voodoo addressed the EARLY model F-102A's largest deficiencies, poor time to altitude and extremely poor acceleration above 35,000 feet. Although the F-102A was continually "tweaked" throughout it's production run and performance was improved, it never came close to meeting the F-101B's numbers, particularly in initial rate of climb (13,000 fpm vs. 49,200 fpm). It's safe to extrapolate forward from these numbers that the Voodoo reached an operationally effective height (35,000 ft) in roughly a quarter of the time taken by the Dagger. In time to altitude, the "Voodoo" also outpaced the "Ultimate Interceptor" (F-106A) by some 7000fpm (initial rate of climb)! Despite it's impressive performance, the Voodoo's improvised radar/weapons system couldn't hold a candle to the capability of the fully "tweaked" MA-1 system. must be noted that it took Hughes until mid-1963 to iron out the major bugs in the MA-1 and the Voodoo WAS the de facto "ultimate interceptor" for most of this intervening period! Adoption of the F-101B (and the fact that despite the "stop-gap" mentality that led to it's procurement, it made a very good show for itself in the role) had a major impact on the number of F-106's that were funded by the Air Force...

...out of a planned production run of 1000+ "Ultimate Interceptors", only 340 "F-106A's and B's" were ever built!
13. Aerodynamic "issues" caused significant problems for Convair throughout the early development of the "Ultimate Interceptor". Which of these is the well known phrase, attached to the solution?

Answer: Area Rule

A theory fully proven through extensive wind tunnel experiments by NACA scientist Richard Whitcomb, area rule (equated with the layman's terms; "Coke Bottle" or "wasp waist" fuselage [this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of truly understanding transonic drag and it's implications/solutions]) was actually (yet another) discovery of German aeronautic science, first postulated during the Third Reich period. Many sources claim that Whitcomb made the discovery (independent of any knowledge of the pioneering work done in Germany), yet given the fact that Whitcomb's "discovery" came in the wake of a documented lecture given by acclaimed German aerodynamicist Adolf Busemann at NACA in late 1951, this seems highly improbable.
Otto Frenzel had actually made the discovery while working on wing and engine configurations for the Junkers EF.122 project (which would later be given the wider known designation Ju 287) in 1943 (in the world's first true high-speed wind tunnel!), and had applied for a patent for his discovery in early 1944. The seemingly "odd" engine locations on the Ju 287V1 were arrived at through his research; the location of the engine pod's mounted on the forward fuselage ahead of the wing, is THE FIRST application of "area rule" to an actual flying prototype, despite what is written elsewhere.

NOTA BENE; I am not some "Nazi Science" revisionist, I'm simply stating the facts. Thousands of engineering documents and blueprints exist which support these facts; the Wikipedia entry on "area rule" actually has a scan of a Junkers blueprint (Ju 287) clearly showing how area rule was applied, all the while crediting Whitcomb with "solving the puzzle"!?...the mind boggles!

Regardless, Whitcomb's work in the (recently completed) large scale, high-transonic (0.95 Mach) wind tunnel at Langley was instrumental in saving the "Ultimate Interceptor" from the scrapheap. Convair were initially very reluctant to accept the fact that their in-house design work was faulty, and it was with a degree of reluctance that they turned to Whitcomb, this only coming once the first YF-102's flight performance confirmed NACA's initial wind tunnel test results. The main "issue" was that their "supersonic" design could only be coaxed through the sound barrier by putting it into a dive with full afterburner engaged! It should also be noted that the aircraft became virtually uncontrollable due to buffeting as speed increased. Whitcomb and a group of Convair engineers redesigned the F-102 to conform to his research, using scale models in the wind tunnel at Langley...this was not minor "tweaking" was a major overhaul. The fuselage was stretched by eleven feet and completely re-designed (structurally); modifications to the rear fuselage, cockpit canopy and wing were also required to bring the 102 into compliance. At the same time Convair addressed numerous other "minor" defects revealed in the first YF-102's. Among the most serious of these were problems with the "wet wing" and fuel feed system, main undercarriage, and replacing the "-11" model of the J57 (which powered the first ten aircraft) with the lighter, more powerful "-23".
The "Cook-Craigie" production plan bit hard in this case; over two-thirds of the original tooling had to be scrapped and the entire production line was revamped to accommodate the redesigned airframe. This caused a "trickle-down" effect which set the F-102B (later F-106) even further behind schedule; initially, because virtually every person available was re-assigned to the "interim" F-102A project in an effort to get it back on track. When work WAS restarted on the "Ultimate Interceptor", the first job was was now redesigning IT to conform to "area rule".

This was to be far from the end of the nightmare for fact it was the tip of the iceberg.

Area rule was also applied to Republic's F-105, setting it even further behind schedule. Due to a combination of what can likely be ascribed to be luck (coupled with more rigorous wind tunnel testing), McDonnell's F-101 was largely in conformance with area rule, and was thus able to step into the F-105 role with little modification. Redesigning it to function within the ADC's SAGE control system took a little longer, but this was not due to any major aerodynamic deficiencies. For everything that went wrong with "Cook-Craigie" production in the case of the F-102, the USAF was lucky in that Cook-Craigie went VERY right in the case of the Voodoo; production was ramped up to fill the immediate needs of first TAC and (as soon as the highly modified "F-101B" was ready for full production) the ADC.
14. Of the six "Century Series" aircraft, which one was purchased in the largest number by the USAF?

Answer: F-100

Coincidentally, the F-100 was also the least expensive of the six types; priced at about $700,000 a copy (F-100D). The "Dog" or "D" model was produced in the the largest number, 1,274 examples. Most (although not all) of these machines saw service with the USAF at some point.

The French "Armee de l'Air received 85 "D's" and 15 "F's", these delivered from both US stocks ("D's") and the production line ("F's"), in 1958. The Royal Danish Air Force also received F-100's (48 "D's", 10 "F's") under "MAP" (see: "Military Assistance Plan"); Turkey and Taiwan's were all from USAF stocks, transfered under "MAP" (a few of Turkey's 200+ came from Denmark as well). Taiwan operated "A" models, released from USAF service once they were superceded by the much more capable "C" and "D" models.

