Century Series Wannabe

North American F-107A

Although an F-107A pilot would have had difficulty checking his six, he probably could have outrun his adversary. In 1956 tests, the aircraft reached Mach 2. (NMUSAF)
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After three F-107As were built, the development contract was canceled in favor of the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, which went on to do yeoman service in Vietnam (see "Thuds, the Ridge, and 100 Missions North," Feb./Mar. 2009). But at the time the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force made that decision, the F-105 had flown for barely nine hours and had already exhibited, in the words of Air Force test pilot Mel Apt, "more deficiencies than are normally encountered in other aircraft at a similar stage of development." The F-105 had an internal bomb bay, however, which Tactical Air Command loved—it wasn’t sort of a bomber, it was a bomber—and the Air Force wanted to find work for slumping Republic, while North American already had the F-100 and follow-on F-86 programs to keep it busy.

With one F-107A safely ensconced in the Air Force museum, the other two served in the late 1950s with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (later NASA). Today only one remains, at the Pima Air and Space Museum, in Tucson, Arizona.

Stephan Wilkinson is an aviation and military history writer, homebuilt-airplane assembler, and Porsche restorer. When he has nothing else to do, he builds model aircraft.

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