North American F-100 Super Sabre



The F-100 Super Sabre was a sleek, swept-back-wing fighter that gave the United States a supersonic Air Force. Although the first version was produced prior to 1950, various improved versions served as trainers and as active military craft at many U.S. and foreign bases.


The North American F-100 Super Sabre, nicknamed the Hun, designed as a replacement for the F-86 Sabre, was the first plane in the legendary Century Series. It was the world's first production airplane capable of exceeding the speed of sound in level flight, a major step ahead in fighter development. Between the prototype's maiden flight on May 25, 1953 and the closing of the production line in 1959, a total of 2294 Super Sabres were built.

Stability problems with early F-100As were overcome by enlarging the vertical stabilizer and redesigning the wing geometry in the C-series. More than half of the F-100s built belonged to the most advanced D-series which featured the first autopilot designed for a supersonic jet plus a low-altitude bombing system. It was also capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The most prominent external feature for distinguishing A-C series aircraft from Ds is the large fairing near the top of the vertical stabilizer housing a tail warning radar.

In addition to the thin, highly swept wing and tail, the F-100 design incorporated other features that reflect an answer to the problem of supersonic flight. Heat-resisting titanium was used extensively throughout the plane. A low-drag, ultra-streamlined fuselage and canopy with but one thin-lipped air intake duct helped make supersonic speed possible. The canopy line matched the rear fuselage in a smoothly curving line so that from the side, the Super Sabre appeared to be slightly arched. Other features included automatic leading-edge slats and a low-positioned one-piece horizontal stabilizer. The F-100 was the first USAF airplane to utilize the low tail.


The F-100 was powered by a P&W J57-P-21A engine, rated at 7,711 kp thrust. Top speed was Mach 1.31 at 35,000 ft. Armament consisted of four 20mm cannons plus up to 3,402 kg external stores, including nuclear or conventional bombs, rockets, four Sidewinder air-to-air or two Bullpup air-to-ground missiles mounted on six underwing pylons.

The Super Sabre saw extensive combat in Vietnam, mainly in the ground attack role. The USAF´s aerobatic team, the Thunderbirds, flew F-100s between 1956 and 1964. The last F-100 was phased out of service with the Indiana ANG in November 1979. Several countries purchased The aircraft, large customers being France, Denmark, Turkey and Nationalist China.

Since May 1953, when the first prototype model, the YF-100, bettered the speed of sound on its first flight, the versatile fighter set numerous records for speed, endurance, range and maintenance.


The USAF needed also a supersonic trainer and North American began with converting an F-100C for evaluation as a private venture. The final F-100F model, which first flew on 7 March 1957, was based on F-100D, retaining its air-superiority and fighter-bomber capabilities although the armament was reduced. Over 300 F-100Fs were built.

Later on, some F-100Fs were converted to ground attack role. These aircraft were nicknamed  Wild Weasel I.

By the early 'sixties, the F-100D had been subjected to so many in-service modifications to correct its obvious deficiencies that no two F-100Ds were alike, making for a maintenance and spare parts nightmare. Beginning in 1962, about 700 F-100Ds and Fs were subjected to a series of modifications under *Project High Wire*, a major standardization and upgrading program. The goal of this program was to extend the variety of non-nuclear weapons that could be carried, to eliminate excess weight, and to standardize the cockpit and rewire it completely. Perhaps the most readily noticeable modification produced by the - High Wire - program was the addition of a spring-steel tailhook underneath the rear fuselage. This tailhook was not meant for carrier-based operations, but was intended to engage wires at the end of runways to prevent overshooting during bad landings. Aircraft so modified were distinguished by adding one to their production block numbers--for example, the F-100D-25-NA became F-100D-26-NA after modification. These modifications were completed in 1965.


Cockpit front panels

Manufacturer: North American
Designation: F-100
Version: C
Nickname: Super Sabre
Crew: 1
First Flew: Jan 17, 1955
Length: 46' 1.25" 14.05 m
Height: 15' 6" 4.72 m
Wingspan: 38' 10" 11.84 m
Empty Weight: 19270.0 lbs 8739.00 kg
Gross Weight: 26636.0 lbs 12079.0 kg
Max Weight: 36549.0 lbs 16575.0 kg
No. of Engines: 1
Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney J57-P-21 (A/B 16,000 lb)
Thrust: 8700 3945
Range: 1350 miles 2173.00 km
Cruise Speed: 590.00 mph 952.75 km/h 515.00 kts
Max Speed: 920.00 mph 1485.00 km/h 802.70 kts
Climb: 21600.0 ft/min 6583.36 m/min
Ceiling: 49100.0 ft 14965.0 m

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