These machines were all retrofitted with the enlarged "D" model vertical fin/rudder prior to being delivered to Taiwan; some were reportedly fitted out with avionics to allow for the use of AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, the only "A's" to be so equipped (operationally).

The "Hun" later evolved into a very capable "bomb truck", used in the south during the Vietnam War. It supplanted the much more costly (and advanced) F-105, freeing TAC's "Thud's" for operations north of the "DMZ". It is not an exaggeration to say that without the large number of F-100C and D's available early in the Vietnam conflict, TAC would have found themselves in a bit of a "pickle" for aircraft, particularly when one considers the large number of F-105's lost in action during "Rolling Thunder" and the somewhat protracted service acceptance of TAC's new F-4 "Phantoms".
15. The "Century" aircraft produced in the greatest number was, of course, Lockheed's F-104. Which of these users DID NOT produce the 104 under license?

Answer: Denmark

Starfighter production became a global phenomenon in the 1960's; it was the genesis of the "rationalization" which has since occurred within most of the European aircraft industry. With the realization that procurement of complex modern aircraft cost "big bucks" came the accompanying realization that production by "consortium" was going to have to be the way of the future for most of the European firms. The other option was (of course), "knuckling under" and buying these machines "off the shelf" from French, British, Swedish or American manufacturers. For the elected leaders of these nations, this was simply not an option.

All of the nations concerned were still in the formative stages of rebuilding their domestic economies in the wake of WW II. The creation of further employment in industry with a high "value added" factor was critical if this renaissance of western European economies was to continue. As all of these nations were operating first and second generation American or British designs; it was painfully obvious that in the very near future these machines would be incapable of even surviving in a "hot" war, let alone carrying out their assigned tasks in the NATO Alliance. The first nation to address this issue was (coincidentally) the one who had the most to lose if things "went sideways"...the recently re-armed Federal Republic of Germany.

The FRG's "Bundesluftwaffe" had been formed in 1955; ground attack and tactical reconnaissance "Gruppen" flew various versions of the Republic F-84 "Thunderjet" and Canadair manufactured F-86 "Sabres" equipped the "Jagdgeschwaders". By early 1958, it was no secret that the West German government was preparing budget allocations for a very substantial purchase of new combat aircraft. Given the recently formed NATO Alliance's policy of "standardization", manufacturers correctly assumed that as went the FRG's decision, so would most of the other nations in the market for a new aircraft follow suit. The German request for proposals, issued later that same year, brought forth a virtual "avalanche" of submissions in what soon became known as the "Sale of the Century". Submissions included Great Britain's English Electric Lightning and Saunders-Roe SR.177, the Dassault Mirage III from France, the Swedish SAAB J-35 Draken, and a whole slew of American designs. Among these were the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, the Vought F8U Crusader, the Grumman F11F-1F Tiger, McDonnell's FH4-1 "Phantom II", Northrop's NF-156 "Freedom Fighter" and the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Most of these submissions were discarded "out of hand" by the West German Government for a number of reasons, some purely political. The contract had attached to it a very specific set of requirements: "technology transfer" (i.e. license manufacturing) and the ability of one machine to fill a variety of roles were the keystones of the deal. A couple of the machines that met the base requirements were only just starting development testing and were not deemed to be sufficiently proven; a couple of others were prohibitively expensive.

Lockheed's proposal started from the F-104C, then in limited service with the USAF. USAF "Starfighter" procurement had recently been slashed from an initial intended purchase of 722 examples; production was now scheduled to end with the delivery of the 296th aircraft in FY (Fiscal Year) 1958. Lockheed had a major advantage as they knew the limitations of their initial design and also had access to the very latest avionics developments. By this point the first generation of on-board computing (using transistors) was entering service, creating a "quantum leap" in both the capability and the "miniaturization" of "all-weather" attack radars. A considerable reshuffling of the limited internal space allowed Lockheed designers to increase internal fuel capacity to 1784 US gallons and also "shoe-horn" the new Autonetics F15A NASARR (North American Search and Ranging Radar) giving the F-104G ("G" for Germany, as the new aircraft was known) the first true "all weather" attack capability. The "G" was also re-designed internally, strengthening it for the much higher g-loads encountered in the "high speed/low-level" flight envelope and was fitted with the new Litton LN-3 inertial navigator; it was provided with five external "hardpoints" and powered by the General Electric J79-GE-11A, rated at 10,000 lbs.s/t (static thrust) dry and 15,600 lb.s/t with afterburning. On 6 November, 1958, the West German government announced that Lockheed's machine had won the contest. Following several months of negotiations, primarily dealing with the initial "co-production" agreements (these initial agreements were to change radically as one after the next, the rest of NATO jumped on the "Starfighter" bandwagon), an initial order was placed on 6 February, 1959 for 66 (later increased to 96) F-104G's. Under the initial deal, these machines were to be manufactured by Lockheed Palmdale, while a consortium of German manufacturers tooled up for license production of a further 210 examples.

The rest of the "dominoes" now began to fall for Lockheed. The next deal was also a major one, this reached with Canada on 2 July, 1959. As per NATO's "standardization" doctrines, the RCAF's European based "1st Air Division" was to be re-equipped with Canadair-built "CF"-104G's, these to be optimized for low-level supersonic delivery of (jointly controlled) American supplied, B-43 (1kt yield) tactical nuclear weapons. Canadair-built 104's were unique birds, equipped with the more advanced F-15AM-11 model of the NASARR attack system and powered by the license built (Orenda) J79 OEL-7; initially they were delivered with the M61 cannon deleted however this was retrofitted to 1 CAG's (the much reduced 1st Canadian "Air Group", [421, 439 and 441 squadron's]) remaining operational Starfighter's in the early '70's, when Canada went "non-nuclear".

