The Convair F-102 Delta Dagger was the first operational USAF delta winged supersonic interceptor. Entering service in 1956, the “deuce” main purpose was to intercept invading Soviet bomber fleets during the Cold War. The prototype proved a disappointment, transonic drag was much higher than expected. As a reult the aircraft was limited to Mach 0.98, and with a ceiling of only 48,000 ft (14,630 m), performance was far below the requirements expected. To solve the problem and save the F-102 programme, Convair embarked on a major redesign. The redesign incorporated the recently discovered area rule, while at the same time production and maintenance was simplified. The redesign entailed lengthening the fuselage by 11 ft (3.35 m) and "pinched" at the mid section (dubbed the "Coke Bottle configuration"). Other features included two large fairings on either side of the engine nozzle, revised air intakes and a new, narrower canopy. A more powerful model of J57 was fitted, and the aircraft structure was lightened. The first revised aircraft, designated YF-102A flew on 20 December 1954, 118 days after the redesign started, exceeding Mach 1 the next day. The revised design demonstrated a speed of Mach 1.22 and a ceiling of 53,000 ft (16,154 m), which was sufficient for the Air Force to allow production of the F-102
The production F-102A had the Hughes MG-3 fire control system, later upgraded in service to the MG-10. It had a three-segment internal weapons bay under the fuselage for air-to-air missiles. Initial armament was three pairs of GAR-1/2/3/4 (later re-designated as AIM-4) Falcon missiles, which included both infra-red and semi-active radar homing variants. The doors of the two forward bays each had tubes for 12 FFAR rockets with initially 2 in (5.1 cm) being fitted and later 2.75 in (70 mm) replacing them. The F-102 was later upgraded to allow the carriage of up to two GAR-11/AIM-26 Nuclear Falcon missiles in the centre bay. The larger size of this weapon required redesigned centre bay doors with no rocket tubes. Plans were considered to fit the MB-1 Genie nuclear rocket to the design, but although a Genie was test fired from a YF-102A in May 1956, it was never adopted. Some F-102As were configured to accommodate a single AIM-26 Super Falcon in each side bay in lieu of the two conventional AIM-4 Falcons.
The F-102 served in Vietnam, flying fighter patrols and serving as a bomber escorts. A total of 15 aircraft were lost in Vietnam: one to air-to-air combat, several to ground fire and the remainder to accidents. The F-102 was tried with limited success in the air-to-ground role, although neither the aircraft nor training were designed for the role.
Many of the F-102s were transferred to United States Air National Guard duty by the mid-to-late 1960s, and the type was retired from operational service in 1976. The follow-on replacement was the Mach-2 Convair F-106 Delta Dart, which was an extensive redesign of the F-102. In all around 1,000 F-102s were built.
In 1973, six aircraft were converted to target drones as QF-102A and later PQM-102 series. They simulated MiG-21s, under project Pave Deuce. This began a program where hundreds of F-102s were converted for use as target drones for F-4 and F-106 aircraft as well as later F-15 aircraft. They were also used during testing of the US Army's Patriot missile system.
The F-102 were exported overseas to both Turkey and Greece. The Turkish F-102s saw combat missions during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. There have been claims of air combat between Greek F-5s and Turkish F-102s above the Aegean Sea during the Turkish invasion. Claims were made that the Greek F-5s had shot down two Turkish F-102s, while the Turkish side has claimed that their F-102s had shot down two Greek F-5s; however, both Greece and Turkey have officially denied any losses. The F-102 was finally retired from both of those air forces in 1979.
The box art is very evocative with one of the marking options closing in on it's target, a Tupolev Tu-96 Bear. Content inside the top opening box includes:
-6 x grey plastic sprues, each one individually wrapped.
-1 x transparent plastic sprue which is double bagged.
-1 x sheet of decals individually wrapped.
-1 x instruction booklet.
is made up from a one piece tub, that has fine low relief detail representing instruments on the side consoles. There is some low relief detail on the inside of the fuselage. The detail on the instrument panel is nicely done, the protruding radar scope is mouded with the instrument panel. If you do not fancy picking out the detail then Meng has included a representation of the instrument panel on the decal sheet. The definition on the decal is very good and worth consideration to add interest to the cockpit. The ejector seat is created from three parts with some excellent detail on the sides. No seat harnesses feature on the seat so some will need to be scratch built if the omission bothers you.
The distinctive angular looking windscreen and canopy
are separate parts and very clear. A grey plastic hinge is included that provides the option of displaying the canopy open or closed.
is split vertically and has the vertical tail moulded onto both halves. There are locating pins and holes along length of the fuselage that will help with alignment when joining the two halves. Meng Models has captured the classic shapely “coke bottle” look of the fuselage, it's shape governed by the “area rule”. The accurately shaped radome is a separate one piece part. Not surprisingly the subtly shaped air intakes are separate, each one is made up from two parts. The airbrake flaps can be displayed open or closed. There is some impressive raised detail on the inner faces. What is very good to see is the lack of any sink marks on the outer faces that is normally the penalty with this level of detail. The camouflaged SEA option has a infrared sensor in front of the windscreen which is supplied in the kit.
