F-98 / GAR-1 / AIM-4 Falcon
USAF's first air-to-air guided missile was the Falcon. The Virginia Air and Space Center has an AIM-4D on display and it provides excellent and fascinating detail for the modeler.
Falcons were employed by many USAF fighters and interceptors from operational deployment in the 1950s, through Vietnam, and as long as the F-106 Delta Dart was operational.
Gen. Robin Olds and the AIM-4
However capable the Falcon may have been for knocking down Red bombers in Armageddon, it was almost useless in a tactical environment. I knew from my 1/72 Hasegawa F-4E that we used them for air-to-air over Vietnam but the only missiles I ever read about were the Sparrow and Sidewinder. In 1989 at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, I attended a presentation by General Robin Olds. Gen. Olds discussed how worthless the Falcon was for dogfighting. But Air Force brass had heartburn - they already had swallowed their pride by accepting a Navy fighter, the F-4 Phantom II, as their main tactical fighter. That was bad enough. But the F-4 also carried Navy weapons, the AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-9 Sidewinder. USAF was determined to field and demonstrate and prove that their USAF weapon, the F-98 / GAR-1 / AIM-4 Falcon, was the equal of the Navy missile. Instead, Falcon was a turkey with performance that stank like a microwaved skunk. Olds described in detail the complex firing sequence, restricted launch parameters, and limited time for employment. He described how he defied orders and had Falcon removed from his F-4s and his planes rewired for Sidewinders.
Several NVAF MiGs did experience the attention of the Falcon, and the missile killed a pair of MiG-17s and a pair of MiG-21s. No third-party confirmation exists but a Greek F-102 claimed a Turkish F-5 with the AIM-4.
Falcons did not remain dead weight in our fighters throughout Vietnam. F-102s actually used them with success against vehicles on the Ho Chi Minh Trail!
Regardless, AIM-4 is interesting aerial ordnance and I am glad to examine it closeup.
The F-98 Falcon was the initial designation for the unpiloted interceptor missile--GAR-1 (Guided Air Rocket). In the 1962 tri-service rationalization of the US Forces the Falcon was redesignated the AIM-4 Falcon. The project under the name "Dragonfly" was begun in 1947, but quantity production of the missile didn't begin until 1954. In 1956 the AIM-4 Falcon missile became the world's first fully guided Air-to-Air missile to enter operational service.
The GAR-1 was guided by steerable vanes in the exhaust of the solid-rocket motor which powered the missile to speeds approaching Mach 2. The GAR-1D used radar guidance while the next generation missile, GAR-2A used infra-red tracking--it locked on to the target aircraft's engine exhaust. *
* GlobalSecurity.org. F-98 / GAR-1 / AIM-4 Falcon
. [Web.] 07-07-2011 02:50:08 ZULU .