October 03, 2004

Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (F-89)

This week's entry is much more of an "interesting" than a "beautiful" plane. In fact, the plane is pretty homely but attractive in that odd way that only straight-wing jet fighters can be. The F-89 Scorpion:



This fighter, aside from having an interesting profile and decent performance for a non-swept-wing jet, was the USAF's first interceptor to be armed with air-to-air nuclear rockets.

You heard me right. In the 1950s, the Air Force developed an air-to-air missile (the AIR-2 Genie) with a nuclear warhead designed to take out an entire squadron of Russian bombers at a time.

The F-89 carries the distinction of being the first (and only) plane ever to fire and detonate a nuclear-armed air-to-air missile, on 19 July 1957. I've looked for pictures of the test-firing but can't find any.

Earlier Aircraft Cheesecake entries here, here, and here.

Update: One of Jonah Goldberg's "military guys" is holding an ugly plane contest. Check it out.

Posted by JohnL at October 3, 2004 10:57 PM

I always liked the wingtip rocket pods, myself.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at October 4, 2004 09:20 AM

My dad was a Northrop tech rep stationed in Greenland for the F-89. Flew back seat and hated it.
Plenty of stories about that POS but you know what?
It worked.
Plenty of stories including ones about the nuke test.

Posted by: brian at October 4, 2004 01:44 PM

Brian, Don't leave us hanging... I'd love to hear any stories, especially about the nuke test. Do you know if there are any publicly available pictures from the test?

Posted by: JohnL at October 5, 2004 01:40 PM
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