Cold War Era

USAF Deuce pilot recalls how during the few times he broke the sound barrier in the F-102 the cockpit noise level never changed

The F-102 Delta Dagger

The F-102 Delta Dagger was the first operational Mach 1 capable supersonic, all-weather interceptor in the United States Air Force. Manufactured by the Convair division of General Dynamics in San Diego, California its signature wasp-waisted delta-wing design found its inspiration in technology developed by German scientists during the Second World War.

The F-102 (dubbed by her aircrews “Deuce”) used an internal weapons bay to carry up to six AIM-4 infrared or radar guided missiles and rockets.

Over 1,000 F-102s were accepted into the U.S. inventory, flying for two decades until their gradual replacement by the Mach 2 capable F-106 Delta Dart.

The biggest drawback to the F-102 was its lack of speed. It was a supersonic aircraft, but only by a small margin.

With external tanks attached, it was limited to Mach .95.

Deuce limited to less than Mach 1.0

Roger Daisley, former F-102 pilot, recalls on Quora;

I was an F-102 pilot for several years. Virtually all of our aircraft were fitted with under-wing aux. fuel tanks. They were limited to less than Mach 1.0.

‘I was also selected to be a “Functional Test Pilot.” What this means is that after an aircraft undergoes certain repairs, it must be test flown to verify airworthiness. One of the test points is supersonic flight. To accomplish this, the aux. fuel tanks are removed.

‘These were always “fun” flights because we could really wring the aircraft out: High roll rates, high G turns, at both high and slow speeds, minimum control speed limits, stability checks at both high and slow speeds … and going supersonic.

‘When “going super” the only indication was the rapid altimeter and vertical speed fluctuation. The “ride” did seem to smooth out. The flight controls were also a little stiffer.’

Daisley concludes;

The cockpit noise level never changed because the only real “noise” in the cockpit was that of the air conditioning system … and it didn’t care what speed we were flying.’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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