THE F-102 ERA (1956 - 1960)

The Convair F-102 Delta Dagger was the first supersonic fighter assigned to the 318th Fighter Squadron.  


On 2 March 1957, the Green Dragons leapt into the supersonic era with the long awaited arrival of the units first three Convair F-102A Delta Daggers. For their new supersonic interceptors an equally streamlined tail insignia was required. A design called the "Mach Wave" created TSgt Bruce G. McElhaney of the 318th FIS. The design featured Chrysler's "Forward Look" emblem within a black edged yellow circle.


Weeks later, the squadron flew their new jets to Vincent AFB, AZ (formally Yuma Firing Center) for F-102 transitional training. During this phase, each pilot must complete 13 missions to become "combat ready". Squadron Commander Lt. Col Charles "Kit" Carson led a flight of 4 F-102's to sunny Arizona, rotating groups of 4 or 5 pilots that would remain for 5 or six days until they are "checked out" in the F-102. The pilots joined an advance party of 45 maintenance personnel and the newest squadron mascot, "Draco" a 3-foot tall representation of the squadrons "Green Dragon" insignia. Draco was created by the squadrons "C" flight as a group project. Draco would be the 318th loyal mascot until deactivation in 1989.


As they have in the past, the Green Dragons displayed a high degree of performance in their new aircraft, in the first 3 weeks of flying the 318th flew 129 sorties at total 162 hours, averaging 40 hours on their 4 new F-102's and more impressively no ground or air aborts, at the time, a record for the F-102. During their stay at Yuma 4 318th Delta Daggers were used in the opening scene of the motion picture "The Sad Sack"  starring comedian Jerry Lewis, the first performance for the F-102. In a special dinner given by the Sad Sack cast for the members of the 318th, Mr. Lewis and his co-stars were made honorary "Green Dragons".   


With their freshly painted "Mach Wave" design on the tails of their newly arrived F-102s, three "Duces" fly over Puget Sound in mid 1958.


On 4 April 1957, the 318th suffered their first lost their first lost in the F-102. After a routine post acceptance check out flight over McChord / Ft Lewis area, Capt. Hugh McLaurin, Aid-de-camp to the Maj Gen W. Puryear, Commander of the 25th Air Division, developed a fuel leak. After receiving instructions from his chase pilot to fly to an unpopulated area south of the area, McLaurin, a senior pilot, turned his jet for the towards the waters of the Puget Sound apparently fearing a crash in heavily populated Tacoma area. The senior pilot attempted a dead stick landing was on a drill field at Ft. Lewis when he spotted troops on the field, the Captain guided his crippled airplane from the soldiers and the nearby barracks, but the F-102 was too low for a successful ejection, the Captain was killed on impact. For his heroic deed, Capt. Hugh McLaurin was awarded the Distinguish flying cross the Nation's third highest peacetime honor.


A large reorganization occurred throughout the Air Defense Command with the activation of Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons. The new Squadron, 325th CAMS, would take over all associated maintenance tasks equipment and supplies from the 318th and the 64th FIS (a squadron standing up at McChord in 15 Aug 1957 replacing the Alaskan bound 317th FIS). All aircraft were also moved under the "CAM" umbrella the pilots would remain attached to the Fighter Squadrons. This structure would be short-lived, on 15 November 1958 the squadron would be split into 3 separate units, the 325th Organizational Maintenance Squadron (controlling flightline and periodic maintenance activities), the  325th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron, and the 625th Tactical Field Maintenance Squadron (jet engine maintenance & Ground power equipment).


Mr. Ken Mallett, Hughes Company Representative assists 318th pilot 1st Lt Johnson and SSgt Lindsay during  the 1958 William Tell World Wide Weapons Meet at Tyndall AFB, FL


Maintenance is the life's blood of a squadron, this fact proven at the squadrons first live fire evaluation deployment now held at Tyndall AFB FL. Over a 4-week period, maintenance personnel high efficiency contributed to a record setting deployment where 318th pilots hit the highest percentage of targets recorded in this exercise.


Led by WWII Ace Col. Charles King, 325th Fighter Wing Commander, the 318th FIS Green Dragons were on their way to the ADC's shooting competition, renamed the William Tell Weapons Meet now held at Tyndall AFB from 20 October to 1 November 1958. After a slow start, the 318th team stayed in the hunt throughout the competition losing ground in the last days of the meet, finishing in last place in the F-102 category. The bad taste of a last place finish was washed away during the squadron's next weapons evaluation deployment in 1959, breaking their deployment record set a year earlier.


In the holiday season of 1958, the Green Dragons accomplished one of the more philanthropic deeds by adopting the orphans of the St. Anne's House of nearby Tacoma, WA. The squadron would see to the needs of the St. Anne children by including them on holiday shopping sprees and inviting them to all social activities, picnics, and parties.

Next page: F-106 Era - Air Defense Command (1960 - 1968)