Trumpeter 1/48 F-106A Delta Dart Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|F-106A Delta Dart
|Nice details, easy build
In the early 1950s, Convair competed in the USAF's 'ultimate interceptor' program with a delta wing design based upon the work of their senior scientist, Alexander Lippisch. Lippisch was the engineering genius behind several Luftwaffe aircraft including the Me 163 Komet before being moved to the United States under Operation Paperclip to transfer German technology. Lippisch helped Convair design the XF-92 delta-winged prototype which Convair continued through the B-58 and F-102 designs. Convair won the ultimate interceptor program with the F-102 Delta Dagger, but despite continued aerodynamic improvements to the design, the J57-powered F-102A was limited to transonic operations. Convair moved to the J75-powered F-102B concept incorporating variable geometry intakes and further airframe updates and this new variant was redesignated as the F-106A Delta Dart. Like the F-102, the F-106 was an interceptor built in the days where guns were supposedly replaced by the guided missile. The F-106 was armed with four AIM-4 Falcon missiles which had radar guided or infrared seekers. The nuclear-tipped AIR-2 Genie rocket was housed in the rear of the weapons bay which was intended to knock down a formation of enemy bombers with one shot.
As air combat stepped up over Vietnam, the Air Force sought an aircraft that had similar performance as the MiG-21 and the F-106 was evaluated for dissimilar air combat training (DACT) possibilities. Like early radar-interceptor MiG-21s, the F-106 was delta-winged, capable of Mach 2 high altitude intercepts, and had no gun. Much to everyone's surprise, the F-106 was quite agile in aerial combat as well. It's key limitations from being used in combat included: no self-sealing fuel tanks; no gun; and poor visibility in the cockpit with the metal beam overhead. Nevertheless, the epiphany of the little-known capabilities of the F-106 led to Project Six-Shooter that replaced the canopy with a beam-less frame and the installation of the M61 Vulcan cannon in the rear of the weapons bay in place of the Genie. While some histories dismiss the F-106 as never firing a shot in anger, the F-106 did see action including this brush with the North Koreans as seen here.
For decades, the crown for best F-106 kit sat firmly on the head of Mongram with their 1/48 F-106A kit and even today, the kit still meets contemporary detail expectations except for its raised panel lines. Who would have thought anyone one would take this subject on? Of course, that would be Trumpeter and not only did they take on the F-106A in 1/48 scale, they've announced the F-106B as well. I had a chance to view this kit at IPMS Nationals last month and it looked very nice at first glance, now let's take a closer look:
The kit is molded in the usual light gray styrene and presented on nine parts trees plus two small trees of clear parts and one small fret of photo-etched parts. Among the features and options in this box:
- Nicely detailed cockpit with optional decals for instrument panel and side consoles
- Photo-etched pilot restraints on the ejection seat
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable weapons bay doors
- Positionable missile trapeses
- Detailed afterburner chamber
- Positionable flaperons
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable speed brake
Among the weapons/stores included in the kit:
- 2 x external fuel tanks
- 4 x AIM-4B/C (GAR-2/2A) IR Falcons
- 2 x AIM-4A (GAR-1D) SARH Falcons
- 1 x AIR-2 Genie
The kit provides markings for two examples:
- F-106A, 59-0044, 119 FIS/177 TFW/NJ ANG
- F-106A, 59-0060, 125 FW/FL ANG
A few details to note though none of these are errors, just missed opportunities. This kit has the blown canopy that was common to the F-106A later in its career (after Project Six-Shooter). It would have been nice to have the early 'overhead bar' canopy as an option to render an early Dart. Likewise it would have been nice to have the M61 Vulcan modification as well in place of the Genie as fitted to those F-106 aircraft with vertical tape instruments (and provided in this kit's instrument panel).
Overall, Trumpeter did a nice job on this kit and we'll have to do a side-by-side with the Monogram kit in the near future.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!