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Yes, which is a strong argument for the pod system over the retractable tray. I’m pretty sure the F-86D/K/L was significantly faster than the straight-wing designs like the F-89 and F-94, which is the tradeoff between speed and firepower; you can either intercept the bombers as soon as possible, or you can shoot down more bombers per interceptor.
As far as the safety considerations go, though – remember, these rockets are meant to shoot down huge bombers; if you’re worried about the rockets exploding in the interceptor due to malfunction… well, there’s not going to be much left of the interceptor no matter where you stored the rockets.