North American F-100 Super Sabre

Overview

In 1948 North American Aviation decided that there was a need to begin building a supersonic fighter.  Using the basic design of their F-86, the new aircraft was modified through tunnel testing and engineering refinements.  The final product was the F-100 Super Sabre, the first fighter in history to fly faster than sound in level flight.

The Communist threat in Korea accelerated the plans for the Super Sabre.  In February 1951 the USAF ordered two prototypes and the production of 23 F-100A’s, by November 1951 they wanted 250 more.  It was the first time the Air Force had authorised the purchase of an aircraft prior to flight testing, but this was a mistake. The first F-100A’s had much shorter and broader vertical stabilisers than the prototypes which resulted in stability problems.  This caused several accidents, one fatality and, in 1954, the grounding of all F-100A’s already in service until they could be modified.  It finally entered official operational service on 17 January 1955.

The F-100 Super Sabre was originally built as an air superiority fighter aircraft, but only model ‘A’ was a fighter.  Models ‘C’ and ‘D’ were built as fighter-bomber aircraft with nuclear weapons capabilities while model ‘F’ was used for training.

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