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"What if" - F-14 'Tomcat'

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  • "What if" - F-14 'Tomcat'

    The Tomcat has an enduring image, set aside the public adulation for 'Top Gun,' it gave the US navy a true deep strike platform with outstanding air superiority abilities in its early days.
    I wonder what if the navy, and congress, stuck with this plane and continued down this road to the present day. Would it remain a viable platform in the current climate if given better funding and longterm support? Would it have seen export opportunities had it remained locked in as a long term naval platform?

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    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
    Ernest Hemingway.

  • #2
    What surprised me was I found out the Tomcat was not a very good dogfighter. Its purpose in life was to carry as many Phoenix missiles as possible so it could fire them at Bombers from as far away as possible. The rotating wings added a lot of weight and had maintenance issues. Its replacement got rid of them! A lot of the other aircraft on the carrier air wing were much smaller. The A-4 did not even need to fold its wings! Could they have fit more aircraft on carriers without the F-14? They had to remove the ASW aircraft after the Tomcats were added.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

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    • #3
      Given its weight and size I think it did well as a dogfighter when they had the latest engines installed, and the pilot wouldn't let himself being lured into fighting the opponents fight.

      They should have navalized the F-22.
      "For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Rutger View Post
        They should have navalized the F-22.
        I wonder if the special stealth coatings would survive the saltwater corrosion. IIRC, the coatings need to be re-applied after every land-based stealth bomber mission.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
          What surprised me was I found out the Tomcat was not a very good dogfighter. Its purpose in life was to carry as many Phoenix missiles as possible so it could fire them at Bombers from as far away as possible. The rotating wings added a lot of weight and had maintenance issues. Its replacement got rid of them! A lot of the other aircraft on the carrier air wing were much smaller. The A-4 did not even need to fold its wings! Could they have fit more aircraft on carriers without the F-14? They had to remove the ASW aircraft after the Tomcats were added.

          Pruitt
          You should read "Boyd" and some of the other books about John Boyd and the fighter mafia. Boyd pretty much proved, on paper, that the F111 was inferior to all existing Soviet fighters before it ever flew. He blamed a lot of this on the added weight and complexity of the "variable geometry" (swing) wing and the fact that a lot of the aircraft design at the time was "by committee" and tended to see a lot of requirements injected for questionable reasons.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DingBat View Post
            You should read "Boyd" and some of the other books about John Boyd and the fighter mafia. Boyd pretty much proved, on paper, that the F111 was inferior to all existing Soviet fighters before it ever flew. He blamed a lot of this on the added weight and complexity of the "variable geometry" (swing) wing and the fact that a lot of the aircraft design at the time was "by committee" and tended to see a lot of requirements injected for questionable reasons.
            I have his book and found it interesting. I only wish that it could have gone more detail as to the performance problems, rather than just general pronouncements. I suspect that much of those details remain classified, especially as aircraft such as the F-16 and F-15 remain in service.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
              ... They had to remove the ASW aircraft after the Tomcats were added.

              Pruitt
              The S-3 Viking was in service on the carriers since the mid 70s.
              "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
              Ernest Hemingway.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                What surprised me was I found out the Tomcat was not a very good dogfighter. Its purpose in life was to carry as many Phoenix missiles as possible so it could fire them at Bombers from as far away as possible. The rotating wings added a lot of weight and had maintenance issues. Its replacement got rid of them! A lot of the other aircraft on the carrier air wing were much smaller. The A-4 did not even need to fold its wings! Could they have fit more aircraft on carriers without the F-14?
                ...

                Pruitt
                Yes it was a bomber killer, which was the looming threat at the time. As for its dogfighting abilities, the F-4 was in the same category... but checkout the upgrades overseas F-4s have received and then you realise the F-14 could've been upgraded just as easily.

                The dimensions compared to the Super Hornet are quite similar. The length of the F-14 was just over 62 feet long, the SH is 60 ft. The F-14 with the wings swept was over 33 feet, the SH is 30 ft.
                Last edited by Achtung Baby; 26 May 20, 06:17.
                "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
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                • #9
                  The Tomcat was cost compromised with the installation of TF-30 engines that were designed for strike bombers, and for not fighters which require engines that are designed for turbulent airflow resulting in maneuvering. It was also under-powered in trust to weigh ratio. The pilots had to fly the engines, not the plane in order to avoid flameouts and stalls.

                  When the F-14D came out with the right engines, relatively late in Tomcat's service life, it gave a 33% increase in thrust and allowed the pilots to really fly. The plane can do bat like turns and now being able to compete at lower airspeed, it was a challenge for any other fighter of it's day. I remember reading F-14 Tomcat from Signal Squadron Publications that even the first model with the crap engines defeated F-4 each and every time, and held it's own against F-15 and F-16.

                  Interesting articles are Dogfight of the Decade, and Great Shootoff (circa 1977) from Flight International. I can't find them anymore, but here is an except from the backstory:

                  Despite my problems, our squadron had scored a resounding and unanticipated success against our aggressor F-15s. In a telephone debrief, they admitted as much, and allowed that they had some serious work to do.

