Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bush's "Champagne" Service

The Lifecycle of the F-102A Delta Dagger, and GW Bush

     Molly Ivins, in her book Shrub, lists the son of Texas Governor John Connally, the son of Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen, and the son of Texas Senator John Tower, along with members of the Dallas Cowboys football franchise (the only blacks) as members of Bush's "Champagne Unit" in the Texas Air National Guard. 

The 111th was where GW Bush met James Bath.  If you want to look at Bush's dereliction of duty, Paul Lukasiak's pages are still best.  If you want a detailed, in-depth history of the F-102, where I got many of the facts for this post, Mr J Baugher is the source.  Wikipedia hosts this timeline of Bush service.  This post is about the life cycle of the F-102A Delta Dagger and how it kept GW Bush, a young lieutenant in the US Air Force, as far as possible from danger during the Viet Nam War, while making him appear to be a fighter jock. 

Short History of the F-102A

     After the Soviets unveiled the Tupelov-4 long-range, heavy bomber at the October 1947 Moscow Air Show, the top brass of the newly formed US Air Force decided to create an "interceptor fighter" to deal with the threat.  The interceptor waits until the Soviets launch a bomber attack, flies as fast as possible to meet them, and then fires missiles to destroy them before they reach allied territory.

     Convair eventually got the contract for what turned out to be the first super-sonic and first delta-winged aircraft in the Air Force. 

     As an "anti-bomber" aircraft, the plane saw very little service in Viet Nam, although since the Air Force had so many of them, a few did see some action.  Only two of the more than 800 hundred produced are known to have been destroyed by enemy fire, namely, ground fire from the North Vietnamese.  In Viet Nam, all told, four others were lost on the ground, and eight were lost in operational accidents.  I have heard the plane described as the "safest plane in the Air Force."

     A couple explanatory notes for the image I made above.  Please ignore the rounded edges of the bars, they are just for appearances.  I removed them from the last two lines to show that the F-102A was completely removed from the Pacific Theatre in December, 1969, and Bush didn't start training in the F-102A until Decemeber 29th, 1969.

     One further note.  In the run up to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, RM Nixon and the Air Force put the 111th briefly on "alert" status.  However, GW Bush was no longer qualified to fly the F-102A.

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