F-100 Super Sabre: America's First Supersonic Jet That Changed Everything? (2023)

The F-100 Super Saber changed thatUnited States Air ForceIn different ways. But first doesn't always mean best.On October 14, 1947, an orange painted carBell X-1Flown by Chuck Yeager, it was the first plane to break the sound barrier in level flight. Although the rocket-powered X-1 was an experimental design, it followed that improved jet engine technology would also allow for a supersonic fighter.

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The American company tried to develop the F-86 Sabre, the most important American fighter aircraft in the Korean War, into a supersonic design on its own. The Saber had the wings swept back 35 degrees for better high-speed performance and a large air intake in the nose. The F-100 'Super' Saber's wings were raked 45 degrees more, and the air intake in the nose tapered significantly to a flattened elliptical shape. The F-100, the first of the "Century Series" of advanced fighters from the 1950s, was nicknamed "Hun" as an abbreviation for 100.

The Hun J-57 P-7 turbojet's afterburner was designed to inject raw fuel directly into the tailpipe, bypassing the jet turbine. Although amazingly fuel efficient, it helped propel the F-100 to supersonic speeds of up to 850 mph at high altitudes, allowing F-100s to set numerous land speed records.

The Air Force eventually accepted the project and commissioned the Model F-100A in October 1954. Welch grounded the entire fleet. The culprit turned out to be the undersized tail, which was unstable and could induce uncontrollable yaw.

While this was remedied, the Huns had other shortcomings. Despite its high speed and four powerful 20mm M-39 cannons, it was the product of an old paradigm of air warfare. It lacked air-to-air missiles and a long-range search radar, and relied on launch armor to compensate for its limited range. Retirement of the accident-prone F-100A began in 1958.

A RF-100A high-speed reconnaissance variant, which mounted four cameras and launch armor instead of guns, met with brief success. It was deployed in Germany and Japan, flying high-altitude spy missions at 50,000 feet over Eastern Europe and probableporcelainmiNorth Korea. These 'Slick Chicks' are known for photographing interceptors that are too low and ineffectively attempt to adjust their altitude, but have been replaced byU-2 flies even higher1956.

The next F-100C fighter-bomber (476 built) had stretched, reinforced wings and a more powerful J-57-P21 engine, increasing top speed to 924 mph and allowing it to carry 6,000 pounds of weapons on six pylons. In addition, it had twice the fuel capacity and a wing-mounted in-flight refueling probe. The latter allowed three F-100Cs to set a single-engine course record by flying from Los Angeles to London in fourteen hours on May 13, 1957, according to Fun. viewers until the FAA banned them.

The Super Saber was further refined into the final F-100D model (1,274 built), with further increases in tail and wing size, eventually adding a radar warning receiver, lower seventh fixpoint and search compatibility.AIM-9B aircraft. - Air-to-air missiles. The C and D models could carry weapons ranging from napal grenades, 2.75" Zuni missiles, cluster bombs to early AGM-45 bullpup and AGM-83 air-to-surface missiles.

NATO's F-100 squadrons were also prepared to use four types of tactical nuclear bombs. But how would a fast, low-flying fighter-bomber escape the explosion of its own nuclear bomb? This was a deadly risk even with conventional weapons, as can be seen inthis footage.

In fact, the Hun pilots practiced a kind of "over-the-shoulder" bombing, with the supersonic plane charging straight into a barrel. Hun's MA-2 Low Altitude Bombing System automatically dropped the bomb as Hun approached at a vertical angle and fired the nuke at the target in an arc while the Super Saber rolled and ignited the afterburners that race in the opposite direction.

The Air Force also tested the F-100 ZEL (Zero Length Launch), which used a colossal launch vehicle fitted under the rear fuselage to elevate the back of a truck. The reason for the bizarre truck-launched fighter was fears that Soviet nuclear weapons would destroy NATO air bases, necessitating alternative launch methods. Despite numerous successful tests (you can see aHere) the ZEL was never used operationally.

The F-100 Super Saber was Vietnam's workhorse and the first MiG kill of the war?

In April 1961, F-100Ds were deployed to Thailand from the Philippines, the first US military aircraft to serve in Southeast Asia. They did not see combat until 1964 when they were sent to attack anti-aircraft positions in North Vietnam. Then, starting March 2, 1965, they began escorting faster F-105 fighter-bombers as part of the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign.

On April 4, 1965, Captain Donald Kilgus' F-100s were covering an attack on the Thanh Hoa Bridge when his formation was thrown off course by four North Vietnamese MiG-17s emerging from cloud cover - the first jet to-jet combat of the Vietnam War. . The MiG-17s were slower than American supersonic jets and had no missile armament, but their powerful triple cannons threw one F-105 out of the sky and mortally damaged a second.