See: "How Successive Canadian Liberal Governments NEUTERED the Canadian Forces"... I sound bitter?.. And no...I'm not Jack Granatstein, writing here under a pseudonym ; )). Canadians who are well informed about this period will know exactly what I'm getting at here...a little "inside" hoser-humor if you will...

By December, 1960 the Dutch and Belgian's had signed licensing agreements as well; the European consortium was finalized on 2 March, 1962, with the addition of the Italians to the group.
Production was organized into four cartels, grouped by geographical location:
-South: Dornier (Munich), Heinkel (Speyer), Messerschmitt [later:MBB](Augsberg), and Siebel (Donau); J79 production was at BMW (Koblenz).
-North: Dutch firms Fokker (Schipol), Dordrech, and Aviolanda (Papendrecht), and German firms Focke Wulf (Bremen), Hamburger Flugzeugbau (Hamburg), and Weserflugzeugbau (Einswarden).
-West: SABCA (Societe Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aeronautiques) and Fairey S.A. (a Belgian subsidiary of the English company); A joint facility was set up at Gosselies (near Charleroi); Fabrique Nationale (Brussels) was responsible for J79 production.
-Italy: Fiat (Turin) was the prime contractor; Aera-Macchi, Piaggio, SACA, and SIAI-Marchetti all contributed as subcontractors to Fiat.

In practice, a large degree of interchangeability of various components occurred; even Canadair contributed significantly to component manufacture for European production when certain "bottle-necks" threatened to hold up deliveries.

The European F-104G co-production program finally ended in 1973 when the 1,122nd aircraft was delivered. This machine (built by MBB) was the last of an order of 50 "attrition" replacements for the Bundesluftwaffe. Production of the Starfighter continued at Fiat in Italy until March of 1979 although these machines (F-104S) are not included in the production numbers of the "European" plan. When the Italian line finally closed, a grand total of 2579 F-104's had been produced; the last of these were finally retired by the AMI (Aeronautica Militare Italiana) in December, 2004!
16. Which of the Century Series fighters had the highest accidental attrition rate?

Answer: F-100

Gotcha! (maybe not?). The record of the F-104 created an avalanche of negative publicity which lives on in it's reputation to this day. The fact of the matter is that the F-100 killed almost twice as many aviators (accidentally) as did the much maligned Starfighter. The "Hun's" primary operator, the USAF, had a policy in place which kept most of this information out of the mainstream media however. In the "Starfighter's" case, (when the population density of West Germany is taken into consideration) hiding the "smoking hole" in a German farmer's field was considerably harder to do! Another little known fact is that a much higher percentage of F-100's went down due to structural and systems failures than did 104's; this is in direct contradiction to the commonly held perception that the F-104 was a "flawed" design. The truth of the matter is that a substantial percentage of all "Starfighter" losses were actually attributable to a cause known as CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain)...this was also known by the fighter pilot's own grim euphemism: "Cumulo-Granite". Although the F-104G in German service received the bulk of the negative publicity, the Canadians had the worst accident rate among the many nations that operated the aircraft...almost 50% of the total CF-104 fleet was lost...many of these were CFIT. Much of this can be attributed to the aggressive nature of the Canadian pilots and to the nature of their one went lower and faster than 1 CAG and these guys were mighty proud of this reputation. The 104 was extremely responsive to control inputs, (particularly in the pitch axis); it was also extremely unforgiving, particularly "down in the weeds" (in marginal weather) at 1000+kts TAS. As a child I spent four years in Canadian Forces Europe (1971-75, Lahr & father was an Air Traffic Controller), it seemed that almost monthly, dad came home from "the unit" (as he called work) with a new story about yet another "hot-head" who had "augered" himself into some German hillside... was the nature of the job that these men were doing that got a high percentage of them was the large number of these men that were doing this job in the "Starfighter" that gave this aircraft it's enduring reputation as a "widow-maker".
17. 397 of the 753 F-105D and F/(G) models produced were lost in Southeast Asia, a HIGH percentage of these attributable to enemy action. Roughly HOW high was this percentage?

Answer: 80+%

Of the 397 machines lost to all causes, 322 (81.1 percent) were combat related, the bulk of these victims of the fearsome AAA in the north. Losses attributed to VPAF (Vietnamese Peoples Air Force) fighters remain a controversial topic to this day; the USAF admits 22 aircraft, the VPAF awarded kills for a further 13. A comprehensive loss list found at:

gives a total of 50 F-105D, F and G's, although many of these are categorized as "unconfirmed"...claimed by VPAF pilots but not substantiated by any USAF sources.

With regards to this whole matter of F-105 attrition, the biggest question is...why?...this was, after all, the premium strike fighter of the day.

The answer is actually two fold; one half of it has been examined to death, the other half far less so...
The obvious side in brief: The F-105 flew almost exclusively against targets in the heavily defended north; in the early period ("Rolling Thunder") a high percentage of the USAF's air-to-ground sorties in the north were conducted by the "Thud". Missions were conducted at low-level, bringing them into harms way on a daily basis. Later, when the role of "air-defense suppression" was more clearly defined, this high-risk task was given to the remaining F-105's.

And now on to what the USAF usually fails to mention...

The "Thunderchief" was designed in the early 1950's with a specific role to fill; high speed, low-level delivery of the recently developed B43 tactical nuclear weapon. As this mission was assumed to be a one-way trip (concurrent with nuclear armageddon), survivability was not seen as a significant issue.

