The F-102A was given birth as an answer to the United States Air Force's “Secret Project MX-1554 (codename DRAGONFLY), unofficially called the “1954 Interceptor Program”. Proper acknowledgement is given in the book to Dr. Alexander Lippisch for his contribution to Delta Wing aircraft design. The Delta Dagger is acknowledged as the first successful, fully operational, jet powered delta wing aircraft. Yes, it truly is a descendent of the ME-163, with a “strangely” similar purpose, knock down bombers.
Style and Content
In the “standard” In Action format, the book contains 50, softbound, A-4 size pages of B&W photos and accompanying text, plus a “centerfold” of color profiles, and multiple line drawings of design variants and aircraft components. The text and photos, in combination, deliver an excellent depiction of the history of the aircraft from initial design, to worldwide deployment, to its final versions in use as target drones.
An interesting segment discusses the design considerations for the airframe, such as “Love-handles” and how they impacted and helped implement “area ruled” design. Each stage of Convair’s modification to the original concept to help achieve Mach 1 is discussed stage by stage, revealing why the airframe has the shape it does.
The book contains the following sections:
Introduction – Here is a brief discussion of the origins of Delta Wing Aircraft design, with acknowledgements of Dr. Lippisch’s work and the work of the Engineers at NACA Research Labs and Convair.
XP-92 – The original Convair prototype, built in 1947, with both a rocket and ramjet for power
XP-92A – The World’s first true jet powered Delta Wing aircraft, first flight September 1948.
YF-102 – Convair’s proposal for project DRAGONFLY, appearance similar to the eventual F-102, but without “love-handles” or “area ruled” design. This was the first flight test model provided to the Air Force. First flight October 1953
YF-102A – The final prototype of, what was to become the F-102A. This aircraft at last achieved the critical requirement of flying at Mach 1 in level flight, in December 1954. Further improvements were made to the airframe before the before the actual production version was arrived at.
F-102A – Officially adopted by the U.S. Air force as the “Delta Dagger” in June 1955. These aircraft served with the Air Defense Command, inside the United States and at bases all over the world. F-102A’s served in Viet Nam from 1962 to 1971. The F-102A was operated by the Air National Guard from 1960 to 1976.
TF-102A – This is the twin seat (side by side) version, a Trainer with full Tactical capabilities. First flight November 1955.
F-102B – A heavily modified version of the F-102A Known as the “Ultimate Interceptor”. It was in fact so modified that its designation was changed to F-106.
F-102C – A “gap filler” for the transition to the F-106, rejected by the Air Force in 1957.
JF-102A – A designation given to any F-102A used as a “test bed”, by General Electric.
QF-102A and PQM-102A/B – These are the designations given to the pilot less target drones used at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The last PQM-102B was expended in 1986.
Throughout, the book describes the weapons and weapon systems proposed and implemented as part of the F-102A.
Plans and Artwork
This book provides photos and/or drawings of every external modification made to the airframe. The photos are unfortunately B&W, but considering that the photos were taken at a time when B&W photography was still the norm, it is understandable. It would be nice if some color photos of the more colorful squadron marking were included. The photos provided do cover from the earliest prototype to the last target drone. Many photos of the F-102 in service are included.
Line drawing showing details of the major modifications are provided, along with three view drawings of the two major service types, the F-102A and the TF-102A.
The cover art illustrations provide three very good color-marking references; as well there is a “centerfold” of 10 color profiles.
I found this book to be quite enjoyable, both as a photo reference and as a good read. It does a superb job of documenting the history of this aircraft. The photos are of excellent quality, if in B&W. The text is packed with technical information; I don’t know how the author could have included more without restricting the readership to those with Engineering Degrees.
Thank you to MMD-Squadron for kindly supplying the review sample.