Faced with the new threat of a Soviet long range
bomber attack aimed at American soil, the USAF requested design
proposals from US Airplane Companies for an supersonic interceptor able
to reach an altitude of 50,000 ft in four minutes, that could be in
service by 1954. On September 11, 1951 Convair's proposal, the YF-102A
was chosen for the program named the “1954 Interceptor”. Based on
the first powered delta winged aircraft, the XF-92A, the Delta Dagger
became the Worlds first delta winged combat aircraft, the first all
weather Interceptor capable of supersonic speeds in level flight, and
the first aircraft designed with an all missile armament.
The YF-102 entered a extensive testing program after
its madden flight on October 24, 1953, in the first months of testing
the YF-102 design was found to be limited to subsonic speeds. This
problem was corrected by reducing drag using a design concept called
area-rule; this feature gave the latter F-102s their characteristic
“wasp-waist” or “Coke bottle” shape. The newly designed YF-102A
dubbed the “Hot Rod” flew for the first time on December 20, 1954.
The F-102A entered service with ADC’s 327th Fighter-Interceptor
Squadron, George AFB, CA on May 1, 1956, becoming the first supersonic
squadron in the Command. On December 13, 1956 317th FIS became
the first of the McChord based 325th Fighter Wing's fighter squadrons to go "supersonic"
with the delivery of a TF-102A by Squadron commander Col. Henry L.
Crouch. On March 2, 1957 the 318th FIS replaced its F-86D's with factory
fresh F-102A's flown to the base by Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Charles
"Kit" Carson, Maj. Chester Rese and Capt. Gene Rogge.
During 1957 the 317th FIS was named the Air Forces
Best Fighter Squadron, by wining the 1956 Hughes Trophy, their excellent
performance made the squadron a valuable commodity. In a effort to improve the defense of the Northern
approaches of North America, personnel and aircraft of the 317th FIS and
another F-102 squadron based in Michigan were relocated to Elmendorf & Ladd AFB,
Alaska replacing five Alaskan Air Command Northrop F-89D Scorpion
Squadrons. As the 317th completed its move to Alaska, the 64th FIS
flying F-89's at Elmendorf stood up at McChord converting into the F-102.
F-102's flew from McChord with the 325th FW's 64th FIS
& 318th FIS until 1960. After the 318th's conversion to the F-106 in
March 1960, the 64th moved its operations to Paine AFB, WA, ending the
four year F-102 era at McChord. With it's move the 64th would also
join the 326th Fighter Group also based at Paine AFB, one year later the 57th Fighter Group would
replace the 326th FG at Paine.
In early 1966 the 64th was selected to move to Clark AB, in the
Philippines to boost the F-102 inventory in the Pacific region, in preparation
for their move, F-102's from the 64th FIS would receive in-flight
refueling capability and a Southeast Asia camouflage scheme. In June
1966 during a project code named "Hot Spice", F-102's from the
64th, would make the flight to Clark AB and officially becoming a part
of the Pacific Air Force's F-102 force. The 64th FIS "Scorpions"
discontinued their alert commitments in Southeast Asia and was
inactivated on 15 November 1969.
In all 43 Air Force squadrons flew the F-102
until 1973, ANG received its first Delta Dagger in 1960 with the
last unit, the 199th FIS Hawaii ANG, retiring their last aircraft in
October 1976. Ex USAF F-102s were also acquired by the Air Forces of
Greece and Turkey.
In 1973, the USAF decided to
convert surplus F-102As into low-cost, supersonic target drones that
could simulate the performance of enemy aircraft in aerial combat in all
213 Daggers were converted in the “Pave Duce” program. The last
PQM-102 was destroyed on June 30 1986.