The world’s fastest single-engine jet aircraft
Convair’s F-106 - the ultimate interceptor
Model and diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen
The F-106 was built for one purpose alone:
To intercept, attack and destroy enemy bombers before they could deliver their weapons.
This was at the peak of the cold war (in the sixties) and the threat of Soviet long-range bombers seems very real for the USA.
To stop the bombers, the SIX was armed with unstoppable nuclear-armed air-to-air rockets.
It was faster than any other interceptors (more than Mach 2,3), it could carry air-to-air missiles, both conventional and nuclear-armed, it had a normal range of 1600 miles (2.570km) - and it had aerial refuelling capability which meant it could meet the bombers anywhere.
It could fly higher than most aircraft (more than 60.000 ft) and climb like a bullet (29,000 ft/min).
And last, but not least, it had a revolutionary state-of-the-art digital computer system (remember, this was the era when today’s smart telephones have more power than a building-size vacuum computer in the sixties).
The F-106 was indeed the ultimate interceptor.
The way the SIX would stop the
Soviet Bombers was to use its
speed and height combined with
ground-based radars to intercept
the bomber formations.
In their bellies, they had both
conventional and nuclear-armed
The missile with the nuclear
warhead would be the Douglas
AIR-2 Genie, which had a yield
of 1.5 kilotons - equivalent of
1.500 tons of TNT.
Although at high altitudes the
impact of a tactical nuclear
weapon of this type was reduced
due to the rarefied atmosphere,
it would be very efficient when
considering the electromagnetic
pulse (EMP) generated by the
explosion of the warhead.
The EMP could destroy all electronic systems, communications and guiding of the enemy aircraft, and even essential electrical parts f the plane.
Even if detonated at a distance of a group of enemy bombers, the EMP could disable them or damage them seriously.
The solid propellant rocket engine in the Genie developed 36,000lbs of thrust which has it a speed of 3000 mph (4828 km/h) and a range of 9 miles (10 km).
Luckily, the Genie was never used in earnest.
3. At 9 miles (15 km) range,
the AIR-2A Genie is launched and speed towards the
bombers at Mach 3
2. At 30 miles (50 km) range, the F-106 radar picks up the
1 The F-106 is guided by ground-based radar towards the Russian bombers
The fireball stretches to 1 mile (1.6km) from the blast centre
The shock wave stretches to 5 miles
The electromagnetic and radioactive pulses stretch for several
4. The Six
back to a safe distance from the nuclear blast
World speed record
That the SIX was extremely fast was proven in 1959 when Colonel Joe Rogers piloted an F-106A to a World Speed Record of 1.525 mph (Mach 2.41).
The F-106 still holds the record as the fastest single-engine jet-powered airplane.
The F-106 proved its ultimate performance capabilities in providing aggressor "enemy" to the Navy's best pilots during the time they were implementing TOP GUN. The Navy jocks learned valuable lessons that the Delta winged 106 was almost unconquerable in the dogfight arena, with guns in the air-to-air environment.
The SIX was in a class of its own against the A4s,
F-104s, F4s, F-105, F-10 and F8 fighters of its time - not to mention the many F-14s and F-15s that blew engines in attempting to fight the F-106 above 40,000 feet.
Good thing they finally fixed those great fighters to handle the altitudes the 106s formerly ruled.
Building the SIX
The kit was the 1/48 from Trumpeter which was a very nice kit to build. No major problems at all.
Before I started building, I had to plan the different scenarios I was going to put the model through.
1. I was planning to have a light in the jet nozzle to
simulate the jet engine in operation.
2. I was planning to place the model on the
runway, which meant to build the undercarriage.
3. I was planning to photograph the Six in the air,
which meant I had to remove the wheels and
close the wheel doors
4. I was planning to let the Six fire a Genie missile,
which meant I had to open weapon doors,
mount the plane on a stand, make arrangement
for the Missile both regarding light, smoke and
I started with the light in the jet nozzle.
This was a 12V LED 10W lamp placed inside the fuselage together with some yellow cellophane to colour the light.
It was important that the wires to the light was as invisible as possible, and I chose to use magnetic wires which are extremely thin and easy to conceal.
After the light was in place in the nozzle, the building was strait forward.
The colour on the Six is very easy, it was light grey all over.
The decals were a little more tricky, because I wanted to make a certain aircraft from the 71st FIS (Fighter-Interceptor Squadron).
This aircraft has a very unique story to tell:
The pilot had to eject due to an unrecoverable flat spin. After ejection, the aircraft recovered itself to a level flight and actually landed itself more or less unharmed on a snow-covered cornfield. But this story will be told on the next page in this website!
Anyway, decals for the 71st FIS are not available, and I had to paint the tail markings and put together the correct serial number.
And then we have to get the interceptor on the runway and in the air - cause that is where it belongs
Launching the Genie
Now, it was time to prepare the Six for the launching of the Genie missile.
This was, as mention above, a nuclear-armed air-to-air missile, meant to
stop the big Soviet intercontinental bombers before they could release
their deadly cargo.
The Six was carrying the missiles in the interior weapon bay.
The Genie rocket engine ignited immediately after release and quickly
accelerated to more than Mach 3.
What I did was to fix a 10mm clear plastic tube to the aircraft. Then I
drilled holes in it and inserted a brass rod on which I had glued the missile.
On the brass rod, I fixed a 12V 10W LED lamp (same kind as I used in the
The 12V lamps produce minimal heat and are ideal for use in
confined places - but you should always be aware of the danger
of the heat from light sources and never let a light burn unattended.
The thin magnetic wires from both lamps were painted grey and blue and
inserted into the plastic tube.
A 10mm hole was drilled in the wooden base and the clear plastic tube from
the plane was inserted. The wires ended up underneath the base.
The base was painted blue/grey and the cardboard background was
When everything was in place, the diorama with the F-106 launching the Genie missile looks like this:
The base is a 24 x 24in
(60 x 60cm) wooden plate and
the backdrop is a painted cardboard.
You can easily see the plastic tube holding the aircraft and containing the magnetic wires to the lamps.
Weapons bay open - ready to launch!
I hope you enjoyed this website!
Thank you for visiting!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments