F-14 Tomcat: Sleek, Powerful, and Deadly Star in Top Gun

Topics: F-14 Tomcat, AIM-54 Phoenix, Fighter aircraft Pages: 5 (905 words) Published: October 8, 1999

Wing span: 64 feet unswept; 38 feet swept

Length: 62 feet 7 inches

Height: 16 feet

Weight: Empty: 40,104 pounds

Maximum take-off: 74,348 pounds

Speed: Maximum: 1,544 mph

Cruise: 576 mph

Ceiling: More than 56,000 feet

Power plant: Two Pratt and Whitney TF-30-P412A turbofan engines with

afterburners; F-14B and F-14D: F-110-GE-400 augmented turbofan engines

with afterburner

Crew: two

Contractor: Grumman Aerospace

F-14 Tomcat, sleek, powerful, deadly, and the real star of the movie Top

Gun. The F-14 Tomcat followed a history of "Cats" in the military. The F-4F

Wildcat and the F-6F Hellcat that fought in the skies years before the

Tomcat ever bit the air. In the late 1960's, the U.S Navy decided to decided

to focus on an aircraft dedicated to fleet defense. Grumman had already

begun developing the F-14, and was definitely headed for a "Cat"

designation. The person responsible for this project was Admiral Tom

Conolly, Deputy Chief, Naval Operations for Air. The aircraft was dubbed

"Tom's Cat" long before the official name of "Tomcat" was ever adopted.

(novia.net, 1999)

Overall, the Navy's Grumman F-14 Tomcat is without equal among

today's Free World fighters. Six long-range AIM-54A Phoenix missiles can be

guided against six separate threat aircraft at long range by the F-14's AWG-9

weapons control system. For medium-range combat, Sparrow missiles are

carried; Sidewinders and a 20mm are available for dogfighting. In the latter

role, the Tomcat's variable-sweep wings give the F-14 a combat maneuvering

capability that could not have been achieved with a "standard" fixed

planform wing. (history.navy, 1999)

In full forward-sweep position,the wings provided the lift needed for

slow-speed flight, especially needed during carrier landings. In swept-back

positions, the wings blend into the aircraft, giving the F-14 Tomcat a

dart-like silhouette for high-speed, super-sonic flight (using Pratt & Whitney

TF30-P-412A Turbofans). (novia.net. 1999)

By 1972, the first of the F-14 Tomcat's off the production line were

sent to the US . In October of 1972, two squadrons were formed with the

F-14 Tomcat to begin flight operations. (novia.net, 1999) All in all,

fourteen aircraft were used for the development program. The fully

proven F-14 was introduced to the fleet only 51 month after contract

award! (Anft, 1998)

The F-14 Tomcat was designed to carry a million dollar missile, the

Phoenix . The AIM-54 Phoenix has a range of over 100 miles and sole

purpose was to destroy Soviet bombers. The F-14 Tomcat program came

down to a test at the Naval Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, CA in

November, 1973. The Pentagon wanted an aircraft that could take on six

different targets at once, and on that day in November, the Tomcat

demonstrated that ability. Six AIM-54 Phoenix missiles were launched at

6 different drone targets at the test range. Only one of the six missiles

failed to hit its target. The Pentagon was sold, and the F-14 Tomcat

program was in full swing. In 1974, the two squadrons, the VF-1

Wolfpack and the VF-2 Bounty Hunters, were deployed and assigned to

the USS Enterprise (novia.net, 1999)

The Tomcat was in service just in time to see the closing stages of the

Vietnam war in 1975. It flew top cover during Operation Frequent Wind,

the evacuation of US personnel from Saigon in April of 1975 just before

that city fell to the North. The North Vietnamese air force did not

interfere with the operation, but one Tomcat was slightly damaged by

antiaircraft fire. On August 19, two Libyan Su 22 Fitter- J fighters were

shot down by a pair of VF-41 Tomcats after one the Fitters fired a

missile at the American fighters. Both kills were with AIM-9L Sidewinder

missiles. This was the first air battle between...

References: Anft, T (1998,November) F-14 Tomcat.
Barrett, J (1989) F-14 Tomcat. Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corp.
Marshall, C (1989) The Worlds Great Interceptor Aircraft. New York:
Gallery Books
Unknown (1999, March) F-14 Tomcat. www.history.navy.mil/planes/f14.htm
Unknown (1999) Fleet Defender. www.novia.net/~tomcat/tomcat.html
Unknown (1999, February) F-14. www.wmof.com/f14.htm
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