For this reason, many corners were cut, both to save money and facilitate earlier delivery...the F-105 project was both late, and significantly over-budget. One of the biggest "corners" cut was the decision to not outfit the F-105 with a "self-sealing" fuel system; this was to have grave consequences in Southeast Asia. The weight of the aircraft had continued to grow throughout its development, to the point where the output of its single J75 engine was being severely "challenged". Given the mission profile, self-sealing tanks were seen as an excessive luxury, carrying penalties in both weight and expense while offering little in return on a "one- way" mission. The entire fuel system was a source of ongoing problems in operational situations; many of the components were prone to failure, causing loss of power at critical moments. The internal weapons bay became home to an auxiliary fuel tank (365 US gal.) and initially, this was very susceptible to battle damage. The aircraft's hydraulic system was another weak point. Although there were both a primary and a secondary hydraulic circuit in the aircraft, the lines to the rear of the aircraft were run virtually "side-by-side" (in the same weapons bay that contained the vulnerable auxiliary fuel tank, noted above), negating any redundancy in the case of combat damage. This was initially done to allow for ease of production; it later became an expensive fix. The "evolution" of successive machines on the production line due to "Cook-Craigie" made maintenance a complete nightmare, especially on such a complicated aircraft (the F-106 was even worse in this regard!). This had a substantial impact on operational availability, despite the best efforts of the hard-pressed ground crews. To get back on the topic of losses, it also resulted in many "snags" (a crew chief's term for failure of a component) which at best meant an aborted mission; at worst it meant a lost aircraft and pilot or pilot/WSO team (WSO or "wizzo": weapons systems operator, the "back seater" in the F-105F/G). Numerous "standardization" programs were initiated to bring all the machines to a conformal specification; attempting to carry this through while the bulk of these aircraft were committed to flying daily combat missions was not easy to schedule however! One other problem was also encountered when TAC moved the F-105 force over to a "conventional" role in Vietnam...the navigation system (AN/ARN-85 LORAN) and attack computer were optimized for a "close is good enough" (i.e. nuclear) role. Precision delivery of conventional "iron" bombs and early generation air-to-ground missiles was not possible with the avionics suite that the plane was equipped with...yet another expensive fix. Although the F-105D was nominally "all-weather", it was required to operate in conditions that went far beyond anything the designers ever intended it to encounter. The "rainy" season (monsoon period) usually started in about September and continued on through to about April, a period of roughly eight months! Failures of the above mentioned AN/ARN-85 LORAN system while on missions caused numerous "CFIT" (see above) incidents and the lack of a proper bombsight in the initial period forced many "go rounds" in the target area, driving losses due to AAA and SAM's up considerably. All of these deficiencies were eventually addressed through the continuous upgrade programs. To facilitate these programs, TAC's first F-4's went to USAFE, allowing the European based F-105's to be withdrawn. These additional aircraft offset losses and more importantly, created a "strategic reserve" of F-105 aircraft, finally allowing a comprehensive upgrade program to be completed. Although by no means a phenomenon peculiar to just the F-105, the humid Southeast Asian climate wreaked havoc on complex electronic systems. The bases in Thailand from which the F-105 operated were some of the worst when it came to these conditions and the F-105 was full of systems which were susceptible to this additional source of "snags".

All of this being said, the F-105 was generally a popular machine among the aviators who flew her. The aircraft's high wing loading gave a very stable ride at low-levels, and when "cleaned-up" (post-strike or after jettisoning their loads when "bounced") the 105's formidable power (24,500lbs/st with water injection engaged) in the dense, humid air gave it the ability to "walk away" from pursuing VPAF interceptors at low level. Once the myriad of upgrades had been completed, TAC finally had the aircraft that they'd needed at the onset of the "Rolling Thunder" campaign in 1965. Unfortunately, the high attrition rate in the intervening period had reduced the strength of the F-105 force to a critical level and TAC was obliged to step up transition to the F-4 to maintain combat effectiveness.

As Paul Harvey used to say...and now you know...the rest of the story!
18. The USAF's "Thunderbirds" flew two different "Century Series" aircraft. The F-100 predominated, but a brief flirtation was also made with one other; which of these was the other?

Answer: F-105

Citation: Copied and pasted from Joe Baugher's webpage on the F-105B

"Despite the aircraft's large size and weight, in May of 1963 the F-105B was selected to replace the F-100C Super Sabres of the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team. The last of nine specially modified F-105Bs was delivered on April 16, 1964, ten days before the first scheduled public performance with the new planes. The aircraft had the 20-mm cannon and associated ammunition, the Doppler equipment, and other associated military items deleted and replaced with ballast and a baggage compartment. A smoke system was installed in the bomb bay, with a pair of pipes on the ventral fuselage surface directing smoke oil into the aircraft's exhaust. Standard F-105B flaps and landing gear were replaced by those from the later F-105D. Four of the Thunderbirds F-105Bs were fitted with a steel tail to withstand the increased stress when flying in the slot or when performing the "knife edge" maneuver. This also made it possible for the aircraft to fly the "slot" position without risking thermal damage to the fin from the exhaust of the lead aircraft. Despite some misgivings about the use of so large and heavy an aircraft as the F-105, the team had few problems in adapting to the Thunderchief."

The team had only flown a handful of shows in their new mounts when a serious accident occurred on 9 May, 1964 at Hamilton Air Force Base, CA. The F-105B (57-5801), flown by Capt. Eugene J. Devlin reportedly broke in two and subsequently disintegrated in midair, while attempting to "pull to the vertical" during a high speed, low altitude pass of a "three-ship" formation.

(Some sources state that the aircraft struck a "mast" or "pole" on the airfield just as Devlin was starting the "zoom climb"; others make no mention of any such occurrence. I cannot find any reference online definitively citing the official USAF accident report so...?)

With a full slate of shows booked for the coming summer's "airshow circuit" and little time to figure out why Devlin's machine had failed so dramatically, the USAF hurriedly re-equipped the team with F-100D's; thus ended the Thunderchief's career as a display aircraft. The "incident" with Devlin's machine was one of FOUR RECENT F-105 crashes under investigation by the USAF. It's almost certain that all of these recent "incidents" were taken into consideration, supporting the decision to re-equip the team with the more proven (and relatively docile) F-100D.
19. Versions of all but one of the "Century Series" saw combat duty in Vietnam. Of THOSE LISTED below, which is the "odd man out"? (i.e. saw no service in Vietnam?)

