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Grumman F-14 Tomcat. May 31, 2006

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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28521139655238l.jpgDawn.

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was designed as a naval air superiority fighter, incorporating the variable-geometry (or swing-wing) technology which was present in the aborted F-111B project. The prototype F-14A flew first in 1970, with Tomcat squadrons taking part in the Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon during the final stages of the Vietnam War.

Quickly replacing the handsome but dangerous F-4 Phantom II, the Tomcat soon gained a reputation for being a fighter which was a lot more forgiving than its predecessor, albeit being a huge, ungainly beast which was slow to catch on in the area of looks. Originally a dedicated long-range interceptor, 2 squadrons of F-14s were deployed on each Carrier Air Wing to provide for Combat Air Patrol duties when at sea. Tomcats were scrambled to intercept the long-range reconaissance aircraft of Mother Russia.

web_051230-N-7241L-009.jpg Launch the Alert 5!

F-14 pilots were, for quite a period of time, pure interceptor pilots: supersonic, cocky, addicted to speed, cowboys even, as immortalised by Tom Cruise in Top Gun. With a dash speed of Mach 2.34 in the F-14A, it was, and currently still is, the fastest naval aircraft in history. But make no mistake about it. Despite being a huge crowd-pleaser at airshows, the business of the Tomcat remained deadly serious. All those shenanigans you saw in Top Gun were probably fake, excluding the ACM scenes, where F-14 students flew hops day after day against their instructors, flying smaller and more maneuverable A-4 Skyhawks.

The F-14 Tomcat was the first fighter i was introduced to. Twin tails, big afterburners, a monster at catapult launches, it somehow fascinated and attracted me years and years ago. Who could forget those rolling scissors against Viper? One thing was very clear: thus began a long term love with the Tomcat.

In combat, the Tomcat acquitted itself rather honourably. In 2 confrontations against Libya, when MiGs were sent out to probe American fleet defenses, the Tomcats were able to chalk up a score of USA 4, Libya 0. Tomcats also saw action over the Persian Gulf (I and II,) Afghanistan and Eastern European theatres of combat.

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Aircraft carrier landings are nothing more than controlled crashes.

Towards the end of its illustrious career, F-14s were modified to carry bombs. The resulting 'Bombcats' are, IMHO, an insult to the original concept of the fighter-interceptor. I mean, come on. You have a sleek fighter travelling at twice the speed of sound, only to haul bombs to a target. WTF. Definitely a most 'un-glam' (to put it in a Singaporean way) way to fly a fighter…

Finally, on February 8th, 2006, two F-14 squadrons, VF-213 Blacklions and VF-31 Tomcatters, performed the last combat mission of the Tomcat in US service. VF-213 is currently in the process of converting onto the F/A-18F Super Hornet, while VF-31 remains the final Tomcat squadron in front-line service. The type is slated to be stricken off the inventory this September. On March 10, 2006, 22 aircraft from these two squadrons departed the USS Theodore Roosevelt for the last time in transit to their dry bases, closing a long beautiful chapter of naval aviation.

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Mummy…it's…it's OVERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!

Sigh. The changes of the times. Of course, Tomcats are still operational in Iran, but…i'd rather not talk about them. I don't know. It was like my ideal fighter. THE fighter. Like the Hornet would never, ever compare to the Tomcat. I'm just sad to see them go…but oh well. Practicality comes before ideals…it must be a very expensive affair indeed to maintain those old, tired airframes.

Will we sacrifice our ideals and passions just because they have become too expensive to maintain?

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