How America's First Delta Wing Fighter Prevented WWIII

Despite the general incompetence of Soviet long-range nuclear bombers, the US couldn't allow a single such plane to reach US airspace. Its response — a new breed of fighter jet with an unprecedented wing design and handling.

The Convair F-102 "interceptor" was the first fighter to incorporate a tailless delta wing design anywhere in the world. It was designed exclusively to intercept Soviet bombers and as such was built with nothing but unbridled speed and agility in mind. Based on the work of renowned German engineer Alexander Lippisch, this single-seat supersonic fighter measured 20.7m in length with a 11m wingspan. A single Pratt & Whitney J57-P-25 afterburning turbojet propelled the F-102 Delta Dagger to Mach 1.25 with an operational ceiling of 16,276m. Its delta wing design allowed the F-102 harder cornering at higher speeds than anything a conventionally winged aircraft can accomplish. It entered active service in 1956 and over the course of its 20 year service, more than a 1000 were built.

The Delta Dagger was outfitted with two dozen 70mm unguided rockets, 6sixAIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles, and a single AIM-26 Falcon that could be loaded with a nuclear warhead — enough to lay low a fleet of Soviet bombers over the Pacific. But engaging aircraft at supersonic speeds is far easier said than done, so the Delta Dagger incorporated a cutting-edge (by 1950's standards at least) computerised fire control systems (FCS) that would automatically track, target, and fire upon enemy aircraft — without pilot intervention.

The F-102 served as the backbone of American air defence for more than 20 years, seeing action in Vietnam. By 1976, however, the F-102 was retired from active service and replaced by the even faster F-106 Delta Dart, which could reach Mach 2.

[Military Factory - National Air Force MuseumWikipedia]


    Yet another misleading headline!
    And what's this nonsense about the "incompetence of Soviet long-range nuclear bombers"? In what way exactly were they incompetent?

      Did you read the article linked? Perhaps if you did you would know why they were incompetent and not look like such a dick now.


    Bro, for future reference... The pale blue highlighted text is a link to a reference


    Provide (a book or article) with citations of authorities.
    Of, denoting, or pertaining to a reference library.

    Russian Bombers blew and the Soviets knew it hence the ensuing missile arms race

    They had NOTHING that compared to a B-52.... 50+ years of service and still serving

      @tonyintsv @thebatman
      No one aircraft won the cold war! Now show me a reference to "incompetence" in that article. God I hate knowitalls!

        America conned the world by going off the gold standard after it's miserable and expensive defeat in Vietnam, and flooding the world currency markets with U.S. dollars is what won the cold war, financially Russia was screwed from the start. Russia was also very corrupt and in freefall decline politically and socially at the time anyway. Had nothing to do with fixed wing aircraft what so ever. BOTH sides were more than capable of wiping each other out and the rest of humanity as well. If Russia was such an easy target then why didn't America attack it ?...Because America would've been wiped off the map, that's why. This article is complete bullshit.

        Andrew is having an American circle jerk party again. Get your hand off it for 5 seconds Andrew and let the blisters heal.

        Last edited 02/01/13 10:33 pm

      They had NOTHING that compared to a B-52? Tu-95 Bear! 56+ years of service and still serving.

      I think the stuff about incompetent Soviet capabilities are utterly bogus and no one fighter prevented WW3.

    The headline is stupid for two reasons...

    1. No single weapon platform ''prevented WWIII''.

    2. If the Soviet long range nuclear bombers were ''incompetent'' as stated, then the US's delta wing interceptor built to counter them can't have been that important, either.

    Last edited 30/12/12 6:24 pm

    There is no claim to a single weapon winning or preventing exclusively via one airplane.

    Nutshell - neither side had SAMs that could go above 40000 feet in the fifties, rocket guidance wasnt yet able to process the changing vector coordinates nor was a sustained propulsion ground fired rocket yet created that could be controlled accurately above the continental USA
    The only other jet at that time that could take off to intercept we're F86 sabres, which were hollow back swept wing design that could neither maintain height or speed due to reduced air pressure at higher altitudes. By the time the F86 got above 40,000 feet there wasnt much gas left and the bomber squadron would have probably got through

    First full wing delta enabled fast altitude climb and wide enough wing coverage to maintain good lift and therefore was able very probably a factor that played a big role in preventing another world war which at that point was considered inevitable

    Headline works. No 'dick' calls here

    Don't take any notice of the headline, its just one of those ego boosting headlines.

    Americans and indeed the whole world needs to thank a Russian named Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, he was a second in command officer of a soviet submarine near Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis, the Americans had the sub surrounded and dropped depth charges to make it surface, threatened the Russians were going to launch their nukes but there needed to be an unanimous decision amongst the three commanding officers to launch the nukes on board and Arkhipov decided against launching what would have been a total nuclear holocaust.

    Both sides came close to launching a world ending apocalypse, either from mistakes or crappy technology.

    Get your facts right Gizmodo!
    'I stopped World War Three by refusing US orders to destroy Russian forces,' claims James blunt.
    One man stopped it and he also writes music....

    Everyone knows that Capitan America prevented WWIII !!
    He defeated stupid and incompetent Russians with his mighty shield :)

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