20 Cold War-Era Warplanes of the U.S. Air Force

F-106 Delta Dart

F-106 Delta Dart

Convair’s F-106 Delta Dart was the last — and the fastest — of the Century Series aircraft. When it entered service in 1959, the “Six” had no guns, instead carrying nuclear-tipped Genie (unguided) or AIM-26 Falcon (radar homing) missiles in an internal weapons bay. On Dec. 15, 1959, Maj. Joseph Rogers of the Air Force Flight Test Center pushed his F-106A to 1,525.95 mph (Mach 2.39), breaking the record set six weeks before by Soviet Col. Georgi Mosolov in a MiG-21. While the Soviets claim Mosolov set a new record with a prototype in 1962 (unsubstantiated), Rogers’ record still stands today for the fastest flight in a single-engine aircraft. The accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that the record run was made with a backup plane and Rogers said he was still accelerating when he reached the the traps at the end of the 11-mile course. They weren’t fast enough to keep up with technology, however: F-106s were relegated to Air National Guard units after being replaced by F-4 Phantom IIs, and later turned into drones for target practice.

Author: Chris Carter

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