Answer: F-101B

One of the six basic types saw no active combat in SEA; this was the F-106A. Of the four sub-types listed in the answer block, only Air Defense Command's Interceptor version of the McDonnell "Voodoo" did not see service in Vietnam.

Of those listed, the Reconnaissance version of the "Voodoo" (RF-101A/C) was probably the most well known and successful in its role. These were the single seat strike fighters mentioned back in question number twelve, converted to fill a fast reconnaissance role once the F-105 entered frontline service in the tactical strike role. The story of the F-102 in SEA is a little more obscure...

F-102A's were first based at Tan Son Nhut AFB (near Saigon) in South Vietnam, in March of 1962; these to provide air defense, in the unlikely event that the VPAF would attempt airstrikes in the South. Later this presence was expanded with the establishment of further detachments, these at Bien Hoa and Da Nang in South Vietnam, and at Udorn and Don Muang in Thailand. These were to later fly a few CAP (Combat Air Patrol) missions in the North, in support of B-52 strikes. One source lists a combat loss during one of these missions, this coming at the hands of a MiG-21 (Atoll missile) on February 3, 1968. Believe it or not, these F-102's were also used to fly air-to-ground interdiction missions over the Ho Chi Minh trail, using their IR homing "Falcon" missiles against NVA campfires! Day missions using the unguided FFAR rockets fired from the missile bay over the optical gunsight were also conducted, and at least one F-102 was lost to ground fire.

Also obscure is the combat history of TAC's F-104C...
The F-104C had been built as yet another "stop-gap" aircraft for the much delayed F-105. It was a limited update of the F-104A model with avionics focused toward the fast strike fighter role which it was supposed to fill. Hindered by its limited payload, TAC preferred McDonnell's far more capable F-101A/C models and the F-104C only equipped one Tactical Fighter Wing, the 479th based at George AFB. In spite of the configuration of the aircraft for ground attack, the first F-104C's (476th TFS) that went to Vietnam were assigned to fly MiGCAP, protecting the EC-121D "College Eye" (early AWACS) operating over the Gulf of Tonkin and supporting strike missions in the north. The mere presence of the "Starfighter" had an immediate impact on the level of MiG operations and the threat level dropped dramatically. Although there were only two reported encounters between 104's and MiG's in this early period and no combat losses by either side, the "Starfighter's" speed gave it the ability to "be anywhere" within a few minutes; this was a threat that the VPAF and Chinese took very seriously (and could not counter) until the advent of the MiG-21. With the sudden withdrawl of the MiG threat, the 476th TFW found themselves reassigned, flying "quick response" CAS (Close Air Support) missions, mainly under FAC (Forward Air Controller) direction in the South. They enjoyed a very positive reception from their Army brethren, this due to both their quick response times and highly accurate weapons deliveries. As their primary mission (reduction of the MiG threat) was seen as completed, and lack of ECM gear was causing increasing losses to ground fire and SAM's, TAC's F-104C's were withdrawn from SEA late in 1965. Their one remaining primary mission, MiG CAP for the EC-121, was taken over by the 390th TFS flying F-4C's out of Da Nang.
No sooner had the decision been taken to withdraw the "Starfighters" when the first reports started coming in concerning the suspected presence of Mach 2 capable MiG-21 "Fishbeds" in the skies over North Vietnam. Also at this time, the 479th TFW was in the process of retiring its F-104's, re-equipping its four squadrons with the F-4D. The perceived threat of the MiG-21 saw an immediate "about face" with these plans and the 435th TFS was soon on its way from George AFB to Udorn Thailand, arriving in June of 1966. Because of the confusion within the 479th TFW (concurrent with the unit's conversion to the "Phantom II"), operational control of the deployed "Starfighters" was provided for by the 8th TFW (PACAF). The F-104's were initially employed to fly MiGCAP missions for F-105D "packages" into the North, where the MiG threat was greatest. Numerous missions were also flown in support of "Wild Weasel" operations and the lack of ECM gear again proved itself to be a serious handicap; numerous 104's were lost to SAM's on these forays. This was addressed by the end of 1966, with the fitting of APR-25/26 RHAW suites to the 435th's surviving machines. Thus protected, the 435th TFS resumed a heavy operational schedule, this continuing until the decision was taken in July of 1967 to supplant the "Starfighter's" role in Vietnam with the F-4D Phantom II. Upon their withdrawl from SEA, all surviving F-104C's were transfered enmasse to the 198th TFS of the Puerto Rican ANG. They replaced this unit's venerable F-86H Saber and went on to serve with this unit until 1975, when they were in turn replaced by the A-7 "Corsair II".
20. On 31 October, 1959 the 498th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (based at Geiger AFB, WA) was finally declared operational on the F-106A. How many years was the project behind schedule?

Answer: five years

An easy one for those of you who have been reading the information sections.
The "1954 Interceptor" proved to be a "Bridge too Far" for the American aircraft industry of the 1950's. Even having achieved this "milestone", the problems with the airframe and MA-1 fire control system were far from solved at this point in the timeline. 498th FIS had received eighteen F-106A and five F-106B aircraft, the first of these being an F-106A-64-CO (s/n 57-2453, the 47th machine produced) on 29 May, 1959. Illustrative of the difficulties caused by the Cooke-Craigie production scheme is the fact that the 498th's F-106A's were drawn from five different production blocks; the single block 64 machine (noted above), four from block 75, one from block 80, eight from block 85 and four from block 90! Each of these blocks was different from the others; some of the changes were subtle, others much less so. Predictably, maintenance was a nightmare and consequently, operational availability varied widely in this initial period. This disjointed picture is indicative of the ENTIRE F-106 FLEET throughout its early service career, as the machine continued to evolve throughout the production run. The record of the 539th FIS at McGuire AFB, NJ is even worse in this regard, even though their machines were drawn primarily (12 aircraft) from Block 80 production (in the hopes of easing the maintenance "issues"). Although they were the first unit to receive the F-106 in frontline strength, the 539th FIS were not accorded operational status until early 1961. It must be noted that this delay was concurrent with the unit's assignment to conduct the USAF's Category III acceptance testing of the F-106A and this was greatly affected by ongoing "problems" with both the airframe and the MA-1 system. Given the fact that each of the "Blocks" themselves contained aircraft with numerous differences, it was obvious that corrective action had to be taken. By early 1960, ADC had identified 63 changes to the MA-1 and 67 changes to the airframe that would be required to bring the early production F-106's into conformance with the ones that were currently coming off the production line in San Diego! A major modification project, given the name "Wild Goose", was initiated towards this end, although further "issues" continued to arise throughout its implementation, creating even more differences. By the end of 1960, the next upgrade project ("Broad Jump") had been defined; its implementation was to last through early 1963. With the completion of "Broad Jump", ADC was now finally in possession of a fully operational force of "1954 Interceptors"!

