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This model most likely represents the Sparrow AIM-7E-2, the "dogfight Sparrow" version of the venerable, air-to-air missile. Constructed entirely of stainless steel, this elegant wind tunnel model is in 1:10 scale, or 14.4 inches in length compared to the full scale Sparrow's dimension of 144 inches. The "dogfight" E-2 version was developed with clipped wings to improve maneuvering, as this model represents. Note that the wing and tail are triangular but have different apex angles. The model is complete with a mounting pylon which bolts to the missile. It is estimated that this model is 40 to 50 years old.

The model is finished in a fine satin finish (it is not painted) and is in excellent condition with only a minor issue on one wing tip and several minor nicks on wing leading edges. It has been machined to superb accuracy for supersonic tunnel use (as the use of stainless steel would suggest) and exhibits close adherence to the 1:1 configuration; note that both the wing and tail are wedge shaped with the wedge break approximately along mid-chord - not easy to machine with a total thickness of around .040". The wedge shape can be detected in several of the photos shown below and is hard to see on the tail surface because of its fine thickness.

The genesis of the AIM-7 Sparrow family was developed out of a late 1940's project to create an aerial beam-riding rocket out of the HVAR used during WWII. Douglas quickly discovered the size of the HVAR was inadequate for the needed electronics, so the body was enlarged. The result was the AAM-2 Sparrow I, which made its first "interception" in 1952, and was carried onboard Skyknights and later F3H-2M Demons and F7U Cutlasses. It use was limited, but it did pave the way for further development. The Sparrow II, or XAAM-N-2a, later the AAM-N-3, was an attempt to develop a fully active radar-homing system. It was developed in conjunction with the F5D Skylancer and Canadian Avro Arrow supersonic interceptors. Reliability was questionable, and the project was canceled as the respective aircraft it was to arm were also shelved.

The modern Sparrow stems from the AAM-N-6 Sparrow III, which is a semi-active system that tracks based on reflected radar from either ground or airborne control, such as the launch aircraft. This system is far easier to fit within the confines of the rocket body. Raytheon had started development of the semi-active system concurrently with the Sparrow I; it was in US Naval inventory by 1958 and had a production of 7500 rounds. The missile was also selected for the infamous F-110, which later became the F-4 Phantom II. Additional improvements, such as a new solid rocket motor, gave the Sparrow III a 22 mile range. By then, new designations were developed, with the Sparrow I and II becoming the AIM-7A and AIM-7B, and the Sparrow III with its subsequent improvements became the AIM-7C, D, and E, respectively. Over 25,000 AIM-7E's were made.

From web sources: Vietnam saw the first combat use of the AIM-7E in widespread use. Unfortunately, a combination of several factors led to the missile having less than favorable results, with only a 10% kill ratio. Some of this can be attributed to the same lack of ACM pilot training that affected all engagement kill ratios, but also the tropical environment and both mechanical and electronic issues arose. The worst of these issues was a premature detonation of the warhead, leaving the enemy aircraft unscathed. An improved version of the -7E, dubbed the "dogfight Sparrow," was developed with clipped fins (represented on this model) and was optimized for closer ranges; however, it only improved the kill percentage slightly. Regardless of its shortcomings, the Sparrow's first combat kill came on 7 June 1965 when USN F-4B Phantoms shot down two MiG-17's. A history of the Sparrow missile may be viewed by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return.

This 1:10 scale model would have been used in conjunction with a 1:10 scale fighter model. An extensive search has not revealed which fighter this model was fitted on but it would have been tested in a high speed tunnel such as the Langley Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel or other similar facilities. External stores, such as missiles, are subjected to exhausting wind tunnel studies to evaluate the effect of the carriage on the complex flow interaction between the store and the aircraft and also adjacent stores. Store separation forces are also of concern as both the aerodynamics of the store and the airflow around the aircraft affect the separation trajectory. The airflow around a store defies accurate prediction so wind tunnel testing is necessary to assure store compatibility. The diagram below shows one typical test result to ascertain the pitching moments on the missile by itself as its angle of attack changes, typical of what would occur during separation or maneuvering of the aircraft. When immersed in the fighter's fuselage or wing airflow pattern or flow field, the store is subjected to forces unlike its free state.

This 1:10 scale model was definitely used on an aircraft as evidenced by its configuration. The mounting pylon has a fine etching text which reads, "left hand." In addition, the mounting interface between the pylon and the aircraft has a micarta surface which has been tapered to fit a slightly inclined surface such as wing dihedral. This model surfaced in the Long Island area which might suggest a local manufacturer such as Grumman or Republic as the source, yet the pylon configuration does not fit a F-14 which would have been the subject for wind tunnel testing in the 1965-1970 era and the F-105 did not carry Sparrows as far as I know. The Sparrow was used on numerous aircraft and the 1956 tests on the F7U Cutlass used a pylon similar to the model's mount, but not the same. Definitive information would be appreciated.

The following photos show the 1:10 scale wind tunnel model of the Sparrow missile.

This very rare wind tunnel model is available for $2950.00.

The United States Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB, Florida has several AIM-7 missiles on display. The photos below were taken June 2015 (Collectair photos).


