F-100D SUPER SABRE
The North American F-100 Super Sabre was the first USAF jet fighter to attain supersonic speed at level flight. It was also the first USAF jet fighter to be deployed in the Vietnam War and the first to engage in enemy combat.
Designed as a high-tech follow-on from the highly successful Korean War era F-86 Sabre, the F-100 or ‘Hun’ as it became later known, did not enjoy an easy development, with the F-100A’s suffering from a number of early flight and structural failures.
At certain flight angles, the F-100 could experience a sudden yaw and roll which happened too fast for the pilot to correct, resulting in significant over-stressing of the airframe and often complete disintegration of the aircraft.
Other control issues centred around the F-100’s radical swept-wing and its handling characteristics at high attack angles. As the aircraft approached stall speeds, loss of lift at the wingtips would cause a violent pitch-up which could often be fatal at low altitudes with insufficient time to recover. The pitch-up proved to be such an issue that it became known as the ’Sabre Dance’.
Although entering service in September 1954 with the 479th Fighter Wing in California, the entire fleet were quickly grounded after the F-100A’s suffered six major accidents due to flight instability, in just the first two months of operations. The grounding was to stay in place until February 1955 as North American engineers and avionics technicians struggled to overcome the aircraft's deficiencies.
Engine upgrades were undertaken and yaw dampeners retrofitted into the wing structures together with pitch dampeners and multiple electronic upgrades - a process that was to continue throughout the service life of the F-100.
While 47 F-100A’s had been lost in major accidents, the escalating tensions of the Cold War forced the USAF to recall the jet fighter into front line service as the fighter/bomber version, the F-100C. Yet, whilst boasting a strengthened airframe, more powerful engine and significantly improved handling and flight characteristics, the aircraft still carried some of the previous models shortcomings and it was not until the roll out of the much improved F-100D that the aircraft came into its own.
In April 1961, six F-100 Super Sabres were deployed to Don Muang in Thailand for air defence purposes - the first to enter combat in South East Asian where they went on to become the longest serving US jet fighter in the Vietnam War.
Initially operating as MiG combat air patrol escorts for F-105 Thundercheif bombers, the F-100 struggled against the more manoeuvrable Soviet designed fighters and were gradually redeployed as strategic air support and ground attack fighter bombers.
The F-100’s could be called upon at a moments notice to support ground forces under attack from significantly superior enemy numbers and many desperate ground commanders were able to call in immediate airstrikes of napalm and rockets against the enemy forces threatening to overrun their positions.
It was a Squadron of F-100 Super Sabres that the iconic Vietnam war movie Apocalypse Now's Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore called in to drop napalm along the tree-line hiding enemy forces - leading to his memorable if not bizarre declaration, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning"
Most of the F-100 forces were made up of US National Guard Squadrons which logged a staggering 360,283 combat sorties during the Vietnam War with a loss of 242 Super Sabres. Many squadrons flew 24 hrs a day with four fighter wings flying more combat sorties in Vietnam than the 15,000 P-51 Mustangs flew during WWII.
Towards the end of the Vietnam conflict, the F-100’s were gradually replaced by the faster and more heavily armed F-4 Phantom II and carrier launched A-7 Corsair, returneiong to the US as part of the country's National Guard until their retirement in 1979.
All F-100D Super Sabre Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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