                  Late that afternoon our squadron retired to the Fallon Officer’s Club to celebrate our amazing and surprising success against the formidable F-15s. Everyone recounted their individual engagements over several beers. What was not known was over in the corner was a correspondent taking notes on our success. We later learned his notes were the basis of the Flight International article.

                  Of course the article caused quite a stir. At the time Japan was considering purchasing the F-15 (which they eventually did). However as a result of this article of the F-14 besting the F-15, they suddenly had second thoughts. Meanwhile Mugs, our CO was in very hot water. The phone lines from higher command and from Washington to him were not pleasant. Nevertheless, all is well that ends well. Mugs was not relieved of his command, the Japanese bought the F-15, and I have a nice little story to tell many years later.
                  Read the entire backstory here:

                  http://flitetime.net/dogfight%20of%20the%20decade.html
                  Last edited by Salinator; 24 May 20, 20:03.
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                  • #10
                    If you take a look at the upgrades of the F-4, especially what Israel did, proves already good airframe can be improved upon.
                    The Hornet/Super Hornet are excellent planes, but the navy lost speed and range... was that a compromise worth pursuing, I'm not fully convinced.

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                    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
                      If you take a look at the upgrades of the F-4, especially what Israel did, proves already good airframe can be improved upon.
                      The Hornet/Super Hornet are excellent planes, but the navy lost speed and range... was that a compromise worth pursuing, I'm not fully convinced.

                      https://nationalinterest.org/blog/bu...hantoms-115001
                      I have always thought that intentionally destroying everything need restart an assembly line of an older design is nothing more than to ensure that clients have to turn to newer designs with he speed of this process ever accelerating. Even the F-22 assembly cannot be restarted, most likely to ensure the financial success of the F-35.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Salinator View Post

                        I have always thought that intentionally destroying everything need restart an assembly line of an older design is nothing more than to ensure that clients have to turn to newer designs with he speed of this process ever accelerating. Even the F-22 assembly cannot be restarted, most likely to ensure the financial success of the F-35.
                        I honestly don't know, but the F-14 was literally put in the shredder in order to stop Iran salvaging parts.

                        What is the navy left with since the Tomcat was retired, here is some examples.... I'll toss in the proposed Super Tomcat as a comparison.

                        Super Tomcat.
                        • Combat radius 750 nm
                        • Speed Mach 2+
                        • 10 hardpoints.
                        • Weapons load 17,750lbs.
                        Super Hornet.
                        • Combat radius 390 nm
                        • Speed Mach 1.8
                        • 11 hardpoints
                        • Weapons load 17,750lbs
                        F-35C
                        • Combat radius 490 nm
                        • Speed Mach 1.6
                        • 2 Hard points*
                        • Weapons load 3,000lbs*
                        * This is the internal weapons load in order to maintain stealth, there are 6 additional hard points. Any configuration with external hard points would degrade the combat radius and stealth abilities.



                        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                        Ernest Hemingway.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
                          Super Tomcat.
                          • Combat radius 750 nm
                          • Speed Mach 2+
                          • 10 hardpoints.
                          • Weapons load 17,750lbs.
                          • Super Hornet.
                          • Combat radius 390 nm
                          • Speed Mach 1.8
                          • 11 hardpoints
                          • Weapons load 17,750lbs
                          Are the weapons loads similar because limitations of the flight deck? i.e. Is this the maximum allowable landing weight for a flight deck?

                          I remember reading that the F-14 Tomcat could launch and carry up to six Phoenix missiles, but the loadout exceeded the 'bring back' weight of the aircraft and a few missiles would have to be jettisoned before it would be allowed to land.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Herman Hum View Post
                            Are the weapons loads similar because limitations of the flight deck? i.e. Is this the maximum allowable landing weight for a flight deck?

                            I remember reading that the F-14 Tomcat could launch and carry up to six Phoenix missiles, but the loadout exceeded the 'bring back' weight of the aircraft and a few missiles would have to be jettisoned before it would be allowed to land.
                            Here's what I found(see blow). Interestingly, the F/A-18 C/D models had to frequently jettison fuel and unexpended ordinance before landing on carrier. The E/F models had the stronger wings which allowed them to bring back the bombs and missiles.
                            I read one article about this in the Department of Defense appropriations for fiscal year 1984: hearings. On page 354.

                            content?id=VvbGR0-oYTMC&pg=PA354&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U1iOSFSbEzL_PbjIyGSlTs3iqmtnA&ci=48%2C542%2C877%2C387&edge=0.png
                            https://books.google.com.au/books?id...hoenix&f=false
                            Last edited by Achtung Baby; 28 May 20, 04:31.
                            "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                            Ernest Hemingway.

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                            • #15
                              Makes sense. In training, or non-combat CAP work, 4 Phoenix and 2 sidewinders would probably be more than sufficient anyway. Or even a Sparrow/Sidewinder arrangement. If a war was kicking off and you wanted your 'bomber killer' up and ready to go, then you'd forgive wear on the equipment at that point.
                              Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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