By this point, the oldest of the airframes had been "in service" for almost six years!
21. The "Ultimate Interceptor" as designed was to be armed with "guided" missiles. Which of these period weapons is NOT considered a "missile"? (Hint: it was carried operationally by the F-106)

Answer: AIR-2A "Genie"

I chose to use the period designations of the better known AIM-4, AIM-7 and AIM-9 missiles, but I'm guessing that the "Genie" still stood out like a "sore thumb" for many of you? The AIR-2A/2B was an unguided rocket; the simplest means of getting a 1.5 kT nuclear warhead within effective blast range (1000 ft) of a flight of "bad guys". Most of the earlier fighters and interceptors carried unguided rockets; these were small, contact-fused weapons, designed to be fired as a "barrage". The interim F-102A was also armed with these rockets (the 2.75" FFAR, Folding-Fin Air Rocket, Mk 4 or "Mighty Mouse"). Installed within the leading edge of the doors of the weapons bay of the "Dagger", these rockets were included as a "last ditch" resort, to be used in the event that the "Falcon" missiles failed to "kill" the target aircraft. These rockets were not fitted to the later F-106.
Hughes encountered many problems in getting the "Falcon's" performance up to the USAF's MX-1179 spec. It was designed in two different versions initially, the GAR-1: with a semi-active radar homing (SARH) target tracking system, and the GAR-2: classified as a rear-aspect infrared seeker. The Falcon was the first operational air-to-air missile in history, equipping F-89H model interceptors in 1956 (just beating out the Navy's "Sparrow" for this distinction). The F-89's missiles were carried in massive wingtip mounted pods; three per each side (these pods also held 21 unguided rockets (FFAR), crammed into the available space between the missiles). This first Falcon was the semi-active radar homing version, that is, it tracked and homed in on the radar echo which was reflected back from a target. The target aircraft was "illuminated" by a massive radar set installed in the "Scorpion's" bulbous nose. A few months later, the first F-102A "Daggers" also went operational; these initially equipped with six GAR-1's, carried in the machine's internal weapons bay. By the end of 1956, the first "fire and forget" air-to-air missile was also accepted for frontline duty, this was the GAR-2 Falcon. It was seen as an "insurance" shot, and period doctrine was to fire two shot salvos at the target aircraft. To prevent "interaction" between the two missiles, the IR Falcon would be launched first, followed by the SARH missile. Tactical exercises "proved" that the system was viable; how well it would have actually worked in a "hot war" is an entirely different matter however! The passive infared technology was (obviously) extremely primitive. Given that most encounters would be "point interceptions" (i.e. "head on" encounters) and the sky would be full of both SARH and IR Falcons, it seems that the GAR-2 would be as likely to acquire and shoot down other friendly missiles as it would be to acquire any significant IR return from the front end of a Soviet bomber...

...Fortunately for mankind, this question was never answered.

Hughes continued to tinker and tweak the Falcon throughout the late fifties and early sixties, this resulting in the vastly improved GAR-3A Falcon (SARH) of 1958 and its "new and improved" IR brother, the GAR-4, which followed in late 1959. These featured a larger rocket motor, improved guidance systems, aerodynamic improvements and a much larger warhead. The realization that IR homing was virtually useless in head on attacks, and that SARH technology was barely able to put the missile in the target area, let alone direct a "contact" kill, saw the Falcon elevated to "the next level" by 1960. The new GAR-11 married a "proximity fused" nuclear warhead similar to that of the Douglas "Genie" with the SARH Falcon, in a much larger, redesigned airframe.

Concurrent with all of this, the US Navy was "rowing its own boat" as with regards to missile armament for its shipborne fighter aircraft. Like the USAF, it was also developing both SARH and IR guided weapons; these were however, being developed around two entirely different airfames. The Navy's investment would give us the two most effective (and enduring) missiles of the Cold War period, the "Sidewinder" and the "Sparrow III". Their early period designations are the remaining two choices, given in my answer block.
22. In Vietnam, the USAF got its first opportunity to try out many of their "new toys" in a combat weapon (with a "century series" connection) was spectacularly disappointing...what was it?

Answer: AIM-4D

Missiles were a huge disappointment, much to the chagrin of many in the Airforce who had seen them as the "Way of the Future". Some of these "forward thinkers" built careers around decrying those with WW II experience who held to the principle that a fighter needed guns to do its job. This all came full circle in South East Asia in the mid-Sixties. The profound changes brought about by all of this technology had aviators so busy manipulating these increasingly complex "weapons systems" that actual piloting skills were put by the wayside. In fairness it must be said that these missile systems were designed with a "different" war in mind and this was not the war that they were now required to wage. The fact that American military thinking was so corrupted by their absolute faith in technology is revealing nonetheless.
Vietnam was a "limited" war, complicated by a myriad of "Rules of Engagement". While technology gave the US Military numerous systems designed with significant "BVR" (Beyond Visual Range) capability, accompanying "IFF" (Identification, Friend or Foe) technology lagged far behind; the potential for "friendly fire" incidents could simply not be ignored given the circumstances prevalent within the operational theater. The USAF's AIM-4 Falcon "fit the mold" the best in this regard as it had initially been designed for shooting at bombers at long range.

