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Grumman F-14D Tomcat | by Eric Friedebach
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Grumman F-14D Tomcat

From the museum website:


Aircraft Background


Prairie Aviation Museum recieved this F-14D Tomcat in April of 2006 from the US Navy. The final flight of this aircraft was to the Bloomington/Normal airport. People came from many states to witness the arrival of aircraft 205 from VF-213 Black Lions, for most it would be the last time they would see a F-14 in flight.




The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, variable geometry wing aircraft. During its active service in the United States Navy (1972-2006) the F-14 Tomcat was the Navy’s primary air superiority fighter and tactical reconnaissance platform. It later performed precision bombing in close air support roles. It was developed after the collapse of the F-111B project, and was the first of the American teen-series fighters which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat in Vietnam against Migs.


It entered service in 1972 with the Navy, replacing the F-4 Phantom II. It was later exported to the Imperial Iranian Air Force in 1976. It was retired from the U.S. Navy fleet on 22 September 2006, having been replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. As of 2006, only the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force still flies the aircraft.


The F-14 has completed its decommissioning from the U.S. Navy. It was slated to remain in service through at least 2008, but all F-14A and F-14B airframes have already been retired, and the last two squadrons, the VF-31 Tomcatters and the VF-213 Black Lions, both flying the “D” models, arrived for their last fly-in at Naval Air Station Oceana on March 10, 2006.


The last F-14 combat mission was completed on February 8, 2006, when a pair of Tomcats landed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt after one dropped a bomb in Iraq. The plane was part of VF-31 and the last pilot credited with a bomb drop in combat was Lt. Bill Frank. An F-14D from VF-213, the aircraft originally slated to come to Prairie Aviation Museum, was the last F-14 to land on an aircraft carrier after a combat mission; it was piloted by Capt. William G. Sizemore. During their final deployment with the USS Theodore Roosevelt, VF-31 and VF-213 collectively completed 1,163 combat sorties totaling 6,876 flight hours, and dropped 9,500 pounds of ordnance during reconnaissance, surveillance, and close air support missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On March 10, 2006, the 22 planes from these squadrons flew in formation into Naval Air Station Oceana, home from the last combat deployment of the F-14. VF-213 pilots and radar interception officers who have made the transition to the Super Hornet continued F/A-18F (double seat) training as of April 2006. The squadron is operational, or “safe for flight,” as of September 2006. VF-31 pilots who were making the transition began F/A-18E (single seat) training in October 2006. VF-31 will be safe for flight in April 2007, making it the last official Tomcat squadron in the Navy.


The last flight of the F-14 Tomcat in US service took place October 4, 2006, with the final flight retirement ceremony on September 21, 2006. Two F-14’s were readied for the ceremonial final flight; after the primary plane experiencing mechanical problems, a backup was flown instead. The failure was a reminder of one of the reasons for the retirement, high maintenance costs. The F-14 Tomcat was officially retired on September 22, 2006 at Naval Air Station Oceana. The F-14 fleet is mothballed at the Davis-Monthan “Boneyard.”


General characteristics


Crew: 2 (Pilot and Radar Intercept Officer)

Length: 61 ft 9 in (18.6 m)

Wingspan: 64 ft unswept, 38 ft swept (19 m / 11.4 m)

Height: 16 ft (4.8 m)

Wing area: 565 ft² (54.5 m²)

Airfoil: NACA 64A209.65 mod root, 64A208.91 mod tip

Empty weight: 42,000 lb (19,000 kg)

Loaded weight: 61,000 lb (28,000 kg)

Max takeoff weight: 72,900 lb (32,805 kg)

Powerplant: 2× General Electric F110-GE-400 afterburning turbofans, 13,810 lbf dry, 27,800 lbf with afterburner (72 kN / 126 kN) each




Maximum speed: Mach 2.34, 1,544 mph at high altitude (2,485 km/h)

Range: 576 mi combat (927 km)

Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (16,000+ m)

Rate of climb: 45,000+ ft/min (230+ m/s)

Wing loading: 113.4 lb/ft² (553.9 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 0.91




13,000 lb (5,900 kg) of ordnance including:


Guns: 1× M61 Vulcan 20 mm Gatling Gun

Missiles: AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air

Loading configurations:

2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-54

2× AIM-9 + 2× AIM-54 + 3× AIM-7

2× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54 + 2× AIM-7

2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-7

4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54

4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-7

Bombs: GBU-10, GBU-12, GBU-16, GBU-24, GBU-24E Paveway I/II/III LGB, GBU-31, GBU-38 JDAM, Mk-20 Rockeye II, Mk-82, Mk-83 and Mk-84 series iron bombs




Hughes AN/APG-71 radar



Unit cost


Unit Cost: US$38 million


F-14D Tomcat

Bureau Number :161163

Total Hours Flown: 7107.4 VF-213 Black Lions

Jan 1981: This aircraft was inducted into the United States Navy as an F-14A aircraft

April 1981: Fighter sqaudron 143 (VF-143), Pukin Dogs, had custody of aircraft

Sept 1982: Fighter sqaudron 11 (VF-11), The Red Rippers, had custody of the aircraft

Dec 1984: Fighter sqaudron 101 (VF-101), Grim Reapers, had custody of the aircraft

April 1987: Aircraft was transferred ti a Naval Training Command

May 1988: Fighter sqaudron 101 (VF-101), Grim Reapers, retained custody of aircraft

Sept 1991: Depot Level Conversion to F14A to F-14D

Sept 1992: Aircraft was transferred to SDLM (Depot Level Maintence)

May 1993: Fighter sqaudron 2 (VF-2), Bounty Hunters, had custody of aircraft

Feb 1997: Fighter sqaudron 31 (VF-31), Tomcatters, had custody of aircraft

Sept 1997: Fighter sqaudron 101 (VF-101), Grim Reapers, retained custody of aircraft

Oct 2000: Fighter sqaudron 213 (VF-213), Black Lions, had custody of aircraft

April 2006: Aircraft decommissioned and transferred to Prairie Aviation Museum


Photo by Eric Friedebach

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Taken on November 2, 2013