Kit #AA3007. 1/144 scale. This is a set of highly-detailed
resin kits of experimental Century-series fighters, complete with decals. The kit includes the Republic XF-103, YF-107A, XF-108A, and XF-109. Includes BONUS KIT –
McDonnell F-110A Spectre!
Intended as a high-speed, all-weather interceptor capable of destroying
Mach 3 soviet bombers in the same class as the USAF’s North American XB-70 Valkyrie, after a long development period,
this plane never made it beyond the prototype stage. This aircraft was developed in tandem with
the Mach 1 Convair F-102A and the
Mach 2 Lockheed F-104A, providing a
quantum increase in performance, up to Mach 3 with turbojet power, and up to
Mach 5 under ramjet power. The advanced
aircraft was to be almost entirely titanium, and had a performance envelope even
beyond that achieved by the CIA’s Skunk Works-built A-12, which evolved into the YF-12A
interceptor and escort fighter for the B-70,
and the SR-71 Blackbird series of
Mach 3-plus spy planes.
Incredibly, this remarkably-advanced plane
was designed in the early 1950s – the mock-up was inspected in March, 1953,
less than six years after the Bell X-1
(available in Anigrand AA-3003) first pierced the sound barrier, and at a time when the fastest combat aircraft were
still subsonic in level flight. Designed
around the Wright J67 – a
license-built derivative of the Bristol Olympus, which later powered the
Concorde SST – supplemented by an RJ55-W-1
ramjet. The J67 never entered production, and the plane was canceled in 1957
before any prototypes were built.
American YF-107A: Originally designated F-100B and nicknamed the “Super-Super Saber” or the “Ultra-Sabre,” this
aircraft was clearly derived from the F-100
Super Sabre. It was a radical design, in competition with the Republic F-105 Thunderchief as a
high-speed tactical nuclear fighter-bomber.
Its outstanding feature was the dorsal-mounted jet engine intake, which
pioneered the variable-geometry intake ramp since widely used on supersonic
aircraft. An atomic weapon was carried
in a semi-conformal bay mounted under the fuselage. Three prototypes and six pre-production
airframes were ordered in 1954. It first flew in 1956, and broke the sound
barrier on its maiden flight. Two months
later, the aircraft exceeded Mach 2.
After a close head-to-head competition,
during which the Mach 2 F-107A demonstrated a 2,500 mile range with a 10,000-pound
bomb load, the F-105 was selected as the air force’s new tactical nuclear
strike aircraft, and the pre-production F-107As were canceled. Prototypes
numbers 1 and 3 were then given to NACA, soon to be NASA. The second prototype was given to the National
Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton.
American XF-108A Rapier: An aircraft in many ways visually reminiscent
of North American’s Naval strike aircraft, the A3J (later A-5) Vigilante, though a Mach 3 fighter rather than a
Mach 2 attack aircraft, the XF-108A
Rapier was designed to defend America from Soviet bombers with Mach 3
high-altitude performance comparable to the North American B-70 Valkyrie. To
save costs, the aircraft design and development shared engine development costs
with the XB-70 program. Canceled after
North American had produced a wooden mock-up, the victim of tight budgets and
the Soviets’ shift from manned bombers to ICBMs, the plane never had a chance
to prove its mettle. After its
cancellation, the fire control system, incorporating the Hughes GAR-9 missile – the direct ancestor of the AIM-54 Phoenix missile, was adapted for
the Mach 3 Lockheed Skunk Works’ YF-12.
The XF-108 was designed as a replacement for
the Mach 1 F-102 Delta Dagger and
the Mach 2 F-106 Delta Dart
interceptors. In addition, it was
planned that the F-108 would be able to fly as escort to the B-70. Both used the exotic General Electric YJ93 jet engines.
In 1958, SAC lost interest in an escort fighter – forgetting again the
lessons of Germany 1943 – leaving the Rapier to compete as a next-generation
Mach 3 (2,000 mph) interceptor.
Following cancellation of the project, North American did convert the
fuselage, weapons package and systems designed for the Rapier into the basis of
the A3J Vigilante project for the
Navy – that aircraft was not canceled, and provided years of service, primarily
in the high-speed reconnaissance role.
Bell XF-109: Also
known as company project D-188A and
as US Navy concept fighter XF3L-1,
the XF-109 was a Mach 2 VTOL jet
fighter, powered by four tilting wing-tip jet engines. As with the F-103 and F-108, this
plane never made it past the mock-up stage.
The design looked like a kit-bashing attempt
to put together a Lockheed F-104
forward fuselage and cockpit with a Grumman
F-11F-1 aft fuselage and tail surfaces, and a high-mounted F-104 wing with two jet engines on the
tips of each wing, rather than fuel tanks. The fuselage held four more jet
engines – two of which added to forward thrust while two others helped with
vertical thrust. In all, the plane
mounted eight General Electric J15-GE-5
turbojets, and would have been capable of speeds up to Mach 2.3, with a range
of 2,000 miles.
In 1955, both the Air Force and the Navy
asked Bell to develop a Mach 2 VTOL fighter – the Air Force shared NATO’s
concern that a Soviet first strike might crater airfield runways, with
disastrous results, while the Navy was always looking for ways to decentralize
fighter aircraft by putting them on ships capable of handling helicopters. Bell produced a design in 1960, but the Air
Force canceled in 1961 – the Navy had already lost interest.
Bonus Kit –
McDonnell F-110A Spectre: The F-110A
Spectre was the initial USAF designation for what was to become the F-4C Phantom II, and it was accompanied
by the RF-110A photo-recon version. Operation
Highspeed, a head-to-head fly-off competition between the USAF F-106A and the
US Navy’s F4H-1 (later F-4B) resulted in a convincing win for the McDonnell
Phantom II. This fly-off came at the “gentle
persuasion” of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, an efficiency expert who saw
value in both services sharing aircraft designs. This worked well with two Navy
designs being ported over to the Air Force (the F-4 and the A-7), but it was an
abject failure when he tried to force Air Force jets on the Navy (F-111).
Following this trial, the USAF was loaned two
USN aircraft for a 120-day extended trial.
Twenty-seven additional F-4Bs were eventually loaned to the USAF for
service evaluation, most of which were returned to the Navy after the F-4C
entered production. The F-4C had a few
changes to optimize it for ground-based duty (wider, lower-pressure tires) and
for ground-attack operations. This became a quick identifier – the F-4C had
bulges in the wings to make room for the wider tires. However, it kept the
folding wings and arrestor gear to speed production and enhance the cost
savings to come from commonality.
However, the F-4C had dual flight controls in the rear seat, something
the Navy saw no need for.
Early Phantoms were powered by the General
Electric J79-GE-8A or -8B turbojets of 17,900 pounds thrust each, with
afterburner. The plane maxed out at
1,485 mph – it cruised at 575 mph, and had a range of 1,610 miles. It could reach a service ceiling of 62,000 feet,
and reached over 90,000 feet during special zoom climbs.