Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Tomcat

The F-14 is, in my opinion, one heck of a plane. While it's combat record does not match that of the F-15, it proved to be everything the Navy needed in 1970, and still was in 2006. Designed to haul the massive AIM-54 Phoenix, it was also capable of dog fighting with the best. The U.S. Navy's Cats only claim five air to air kills. In the hands of the Iranians, it has amassed many more.

Another big plus, not mentioned in the video was the loiter time. Tomcats could stay on station to provide support for longer than the F-15 and F-16 craft. Their Achilles heel was maintenance. They were a far more complicated bird than the Eagle or Falcon. That is why the Navy supplemented them, and eventually replaced them with the lackluster by contrast F/A-18. The F-14 is capable of reaching mach 2.34 while the Hornet manages with a nice 1.6 mach. Climb rates are near identical, 229 M/sec for the Tomcat, 228 M/sec for the Hornet. Combat range is 575 for the Tomcat, 449 for the Hornet. When it comes to the fight, both pack the standard 20mm M61A1 Vulcan, but the Tomcat packs 675 rounds to the Hornet's 412. The Tomcat can carry 16,200 lbs of fuel internally plus 534 additional gallons in drop tanks. For the Hornet the numbers change. It can carry only 14,400 lbs internally, but can pack an extra 1,920 gallons in drop tanks. While that sounds great, if you used most of your drop tank fuel to get to the fight, you are limited in what you can do since you will not have enough on board to get home after the fight. Thank GOD the Navy has tankers.
I hated to see the F-14 retired. Yes, they were getting old, but our enemies really didn't have anything to cope with them.
Our Navy and Air Force have had a lot of great planes. Some times the machines came up short as happened at the start of WW2 and Korea, but the skills, training and tenacity of our aviators surpassed the material advantages they lacked.
Soon we will see the F-35 going to the fleet. Progress continues, but the icons of the past will always be remembered as Great Planes.


Anonymous said...

The Tomcat was not called the Big Aluminum Cloud for nothing. Ha, ha, ha, haas... dogfighter?! ...ha, ha, ha!

JeremyR said...

I have never heard it called that, and a duck duck go and google search turns up nada. The Tomcat is comparable to the F-15 Eagle in terms of size power etc.