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Century Series

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Century Series
Convair F-106A Delta Dart 1.jpg
A USAF F-106A Delta Dart from California ANG fires the AIR-2 Genie nuclear rocket.
Orthographically projected diagram of the F-100 Super Sabre.
F-102 from Florida ANG deploys braking parachute

The Century Series is a popular name for a group of US combat aircraft. The name stems from a series of early US supersonic jet fighters built for the United States Air Force during the 1950s and early 1960s. The designations systems was of the then-new USAF, but the number series stretched back to the 1920s as it was used for the former P- series (pursuit aircraft). In 1962 the fighter number sequence was reset under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system.

The term "Century Series" was popular due to the combination of the type, role, and era of aircraft was matched by similar designations in the series. Numbers both before and after were still used, and the sequence would continue sequentially up to the F-111, after which aircraft started using the reset-sequence again with the exception of the F-117 Nighthawk.

The aircraft usually included in the Century Series:

The unifying characteristic of Century aircraft was advanced performance and avionics when they were introduced. The F-100 was the first aircraft in USAF capable of exceeding the speed of sound in level flight. The F-101 was the first aircraft in USAF capable of exceeding 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h). The F-102 was the first aircraft in the world to utilize area rule in its design. Three of the Century Series aircraft — F-101, F-102, and F-106 — were armed with nuclear air-to-air missiles. F-102 and F-106 were the only aircraft in USAF arsenal at the time in which a nuclear weapon was under control of a single person (during a mission).

Similar advancements were made in this period by the United States Navy with the F4D Skyray and the F8U Crusader carrier-based aircraft, but lacked a similar naming group.

The attribution of the Century Series moniker is somewhat arbitrary. The series presents a mix of aircraft designed as fighter-bombers (F-100, F-101, F-105) and interceptors (F-102, F-104, F-106). Not included are the Republic XF-103 Thunderwarrior, the North American YF-107, and the North American XF-108 Rapier prototypes, the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II (briefly F-110 Spectre) fighter-bomber, or the General Dynamics F-111 and Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk strike aircraft.

The other popular U.S. fighter group moniker of aircraft, where their designations, technical features, and era coincide into a popular phrase was the late 20th century "Teen Series" of F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F-18 Hornet aircraft.

Series gallery

See also

List of military aircraft of the United States.