Our F-14A Tomcat Bu No. 158998
HISTORY OF THIS AIRCRAFT
Grumman F-14 Tomcat was originally designed as the successor to the F-4 Phantom in the fleet defense roll. The only aircraft to deploy the Phoenix missile, the Tomcat was designed to destroy enemy aircraft at extreme range before they can be a threat to the carrier or her escorts.
Our F-14 has a total of 1599 flight hours, 387 carrier landings and 375 carrier catapult takeoffs (known as cat shots).
This aircraft was the 59th built and the 57th to be delivered to the Navy on February 20, 1974. It first served with VF-1 "Wolfpack" aboard the USS Enterprise from May 1974 through July 1976. VF-1 along with VF-2 "Bounty Hunters" were the first operational Tomcat squadrons ever deployed on an operational Cruise. During this time, our Tomcat flew missions during a WestPac cruise under the code name Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon, South Vietnam. This makes our Tomcat a true Vietnam vet.
The aircraft was transferred to the training squadron VF-124 "Gunfighters" in July of 1976 were it spent approximately 1 year. In June of 1977, it was transferred to VF-2 "Bounty Hunters", the sister squadron to VF-1 aboard the Enterprise again. While with VF-2, this aircraft also flew off the USS Ranger and USS Kitty Hawk.
After serving aboard ship, the aircraft was assigned to 3 prominent Naval Air Stations:
We acquired the Tomcat at Johnsville Naval Air Station, in Warminster, PA. Volunteers made numerous trips to the base to disassemble the aircraft and get it ready for shipping. The wings, tail surfaces and nose cone were removed and loaded on a trailer. The fuselage was loaded on a separate trailer. Both trucks were then driven to the museum via the Betsy Ross Bridge. It was moved at night to avoid causing traffic jams.
Development was initiated in the late 1960's following the cancellation of the ill-fated F-111B leaving the Navy with no new fighter prospect. Grumman had already invested a considerable amount of effort in the navalised F-111B, and used this experience in designing a new variable geometry fighter. This aircraft the model G-303 was selected by the Navy in January 1969. Grumman's use of the variable geometry wing allowed excellent high-speed performance to be combined with docile low-speed handling characteristics and a high degree of agility. Even today the F-14 is a superb dogfighter, except when compared to the latest optimised air superiorty fighters. The first Tomcat flew December 21, 1970.
Production of the F-14 for the Navy eventually totalled 556 aircraft, with 80 similar machines purchased by Iran before the fall of the Shah. Only 79 were delivered to Iran with the Navy getting the last one. The F-14A continues to be the Navy's primary air defense fighter despite the introduction of the improved F-14B and D models which have been built and deployed in modest numbers. The key to the Tomcat's effectiveness is the advanced avionics. The Hughes AWG-9 fire control system is the most effective long range interceptor radar in service. With the ability to detect, track and engage targets at ranges over 100 nautical miles. Early aircraft had an Infra Red Search and Track system. Replacing this, new production aircraft were equipped with a long range video camera known as TCS. The armament options allow the aircraft to engage targets over a huge range from close up to extreme BVR (beyond visual range).
It is capable of carrying the Hughes AIM-54 Phoenix. Although never used in combat, it remains the longest ranged air-to-air missile in service today and has demonstrated the ability to detect and kill targets at unparalleled distances. At medium ranges the Tomcat can deploy either the AIM-7 Sparrow or the AIM-120 AMRAAM. For short range and close in engagements the F-14 carries the well proven AIM-9 Sidewinder. Finally there is a single Vulcan M61A1 20mm Gatling type rotary cannon in the lower port fuselage with 675 rounds of ammunition.
The Tomcat's abilities are no longer limited to air-to-air combat. With the Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance Pod System, or TARPS, the Tomcat can be used as a short range Photo-Recon platform. Newer F-14D's have the capability to carry laser guided bombs, air-to ground rockets and "dumb" bombs. These capabilities help to ensure the survival of the Tomcat in the Navy's future plans for it's Carrier Air Wings.