Grumman F-14 Tomcat

Sunset Glow

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is an American
Carrier-based fighter aircraft.

Full Boost

The F-14, nicknamed “Tomcat” was developed from the U.S. Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program after the collapse of the F-111B project.
It was the first such U.S. jet fighter with twin tails and it was designed incorporating air combat experience against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.

Unswept wings

Typically, a swept wing is more suitable for high speeds, while an unswept wing is suitable for lower speeds,
allowing the aircraft to carry more fuel and/or payload, as well as improving field (take-off and landing) performance.
A variable-sweep wing allows a pilot to select the correct wing configuration for the plane’s intended speed.
Landing in a postage side stamp area big as 100 feet by 25 feet, with great precision requires great maneuverability from the airplane

Wings swept

The Tomcat was one of the last American fighter aircraft with conventional manual flight controls.
The F-14 used a mechanical push-pull tube system from the stick to the control surfaces: rudders & horizontal stabilizers.
Yaw was controlled by the rudders. Pitch and roll was controlled by the horizontal stabilizers.
With the wings swept forward, spoilers on top of the wings also contributed to roll control.
This mechanical system moved a hydraulic control valve at the surface which controlled the hydraulic actuator which then moved the surface.
A linear variable differential transducer (LVDT) was built into the actuator to provide feedback to the various flight computers.
These control surfaces themselves were not controlled by the computers.
The variables swept wings are controlled automatically with information from the CADC (Central Air Data Computer)
and are essentially taking Mach number to control the angle from 20-68 degrees.

F-14 Tomcat assigned to the “Tomcatters” of Fighter Squadron Three One (VF-31)

The F-14 first flew on 21 December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65),
replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter,
fleet defense interceptor, and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform into the 2000s.
The Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN)
pod system was added in the 1990s and the Tomcat began performing precision ground-attack missions.

Outfitted with a Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS)

One of the incredible f-14’s feature was the AIM-54 Phoenix missile. It was the only major fire-and-forget air-to-air missile before the AMRAAM era.
The back-seat F-14 radar intercept officer (RIO) assigns a missile a target and launches it.
F-14 can immediately turn away to escape a counter-punch, or launch another missile at another target.
It could have SIX Phoenixes in the air all at once, each following its own target, while the plane itself was dog-fighting or going back to the carrier.
Did you know the F-14 uses a MOSFET-based Large-Scale Integration chipset, the MP944, making it the first microprocessor in history?

Hide & Seek
The Tomcat was retired from the U.S. Navy’s on 22 September 2006 because it was getting old and difficult to maintain.
Primarily designed for a role that wasn’t really required anymore,
the F-14 was designed for fleet defense against Soviet bomber attacks – hence the Phoenix missile system. 
They have been replaced by the Boeing F/A-18 because in the current fleet air arm composed of F-18 variants is more cost-effective than the air arm with the F-14.

Author: David
Photos By:, US NAVY, DCS