1/72 MENG Convair Delta Dart: 101st FIS Cape Cod, MA ANG
In my early teens I was a very dedicated, and active cadet in the Rhode Island Civil Air Patrol (CAP). I had the best time and experiences as part of this very professional organization which is the official auxiliary program of the USAF. As a member of this program I was often allowed to participate in USAF funded military activities such as spending my school vacations on military bases locally and around the country. During one such school vacation I participated in a week long training encampment on Otis Air Force Base in Cape Cod, MA about 1.5 hours from home. During this time I spent many hours as a guest of the Air Defense Command (ADC) Squadron stationed at the base. This was the 101st Fighter Intercept Squadron of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. They were assigned primary intercept missions for the entire East Coast, with a focus on the North East section of the North American continent. While I was involved with this group I witnessed several scrambles in which fighters of the unit intercepted Russian Bombers off the of the East Coast of the US.
The 101st FIS flew the famed F-106 Delta Dart. I fell in love with the sleek lines of this glorious fighter jet which looked like it was going March 2 sitting on the ground. I can still hear the thunderous boom of the jet's afterburners as they took off day and night. My most memorable experience was spending the day with this unit's pilot training section which included sessions in the F-106A cockpit simulator. I was lucky enough to spend more then several hours assisting the flight instructors teaching new pilots the in's and out's of the F-106 cockpit and all the routine procedures. After a few hours of watching this I was awarded the opportunity to give the simulator a go; I was in heaven at 14 years of age. I will never forget going through the procedures such as engine start-up, T.O. Checklists, and basic intercept procedures. It was nothing compared to today's modern full motion simulators, and could not even hold a light to my own PC simulators, but for its time it was state of the art. I remember they needed a whole separate building just to house the computer equipment which drove the simulator. My current PC Laptop is most likely 100 times more powerful then those ancient computers.
So as an adult you can imagine my motivation and desire to build a nice F-106A scale model. As a kid I hacked up the Monogram 1/48 F-106A immediately upon its release but had not built one since. I did not want to build another monogram kit due to its known deficits and raised panel lines. So I waited all these years for a newly molded version. Then Trumpeter released a 1/48 F-106A and B. But it had some serious shape issues so I passed on it when 1st released. Finally MENG released a very well detailed and accurate 1/72 Version, and despite this not being my scale of choice it was time to give it a try and build it.
The MENG kit is very nicely detailed. The overall engineering and fit is not bad but it does have some unique and unorthodox assembly sequences which challenged me a bit and if you do not do a lot of test fits and dry runs you may end up with some major fit issues. This issue mostly involved the way the intakes, intake trunks, forward fuselage, and wing assembly come together. If I was to build it again I would be able to eliminate any fit issues I struggled with. You really need to study the instructions and plan ahead. Regarding overall features and details for 1/72 the kit gets a 5 out of 5 star rating. Due to the small scale many of the parts are extremely fragile and require care, especially the parts which make up the very detailed weapons bay. IMHO getting the doors assembled when displaying the bay opened was the most challenging. Again, a lot of test fitting, and trial and error. Its just to small with tiny fragile parts as well as small PE pieces. I also believe the instructions could be better.
Overall it was a rewarding and worth while build and I was satisfied with the outcome. I made a few mistakes and was told by a few F-106 experts that I got some of the internal details wrong for the version I made. For example I used the more modern tape measure type IP instead of the earlier dial only IP. I was told that the "106's" used by the 101st never used the later type tape measure IP. I tried to go lite with the weathering b/c these birds were kept in pristine condition despite their age. I posted the final version of the model on the Facebook F-106 Group page earlier this year. I received tremendous positive feedback from members of this group who serviced and even flew these jets. Once such person who sent a friend request was the actual pilot of the exact jet I modeled from this squadron who recalled my CAP unit coming to the base to train. He started our 1st instant message with "Hey...The name on the side of the model cockpit looks really familiar" ! I was shocked. Never had that happen before with any models I have built. He then forwarded me several photos which I included at the end of this article. 2 of the pictures show him piloting this exact jet on a bomber intercept mission with a USSR Bear Bomber. Another of the pictures include an article he forwarded which describes an air-to-air collision he was involved in with another pilot from his unit. I have stayed in contact with him, as well as, a senior maintenance chief from the unit. Since then the unit moved onto F-15s, as well as, moved to another base in western Massachusetts. While still in Cap Cod they were also the 1st unit scrambled the morning of 911 to try and intercept the hijacked aircraft as well as to patrol the skies of NY from further attacks. They had already transitioned to F-15s.
Hope you enjoy my story and the pictures of this model. As always I welcome all feedback and comments.
16 additional images. Click to enlarge.