Developed in January 1951, the Super Sabre with it’s 45 degree swept wing, giving it the name Sabre 45, was North American’s next evolution up from the F-86 Sabre. The new plane was accepted November 30th 1951 with a surprising amount of Titanium in the plane. It first flew on May 25th 1953, Seventy Four years ago today. The F-100 arrived seven months ahead of schedule with a Mach rating of 1.04. It went on to serve in Vietnam but production remained limited due to favor of Republic’s F-105 Thunderchief.
Between 1953 and 1955 tests were performed to determine maximum performance. While overall performance had improved, the plane was declared unfit to continue until design changes were met. Project Hot Rod as it was called during the tests determined that many deficiencies in the design required a rebuild. Yaw instability was among the most troubling of deficiencies. Inertia coupling would develop which would cause a sudden yaw to which the pilot couldn’t react fast enough. George Welch was killed on October 12th 1954 during a dive test due to this. Another issue involved the swept wings at certain angles of attack. At stall speeds, inefficient lift on the tips of the wings would cause pitch ups which were hazardous at low elevation. It became known as the Sabre Dance. Despite this over 2,200 were built.
The F-100A first entered service September 27th 1954 at George AFB, California. After six major accidents the fleet was grounded until February 1955. Due to world conflicts, continuing accidents and needs that had to be met, the F-100 went between active and deactive service for years. It served throughout Vietnam and was retired in 1970. It went on to serve in the Air National Guard until 1979.