In June 1953, North American initiated an in-house study of advanced F-100 designs, leading to proposed interceptor (NAA 211: F-100BI denoting "interceptor") and fighter-bomber (NAA 212: F-100B) variants. Concentrating on the F-100B, the preliminary engineering and design work focused on a tactical fighter-bomber configuration, featuring a recessed weapons bay under the fuselage and provision for six hardpoints underneath the wings. Single-point refuelling capability was provided while a retractable tailskid was installed. An all-moving vertical fin and an automated flight control system were incorporated which permitted the aircraft to roll at supersonic speeds using spoilers. The flight control system was upgraded by the addition of pitch and yaw dampers.
The air intake was in the unusual dorsal location as the USAF had required the carriage of an underbelly semi-conformal nuclear weapon. The original chin intake caused a shock wave that interfered in launching this weapon. The implications this had for the survivability of the pilot during ejection were troubling. The intake also severely limited rear visibility. Nonetheless this was not considered terribly important for a tactical fighter-bomber aircraft, and furthermore it was assumed at the time that air combat would be via guided missile exchanges outside visual range.
In August 1954, a contract was signed for three prototypes along with a pre-production order for six additional airframes.
The first F-107A (s/n 55-5118) with North American's chief test pilot Bob Baker at the controls, made its initial flight on 10 September 1956, attaining Mach 1.03. Although successfully carrying out its flight, the brake chute did not deploy, which resulted in a "hot" landing with the nose gear strut breaking. The aircraft first achieved Mach 2 in tests on 3 November 1956.
It was joined by the second F-107A (s/n 55-5119), which made its first flight was on 28 November 1956. It was used for weapons testing with both conventional and atomic bombs. The last prototype, (s/n 55-5120) had its maiden flight on 10 December 1956. At the conclusion of the F-107A's successful test program, the Tactical Air Command decided to hold a fly-off competition between the F-107A and the Republic F-105 which was designed to same mission requirements and used the same engine. Although the competition was close, the F-105 was selected as the new standard TAC tactical fighter. The three F-107A prototypes were relegated to test flying while the pre-production order was cancelled.
In late 1957, prototypes #1 and #3 were leased to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) for high-speed flight research, while aircraft #2 was flown on 25 November 1957 to the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. In September 1959, with Scott Crossfield at the controls, aircraft #3 was damaged during an aborted takeoff. The aircraft was not repaired and, ultimately, used for fire fighting training and was destroyed in the early 1960s. (55-5120 was also noted to be stored in poor condition in the Tallmantz collection at Orange County Airport California in September 1970.)
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