By Master Sgt. Tori Kenny, 102nd Mission Support Group
/ Published December 31, 2014
OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Otis Air National Guard base has a varied and rich history with regards to fighter aircraft. One of which was the F-100 Super Sabre also known as the "Hun". According to www.planesofthepast.com, "The F-100 was the first Air Force jet fighter capable of supersonic speed in level flight. In addition to its nuclear bomb armament and four 20 mm cannons, the Super Sabre could be equipped to fire rockets and missiles, including the heat-seeking the GAR-8 Sidewinder. The F-100 had a service ceiling above 50,000 feet and a range of more than 1,000 statute miles."
On October 9, 2014 an F-100C Super Sabre was set in its final resting place next to Arnold Hall Dining Facility. The Hun was put in place by the Base Civil Engineering Structures Shop. Most of the restoration efforts were completed by Master Sgt. John Abril from Fuels Management and Mr. Russell Timms from Vehicle Maintenance. Retired Lt. Col. Robert (Bob) Faux and Senior Master Sgt. Thomas (Tommy) Connors were honored by having their names placed on the aircraft. A special dedication ceremony took place on November 1, 2014 where many members of the unit, and family and friends of the retirees were in attendance. Both Bob and Tommy shared some of their experiences with the F-100 during an interview.
Faux enlisted on March 5th, 1957 and piloted the F-100 at Otis from 1971 through 1972. When asked what his most memorable flight in the F-100, he stated, "It was my first solo flight, which was my third ride in the airplane. We started in the F-100F (two seat) for two rides, then went solo in an F-100C (one seat) followed by a chase pilot." He continued to recollect with a smile about that memorable flight adding, "We were doing unauthorized air combat tactics, I said to the other flight over the radio, let's go back home because my arm is getting tired." When asked what he didn't like about the F-100, he said "It had an adverse yaw problem, if you put in aileron at high G/angle of attack the aircraft would go opposite of your input." Lt. Col. Faux shared that "air refueling in the F-100 was one of the harder things I've ever had to do in an airplane." Faux recalls, "I was doing a preflight on an aircraft that had not flown for over a year since being delivered from Vietnam. The plane was being transferred to the Indiana ANG at Ft. Wayne. I saw a strange blob in the wheel well which had been spray painted with aluminum paint. It turned up to just be a blob of grease. I had a non-eventful flight thanks to our superb maintenance personnel."
A former crew chief, Sergeant Connors had some stories to share during his time working on the F-100. While at school to learn how to repair the aircraft, one of the instructors said "Don't get that involved, you're not going to need it." He couldn't tell Tommy at that time, but the F-100s would soon be replaced by the F-106s. He said "a lot of times; the crew chiefs would have to "cannonball" (cannibalize) aircraft to make others work." At one point, there were over fifty aircraft on the flightline and only about twenty crew chiefs to do the maintenance work keeping the aircraft safely in the air. He mentioned that "even the guard guys had their names on planes, there were so many." During the short time the F-100s were at Otis, they were still trying to get rid of the F-84s. "We had to hide 84s for the 50th Anniversary Air Show in 1971." Sergeant Connors said maintenance on the F-100 was difficult, for example "The guns had to come out to get to anything underneath the aircraft." The planes came from Vietnam and were flown in combat so they were in bad shape. Sergeant Connors explains, "They came direct from the combat zone with bullet holes that weren't patched, they just flew them as is." Sergeant Connors reflects on some pranks back at the 102nd. When an F-100 was on display in front of Bldg. 197, Sergeant Connors and a few other crew chiefs placed a "dummy" in the cock pit and sealed it. "A month later, the "dummy" was missing and the canopy was missing", he says with a hearty laugh.
Life was very different at Otis in the 70s as both Colonel Faux and Sergeant Connors reported. We went from drilling (now they are UTAs) at Logan on two Wednesday nights and a Sunday each month to one weekend per month. The pilots and crew chiefs were still trying to figure out the all the inner workings of the F-100 when they converted to the F-106. With the F-100s only being flown from Otis for just a short time period of a year, there wasn't enough time to figure out the pros and cons of the "Hun". By each man's feedback, it was understood that the F-100 was not their favorite fighter to fly or conduct maintenance on but it was part of each of their careers in the Massachusetts National Guard which is admirable.
The next time you are at the Eagle's Nest, pull up a stool and ask Bob to share some of his stories of the way things were and the same with Tommy if you should bump into him out in town or on base while he is visiting as he so often does.
A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into the restoration and placement of the F-100 and special thanks go out to Master Sgt. John Abril, Mr. Russell Timms, Senior Master Sgt. Michael Mortell, 102nd Civil Engineering Squadron Roads and Grounds shop Brian Ouimet, Bill Greenwood, Mike Burroughs, Rob Walsh, Gerald Towns, Russ Armstrong 102nd Civil Engineering Squadron Structures shop, Tom Jones, Chris Lewis, Dan Oja, Technical Sgt. Fred Carreiro, Dennis Mcnevin, Rich Connor, Austin Karson, Greg Camarota, Robert Pina, Everett Johnson and Wallace Musser. All the personnel that restored the fighter, helped preserve the flying history of Otis Air National Guard Base.