F-94C Starfire at NMUSAF

The final combatant evolution of the Shooting Star series, the F-94C was a quite different bird from previous Starfires, and in fact was at first designated as the F-97. The C-model featured an entirely new and thinner wing, sweptback horizontal tail, and an afterburning Pratt & Whitney J48-P-5/5A. Recognizing that the F-94A/B’s machine gun armament was grossly inadequate for dealing with Soviet heavy bombers, the F-94C had all-rocket weaponry, initially consisting of an array of 24 FFAR launchers around the nose radome (for the AN/APG-40 radar) and a pair of wing pods each with a further dozen rockets. In practice, the nose rockets would blind the pilot after firing, as well as often snuffing the engine out, so those launchers were seldom used.

F-94C Starfire nose

The NMUSAF’s F-94C is displayed as an aircraft that flew from Otis AFB with the 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

Aside from a pair of F-94Bs converted as prototypes, Lockheed built 387 production C-models. The F-94D would have been a single seater fighter-bomber model; the YF-94D prototype was later used as a testbed for the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon, but the 112 production machines on order were cancelled. A single EF-94C, 50-96, flew with a revised nose intended for a reconnaissance version that would remain unbuilt.

The 319th FIS was the last front line USAF unit to fly the F-94C, phasing out the type in late 1957, while the Minnesota ANG’s 179th FIS retired the last Guard F-94Cs two years later as the unit converted to F-89Js.

For many years, C-model Starfires were not well represented in the model world, as the elderly Revell and Linberg kits are far from today’s standards. Recently, Kitty Hawk Models has released a much superior 1/48 scale version.

F-94C Bibliography:

“Rift in Secrecy Veil Bares F-94C” Aviation Week January 7, 1952 p.16

Photo: sequence showing an F-94C firing rockets Aviation Week November 10, 1952 p.9

Photo: Underside view of an F-94C Aviation Week December 8, 1952 p.16

Photo: In-flight view of F-94C buzz number FA-059 Aviation Week May 4, 1953 p.9

Ad for Rezolin Toolplastik, with a picture of an F-94C Aviation Week August 17, 1953 p.17

Rheem Aircraft Division ad, with artwork showing a trio of F-94Cs. Aviation Week September 28, 1953 p.12

“Mid -Air Crash” Aviation Week August 30, 1954 p.21 Photos show F-94C 15558 after colliding with an F-80.

Holley Carburetor Co. ad, with artwork depicting a quartet of F-94Cs. Aviation Week October 25, 1954 p.2

“NACA Flight-Tests Reverser Unit” Aviation Week December 23, 1957 p.82 Photos showing a thrust reverser installation on a NACA Ames-marked F-94C

American Military Aircraft: A History of Innovation editor Jim Winchester p.237: color profile of F-94C 51-5641/84th FIS

 

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