The museum’s YRF-84F participated in two U.S. Air Force experimental programs, the development of the F-84F fighter-bomber and later testing of the “parasite” fighter concept.
The museum’s YRF-84F was the prototype of the F-84F Thunderstreak, which became a standard USAF fighter-bomber in the 1950s (an F-84F is on display in the museum's Cold War Gallery). Consisting of an F-84E Thunderjet fuselage with swept-back wings and tail, it made its initial flight in June 1950.
In 1951 it was modified into the YRF-84F FICON ("FIghter CONveyor"), and first flew in this configuration in March 1953. The concept envisioned carrying a “parasite” aircraft under (and partially enclosed within) a B-36 as a way to extend fighter range. When needed, the fighter was lowered on a boom and released to protect the bomber or to conduct reconnaissance or bombing missions on its own. After completing its mission, the fighter would return to the B-36 (a B-36 is on display in the museum's Cold War Gallery).
The U.S. Air Force employed FICON aircraft operationally for a brief period in the mid-1950s with RF-84Ks (an RF-84K is on display in the museum's Cold War Gallery). By the late 1950s, however, the successful development of mid-air refueling ended the use of parasite fighters.
Engine: Allison J35-A-25 jet engine of 5,200 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: 670 mph
Range: 1,800 miles
Service ceiling: 45,000 feet
Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery.