Grumman was selected to build the Navy’s new carrier-based fighter in January 1969, with first flight of the F-14 ‘Tomcat’ prototype taking place on December 21, 1970. Initial deployment with the fleet began in October 1972. Continued development and improvements of its capabilities made it an effective deterrent to any hostile threats to U.S. Navy carrier groups for over 30 years.
As the world’s premier air defense fighter, it could simultaneously track up to 24 targets with its advanced weapons control system, while attacking six at once with Phoenix AIM-54A missiles. The ‘Tomcat’ is well known for its prominent role in “Top Gun”, the 1986 movie about naval aviators. The success of the film spurred a game show franchise and a surge in U.S. Navy Flight Training recruiting.
The museum’s Tomcat was initially assigned to VF-124, the F-14 Pacific Fleet crew training squadron. After two years as a trainer, our ‘Tomcat’ went to the fleet for the remainder of its 14 years of operational service. Assignments included the famous VF-2 ‘Bounty Hunters’, while its final squadron was the ‘Black Lions’ of VF-213, part of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). Its final combat sortie was February 7, 2006. Following launch from the USS Roosevelt at 1600, ‘Black Lion’ AJ-210 flew to Northern Iraq for overhead protection of U.S. and Iraq forces. After its mission, our ‘Tomcat’ ‘trapped’ aboard its carrier at 2233 hours, completing a 6.5-hour mission.
Returning to the U.S. in March 2006, the F-14Ds were unloaded for the last time and retired. Our aircraft, BuNo 163897, was flown to McClellan shortly thereafter and joined the collection.
Crew: Two – Pilot and Weapons Officer (RO)
Power Plant: Two General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofans, rated at 14,000 lb thrust, and
23,100 lb thrust with afterburner each.
Wing Span – Unswept – 64 ft 1.5”, Swept – 38 ft 2.5”,
Storage – 33 ft 3” inch Length – 62 ft 8 “ Height – 32 ft 8.5”.
Max level speed at altitude – (Mach 2.4) 1,584 mph 913mph at SL (Mach 1.2)
Max cruising speed – 460-633 mph
Service ceiling – Over 50,000 ft.
Armament: One 20mm Vulcan cannon; four AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles, or four AIM- 54 Phoenix missiles attached to pallets on bottom of fuselage; two wing pylons capable of carrying a variety of missiles or bombs.
THIS AIRCRAFT IS ON LOAN FROM THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NAVAL AVIATION AT PENSACOLA, FLORIDA