1/48 What-If F-106F Block 70

Gallery Article by Scott S. aka Desertpilot on Feb 26 2019

 

      

This kit started life as a Monogram F-106 and a Hasegawa F-2. I spliced the cockpit of the F-2 onto the front of the F-106 and then grafted on some canards and finished it off with some Tamiya Sea Gray spray paint. I have included a full back story to guide you through my thought process on this build.

An “alternate history” of the F-106 life in USAF Service...

PROJECT SIX-SHOOTER 1969
In support of a cannon armament program Convair issued a proposal to re-equip the F-106 with an internal cannon, an optical gun-sight, and a clear-view cockpit canopy in a program known as Project Six Shooter in 1972 headed by Bob Archibald. The internal 20-mm M61A1 rotary cannon with 650 rounds was fitted inside the rear half of the weapons bay, replacing the Genie nuclear-tipped rocket. However, the four AIM-4F/G Super Falcon missiles could still be carried.

The gun system was installed as a package (pod) inside an enclosure mounted inside the rear of the weapons bay between the rear missile launcher rails providing an aerodynamic shield for the portion of the gun protruding below the missile bay and out into the air stream.

Gun-equipped F-106As could be distinguished by a bulged fairing underneath the fuselage which provided clearance for the rotating barrels of the cannon. As part of the program, a new "clear-topped" canopy was tested, which eliminated the metal strip above the pilot's head, markedly improving the cockpit visibility.

PROJECT LONG-RIFLE 1983
To supplement the USAF’s strategic fighter force during the F-15 fleet stand down due to the longeron failure issue, the F-106 fleet was put through the “Long-Rifle” upgrade program starting in 1983. The Long-Rifle program consisted of an engine, missile, radar and cockpit upgrade. The resulting modifications effectively redesigned the entire aircraft and significantly changed is mission. It took the F-106 from a high-speed, high altitude, dedicated interceptor with limited stores and converted it into a long-range strategic escort fighter / interceptor with a wide range of armament options, 9 external hard-points and much greater fuel economy while the new cockpit greatly increased the ability of the pilot to multi-task and provided the impetus for future upgrades with a common 1553 avionics data-bus infrastructure and provided the US’s first implementation of the look-down / shoot-down radar, the APG-65.

PROJECT HAVE-BLADE 1998
The F-106 fleet was again upgraded in the wake of the cancellation of the Advanced Tactical Fighter (F-22) program. The fleet was given a number of modifications that reflected it’s new multi-role mission within Air Combat Command and brought the aircraft up to the F-106F Block 60 configuration.

Click on images below to see larger images

The upgrades consisted of a completely new wing-core / spare & fuselage longerons, new block -132 F-110 engine with thrust-vector-control “paddles” as prototyped on the X-31 and a cockpit & canopy upgrade that drew on the F-16 “Agile-Flacon” program that provided a new split-screen canopy and enhanced seat-angle. Along with the newer APG-73 AESA radar upgrade was the inclusion of the Lockheed AN/AAS-42 IRST and Raytheon VCATS “Uplook” Helmet Mounted Display System that allowed the full use and implementation of the AIM-9X missile and AMMRAM “C” long-range missile.

To further capitalize on the F-106F’s already impressive maneuverability, the aircraft were modified with two fully moveable canard fore-planes, mounted at the shoulder of each air intake. These canards allowed the F-106F to achieve unheard of agility and slow-speed, high-alpha maneuvering. During the 2003 Le Bourget airshow, the F-106 East Coast Demo Team flew the worlds first “back-flip” maneuver, nicknamed the “Switch-Blade” earning the F-106F the nick-name “Switch-Blade” from that point on.

PROJECT HAVE-GLASS V
In late 2018, with the F-106F looking at it’s twilight, the aircraft received what may be it’s last upgrade. Project Have-Glass V has seen the fleet of F-106F’s upgraded to Block 70 standard, with new, wide-area cockpit displays and Low-Observable paint & paneling and the latest Thales Scorpion Helmet Mounted Display System.

Quietly included with the Have-Glass modifications, are a set of winglets at the far edges of the aircrafts giant delta wings. These small, vertical surfaces have seen fuel burn rates cut by a full 8th of previously published rates, increasing the range almost 200 miles.

This range increase came in handy during the Battle of the Spratly Islands in late 2021. With PacAF F-106F’s flying from the re-constituted base at Subic Bay on Luzon in the Philippines, the USAF engaged PLAAF aircraft over the hotly contested Spratly Islands.

Aerial combat ensued after the PLAN sank the US Navy Littoral Combat Ship LCCS Freedom, after the Freedom sailed too close to Johnson South Reef during a freedom of navigation exercise, losing more than 180 sailors in the late evening of June 16th 2021.

The air-to-air engagements saw the SwitchBlades of the 19th Fighter Squadron, flying near-24 hour missions to support Taiwanese & US Navy assets in the area. In the first 24 hours of the campaign, SwitchBlades of the Gamecocks marked an impressive 24 kills with only 2 F-106’s receiving damage, one to cannon fire from a J-20 and the other to a proximity explosion of a surface to air missile fired from the Chinese base built on Johnson South Reef.

Although some analysts claim that the impressive air-to-air record was due to GPS jamming & radio denial in the local area, USAF press releases state that the pilots of the 19th Fighter Squadron were some of the most experienced in the USAF, and their F-106F’s were recently upgraded to Block 70 standard.

During the Spratly Island Campaign, the USAF achieved an impressive 87 to 1 kill ratio, having lost 1 F-16 and 1 F-106F in the fighting. The F-16 was downed after running Bingo on fuel, sprinting to it’s tanker and the F-106F falling to an aerial engagement with 5 J-20’s, after downing three.

F-35’s were not used in the campaign after it was discovered that the Raytheon Distributed Aperture System mounted on the high-tech fighters, were compromised by Chinese micro-chips that were “activated” (presumably) by Chinese agents, after the fighting began, almost completely disabling the fighters as they sat on the ramp at Hawaii’s Hickam Field, during the build up prior to hostilities.

Scott S. aka Desertpilot

Photos and text © by Scott S. aka Desertpilot