The F-106 Delta Dart
As far as I’m concerned the Convair F-106 Delta Dart is one of the most beautiful and graceful aircraft ever created. The “Six” as this aircraft was known to its pilots was a supersonic interceptor, capable of mach 2.3 under full after burner power. This jet fighter replaced Convair’s first delta interceptor, the F-102 Delta Dagger. The F-102, looked fast on the blueprints but its actual performance was extremely disappointing, barely capable of exceeding mach 1.
The F-106 began life in 1959 and it was an immediate success, far surpassing the performance of the F-102. The purpose of this aircraft was to intercept and destroy Soviet bombers and fighters in potential combat over Europe as well as in a nuclear strike in the skies over the United States. The F-106 carried AIM-4 conventional air to air missiles in an internal weapons bay and was also designed to carry the Genie, an air to air nuclear tipped missile that carried a one point five kiloton warhead. The Genie was intended to be fired at massed squadrons of Soviet bombers.
As the F-106 aged, some of the “A” models went through extensive upgrades of their electronics, engines and canopies in 1972. Sadly however, this beautiful plane, taken out of service in the late 1980s and the survivors have been reduced to being used as target drones. A few of these aircraft still remain on display in various museums and military displays throughout the United States. There are several F-106s at the Davis Monthan aircraft storage area in Tucson, Arizona and one or two at their Pima Air Force Museum, located near the Davis Monthan Air Base.
How I used the F-106 in my novel, The Hive: I so much wanted to use the beautiful F-106 that I created an air battle in my novel, The Hive, in which invading alien attack craft have destroyed several hundred front line F-22 and F-35 fighters in an assault on the Cheyenne Mountain complex in Colorado. Over seven hundred fighters taken out of storage at Davis Monthan fly to the rescue. These are mostly F-15 and F-16 aircraft but I have a couple of F-106s that I put into the air battle. The excerpt below is dedicated to the F-106, the most graceful US fighter jet ever to streak across the skies.
Below ground, each plasma blast shook the structure of the former NORAD installation with ever greater effect; dimming the lights and shaking loose bits of rock and concrete from the ceilings that had been carved out of the mountain. After another hit, one lieutenant in an air force uniform called out that the structure would fail in less than fifteen minutes. Then another voice, a corporal yelled out. “I have over seven hundred incoming targets on the scope. I just hope to God they’re ours!”
Air National Guard pilot Captain Bruce Kaminski had been airborne out of Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Pima Arizona for just under fifty minutes with his flight of seven hundred and fifteen aircraft. Over his headset he and the other pilots heard the news of the destruction of the Air Force’s front line fighters by the invaders and also heard the desperate calls for help from the Cheyenne Mountain complex. The distance of six hundred and twenty miles had been covered at just below supersonic speed, flying low to avoid detection by the aliens. In the days leading up to the arrival of the Hive fleet in translunar space, teams of aircraft mechanics and pilots made ready every flyable fighter jet in storage at the desert facility. Bruce Kaminski, an Air National Guard pilot from Kansas, was hoping for an F-15 Eagle. Instead he was strapped into the cockpit of a plane that started its service before his father was born. He was flying one of four resurrected F-106 Delta Darts that began life in the late 1950s. Even though his plane, an A model, had been through extensive modifications, that was back in 1972, seventeen years before he was born. Now he was about to engage an enemy that fired bolts of plasma energy and could fly right out of the atmosphere.
At fifty miles from Cheyenne Mountain, the flight of over seven hundred planes popped up from tree top level to fifteen thousand feet and went to full afterburners. The shockwave below of that many aircraft breaking the sound barrier was deafening, blowing out nearly every window in nearby Pueblo Colorado. The air armada dived on the attackers with a numerical superiority of almost six to one. Despite the advanced technology of the alien craft, they could not hold off that many fighters. Many of the remaining invader craft began to climb for the safety of space. Bruce Kaminski had already shot down two attack craft and was chasing two more in a vertical climb. He had the delta-winged F-106 at full afterburner, closing on the attackers at mach two point three. Getting one of the invaders into missile lock, he let loose an AIM-26 Super Falcon missile that tracked the hot fusion exhaust of the craft as it climbed for the safety of outer space. At the last second the alien tried to turn and the missile, instead of flying right into the fusion drive, detonated above the left wing, blowing half of it off. Kaminski watched as the attack craft spiraled down, crashing and exploding in the Pike National Forest below. He then turned his attention to the second alien. The attack craft’s pilot must have realized the Dart had a higher climb rate at their current altitude, so he streaked into an almost vertical diving turn, trying to escape Kaminski’s stream of twenty millimeter tracers. The marvelously agile F-106 turned faster and cut inside the arc of the alien, getting a missile lock on it. Captain Kaminski fired another AIM missile that exploded just behind the cockpit of the alien, blowing the center section of the craft apart, leaving its severed wings to tumble to the ground. Low on fuel, Kaminski put his F-106 down along with hundreds of more modern F-15s at Peterson Air Base to shouts of congratulations from inside Cheyenne Mountain coming over his radio. NORAD radar now showed the sky was clear of enemy threats.
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THE HIVE-Sample Chapters.
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