Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger

Last revised May 29, 2005

Delta-winged aircraft have particular features which endow them with quite different handling characteristics than more conventional aircraft. Among these are a rather high angle of attack during takeoff and landing, and a high induced drag during turning. In order for pilots used to such aircraft as the Northrop F-89 Scorpion and the North American F-86D Sabre to be able safely to transition to the delta-winged F-102A, the Air Force thought that a two-seat trainer version of the Delta Dagger was necessary. The TF-102A two-seat combat trainer was evolved to meet this need.

Work on the two-seat Delta Dagger was done under the aegis of Weapons System WS-201L. The initial authorization of the TF-102A was on September 16, 1953. At that time, problems were still being experienced with the single seat YF-102, and further procurement of the TF-102A was deferred until these difficulties could be ironed out.

In July of 1954, an initial order for 20 TF-102As was placed, with first delivery to be in July of 1955. The TF-102A had a wider forward fuselage that seated two crew members in a side-by-side configuration. The side-by-side seating arrangement was preferred over the usual tandem seating arrangement, in the belief that it would simply inflight training, even in spite of the fact that the broader cockpit would probably have an adverse affect on performance. Because of the new wider cockpit, the lateral air intakes had to be reconfigured. They were reshaped and mounted down lower on the fuselage than on the F-102A. The rest of the airframe was otherwise identical to that of the single-seat F-102A, and the same weapons suite could be carried. However, the Hughes MG-10 fire control system was not fitted.

A mockup of the nose section was inspected in September of 1954. In early 1955, following the successful testing of the revised YF-102A, the Air Force ordered 28 more TF-102As.

The first TF-102A (company Model 8-12) flew on October 31, 1955, with Richard L. Johnson at the controls. It was a brief hop that was cut short because of a faulty canopy seal. A month later, the Air Force gave Convair a letter contract for 150 more TF-102As

Initial testing indicated that the TF-102A's bulbous cockpit created a severe buffeting problem at high speed. A new cockpit configuration with a cut-down canopy and revised windshield was tested in April of 1956 but it did not seem to help very much. Buffeting was reduced somewhat, but only at the expense of a much poorer landing visibility. Since the aircraft was basically a trainer rather than a combat aircraft, it was felt that visibility had to be favored over speed and the original cockpit design was restored. The buffeting problem was largely cured by adding a set of vortex generators on the cockpit canopy framing in order to provide smooth airflow over the cockpit. In addition, the vertical tail was increased in area. These changes were introduced with the third TF-102A to be accepted by the USAF and were adopted as standard.

A total of 111 TF-102As were built. Each F-102A squadron normally included two TF-102A two-seaters on strength.

Some TF-102A two-seaters were used on occasion in Vietnam as forward air controllers.

The TF-102A was powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23 turbojet, rated at 11,700 lb.s.t dry and 17,200 lb.s.t with afterburning. The TF-102A was incapable of supersonic performance in level flight, but could exceed the speed of sound in a shallow dive. Maximum speed was 646 mph at 38,000 feet (Mach 0.97). An altitude of 32,800 feet could be attained in 2 minutes 50 seconds. Ceiling was 50,000 feet. Normal loaded weight was 27,778 pounds. Dimensions were wingspan 38 feet 1 1/2 inches, length 63 feet 4 1/2 inches, height 20 feet 7 inches, wing area 661.5 square feet.

Serials of the TF-102A:

54-1351/1354	Convair TF-102A-5-CO Delta Dagger
54-1355/1359	Convair TF-102A-10-CO Delta Dagger
			1356,1358,1359 converted to NTF-102A.
54-1360	Convair TF-102A-35-CO Delta Dagger
			to Turkey.
54-1361/1365	Convair TF-102A-15-CO Delta Dagger
54-1366/1368	Convair TF-102A-20-CO Delta Dagger
54-1369/1370	Convair TF-102A-25-CO Delta Dagger
55-4032/4034	Convair TF-102A-26-CO Delta Dagger
			4033 sold to Turkey.	
55-4035/4042	Convair TF-102A-30-CO Delta Dagger
			4035 sold to Greece.
55-4043/4050	Convair TF-102A-35-CO Delta Dagger
55-4051/4056	Convair TF-102A-36-CO Delta Dagger
			4053 sold to Turkey.
55-4057/4059	Convair TF-102A-37-CO Delta Dagger
56-2317/2323	Convair TF-102A-38-CO Delta Dagger
56-2324/2335	Convair TF-102A-40-CO Delta Dagger
			2325 sold to Turkey
			2326,2327,2334,2335 sold to Greece
56-2336/2353	Convair TF-102A-41-CO Delta Dagger
			2342 sold to Turkey
56-2354/2379	Convair TF-102A-45-CO Delta Dagger
			2355,2368 sold to Turkey
56-2380/2466	Cancelled contract for Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger


  1. General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors, John Wegg, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  2. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  3. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  4. Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David Donald, Temple Press Aerospace, 1990.

  5. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  6. Post-World War II Fighters, 1945-1973, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of Air Force History, 1986.

  7. The World Guide to Combat Planes, William Green, MacDonald, London, 1966

  8. The World's Fighting Planes, William Green, Doubleday, 1964.

  9. The Aircraft of the World, William Green and Gerald Pollinger, Doubleday, 1965.

  10. E-mail from Raymond Puffer with correction on date of first flight of TF-102A. A lot of references list the first flight date as November 8, 1955, but official documents and test pilot Dick Johnson list it as Oct 31, 1955.