When the USAF had the Navy's F-4 Phantom II "forced down its throat", the first aircraft they received was the F-4C, essentially a "de-navalized" F-4B, equipped with the Navy's AIM-7 (SARH) and AIM-9B (IR) missiles as its only armament. Performance of both of these missiles was disappointing, particularly so in the case of the "Sidewinder", the primary "dogfighting" weapon (all of these early missiles were highly prone to failures, and this led to the pilots firing as many as four weapons in one salvo, in the hopes that at least one of the bunch would work)!
The USAF was in the process of specifying "its own" Phantom (the F-4D) and the decision was taken to replace the "Sidewinder" with the latest version of ADC's "Falcon", the AIM-4D. This decision was taken in spite of the fact that the "Sidewinder's" follow-on, (the vastly improved AIM-9D) was then receiving its IOC (Initial Operational Capability) with the USN.

This remains a very controversial topic to this day.

Airforce Phantom "Dog" pilots fired many hundreds of Falcons in combat...a total of only FIVE kills were accredited to Hughes' missile! While the AIM-4D did outperform (both in tracking and maneuverability) the AIM-9B model which equipped the USAF's first Phantom (the F-4C), there were many valid reasons as to why it was wholly useless as a dogfighting weapon...

The story of the AIM-4D's (GAR-2B's) failure in Vietnam stems from its basic design. The simple fact was that launching the Falcon required the completion of an extremely complex sequence of events. While this was seen as perfectly acceptable in a BVR bomber intercept, it was quite another matter when the target was a lightweight, nimble fighter; one in which the pilot was literally "flying for his life"...
When a pilot decided to take a shot with a Falcon, the first thing that happened in the sequence was the energization of the IR seeker head...but...this apparatus had to first be "super-cooled" by nitrogen gas, which was "charged" into the missile from onboard the launch aircraft, through "plumbing" in the LAU-42 launchers which held the Falcons...once the nitrogen had been charged, the clock was ticking. Following a lag of 4-5 seconds, the IR heads were sufficiently cooled to actually start seeking the target. This triggered the guidance system, which now had to "spin up" and then "uncage" the gyroscopes and this also took time. At approximately 7-8 seconds, the missile would return a "tone" confirming that it was ready for flight, the pilot could now slight problem here...

...SEVEN to EIGHT SECONDS is an ETERNITY in a 6-7g dogfight!

In most cases the "window" for the "shot" had by now closed and because the limited nitrogen charge only kept the seeker head functional for a short period (2-3 minutes) you either launched the "Falcon" or it "stood down" and you took it home with you as dead weight. In an effort to circumvent the delays, pilots would "charge" their Falcons upon sighting the enemy, only to have them "stand down", just when they were needed. The fact that the USAF were fully aware of this design limitation, yet still chose to send their fighter pilots into combat with this weapon as their primary means of close engagement defies explanation! The Falcon's maneuverability (once actually flying), while better than that of the AIM-9B, was still wholly inadequate for the task of pursuing a hard turning fighter aircraft and (unlike the AIM-9) the AIM-4D's lack of a proximity fuse meant that a near-miss remained just that...a miss.

To bring this all "full circle"...

...In one respect, the USAF did make one very good decision when they "spec'd" their F-4D; the centerline station was wired for General Electric's SUU-23/A gun pod and the "Dog" was also provided with a proper lead computing gunsight, the GE AN/ASG-22... the follow-on F-4E model, the gun was back as standard installed equipment...
23. What was Project "Six Shooter"?

Answer: An M61 "Gatling gun" for the F-106A

Although it was not implemented until much later in the F-106's operational career, the idea of "Six-Shooter" first arose when the "Six" was flown "head-to-head" against the Navy's new F4H-1 Phantom II in 1962. This project (carried out under the name "High Speed") evaluated the idea of supplanting the ADC's F-106A fleet with a dedicated interceptor version of the Phantom II. While it was found that the F-4's APQ-72 radar was both more reliable and had longer detection and lock-on ranges than the MA-1 system of the F-106, the F-106A displayed formidable properties in an air combat maneuvering (ACM) capacity, "killing" the F-4 consistently when the two machines entered close combat. In the end, the USAF chose to buy the F-4 as a "multi-role" aircraft for the needs of TAC; the ADC would get no new interceptors for the time being.

As USAF involvement in Vietnam grew, the VPAF stepped up its efforts to interdict American bombing missions over North Vietnam; the results of the earlier evaluation during "High Speed" led to serious consideration being given to the use of the F-106 as "MiG CAP" in the north. Convair prepared "Sharpshooter" as a proposal to modify the "Six" to carry the M61A1 cannon in the internal weapons bay; it would also provide for a "clear view" canopy and a lead computing gunsight. ADC's reaction at the idea of their major means of continental air defense being "hijacked" for the furtherance of the SEA conflict was predictable, and the idea of shipping the "Six" to Vietnam was dropped.

ADC was, however, interested enough in the "Sharpshooter" proposal to issue a contract for its development; on February 10, 1969 the first test was carried out at Tyndall AFB. Gun armament was seen as a means of providing further "insurance", in the event of "problems" with the primary offensive system, the Falcon missile. A gun was also seen as essential for the interdiction of low flying bombers, where "ground clutter" was shown to play havoc with both the SARH and IR guided Falcon missiles. Testing was successful and led to the modification of roughly half of the F-106A fleet to the "Six-Shooter" standard.

"Sharpshooter" was the name given to the PROPOSAL made by Convair; "Six-Shooter" was the name the USAF gave the project upon acceptance and implementation...there is considerable interchangeability/confusion of these two terms in some sources...this is the clarification.