Kilgus dropped his launch tanks and turned sharply, managing to stay on the tail of one of the MiGs. The Soviet-built fighter fell vertically to the ground, trying to get Kilgus to follow him into a dive his heavier fighter couldn't sustain. Just 7,000 feet from the surface, Kilgus fired all four of her guns. In accordance withher account:

“I saw puff and sparks from the MiG's vertical tail and then I saw nothing. Could be 580 knots. I don't want to gloss over the story by saying I got splashed on my windshield by the Gulf of Tonkin, but I gave up at the last minute.

Of the three MiGs lost that day, two were accidentally shot down by Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire. The unknown fate of the third may support Kilgus' claim of marking the first MiG kill of the war, although the Air Force only listed it as "probable".

The outdated F-100s were subsequently withdrawn from attacks in the north and used to support ground forces fighting the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. In 1967, four more Air National Guard squadrons armed with F-100Cs were deployed. At its peak, more than 490 Super Sabers were active in South Vietnam, flying an average of two ground support missions per day, hitting pre-planned targets or responding to desperate requests for close air support.

The Air Force also converted seven two-seat F-100Fs (of 439 built) into the first "Wild Weasels," specifically modified to seek out and engage enemy air defense radars. The EF-100F model was fitted with dual radar receivers to track the location of enemy radars, as well as missile pods to mark their position for F-105s to track destruction. Later, the Weasels carried AGM-145 Shrike radar missiles to knock out the radars themselves, destroying nine for two casualties. Satisfied with the experiment, the Air Force used the more modern F-4s and F-105s to carry out the Wild Weasel mission.

The F-100F also served as "fast-forward air traffic controllers," with the back seat locating enemies who were then tagged with smoke missiles to direct airstrikes from other aircraft. Using the call sign "Misty", the Fast FACs flew over areas with high air defense density, too dangerous for the most common reconnaissance aircraft.

The breathtaking pace of Super Saber operations totaled 40 million pounds of bombs and napalm dropped and more than 360,283 sorties by the time the F-100 was retired in 1971, more than any other aircraft type, including the most famous.Phantom F-4and F-105. F-100 pilots also paid a worrying price: more than 242 F-100s were lost in Vietnam, including 186 to enemy fire and seven to airstrikes.

However, the Super Saber's extremely high accident rate, usually caused by compressor stalls, wing fractures and sustained yaw instability, was even deadlier. More than 889 F-100s of 2,294 F-100s built were lost in accidents, killing 324 pilots.

France and Denmark also operated dozens of F-105Ds and Fs, with the former sending them on airstrikes against the Algerian revolutionaries. Taiwan procured 118 variants of F-100A fighters and upgraded them with radar warning receivers and Sidewinder missiles. These allegedly fought Chinese Migs and flew dangerous espionage missions.

Turkey received more than 200 F-100C, D and F, which were also used to penetrate Soviet airspace, where they were used repeatedlydiverted Su-15 interceptors, although at least one was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Super Sabers also flew 500 sorties in support of the Turkish intervention in Cyprus between 20–23 July 1974, losing six to ground fire and two to accidents. Loaded with 750-pound bombs, Turkish F-100s blew up Nicosia airport, provided air support for a helicopter landing operation and sank the Turkish destroyer Kocatep, which they mistook for a Greek warship.

The US Air National Guard finally retired their last Super Sabers in 1980. 325 ended their service as bright orange QF-100 drones used as missile test targets, although some F-100s are still airworthy.

America's first supersonic jet wasn't a great fighter and had an atrocious accident rate, but it still pioneered revolutionary new technologies and tactics, and eventually did much of the heavy lifting in support of hard-pressed ground forces in the Vietnam Nam War.

F-100 Super Sabre: America's First Supersonic Jet That Changed Everything? (1)

An American JF-100C Super Saber (s/n 53-1709) aircraft on a lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, California, USA in 1962. This aircraft was retired by NASA in 1972 and donated to the State of San Jose . In 2004 it was moved to the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California, where it is on display with the identification F-100D 55-2789. [The RWR fairing on the rear identifies it as an F100D.]

F-100 Super Sabre: America's First Supersonic Jet That Changed Everything? (2)

Super Saber F-100

Sébastien Roblin writes on the technical, historical and political aspects of security and international conflict for publications such as the19 forty five,The national interest,nbc news,forbes.commiWar is boring. He has a master's degree from Georgetown University and served in the Peace Corps in China. You can track their items onblood.

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