The engine looks very good, with a two piece jet pipe. The pipe has fine ribbed detail in the interior. The re heat matrix is moulded onto a bulkhead that attaches to the pipe. The jet pipe nozzle looks very good indeed, displaying the sort of detail reserved for resin parts.
This kit has the earlier Case X wing which has the straight leading edge and wing tip and squared ailerons. If you are interested the latter Case XX wing has a curved down turned wing tip and angled ailerons. The lower wing half is one piece except for the wing tips and leading edge. One of the distinctive features of both types of wing is the slight curved surface underneath the leading edge. Meng Models has made a very good attempt at replicating this on the upper wing half. The upper wing is split into four parts, the break being sensibly positioned at the span length wing fence. The inner upper wing section has some fine raised detail around the gear bay. A glance at the outer skin of the wing over the bay detail reveals no indication of shrinkage, which is pretty remarkable. The ailerons are separate one piece parts that are not positionable. A thoughtful touch is that the ailerons have either one or two tabs that fit into the wing so that you can not attach them on the wrong side. It's interesting that the wing tips and ailerons are on a separate sprue, perhaps another kit for the F-102A with Case XX wings may be a future release.
bays are very impressive mouldings. The nose bay is one piece and fits under the cockpit tub. The main gear bays in the wing are moulded into the upper wing, while the parts of the bay in the fuselage is a one piece part. The bays have some excellent raised rib detail in them. The gear doors has some good detail on them although, there is a noticeable a lack of retracting arms for the nose and inner main gear doors. Wheels are all one piece with some nice detail including gaps between the spokes of the front wheel.
includes twelve falcon missiles.
-6 x GAR-1 [AIM-4C]
-6 x GAR 2 [AIM-4D]
Up to six missiles were stored internally. The forward fins are a little short and the gap between the middle and rear fins should extend down to the body. A little gentle thinning of the fins will improve their look. The sprue attachment points are quite thick so will need some care removing each missile. The missiles can be displayed within their bays or extended on their launcher. The red and white painted missiles will certainly add colour and interest if you choose to display the missiles. Or you can have a clean looking aircraft with the weapon bay doors closed. The one piece closed weapon bay doors is a very thoughtful inclusion.
The one piece weapon bay is split into three sections, the inner bay doors have the partition walls included on them. Detail includes weight saving holes and rib detail on both sides of the walls.
Also included with the kit are two wing mounted fuel tanks.
The quality of the mouldings of this big interceptor is very good. The recessed panel lines and rivets are restrained. There are no obvious sink marks or flash. Some of the attachment points are thick so care is required not to damage parts when they are being removed to avoid unnecessary filling. This certainly looks like a quality release from Meng Models
are all for USAF aircraft including two “deuces” in overall aircraft grey and the third option is adorned with the typical three colour upper surface camouflage pattern of the Vietnam conflict. The two grey painted options both have very colourful tail and air brake markings that are included as decals. One challenging aspect to finishing the model will be applying the nineteen red stripes to the nose probe of the grey coloured aircraft. Thank your lucky stars you don't have to paint a check pattern that were applied to some nose probes of the F-102 as flown by 327 FIS. The F-102's represented with this release include:
-F-102A 431st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 1962.
-F-102A 327th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 1958.
-F-102A 497th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 1970.
are printed on a large sheet with plenty of space to cut around each one. The decals are generally semi glossy with minimal carrier film. The decals are thin with good colour depth and definition. The legibilty of the smaller printed letters on the stencils is very good. The impressive tail markings are more glossy in appearance and are created as one complete decal for each side of the fin. The equally colourful air brakes have separate decals. The clean surface of the fin [no bumps, fences or indentations] should present no settling problems for the large decals. The distinctive fuselage bands featured on the two grey F-102's are included as decals.
The instruction booklet
looks very good indeed. The black line drawings, written instructions and symbols are very helpful. Every part has a colour reference included which is great to see.
This is an excellent release of the earlier “deuce” from Meng Models, who seem to be taking full advantage of the latest methods of creating injected plastic model kits. The accuracy and detail are first rate. The marking options are pretty inspired with the inclusion of two aircraft with striking tail markings as well as one with the attractive SEA camouflaged. The kit does not look difficult to put together thanks to the thoughtful design and breakdown of parts. The packaging of the individual sprues means there are no obvious scratch marks on the surface of the plastic. Price is pretty attractive to. This is a very impressive release, nicely done Meng Models.
To see my build log of the Meng F-102 click here.