Convair F-106A Delta Dart (USA)

Convair F-106A Delta Dart military fighter jet airplane at Castle Air Museum, Atwater and Merced in the California's Central Valley.


Country of Origin: 
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Maximum Speed:
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Number Built:
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United States
Convair Division of General Dynamics
58-0793 (displayed as 57-2456)
Model 8-24
1 Crew
1 - Pratt & Whitney J-75-P-17 turbojet engine with 24,500 lbs. of thrust in afterburner
1,525 mph. or Mach 2.3 @ 40,000 ft.
53,000 ft.
1,500 mi. (combat radius 730 mi.)
Empty: 23,650 lbs.
Maximum: 38,700 lbs.
38 ft. 3½ in.
70 ft. 9 in. (including Pitot Tube)
20 ft. 3 in.
1 - AIR-2A Genie nuclear-tipped rocket and 4 - AIM-4 Falcon missiles in internal weapons bay. (AIR-2A was replaced by the M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon in some aircraft)
Starting in 1986, many of the surviving aircraft were converted into drones, designated QF-106A and used for target practice. The last was destroyed in January 1998. The drones were still capable of being flown as manned aircraft, such as for ferrying to a test. During the test, they were flown unmanned. A handful of F-106's were retained by NASA for test purposes through 1998

The F-106 was originally started as a later model of the F-102, but the changes were so extensive that it was redesignated as the F-106. It was equipped with the MA-1 electronic guidance and fire control system which operated with the SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) defense system.  It was the aircraft that finally met the Air Force 1948 specification for the "ultimate interceptor".

The Delta Dart entered operational service in July 1959. Fourteen squadrons eventually received the 106 when deliveries were completed in 1961. It stayed in first-line service far longer than originally anticipated. When it was retired from active Air Force and Air National Guard service in 1988, most of the remaining aircraft were converted to drones for use as missile targets. Because of its long service life, the 106 received numerous upgrades under several different Air Force programs. The Six was the last dedicated interceptor and was replaced in most cases by the F-16.

Convair F-106A Delta Dart military fighter jet airplane at Castle Air Museum, Open Cockpit Day.

Two Fighter Interceptor Squadrons flew the F-106 from Castle AFB - the 456th FIS and the 84th FIS. The 456th flew F-106s from Castle for 8 years from 1959 to 1968, when it moved to Oxnard AFB; the 84th for 8 years from 1973 to 1981. The 84th had flown the Six from 1968 to 1973 from Hamilton AFB.

The display aircraft is the 155th F-106 produced. It served with 7 different Air Force interceptor squadrons and 2 Air National Guard squadrons from 1959 to 1985. It was converted to a QF-106 drone in 1993 and returned to storage in 1998. It was removed from storage and trucked to the museum in November 2002.

It displays the 1967 markings of the commander's plane of the 456th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Alumni of the 456th led the fund-raising efforts to bring this aircraft to Castle Air Museum.