The fantastic, all-metal wind tunnel model pictured below was rescued from the Convair salvage yard in San Diego around 1963 by a Convair engineer; he was able to "free" both this model of the F-106X and a model of the F-111. The salvage yard at that time was open for four hours once a month, a real bonanza for employees searching for parts for home projects. I recall foraging in Cessna's Prospect plant scrap yard back in the 1950s and coming up with occasional treasures, but never a wind tunnel model!

This model of one version of the F-106X is in a large 1:20 scale and was undoubtedly used in Convair's Low Speed Wind Tunnel at speeds up to 300 m.p.h. This tunnel, located at Convair's (Convair Division of General Dynamics in 1961) plant, has been donated to the San Diego Air & Space Museum; information on the tunnel may be viewed by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return to this page. This tunnel (LSWT) is in current use by numerous manufacturers. The model was also likely used in the Lewis Research Center's transonic and supersonic tunnels as described in the 1969 NASA report, TM X-52585. In this report, a 1:20 scale model of the F-106B was sting mounted to study the flow field. You can study this report by clicking here. It is worth viewing as the F-106B test model is very similar to the F-106X model and the method of sting mounting is the same.

The model measures 41" from the tip of the pitot tube to the tail and the wingspan is 23"; both aluminum and steel are used for the model's construction. All materials and filler are original with the exception of the blue stripe/tape; no restoration has been made to the model. A few screws are missing, apparently the sole minor parts deficiency.

If you would like to research the history of the F-106, an excellent place to start is the F-106 Delta Dart Website.

The Convair F-106X was proposed in 1956 as a follow on configuration for the F-106; the "X" (Model 8-28/8-29) was to have more power with the JT4B-22 engine, rectangular intakes, canard layout and a longer nose with a 40-inch dish radar. The F-106X was proposed as an alternative to the Lockheed YF-12. The project was later re-designated F-106C/D, with "C" being the single-seat version, the "D" being the two-seat version. At one time the Air Force had considered acquiring 350 of these advanced interceptors, but the F-106C/D project was cancelled on 23 September 1958. Contemporary drawings and art work depicted the "X" as having the canard surfaces located alongside an elongated engine intake, unlike the F-106X model design offered here. There are, however, drawings from 1956 of an "X" version which is similar to the model's layout; you can view these report illustrations by clicking here. The F-106 became the prime ADC interceptor in the 1960s and a competent air-to-air fighter. There is mention of another proposal in 1967 of an F-106X design to fill the gap when the YF-12 fighter was cancelled; this F-106X didn't materialize. This later proposed design is not believed to incorporate the canard layout and would have been subsequent to the use of this model by many years.

This one-of-a-kind, metal wind tunnel model of the proposed Convair F-106X is a very rare find and is presented here for documentary and historical purposes.


This is definitely a one-off model of the final production version of the SM-62A Snark. A large 1:10 scale, the model is finely constructed of laminated planks of what is believed to be hard maple wood. The model is precisely formed with superb accuracy as would be expected of a wind tunnel model; airfoil sections, leading edge cuffs, delicate curves, pylon tanks etc. have been meticulously duplicated in 1:10 scale.

T.O. 21-SM62-2-1 has finely detailed principal dimensions and lines and stations. The pylon mounted fuel tanks, for example, are oddly mounted with a 3 degree nose down attitude and are canted inwards by 4.5 degrees. The tail fins on the tanks are not equally spaced but have an angle of 78 degrees between the upper fins. These dimensions are exactly duplicated on the model. The booster rockets are removable from slots milled in the fuselage.

Because of the exactness of form and configuration, this Snark model might have been used as a wind tunnel model for a drag confirmation; range was always a problem so the final production version with finned pylon tanks would have had to have some sort of substantiation for the aerodynamic solution. The use of planked maple suggests a wind tunnel model as opposed to the usual display model construction which wouldn't require the stability of lamination and the weight of solid wood. The model has the launch boosters which also suggests that low speed aerodynamic forces and stability might have been the subject of testing. When I got the model, it had been painted grey with Air Force markings. I stripped the paint to find another layer of redish or maroon primer which had probably been used to create the final and exact dimensions for testing. I'm certain that you'll agree that the laminated wood shows the model off best. There is absolutely no delamination at any point. Of interest, the small air scoop on the RH side has nothing to do with the J-57 engine; the scoop is used for cooling air for the inertial guidance system - electronics weren't the miniature chip variety in the 1950s. A search for information about this model has come up with nothing so if you can add a scrap of info, please let me know.

This handsome and historic model belongs in a missiles museum. It is for sale for Sorry Sold.

The April 1958 issue of Popular Science had an article, "Our First 5,000-Mile Missile is Ready Now", about the Snark. Included was the picture below with the caption, "FIRST SNARK SQUADRON, for AF's new base at Presque Isle, Me., gets preliminary technical instruction. On table in foreground is model of Snark poised for flight on mobile launcher." What a cool model! Looks to be about 1:12 scale or smaller, somewhat less than the wind tunnel model above. It's the test version of the Snark as it has the test probe on the nose. This is probably a one-off model.

The April 1958 issue of "Science and Mechanics" magazine featured, as part of the cover, the Snark model scene shown above. A "How to do it" section has a five page article on building a rocket-powered (Jetex motors) model of the Snark Missile; you can view the plan for the model by clicking here.

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