In these aircraft, the complement of Falcon missiles was retained but "Genie" was no longer carried, its place in the internal weapons bay being taken up by the M61 and its ammunition.
24. Although all of the Century Series aircraft eventually were provided with some form of aerial refueling capability, only one came from the factory with a "slipway" compatible with SAC's "flying boom" system...what was it?

Answer: F-105

All TAC refuelers used the "probe and drogue" system initially and a refueling probe (either integral or detachable) was eventually provided for the F-100, F-101, F-102 (assigned to TAC), F-104 and F-105 aircraft. Initially, each USAF command had their own "organic" refueling squadrons (by definition: attached to the units which they supported, for organizational purposes). Later amalgamation of the USAF's refueling capacity (this centered around standardization on "flying boom" equipped KC-97 and KC-135A aircraft) was to cause considerable "problems" in meeting the different needs of TAC and SAC. Specific refuelers had to be configured with hoses and drogues if TAC's machines were to be serviced; also, they could still only service one fighter at a time while so equipped. Furthermore, they could not service SAC's bombers (or the MATS transports) while so configured; these were equipped with "slipways", designed solely for use with "flying booms".

The refueling needs of each Command was best met by the system that they eventually adopted; all early tanker aircraft were retired SAC bombers, re-configured with the hose and drogue transfer system. While far better than the very first system employed, (very similar to fuel transfer by ships underway at sea!), the probe and drogue system had one serious disadvantage in SAC's eyes; this led to their adoption of the Boeing-designed "flying boom". Fuel transfer to large aircraft (with large "appetites") was painfully slow with the probe and drogue (1000-1500 lb/min); so much so that it was impractical for servicing "gas hogs", aircraft such as the B-47 (and later the B-52 and C-141).

In TAC's eyes, the probe and drogue system was perfect. As many as three fighter-bombers could be refueled at a time (some KB-50's were so equipped), allowing for more efficient refueling of multi-aircraft "strike packages". It's noteworthy that to this day, fighter aircraft still cannot accept fuel at the maximum transfer rate that the flying boom delivers (6000 lb/min.). THREE drogues can fill THREE fighters simultaneously however, each at their maximum transfer rate of 1500 lb/min. It's for this reason that TAC initially had its own dedicated fleet of KB-50's. Although there was some rivalry between the two commands (initially fighting over the limited number of available airframes), the system worked rather well. As the new build KC-97's became available, they went to SAC, who "handed down" their KB-29's and KB-50's to TAC.

The "problem" arose when TAC's airframes began to "time-out" (requiring their replacement with "new build" machines), for the decision was also taken to re-organize the refuelers into a single dedicated ("command-type") unit. Later on, the "lowest time" KB-50's were refurbished and pressed back into service in Vietnam to address these interoperability "problems"; the last of these "re-retired" in 1967. As the "rationalization" of USAF tanker units came after the end of the "production runs" of all the "Century Series" (with the exception of the last of the F-105's), these F-105's were the only machines that came "factory equipped" with "slipways". "Slipways" were retrofitted to most F-105"D's","F's" and "G's"; ADC's F-106 fleet were also retrofitted with "slipways", but there were never any "Sixes" delivered with them as original equipment.

Debate on this matter rages on to this day, although the USN and USMC (as well as most of the NATO allies) are now the primary "hose and drogue" advocates! The fact remains that it still takes far more tankers (burning far more fuel, requiring far more infrastructure) to refuel a multi-aircraft "strike package" when you can only fuel one fighter at a time. A quick search on the net and you can find a couple of very well written "papers" on the subject (one of these a doctoral thesis, written by an Air Force Major at the USAF Academy). These amply demonstrate the stupidity of using single point "boomers" for supporting strike fighters, particularly in "time-sensitive" operational situations. As the USAF is currently knee-deep in the KC-X debate, it makes for very interesting reading.
25. A large number of the USAF's "Century Series" ended their lives as "QF" conversions; radio controlled drones, used for target practice. Which of these never existed?

Answer: QF-105

Only two of the six "Century" types never suffered this somewhat ignominious end, the F-101 and the F-105. Of the four "Century" types converted, the QF-104 is certainly the least well known. In 1960, a total of 24 YF-104A/F-104A aircraft were converted to "QF" configuration for use as radio controlled targets. These were assigned to the 3205th Drone Squadron, based at Eglin AFB, FL. All of these machines retained the ability to be flown manned, while also having the radio control capability; they were painted in overall "Dayglo" red, for increased visibility. Unlike many of their "kin" (converted to training targets, for use in "live fire" exercises), the QF-104's were used in developmental testing of missile guidance systems, where their high speed was seen as a particularly valuable research and testing tool. Sources differ, but most agree that at least twenty of the QF-104's were eventually "expended" during these tests.

Far wider known are the "Delta Dagger" conversions, the first of which were designated QF-102A (PQM-102A and PQM-102B specifications later followed). Between 1973 and the early '80's, a high proportion of ADC's F-102A fleet (224) were gradually converted into target drones; the first of these were used in 1974, during USAF acceptance testing of the F-15A "Eagle". Almost all of these machines were expended in "live fire" training at Tyndall AFB and Holloman AFB; the last of these was a PQM-102B (s/n 56-1072), shot down at Holloman in 1986.

An even higher proportion of the F-106 fleet met the same fate during project "Pacer Six"; eventually 194 F-106A's were converted and "expended" as QF-106A's. Experience with the previous PQM-102's led to the adoption of a rather curious modification for this second Convair drone. Although they were conversions of "surplus" aircraft, there was considerable consternation with the rapid "expenditure" of the converted F-102 fleet. To remedy this, many QF-106's were fitted with pylon mounted "burners", these to serve as targets for IR missile shots. QF-106's initially served at White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico and later at Tyndall and Holloman; the last "shoot down" (s/n 57-2524) came on 20 February, 1997 on the USAF range at Eglin.

Thank you for taking my quiz; I hope that you found it informative!
Source: Author iron2

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor trident before going online.
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