F-100 Super Sabre: a fighter pilot’s perspective
Former fighter pilot Scotty Wilson gives you the low-down on flying the magnificent ‘Hun’.
1. What were you were first impressions of the F-100?
I transitioned to the Hun right out of UPT after flying the T-38. The T-38 was small, sleek, white and sexy. The Hun was, by comparison, huge, camouflaged, grimy and a workhorse. Best of all -it only had one engine and one seat. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen!
2. When did you fly it? With which units?
I flew the Hun (C/D/F) from 1973 to 1979 for about 1500 hours, mostly with the 178 TFG (Ohio) and 131 TFW (Missouri) Air Guard units.
3. What was the best thing about it?
It was an “honest” airplane with excellent control harmony and good visibility. It was simple and reliable.
4. What was the worst thing about flying it?
Pilots like to say the Hun invented adverse yaw, and one did have to be careful with lateral stick input at high AOA. Final approach speeds were relatively high (166 KIAS + fuel in the D; higher in the C). It was underpowered – like a lot of the early Century-Series airplanes – and we had two power settings: “not enough” (military power); and “just okay” (afterburner). It was hard to fly really well.
5. Was it an effective weapon system?
I never flew the Hun in combat, so I’m not the best one to ask. I have several friends who flew as “Misty FACs” (Forward Air Controller, a very dangerous mission) in South East Asia; I never heard them say a bad thing about the plane. In training missions, it was a stable bomb and gun platform.
6. Did you ever fly mock dogfights against any other types, what was this like and which types were the most challenging?
We were commonly called-upon to do duty as MiG-15/17/19 simulators and as training partners in DACT with more advanced fighters such as the F-4, F-14 and F-15. We often flew “canned” scenarios or profiles specific to another unit’s training requirements.
“Huge, camouflaged and grimy…the most beautiful thing I had ever seen!”
Occasionally, we’d get an opportunity to do anything we wanted. A “clean” Hun – even the heavier D model – could climb to above 45,000 and get up to Mach 1.3 in a shallow dive. No one looked for us up that high, and we could usually engage from above unseen – the first time. We could generally win a 1-vs-1 guns-only or rear-aspect missile fight against a hard-winged F-4 and break even against a slatted E, unless the Phantom pilot was very good (Ron Keys comes to mind) and didn’t fight our fight. Same with the F-14. Best tactic was to go single-circle, co-plane. We’d give up knots for angles and out-rate the other guy, who would honor your nose position and become defensive immediately. (I have 2000 hours in F-4C/D/E and know those airplanes pretty well.)
The F-15 was a superior airplane in every respect and it was rare you got the advantage on one unless the pilot was a doofus (and there were a few).
7. What three words best describe the F-100?
Honest, reliable, predictable.
8. What was your most memorable flight in a F-100?
14 hours in the cockpit / 12 hours flight time during a winter-time redeployment from Ramstein AB Germany to Richards-Gebaur AFB, Missouri. We strapped in and started-up, then shut-down and waited in the cockpit while our tankers at RAF Mildenhall fixed a problem. After we got airborne and mid-way across the Atlantic both tankers lost their drogues (equipment, not pilot error). We found another tanker – this one scrambled out of Canada – using UHF-ADF and Air-to-Air TACAN while IMC in 1 NM visibility conditions. When we finally joined with two more tankers we flew…and flew…and continued flying westward because the weather at every AFB east of the Mississippi was below landing minimums. (The F-100D didn’t have ILS at the time.)
I don’t think we ever saw groundspeeds in excess of 360 knots the entire route. Only if you have worn the old-style poopy suit* can you appreciate how enjoyable the last four hours of that flight was like.
Scotty Wilson built a flyable Bugatti 100P. Tragically he died flying it in 2016.
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Very interesting a aircraft you don’t hear much these days kind of unsung hero of the Vietnam war just got on with the job
My uncle, Capt. Robert A. Garneau was assigned to a TAC squadron at Nellis AFB in 1960. He was flying a training mission on the night of June 10, 1961. What he was doing, learning to pitch A-bombs by performing an Immelman at high speed, is described by the author or “The Generals’ War” published after the first Gulf War. His F-100DD stalled and entered a flat spin. He ejected but his chute did not open. He fell 10,000 feet to his death. The town of Amesbury, Massachusetts turned out for his wake and funeral. He was buried in Amesbury at the family plot with full military honors, including the ‘missing man formation” I think originating from Grenier Field (now Manchester/Boston Airport.)
If anyone on this blog knew my uncle, flew with him, or was friends with him, I would appreciate an e-mail.
The top photo with 90th TFS on the bomb stands is mine. I was a bomb loader stationed at Bein Hoa in 1966-67 when I shot that pic.
Joe Frederick here. I also flew with the 162nd Tac Ftr Sqdn, in Springfield OH, as did Scotty Wilson. I was in the unit 1968-1975. We flew F-84F Thunderstreaks from 68 to 71, then we go the Huns. Most came from SE Asia. They had bullet holes in them, a lot of systems didn’t work, but they got whipped into shape by our outstanding maintenance troops in short order. I always liked the Hun, in spite of it’s ‘bad reputation’ that I often read about.
Hi Joe, I would love to talk to you about your experiences (esp. F-84Fs)What is your email address? Cheers, HK
My uncle (father’s brother), Capt. Robert A. Garneau, was killed flying an F-100 at Nellie AFB on June 11, 1961. What he was training for is chronicled in the book “The Generals’ War” published in the mid ‘90’s. The book was about Desert Storm, but the author also describes he’s training in the early ‘60s flying 100’s.
The training involved carrying a dummy A-bomb to target, executing a steep climb to bomb-release, then an Immelmann to supersonic to escape the blast. My uncle went into a flat spin, ejected but his chute didn’t open.
If anyone was part of this training, and/or knew my uncle Bob, I’d like to hear from you.
A room mate of mine, at VMI, ended up flying F-100’s as a Misty pilot (Misty 110) and was lost on 8/9/69. His and fellow pilot and his remains were found in 2002 and were returned for burial in Arlington in 2002. Capt. J.S. Dotson will always be 25…