Today, I felt like doing a post on the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.
The first of the Century series interceptors, it would pretty much be forgotten today by all but a few of us had it not become embroiled in the whole Bush-hating genre of the "tolerant" liberal left. You see, George W. Bush flew this aircraft in the Texas Air Guard during the Vietnam War, and because he never went into combat in SE Asia, his political critics slandered him and called him a coward and accused him of draft-dodging, going AWOL, and kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.
Well President Bush did volunteer to fly jet fighters, and he made it through a very demanding program, earning passing grades from numerous check pilots who couldn't have cared less who his dad was. He was assigned to fly this aircraft, which was known as a pilot killer due to some of it's unforgiving and deadly handling characteristics. When then-Lt. Bush was serving, Air Guard units were rotating to Vietnam, including F-102 units, but this aircraft wasn't really needed over there so he and his unit remained stateside, flying as part of our Cold War air defense system as front-line players. I could go on and on, but this article says it much better than I could, both about then-Lt. Bush and about the F-102 in Vietnam.
F-102 in Vietnam (and George W. Bush in the F-102)
Like him or hate him as a president, you still have to give the man his due for doing his duty and for mastering an aircraft like this one.
So back to the F-102. While it did serve in SE Asia, as shown by this pair flying over South Vietnam,
it was an interceptor, and it's main role was climbing to altitude to engage inbound Soviet bombers. As such, most were based in our border states, and a majority of those were up in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Minnesota, Maine, and other less-than-temperate environs.
This aircraft served almost into the Reagan years, the last one being phased out of Air Guard use in 1979. But while it was in service, it did it's part to keep those Russkies on their side of the fence.
The F-102 and experience gained from it's use also led directly to the development of the F-106, but that's another post for another time.