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History Mystery.

Air Power History readers made short work of the F-107A, alias the Ultra Sabre. It was a supersonic fighter that might have found its way to Vietnam if history had turned out differently. Conceived as an improvement over the F-100A Super Sabre and initially dubbed the F-100B, the plane underwent numerous design changes at North American Aviation, Inc., before emerging as a fighter-bomber with nuclear and conventional capabilities.

The Air Force ordered three F-107 As (serial numbers 55-3118/3120). The first completed its maiden flight at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 10, 1956, with civilian test pilot Robert Baker at the controls.

The F-107A was powered by the Pratt & Whitney J75 turbojet engine, an improved version of the J57 used by the F-100A. The F-107A was 60 feet 10 inches long and weighed about 41,000 pounds when fully loaded.

The F-107A performed well in tests and had clear potential. However, the Air Force preferred an aircraft with similar capabilities being offered by Republic Aviation. The F-105 Thunderchief, also with nuclear and conventional capabilities, made its mark in Vietnam, where it carried the brunt of the Rolling Thunder aerial campaign over North Vietnam from 1965 to 1968.

Despite its promise, the F-107A ended up as a museum piece. The two surviving examples are at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, and at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Opening this contest to e-mail brought forth a total of 37 entries (29 of then via e-mail), more than double the number from last time, and only one reader misidentified the F-107A. Our History Mystery winner, chosen at random from among the correct entries, is William L. Shields of Tucson. He'll receive as his prize a copy of Chopper: A History of American Military Helicopter Operations from World War II to the War on Terror, by Robert F. Dorr.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:United States. Air Force
Author:Dorr, Robert F.
Publication:Air Power History
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jun 22, 2006
Words:318
Previous Article:Reunions.
Next Article:This issue's mystery plane.
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