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

F-89 Scorpion

Northrop's F-89 Scorpion

Interceptor squadrons across the United States were equipped with Northrop’s F-89 Scorpion, which were originally armed with six T31 20-mm autocannons. The guns were later replaced with “Mighty Mouse” 2.75-in. rocket pods and in 1956, GAR-1 Falcon missiles were equipped on the wingtips. When a F6F Hellcat target drone ran away from the Air Force during missile testing over California in 1956, a group of Scorpions scrambled to shoot it down. The interceptors’ fire control system all failed, forcing the airmen to fire their rockets manually to shoot the circling drone down before it could crash into nearby Palmdale. After firing over 200 rockets they weren’t able to bring the Hellcat down, but the falling ordnance did cause a good deal of property damage and started several brush fires that took hundreds of firefighters two days to extinguish. The drone crashed harmlessly in the desert after running out of fuel.

Author: Chris Carter

Leave a Reply